Abstract. The article examines the perception of Rome by three American writers belonging to different generations – M. Twain (“The Innocents Abroad”), H. James (“Daisy Miller”) and T. Williams (“The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone”). The article is based on the theoretical premises of Russian researchers who, after Yury Lotman, turned to the phenomenon of “urban text”. At the same time, the “Roman text” finds its unique embodiment in various kinds of national literatures. In the course of the analysis of American literature, in which the “Roman text” is notable for its peculiarity, we conclude that the topography of Rome described with documentary authenticity becomes not only the place of action in the works of Twain, James, and Williams. Intertwining all the symbolic codes of the Roman text, these authors interpret them in accordance with their own ideological and aesthetic positions, thus adding to and partly deconstructing the established canon: Twain polemically opposes the decline of the “eternal Roman text” to the progress of the new “American text”; James connects well-known cites of eternal Rome with the theme of obsolete world, which prejudice is as immutable and religiously guarded as its ruins; Williams reinterprets and problematizes the idea of Rome’s “greatness”. All great cities have created their mythology, which is reproduced and interpreted by new generations again and again. In this context, the first place is occupied by Rome as one of the key images of world culture. This article focuses on the perception of Rome presented in the books of three American writers belonging to different generations – M. Twain (“The Innocents Abroad”, G. James (“Daisy Miller”) and T. Williams (“The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone”) – and reveals the interaction of the Roman text shaped over centuries with the texts created by these authors. In all these works Rome is described with topographical accuracy but at the same time, the reliable description of Rome is not only a background of the narrative but performs different functions in the artistic structure. The authors deconstruct the canonical interpretation of Rome, at the same time contributing to what ultimately can be called “Roman text”.
Keywords: interpretation, perception, mythology, deconstruction, Roman text.