Author: Vladimir A. Victorovich
Information about the author:

Doctor of Letters, Professor of the DepartmentDoctor of Letters, Professor of the Departmentof Literature at the Kolomna State University of Humanities and Social Studies(Kolomna).

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For citation:

Viktorovich V.A. Dostoevsky. The Question of the Folk. Dostoevsky andViktorovich V.A. Dostoevsky. The Question of the Folk. Dostoevsky andWorld Culture, Philological journal, 2019, No 4(8), pp. 50-67

Issue: 2019 № 4 (8)
Pages: 50-68
DOI: 10.22455/2619-0311-2019-4-50-67
UDK: 82+821.161.1+2-1
BBK: 83+83.3(2=411.2)+86.2
Keywords: Dostoevsky, Russian people, the evolution of a writer’s worldview, debates about utopia.


Abstract: The acquaintance with common folk and the reunification with it becamea fundamental base of all Dostoevsky’s work. The article examines different stages of theestablishing of Dostoevsky’s “folk studies” and reminiscence of it in Russian history andculture. For Dostoevsky, folk is evidently not a myth, nor even an archetype. It is the fleshand blood of his work. Dostoevsky's worldview is fully popular, not only certain motifsand images. This worldview was shaped by life experiences: the first one was the writer’schildhood in Darovoe, the second was hard labor. Five summer vacations in Darovoe andfour years in Omsk prison are somehow deeply connected.In different ways, all Russian 19th century literature was an attempt to go towards thepeople. A key role in this process was played by the Notes from the House of the Dead, wherethe main character is not an outsider but a person who was thrown by a twist of fate intothe depth of the life of his people, and experiences its laws firsthand. Here, he discoversthe anthropological roots of “pugachevshchina”, and at the same time develops the nativistidea of uniting the educated people with the common folk. The plot of the Notes from theHouse of the Dead consists of gradual acquaintance with the Russian people, an approachto it, that eventually transforms the subject. The miracle of the author’s transformation(“the accepting of Christianity”) through the acquaintance with his people happens in themetaphysical depth of The Notes from the House of the Dead, and later, in a capsule, is toldin the story “The Peasant Marey”, in the light of the writer’s country childhood.The most widespread accusation against Dostoevsky is of utopia and idealizationof common people. But the writer knew, as clear as his opponents, the weaknesses andsins of the masses; he anticipated possible scenarios, where they would come to be fatal.In A Writer’s Diary (1881) Dostoevsky spoke about the necessity of “sanitation of thisgreat root, which is the origin of everything”. His conception of a “God-bearing folk” waseagerly criticized in the 20th century. Here are cited some episodes of the polemic; theversion of S.N. Bulgakov is presented as the most adequate.



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