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Poetics of the leitmotifs in Jaan Kross’s novel The Czar’s Madman




The specifics of the technique of leitmotifs as used by Jaan Kross in his novel Keisri hull („The Czar’s Madman”, 1978) is discussed. According to the tradition of literary theory, leitmotif means a recurrent text element (word, phrase, parallel episodes etc.), which in combination with other analogously recurrent elements serves to build up the specific compositional structure of the text. This kind of text structuring is found in J. Kross’s novel The Czar’s Madman, which (as well as some other historical novels by the same author, esp. Kolme katku vahel („Between Three Plagues”) and Professor Martensi ärasõit („Professor Martens’ Departure”) is, in this article, classified under the 20th-century neo-mythological novels. Neo-mythological texts are characterized by antique or Biblical images forming a special layer in the text and lending the novel an eternal perspective. Likewise, in „The Czar’s Madman” we find not only the technique of leitmotifs but also persistent reference to symbols from the Old and New Testaments, parallel presentation of the historical and notional symbolic levels, a deep-going psychological insight revealed in descriptions of the subconscious and in inner monologues.