Author: Olga A. Bogdanova
Information about the author:

DSc in Philology, Leading Research Fellow, Department of Russian literature of the late 19th – early 20th century, А.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 a, 121069 Moscow, Russia.

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For citation:

Bogdanova, O.A. “The Semiotics of Dacha in Dostoevsky’s Story ‘The Eternal Husband’.” Dostoevsky and World Culture. Philological journal, no. 3 (23), 2023, pp. 66–80. (In Russ.)

Received: 27 June 2023
Published: 25 Sept. 2023
Issue: 2023 no. 3 (23)
Pages: 66-80

UDK: 821.161.1.0
BBK: 83.3(2=411.2)+86.2
Keywords: Dostoevsky, “The Eternal Husband,” Russian estate, Russian dacha, dacha text, dacha topos, estate topos, dynamics.
Abstract: Dostoevsky’s story “The Eternal Husband” (1870) is analyzed here for the first time in the light of the estate/dacha topics present in it and placed in the context of the development of the “dacha text” in 19th-century Russian literature. The dynamics of Dostoevsky’s perception of the dacha are also traced: from positive connotations in early works to negative, ironic ones in late works. It is established that while the “estate text” is present in most of the writer’s works of 1840s–1870s, the “dacha text” can be found mainly in two works of the late 1860s: the novel The Idiot (1868) and the story “The Eternal Husband.” The reason for Dostoevsky’s short–term fascination with the “dacha topos” in the post-reform era is the search for a platform for the interaction between Russian social stratums to develop a nationwide worldview and identify the new “best people,” future leaders of the country. Such a role was played in The Idiot by the dachas of Epanchins and Lebedev. In “The Eternal Husband” the dachas of Pogoreltsevs and Zakhlebinins also serves as a neutral, middle space for an equal dialogue between “people of different worlds:” Velchaninov, a prominent figure of the high society, and Trusotsky, a provincial official. However, here the sociocultural possibilities of the “dacha topos” are disappointed: now the dacha is only the focus of petty-bourgeois vulgarity and mediocrity, a sign of decrease compared to the estate. Boris Tikhomirov’s conclusions about the involution of Velchaninov’s inner world, made at the level of characterology, are confirmed by our analysis at the level of topics: the spiritual and moral degradation of the hero is accompanied by his transition from the world of “estate” values to the sphere of “dacha” interests, which corresponds to a noticeable trend in the life of the Russian educated class of the last third of the 19th century. In our opinion, this can explain Dostoevsky’s refusal to develop the “dacha topos” in the late 1860s and return to the “estate topos” in the last three novels written in the 1870s.

Acknowledgements: The research was carried out at IWL RAS with a grant from the Russian Science Foundation, project no. 22-18-00051



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