Izvestiya of Saratov University.

Philology. Journalism

ISSN 1817-7115 (Print)
ISSN 2541-898X (Online)

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Ivanova E. A. The confrontation of savageness and civilization in Joe Abercrombie’s fantasy Western Red Country. Journal Izvestiya of Saratov University. Philology. Journalism, 2024, vol. 24, iss. 1, pp. 85-89. DOI: 10.18500/1817-7115-2024-24-1-85-89, EDN: GXYKVF

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The confrontation of savageness and civilization in Joe Abercrombie’s fantasy Western Red Country

Ivanova Elizaveta Andreevna, Saratov State Conservatoire named after L.V. Sobinov

In the novel Red Country the famous British author Joe Abercrombie carries out a genre experiment combining in one book the features of such distant and incongruous genres as fantasy and Western. He constructs in his imaginary world a territory with all specific characteristics of a Western chronotopos and actively uses typical plot devices of the Western. But on the level of ideas the plot of Red Country comes into a conflict with the basic values of the Western, instilling the clichés borrowed from this genre with a unique author’s meaning. A good example of this is Abercrombie’s unexpected development of the subject of savageness and civilization. A conflict with savage Indians who must give way to the white man and his civilization is an obligatory part of Western ideology. The attitude to savages in Westerns has undergone some changes, but the opposition of savages and the civilized society remains unchanged. In Red Country Abercrombie uses traditional episodes of Indian attacks etc. according to the Western genre conventions, but afterwards he shows the relativity of the ideas of civilization and savageness themselves; since attributing these characteristics to one or the other group of characters depends exclusively on one’s point of view. The problems of the civilization of the Western kind are also highlighted: its coming leads to the destruction of the indigenous ways of life and brings about the reign of unscrupulous greed. Characters, portrayed as traditional savages in the beginning of the novel, are seen later already as bearers of dying ancient cultures. The fact that they are becoming extinct under the pressure of modern civilization does not bring any satisfaction, as a victory over savageness in a Western should do. This is achieved by actualizing the understanding of dying ancient cultures inherent to fantasy. Therefore, the novel Red Country reconsiders the genres of Western and fantasy and supports values of the modern multicultural and post-colonial society. 

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