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Main page / "Knowledge. Understanding. Skill" Journal / Contents / 2014 / No. 1

Brumfield W. C. Russia and the West in F. Dostoyevskys Bildungsroman Podrostok (The Adolescent)

(Tulane University, New Orleans, USA)

Abstract ♦ This article examines Dostoevskii’s novel Podrostok both as a development or formation of character — a Bildungsroman in a Hegelian sense—and as commentary on Russia’s development in relation to the West. The complexities of character formation, illustrated through the perception of the “adolescent” Arkadii Dolgorukii, are related to the theme of the “accidental family” and the Arkadii’s attempt to compensate for the absent or uncertain father (Versilov).

This adolescent search for selfhood passes through a phase of alienation, or Hegelian Entäusserung (as presented in The Phenomenology of the Spirit). In the process of writing his own life commentary, Arkadii must reeducate (perevospitat’) himself and overcome his sense of inferiority and spiritual laceration — nadryv in Dostoevskii’s term.

False compensation for the sense of inferiority is expressed in Arkadii’s vain quest for power through wealth (the idea of Rothschild). This inner process is in turn a reflection of Russia’s complex relation to the West, a relation suffused with love and resentment, with a sense of inferiority and a claim of greatness. In examining this larger theme, the article introduces Nikolai Danilevskii’s political treatise Russia and Europe (1869, 1871), with its prophecy of an apocalyptic conflict between Russia and the West.

The characters of Versilov (the nobleman whose allegiance is to Europe) and Kraft (the ideological radical) represent polar positions in the adolescent’s struggle for identity, a quest that reflects the broader struggle of Russia itself. At the end of the novel Arkadii forgives his father and moves beyond ressentiment toward a maturity whose emblem is Peter the Great.

Keywords: Bildungsroman, character formation, alienation (Entäusserung), Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, nadryv, idea of Rothschild, Nikolai Danilevskii, Russia and Europe, the Golden Age, ressentiment, Max Scheler, communism, atheism, Russian Orthodox Church, iconography, photography, Paris Commune, Peter the Great.


Brumfield William Craft, Ph.D, Professor of Slavic Studies, Tulane University, New Orleans, USA. Postal address: 6823 Saint Charles Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70118, USA. Tel.: +1 (504) 865-5276. E-mail: William.brumfield@gmail.com

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Citation: Brumfield, W. C. (2014) Rossiia i Zapad v «pedagogicheskom» romane F. Dostoevskogo «Podrostok» [Russia and the West in F. Dostoyevsky’s Bildungsroman Podrostok (The Adolescent)]. Znanie. Ponimanie. Umenie, no. 1, pp. 214–222. (In Russ.).

Submission date: 10.12.2013.

RUSSIAN VERSION


REFERENCE

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Danilevskii, N. (1894) Rossiia i Evropa [Russia and Europe]. Saint Petersburg. (In Russ.).

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