The Star Černobyl’. Telling the Nuclear Disaster.

  • Gabriella Elina Imposti University of Bologna
Keywords: Černobyl’, nuclear disaster, Julija Voznesenskaja, Christa Wolf, Vladimir Gubarëv.


From the Apocalypse: «... there went down from heaven a great star, burning like a flame, and it came on a third part of the rivers and on the fountains of waters. And the name of the star is Wormwood».

Another word for Wormwood in Russian is “Černobyl’”. Once Soviet scientists maintained that nuclear power stations were «stars in the heavens of progress» that the government would disseminate within the URSS territory. Behind this pun, one can see the tragedy of the nuclear power station which after it explosion on April 26, 1986, is still nowadays spreading death, ruin and diseases. Is it an omen of the fall of the Soviet Empire? Is it a warning for humankind against its continual exploitation of the resources of the earth?

This essay analyses the novel by the Russian dissident Julija Voznesenskaja The Star Černobyl’ (1987) in particular, comparing it with Christa Wolf’s novel Accident (1987), Vladimir Gubarëv's drama Sarcophagus: a Tragedy (1986) and Nobel Prize Svetlana Aleksievič's Chernobyl Prayer: A Chronicle of the Future, written ten years after the catastrophe. It is possible to analyse this novel from a feminist perspective: not by chance the main characters are three sisters who, through their testimony and sacrifice, contribute in keeping alive the memory of the tragedy.


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Author Biography

Gabriella Elina Imposti, University of Bologna
Gabriella Elina Imposti is Full Professor of Russian Literature in the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Bologna University. She has published several articles on Russian and Italian Futurism: The First World War in Italian and Russian Futurism: F.T. Marinetti, Vladimir Mayakovsky and Velimir Khlebnikov, Futurism Studies Yearbook 2016. She is also the author of a book on a major Russian philologist, linguist, and scholar of versification, Alexander Vostokov (Aleksandr Christoforovič Vostokov. Dalla pratica poetica agli studi metrico-filologici, Bologna, CLUEB, 2000). She has written about Russian Romanticism and its reception of British and German literature, contemporary Russian women writers and the development of gender studies in Russia: “La grande muta si è messa a parlare”, in Denissova G., Imposti G., Fateeva N. (eds), LEI. Racconti russi al femminile, 2008. She has also published several articles on Tolstoy and Dostoevskii, as well as on Andrzej Wajda's cinematography. For further information:


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How to Cite
Imposti, G. (2017). The Star Černobyl’. Telling the Nuclear Disaster. Between, 7(14).
The Tragic Mode and the Social Conflicts