Author: Tatiana A. Boborykina
Information about the author:

PhD in Philology, Associate Professor, Senior Lecturer, St. Petersburg State University, 7-9 Universitetskaia Emb., 199034 St. Petersburg, Russia.

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For citation:

Boborykina, T.A. “Tarnished Virtues: From Richardson to Beardsley”. Dostoevsky and World Culture. Philological journal, no. 3 (15), 2021, pp. 98-120. (In Russ.)

Received: 05 Feb. 2021
Published: 25 Sep. 2021
Issue: 2021 no. 3 (15)
Pages: 98-120
UDK: 79+82
BBK: 83.3
Keywords: Poor Folk, “tarnished virtues”, epistolary novel, Dostoevsky, Richardson, Fielding, Karamzin, Pushkin, Lovelace, Beardsley
Abstract: The starting point of the article is a statement about “tarnished virtues” by one of the characters of Poor Folk, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s first novel. The word combination evokes various associations, allusions, and numerous variants of interpretation. A remark on virtues made in the frame of an epistolary novel immediately recalls the novels of a coryphaeus of the genre, 18th-Century English writer Samuel Richardson, especially his first one, in which the word “virtue” appears in the title – Pamela Or, Virtue Rewarded. However, Richardson’s comprehension of virtue seems to be quite narrow, a fact that had been already noticed by his contemporary writer Henry Fielding, who wrote a parody on Pamela. A brief analysis of the parody discovers a common vision on the nature of virtue by both Fielding and Dostoevsky, which becomes even clearer when one finds out their mutual reference point – Cervantes’ Don Quixote. The article explores other novels by Richardson, his influence upon European literature as well as his inner correlation with such writers as Karamzin and Pushkin. Besides, the article investigates the question – raised by its author some years ago – of a certain similarity between the plotlines of Clarissa and Poor Folk, the appearance of “Lovelace” in Dostoevsky’s first book, and the sudden turn of the plot from Richardson’s glorification of virtue to Dostoevsky’s dramatic realism. A few interpretations of Poor Folk are briefly analyzed, including that of Aubrey Beardsley, who illustrated the novel. Several explanations of the sentence on “tarnished virtues” are explored, and finally, the author offers a new one.


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