Author: Liudmila I. Saraskina
Information about the author:

DSc in Philology, Leading Researcher, State Institute for Art Studies, Kozitskii Lane 5, 125009 Moscow, Russia.

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For citation:

Saraskina, L.I. “‘One Must Tell the Truth:’ Fyodor Dostoevsky and His Contemporaries in the Debate about the Results of the Crimean Campaign.” Dostoevsky and World Culture. Philological journal, no. 1 (21), 2023, pp. 96–140. (In Russ.)

Received: 22 Dec. 2022
Published: 25 March 2023
Issue: 2023 no. 1 (21)
Pages: 96-140

UDK: 821.161.1.0
BBK: 83.3(2=411.2)
Keywords: Dostoevsky, Crimean campaign, Europe, allied coalition, Tyutchev, Maykov, Semipalatinsk exile, three poems of 1854–1856, patriotic position, victory or defeat.
Abstract: The paper discusses F.M. Dostoevsky’s attitude towards the Crimean military campaign (1853–1856) and his understanding of the deep meaning of the armed conflict between Russia and the alliance which included the British, French, and Ottoman Empires, as well as the Kingdom of Sardinia. It is argued that F.M. Dostoevsky may be called a “child of the Crimean campaign,” even though he did not participate in it personally, as he remained, all through those months, first a convict and then an exile. However, it was the Crimean campaign that stimulated him to ponder about Russia’s position in the world and about Russia’s geopolitical interests. The Crimean campaign was also well “remembered” by many characters in F.M. Dostoevsky’s novels. The central theme of the paper is the destiny of the three poems that Dostoevsky wrote during his exile in the town of Semipalatinsk. In those poems, the author pointedly presented his evaluation of the events which formed and defined the basis of his worldview. It is sometimes claimed that the main purpose of writing those poems was just pragmatic, allegedly caused by the plight of the author and his desperate desire to come back to literature at any cost. In this paper, this claim is refuted. Especially emphasized is F.M. Dostoevsky’s later avowal that at the very time of the military confrontation he, even though a convict, wished Russia’s victory and not Russia’s defeat. Next, the paper analyses the utterances about the Crimean war by some like-minded contemporaries of F.M. Dostoevsky (the poets F.M. Tyutchev and A.N. Maykov, the historian N.Ya. Danilevsky) as compared with positions of intellectuals and politicians in Europe. F.M. Dostoevsky rejects the assertion that Russia suffered a humiliating defeat in the Crimean war, an assertion that was firmly rooted in the public consciousness and, for many years, taken almost as a universally recognized truth.


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