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Kovalenko G.F. FRACTAL MODEL “DOUBLE DNA MOLECULE” AS A WAY TO REPRESENT INTERDISCURSIVE RELATIONSHIPS IN EKPHRASIS / G.F. Kovalenko // Russian Linguistic Bulletin. — 2020. — № 2 (22). — С. 167—169. — URL: (дата обращения: 20.04.2021. ).
Kovalenko G.F. FRACTAL MODEL “DOUBLE DNA MOLECULE” AS A WAY TO REPRESENT INTERDISCURSIVE RELATIONSHIPS IN EKPHRASIS / G.F. Kovalenko // Russian Linguistic Bulletin. — 2020. — № 2 (22). — С. 167—169.


Коваленко Г.Ф.1
1Доцент, кандидат филологических наук, Тихоокеанский государственный университет, Хабаровск, Россия
Статья посвящена выявлению интердискурсивных отношений в экфрасисе на примере поэтического текста британского писателя Ф. Ларкина “The Arundel Tomb”. В работе описана фрактальная модель «двойная молекула ДНК», репрезентирующая взаимодействие основной части экфрасиса (описания скульптурной композиции) и периферии (размышления автора об увиденном). Когнитивным аттрактором, определяющим взаимодействие двух дискурсов в тексте, является контраст. Фрактальное моделирование интердискурсивных отношений в вербальном описании произведения искусства позволяет наглядно представить механизм вербализации артефакта в жанре экфрасиса.
Ключевые слова: экфрасис, фрактальная модель, когнитивный аттрактор, контраст, двойная молекула ДНК.
Страницы: 167 - 169

Kovalenko G.F.1
1Associate, PhD in Philology, Pacific National University, Khabarovsk, Russia
The aim of the article is to reveal the interdiscursive relationships in ekphrasis on the material of Ph. Larkin’s poem “The Arundel Tomb”. The fractal model “Double DNA molecule” representing the interrelations between the main part of ekphrasis (the description of an art work) and its periferia (expressing the author’s thoughts about the artefact) is described. The cognitive attractor, responsible for interdiscursive relationships, is contrast. Fractal modelling of interdiscursive relationships vividly demonstrates the mechanism of representing an art work by verbal means in the genre of ekphrasis.
Keywords: ekphrasis, fractal model, cognitive attractor, contrast, double DNA molecule.
Pages: 167 - 169
Почта авторов / Author Email: kovalenkogf[at]

1. The phenomenon of interdiscursivity

The text is a fraction of continuously developing human experience, an artefact or an integral and complete product of human creative activity and an accumulator of our cultural experience and cultural memory [1]. Modern literature is characterized by reality perception through the prism of already accumulated previous cultural experience which serves as a key to decoding the new literary work. A vivid example of such perception in a poetic text is ekphrasis, which is understood as a verbal description of any work of art.

A means of encoding the sense of the text by reference to another discourse is understood as the phenomenon of interdiscursivity. A.V. Kremneva underlines that the ways of reference to other discourses can be various, including quotations, allusions, images, syntactical structure of the text, its rhythmical-intonation structure, composition and the plot [2, P. 96].

2. The aim of the research

The aim of this research is to reveal interdicursive relationships in ekphrasis, a literary text representing an art work. Ekphrasis has been known from the Antiquity and due to such verbal descriptions our history managed to preserve information about lost works of art. A.V. Kremneva considers ekphrasis as transferred interdiscursivity which means redecoding of one sign system into another [2, P. 124]. The fractal model “double DNA molecule” representing interdiscursive relationships in ekphrasis is described for the first time.

3. Methodology

Our work is based on the theory of fractal modelling of interdiscursive relationships [3]. Different fractal models of interdiscursive relationships in postmodern discourse have been introduced and described by N. S. Olizko, such as “a spiral model”, “a rhizome model”, “a tree model”, “a concentric circles model” and others. N. V. Mamonova has studied interdiscursive relationships in British fairy tale discourse and has described several fractal models representing such relationships [4].

4. Discussion

The material of our study is Philip Larkin’s poem “An Arundel Tomb”, which was written after the poet’s visit to Chichester cathedral, where there is the tomb of the Earl Arundel and his wife. The tomb sculpture of a man in the knight’s armour and his wife made a powerful impact on the poet. The knight holds his gantlet in his right hand and in his left hand he holds his wife’s hand. The sculpture is a restored copy of the original one dating back to the Middle Ages and which was destroyed during Reforms [5, P. 34-35].

The Middle Ages were a great age for the desire to reflect the inner world of a person and his emotions in works of art. It explains the play on the light and shadow and a number of vivid details in sculptures [6]. The poet mentions the style of pre-baroque preceding the baroque style glorifying the power of the nobility and the church. This pre-baroque style combined the parade of the composition and the interest in a person.

The poem “The Arundel Tomb” by Philip Larkin consists of seven stanzas. Let us look at the first one: (1) Side by side their faces blurred, / (2) The earl and countess lie in stone, / (3) Their proper habits vaguely shown / (4) As jointed armour, stiffed pleat, / (5) And that faint hint of the absurd – / (6) The little dogs under their feet [7, P. 33].

Traditionally in tomb sculptures of Teutonic knights killed in battles their legs rested on small figures if lions. When a knight died his own death, lions were replaced by little dogs. The poet finds the combination of little dogs, a knight in the armour and a woman in a strict dress rather absurd [5, P. 35].

The stanza is logically divided into two parts. Lines 2, 4, 6 (the main part of ekphrasis) describing the sculpture group are organically intertwined with lines 5, 3, 1 (the ekphrasis periferia) representing the lyric hero’s thoughts about the depicted tomb. The interdiscursive relationships between the main part of ekphrasis and its periferia can be represented with the fractal model “double DNA molecule” (or “double spiral”). The DNA molecule is composed of two chains coiling around each other to form a double helix. The two chains of DNA run in opposite directions to each other and are thus antiparallel. The chains of DNA molecule can be portrayed as two serpents twining in opposite directions around a common axis.

Similarly to the relationships of two chains in the DNA molecule interdicursive relationships in ekphrasis are those of two discourses oiling around each other in a double spiral, that, according to N. S. Olizko, symbolizes “a balance of opposites” [3]. The double spiral highlights the deep interdependence between both chains oiling around an axis working symmetrically in opposite directions.

Such balance of opposites in the first stanza is vivid. The part of the poem devoted to the description of the tomb sculpture (lines 2, 4, 6) is opposed to the periferia which expresses the ideas of the lyric hero about the sculpture: their faces confused in appearance; their faces suggest uncertainty about needs, intentions; the dogs under their feet appear to be foolish and ridiculous. But there is harmony between the opposing parts, an agreement of different ideas and pleasing combination of them due to cognitive attractor of contrast which serves as an axis. Here by the cognitive attractor we understand the cognitive mechanism which is responsible for the interrelation of two discourses. As the described fractal model looks like two chains running around each other with an axis in the center, the cognitive attractor plays the role of that axis. We speak about contrast when two different things, phenomena or processes are opposed to each other. In the first stanza the contrast is revealed in defeated expectancy: the dogs under the legs of the knight in armour.

Consider  the second stanza: (1) Such plainness of the pre-baroque / (2) Hardly involves the eye, until / (3) It meets his left-hand gauntlet, still / (4) Clasped empty in the other; and / (5) One sees, with a sharp tender shock, / (6) His hand withdrawn, holding her hand [7, P. 33].

The main part of the ekphrasis here is represented in lines (3, 4, 6). The poet’s interpretation of what he observes is reflected in lines (1, 2, 5). The poet expresses his opinion of the detail that shocks the visitors – the hands of the knight and his wife. The two parts of ekphrasis remind the helical chains coiling around the same axis in a double molecule. On the one hand, the sculptor carved two joined hands to emphasize the idea of love and devotion, on the other hand, such detail shocks visitors. Here we deal with the contrast between the detail of the sculpture and the visitors’ reaction to it – suddenly they feel very surprised and even shocked.

In the third and fourth stanzas the poet speaks about the contradiction between what was expected and what happened to become real. They would not think to lie so long. / Such faithfulness in effigy / Was just a detail friends would see: / A sculptor’s sweet commissioned grace / Thrown off in helping to prolong / The Latin names around the base. // They would not guess how early in / their supine stationary voyage / the air would change to soundless damage, / Turn the old tenantry away; / How soon succeeding eyes begin / To look, not read [7, P. 33].

 According to the poet, the sculptor was asked to carve out the figures holding each other’s hand because the knight and his wife loved each other. The sculptor did what he had been asked to do not thinking the detail of the hands could prolong the knight and his wife. He turned his attention to Latin names around the base. But many people who now visit the tomb cannot read Latin and they pay much more attention to the hands than to Latin names. The reality described by the poet (in the lines belonging to the periferia of ekphrasis) is opposite to the intentions of the sculptor revealed in the main part of ekphrasis.

In the last stanza the poet explores such notion as ‘love”: what will survive of us is love : Time has transfigured them into / Untruth. The stone fidelity / They hardly meant has come to be / Their final blazon, and to prove / Our almost-instinct almost true / What will survive of us is love [7, P. 34].

In this stanza attention is given to the contrast of what was meant and what appeared to be. Instead of being just “a history in stone”, the tomb turned out to be the “final blazon of love”. It reminds us Adam and Eva who left Paradise hand in hand. Milton has put it in this way: They hand in hand with wandering steps and slow, / Through Eden took their solitary way [8, P. 219].

5. Conclusion

To sum up, we have described the fractal model “double DNA molecule” that visually represents interdiscursive relationships in ekphrasis, Ph. Larkin’s poem “The Arundel Tomb”. It is a model representing the connection between a work of art and poetry. The role of the axis in the model is played by the cognitive attractor of contrast. In our opinion such model can be applied to any ekphrasis representing an art work by verbal means, though it is not the only way to study interdiscursive relationships in ekphrasis.

Список литературы / References:
  1. Гаспаров, Б. М. Язык. Память. Образ. Лингвистика языкового существования / Б. М. Гаспаров. – Москва : Новое литературное обозрение, 1996. – 352 с.
  2. Кремнева, А. В. Интертекстуальность как одна из форм межтекстового взаимодействия в семиотическом пространстве культуры : монография / А. В. Кремнева. – Барнаул : АлтГТУ им. И. И. Ползунова, 2017. – 378 с.
  3. Олизько, Н. С. Синергетические механизмы реализации интердискурсивных отношений / Н. С. Олизько // Вопросы когнитивной лингвистики. – Тамбов, 2010. – № 1. – С. 66-73.
  4. Мамонова, Н. В. Фрактальная самоорганизация британского сказочного дискурса (на примере концепта «WELFARE»): дис. … канд. филол. наук / Н. В. Мамонова. – Челябинск, 2015. – 233 с.
  5. Энциклопедический словарь юного художника / Сост. Н. И. Платонова, В. Д. Синюков. – М.: Педагогика, 1983. – 416 с.
  6. Hewitt, Karen. An Anthology of Contemporary English poetry / Karen Hewitt, V. Ganin. – Oxford : Perspective Publishes Ltd., 2003. – 187 p.
  7. Larkin, P. An Arundel Tomb / P. Larkin // Hewitt K., Ganin V. An Anthology of Contemporary English Poetry. – Oxford : Perspective Publishes Ltd., 2003. – P. 33–34.
  8. Hewitt, Karen. Understanding English Literature / Karen Hewitt. – Oxford : Perspective Publishes Ltd., 2008. – 273 p.

Список литературы на английском / References in English:
  1. Gasparov, B. M. Yazyk. Pamyat. Obraz. Linguistika yazykovogo suschestvovaniya [Language. Memorry. Image. Linguistics of language existance] / B. M. Gasparov. – Moscow : Novoye literaturnoye obozreniye, 1996. – 352 p.
  2. Kremneva, A. V. Intertextualnost kak odna iz form mezhtekstovogo vzaimodeistviya v semioticheskom prostranstve kultury: monographiya [Intertexuality as one of the forms of intertexual relationships in semiotic cultural space] / A. V. Kremneva. – Barnaul : AltGTU im. I. I. Polzunova, 2017. – 238 p.
  3. Olizko, N. S. Sinergeticheskie mechanizmy realizatsii interdiskursibnych otnoshenii [Synergetic mechanizms of interdiscurdive relationships realization] / N. S. Olizko // Voprosy kognitivnoy lingvistiki. – Tambov, P 2010. – № 1. – P. 66-73.
  4. Mamonova, N. V. Fraktalnaya samoorganizatsiya britanskogo skazochnogo diskursa (na primerye kontsepta “WELFARE”) [Fraktal Self-organization of British fairy - tale discourse (on the example of the concept “WELFARE”]: diss. … kand. filol. nauk / N. V. Mamonova. – Chelyabinsk, 2015. – 233 p.
  5. Hewitt, Karen. An Anthology of Contemporary English poetry / Karen Hewitt, V. Ganin. – Oxford : Perspective Publishes Ltd., 2003. – 187 p.
  6. Hewitt, Karen. An Anthology of Contemporary English poetry / Karen Hewitt, V. Ganin. – Oxford : Perspective Publishes Ltd., 2003. – 187 p.
  7. Larkin, P. An Arundel Tomb / P. Larkin // Hewitt K., Ganin V. An Anthology of Contemporary English Poetry. – Oxford : Perspective Publishes Ltd., 2003. – P. 33–34.
  8. Hewitt, Karen. Understanding English Literature / Karen Hewitt. – Oxford : Perspective Publishes Ltd., 2008. – 273 p.

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