Author: Marina A. Shalina
Information about the author:

PhD in Philology, Associate Professor, Department of Philological Disciplines and Methods of Teaching, Evpatoria Institute of Social Sciences, V.I. Vernadsky Crimean Federal University, Prosmushkinykh 6, 297408 Evpatoria, Crimea, Russia.

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For citation:

Shalina, M.A. “On the Question of ‘Living Life’ in Dostoevsky’s Novel The Adolescent”. Dostoevsky and World Culture. Philological journal, no. 4 (16), 2021, pp. 42–57. (In Russ.)

Received: 9 June 2021
Published: 25 Dec. 2021
Issue: 2021 no. 4 (16)
Pages: 42-57
UDK: 821.16.1.0
BBK: 83.3(2=411.2)
Keywords: “living life”, Dostoevsky, The Adolescent, female images, beauty, ideal, great idea, the idea of the immortality of the soul, sacrifice, motherhood.
Abstract: The article examines the specifics of Dostoevsky’s comprehension of the phenomenon of “living life” and its correlation with the female images in the novel The Adolescent. The author assumes that the decision to name Katerina Nikolaevna Akhmakova “living life” belongs exclusively to the fantasy of Arkady, who is in love with her, carried away and blinded by the her brilliant beauty, and it does not coincide with the author’s position. Sometimes in Dostoevsky studies it is stated the vagueness of Dostoevsky’s ideas about “living life”, however, as it is proved by the numerous contexts of the use of the formula in journalism and the writer’s notebooks (including during the making of the novel The Adolescent), Dostoevsky had a very specific view of this phenomenon and associated it with the “great idea” of the immortality of the soul, and with the special maternal and messianic role of Orthodox Russia. In this regard, the article suggests that the author’s concept of “living life” is nearer to the image of the “mother” Sofia Andreevna Dolgorukaya. It is concluded that in the novel, with the help of opposition and at the same time juxtaposition of the “queen of the earth” and the “angel of heaven”, Dostoevskij creates an artistic image of the Russian woman in its dual unity: flesh, intellect (Akhmakova) and soul, heart (Sophia). The personalities of both heroines also embody Dostoevsky’s idea of “life” in its various forms: the earthly one, made of flesh, and the heavenly, made of spirit.


1. Bogdanova, O.A. “Spaset li mir krasota? Problema krasoty i zhenskie kharaktery v romannom tvorchestve F.M. Dostoevskogo. Stat’ia vtoraia” [“Will Beauty Save the World? The Problem of Beauty and Female Characters in Dostoevsky’s Novels. Article No. 2”]. Novyi filologicheskii vestnik, no. 1 (28), 2014, pp. 41–69. (In Russ.)

2. Gizetti, A.A. “Gordye iazychnitsy” [“Proud Heathens”]. Tvorcheskii put’ Dostoevskogo: sb. statei [Dostoevsky’s Creative Development: Collected Articles], ed. by N.L. Brodsky, Seiatel’ E.V. Vysocky Publ., Leningrad, 1924, pp. 186–196. (In Russ.)

3. Dostoevskii, F.M. Polnoe sobranie sochinenii: v 30 tomakh [Complete Works: in 30 vols]. Leningrad, Nauka Publ., 1972–1990. (In Russ.)

4. Kasatkina, T.A. O tvoriashchei prirode slova: Ontologichnost’ slova v tvorchestve F.M. Dostoevskogo kak osnova “realizma v vysshem smysle” [On the Poietic Nature the Word. The Ontology of the Word in the Work of Fyodor Dostoevsky as the Fundament of “Realism in a Higher Sense”]. Moscow, IWL RAS Publ., 2004. 480 p. (In Russ.)

5. Komarovich, V. “Roman Dostoevskogo ‘Podrostok’, kak khudozhestvennoe edinstvo. Kniga Vtoraia” [“Dostoevsky’s novel The Adolescent as an Artistic Unity. Book 2”]. F.M. Dostoevskii. Stat’i i materialy [F.M. Dostoevsky: Articles and Materials], ed. by A.S. Dolinin, Leningrad, Mysl’ Publ., 1924, pp. 31–68. (In Russ.)

6. Kunilskii, A.E. Tema “zhizni” v russkoi literature XIX veka i u Dostoyevskogo [The Theme of “Life” in Russian 19th-Century Literature and Dostoevsky]. Petrozavodsk, Petrozavodsk University Publishing House, 2019. 148 p. (In Russ.)

7. Kustovskaia, M.A. “‘Zhazhda zhizni’ i ‘zhivaia zhizn’’: dialektika idei ‘zhizni’ u F.M. Dostoevskogo” [“‘Lust for Life’ and ‘Living Life’: the Dialectic of the Idea of ‘Life’ by Fyodor Dostoevsky”]. Dostoevskii i sovremennost’: materialy XXIV Mezhdunarodnyh Starorusskih chtenii 2009 goda [Dostoevsky and Modernity: Materials of the 24th International Staraya Russa Readings 2009], Veliky Novgorod, 2010, pp. 178–183. (In Russ.)

8. Kustovskaia, M.A. “‘Zhivaia zhizn’’ v publitsistike F.M. Dostoevskogo” [“‘Living Life’ in the Journalism of Fyodor Dostoevsky”]. Dostoevsky Monographs, vol. 4: Dostoevskii i zhurnalizm [Dostoevsky and Journalism], St. Petersburg, Dmitry Bulanin Publ., 2013, pp. 268–279. (In Russ.)

9. Meletinskii, E.M. Zametki o tvorchestve Dostoevskogo [Notes on the Work of Dostoevsky]. Moscow, RGGU Publ., 2001, 187 p. (In Russ.)

10. Tikhomirov, B.N. “Iz tvorcheskoi istorii romana F.M. Dostoevskogo ‘Prestuplenie i nakazanie’: (Sonia Marmeladova i Porfirii Petrovich)” [“From the Creative History of Dostoevsky’s Novel Crime and Punishment: (Sonya Marmeladova and Porfiry Petrovich)”]. Russkaia literatura, no. 2, 1986, pp. 217–223. (In Russ.)