Prometheus Archetype as the Typological Basis of A. Bogdanov and Ayn Rand’s Characters

Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates


2018, Vol. 4. №4

Prometheus Archetype as the Typological Basis of A. Bogdanov and Ayn Rand’s Characters

For citation: Grigorovskaya A. V. 2018. “Prometheus Archetype as the Typological Basis of A. Bogdanov and Ayn Rand’s Characters”. Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates, vol. 4, no 4, pp. 134-146. DOI: 10.21684/2411-197X-2018-4-4-134-146

About the author:

Anastasiya V. Grigorovskaya, Associate Professor, Russian and Foreign Literature Department, Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Tyumen;


This article aims to compare the literary texts of Alexander Bogdanov, a Russian novelist, and Ayn Rand (Alisa Rozenbaum), an American novelist and a Russian emigrant. Their similarity is due to the context of “Russian Nietzscheanism” that had a great influence on both authors. This comparison is novel for the Russian literary criticism (though preceded by B. G. Rosenthal’ work in the USA), and its relevance is due to the interest in an individual utopia about the “superhuman” in literature.

The idea of “superhuman” (Nietzsche) is closely connected with the archetype of Prometheus which was considered in detail in the classical works of G.-G. Gadamer and A. Losev. It is this archetype that formed the basis of A. Bogdanov’s novels “Engineer Manni”, “Red Star” and the story “Celebration of Immortality”. The Promethean image was essential in the aesthetics of Marxism, and in Bogdanov’s work; it is interpreted as “the Renaissance person without individualism” (Rosenthal).

Despite the differences in the ideological explanations of the protagonists of “Promethean” type, Bogdanov and Rand’s texts have the range of similar connotations, such as admiration for the industrial process, its “poetization”; creation of the “active” Prometheus, the human-creator; the theme of the great man’s strike; the theme of the great ancestor. Ayn Rand’s texts demonstrate the Goethean variation of Prometheus image (the individualistic human-demiurge), while Bogdanov’s texts — “Aeschylean” (the altruistic human-demiurge). In a certain sense, Ayn Rand’s texts can be considered as “the correction of mistakes” of the “Russian Nietzscheanist” Bogdanov, whose texts contained the contradictions (a strong man, creator who obeys the crowd).


  1. Aleksandrov N. N. 2013. Zvezda Bogdanova [Bogdanov’s Star]. Moscow: Izd-vo Akademii trinitarizma.
  2. Belaya G. 2004. Don Kikhoty revolyutsii — opyt pobed i porazheniy [Don Quixotes of The Revolution — The Experience of Victories and Defeats]. Moscow: Russian State University for the Humanities. 
  3. Bogdanov A. Inzhener Menni [Engineer Menni]. In: Prazdnik bessmertiya: izbrannye proizvedeniya. Saint-Petersburg: Lenizdat. 
  4. Bogdanov A. Krasnaya zvezda [Red Star]. In: Prazdnik bessmertiya: izbrannye proizvedeniya. Saint Petersburg: Lenizdat. 
  5. Bogdanov A. Prazdnik bessmertiya [Celebration of Immortality]. In: Prazdnik bessmertiya: Izbrannyye proizvedeniya. Saint Petersburg: Lenizdat. 
  6. Gadamer G.-G. Prometey i tragediya kul’tury [Prometheus and The Tragedy of Culture]. Accessed 14 November 2018.
  7. Losev A. Mirovoy obraz Prometeya [The World Image of Prometheus]. Accessed 14 November 2018. 
  8. Plyutto P. A. 1996. Problema cheloveka v tvorchestve A. A. Bogdanova [The Problem of Human in A. A.Bogdanov’s Works]. Cand. Sci. (Philol.) diss. Moscow.
  9. Rand A. 2009. Atlant raspravil plechi [Atlas Shrugged] in 3 vols. Vol. 1. Moscow: Alpina Business Books.
  10. Rand A. 2009. Atlant raspravil plechi [Atlas Shrugged] in 3 vols. Vol. 3. Moscow: Alpina Business Books.
  11. Rand A. 2009. Gimn [Anthem]. Moscow: Alpina Publisher.
  12. Rand A. 2010. Istochnik [The Fountainhead] in 2 vols. Vol. 2. Moscow: Alpina Publisher.
  13. Rand A. 2015. Stroiteli monumentov [The Monument Builders]. In: Dobrodetel egoisma, pp. 111-118. Moscow: Alpina Publisher. 
  14. Rand A. 2015. Etika kollektivizma [Collectivized Ethics]. In: Dobrodetel egoisma, pp. 103-110. Moscow: Alpina Publisher. 
  15. Safranski R. 2016. Nitsshe: biografiya ego mysli [Nietzsche: Biography of His Thoughts]. Moscow: Delo.
  16. Sineokaya Yu. V. Rubezh vekov: russkaya sud’ba Sverkhcheloveka Nitsshe [The Turn of the Century: The Russian Destiny of the Superhuman Nietzsche]. Accessed 14 November 2018. 
  17. Speranskaya N. 2014. Dionis presleduyemyy [Dionysus Pursued]. Moscow: Kul’turnaya revolyutsiya. 
  18. Speranskaya N. Russkaya antichnost’ [Russian Antiquity]. Accessed 14 November 2018. 
  19. Shafarevich I. 2003. Sotsializm kak yavleniye mirovoy istorii [Socialism as the Phenomenon of the World History]. Moscow: Eksmo.
  20. Shpakovskiy V. “Krasnaya Zvezda” Aleksandra Bogdanova [“Red Star” by Alexander Bogdanov]. Accessed 14 November 2018. 
  21. Etkind A. 2001. Tolkovaniye puteshestviy. Rossiya i Amerika v travelogakh i intertekstakh [Interpretation of Travels: Russia and America in Travelogues and Intertexts]. Moscow: Novoye literaturnoye obozreniye. 
  22. Cody J. Ayn Rand’s Promethean heroes. Accessed 14 November 2018. 
  23. Coffman S. E. 1965. Howard Roark as hero: Thesis for the degree of Master of Arts. Denton, Texas.
  24. Gladstein M. R. 2000. Atlas Shrugged: Manifesto of the mind. New-York: Twayne Publishers.
  25. Grigorovskaya A. V. 2018. “Ayn Rand ‘Integrated man’ and Russian Nietzscheanism”. The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, vol. 18, no 2, pp. 308-334. DOI: 10.5325/jaynrandstud.18.2.0308
  26. Jetton M. 2018. “Egoism and Others”. The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, no 1, vol. 18, pp. 55-83. DOI: 10.5325/jaynrandstud.18.1.0084
  27. Lehman J. 1937. Prometheus and the Bolsheviks. London: Gresset Press.
  28. Rosenthal B. G. 2002. New Myth, New World: From Nietzsche to Stalinism. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press
  29. Rosenthal B. G. 2004. “The Russian Subtext of ‘Atlas Shrugged’ and ‘The Fountainhead’”. The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, no 1, vol. 6, pp. 195-225.
  30. Sciabarra C. M. 2013. Ayn Rand. The Russian Radical. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.