Author: Boris N. Tikhomirov
Information about the author:

Doctor of Philological Sciences, Deputy Research Director of F.M. Dostoevsky Literary-Memorial Museum (Saint Petersburg).

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For citation:

Tikhomirov B.N. About the Genesis of Dostoevsky’s “Italian dream” Radcliffe or pseudo-Radcliffe? Dostoevsky and World Culture. Philological journal, 2020, No 2(10), pp. 128-152.

Issue: 2020 № (10)
Pages: 128-152
DOI: 10.22455/2619-0311-2020-2-128-152
UDK: 821.161.1+821.111
BBK: 83.3(2=411.2)+84.4
Keywords: Dostoevsky, childhood readings, Italy, Ann Radcliffe, pseudoRadcliffian, Gothic novels.
Abstract: The article is dedicated to the problem of Dostoevsky’s childhood readings. The author focuses on two late witnesses by the writer dating 1860s where he declares the profound impression left on him teenager by the works of the English writer Ann Radcliffe (1764–1823), one of the most popular writers of Gothic novels, and also acknowledges, that his dream about visiting Italy was born thanks to these childhood readings. In his letter to Ya. Polonsky dated 1861 Dostoevsky affirms that Radcliffe’s characters “penetrated” into his mind and some “rave” there “even now”. In the same letter, Dostoevsky names some of those characters (Alfonso, Caterina, Lucia, don Pedro, and donna Clara), thus rising a serious problem (not only) for commentators, as in Radcliffe’s novels available in Russian translation at the beginning of 19th century no characters with such names can be found. The author of the article suggests that the books read in Dostoevsky’s family between the 1820s–1830s were attributed to Radcliffe by translators and editors. The verification of this hypothesis required to study a series of works, representing the Russian “pseudo-Radcliffian”. As a result, had been classified 18 novels and short stories edited in Russia between 1801 and 1830 under the name of Radcliffe. All the works had been analyzed to identify the characters named by Dostoevsky, as also events located in Italy. The article describes some pseudo-Radcliffian works, that could have been part of Dostoevsky’s childhood readings, and identifies characters and event, that lead Dostoevsky teenager “to rave feverishly in his sleep”

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