Author: Olga A. Bogdanova
Information about the author:

DSc in Philology, Leading Research Fellow, Department of Russian Literature of the Late 19th – Early 20th Centuries, A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 a, 121069 Moscow, Russia.

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

For citation:

Bogdanova, O.A. “Poetics and Textual Analysis of Dostoevsky’s Novel The Adolescent in the Studies of Russian Authors of the 1920s–1940s”. Dostoevsky and World Culture. Philological journal, no. 4 (16), 2021, pp. 130–175. (In Russ.)

Received: 02 Aug. 2021
Published: 25 Dec. 2021
Issue: 2021 no. 4 (16)
Pages: 130-175
UDK: 821.161.1.0
BBK: 83+83.3(2=411.2)+86.2
Keywords: Dostoevsky, The Adolescent, first half of the 21st century, Soviet academy, Russian emigration, manuscript corpus, textual criticism, poetics.
Abstract: In the 1920s–1940s poetics became the main aspect of the study of The Adolescent both in the USSR and in Russian emigration. Of particular importance is the work on the handwritten corpus of the novel. The review examines the publications of the surviving manuscripts and the main studies devoted to their analysis. The stages of poetics studies and textual criticism on The Adolescent are traced in chronological order. The review consists of three sections: studies on the poetics and textual studies of The Adolescent in 1920s USSR (L.P. Grossman, N.P. Antsiferov, R.V. Ivanov-Razumnik, V.L. Komarovich, M.G. Davidovich, B.M. Engelgardt, S.A. Askoldov, S.N. Durylin, M.M. Bakhtin); Russian emigration about the poetics of The Adolescent in 1920s-1940s (I.I. Lapshin, R.V. Pletnev, A.L. Bem, P.M. Bicilli, K.V. Mochulsky); studies on the poetics of The Adolescent in 1930s-1940s USSR (G.I. Chulkov, A.S. Dolinin). The main issues that occupied Soviet and emigrant scholars of the 1920s and 1940s are highlighted: the ideological and artistic continuity of the novels The Devils, The Adolescent, and The Brothers Karamazov as the development of the idea of the plan for The Life of a Great Sinner; Dostoevsky’s creative method in the novel The Adolescent; the creative history and type of the novel; plot-compositional features and narrative strategies; motives and symbols; typology and characterology of heroes, including reminiscences from Griboedov and Pushkin, artistic polemics with L.N. Tolstoy and “duality”; prototypes of characters; speech style. The chapter on the novel in the book Dostoevsky. Life and Works by the emigrant scholar K.V. Mochulsky (1947) is recognized as the pinnacle of the study of The Adolescent in the first half of the 20th century, as it absorbed practically the entire research discourse on both sides of the USSR border and gave a complete picture of its problems and poetics. At the same time, the book is free from the traces of ideological coercion that Soviet scholars experienced in the 1930s and 1940s.


1. Al’tman, I. “Grubaia fal’sifikatsiia” [“Gross Falsification”]. Znamia, no. 3, 1948, pp. 179–184. (In Russ.)

2. Antsiferov, N.P. “Nepostizhimyi gorod…” [“Incomprehensible City...”]. St. Petersburg, Lenizdat Publ., 1991. 335 p. (In Russ.)

3. Askol’dov, S.A. “Psikhologiia kharakterov u Dostoevskogo” [“The Psychology of Characters in Dostoevsky”]. F.M. Dostoevskii. Stat’i i materialy [F.M. Dostoevsky. Articles and Materials], ed. by A.S. Dolinin, issue 2, Leningrad; Moscow, Mysl’ Publ., 1924, pp. 5–27. (In Russ.)

4. Bakhtin, M.M. Sobranie sochinenii: v 7 tomakh [Collected Works: in 7 vols], vol. 2. Moscow, Russkie slovari Publ., 2000. 800 p. (In Russ.)

5. Berezhkov, F.F. “Dostoevskii na Zapade (1916-1928)” [“Dostoevsky in the West (1916-1928)”]. Dostoevskii. Sbornik statei [Dostoevsky. Collected Articles], Moscow, GAKhN Publ., 1928, pp. 277–326. (In Russ.)

6. Bitsilli, P.M. “K voprosu o vnutrennei forme romana Dostoevskogo” [“On the Question of the Inner Form of Dostoevsky’s Novel”]. Izbrannye trudy po filologii [Selected Works on Philology], Moscow, Nasledie Publ., 1996, pp. 483–549. (In Russ.)

7. Bogdanova, O.A. “Esteticheskie idei B. Khristiansena i rossiiskaia nauka o Dostoevskom v 1910-1920-e gg. (M.M. Bakhtin, B.M. Engel’gardt, V.L. Komarovich, Iu.A. Nikol’skii)” [“Aesthetic Ideas of B. Christiansen and the Russian Research on Dostoevsky in the 1910s-1920s (M.M. Bakhtin, B.M. Engelhardt, V.L. Komarovich, Yu.A. Nikolsky)”]. Novyi filologicheskii vestnik, no. 4 (31), 2014, pp. 21–33. (In Russ.)

8. Bogdanova, O.A. “Dostoevskii v nemetskikh izdatel’skikh proektakh pervoi poloviny XX veka (‘Piper-ferlag’)” [“Dostoevsky in German Publishing Projects of the First Half of the 20th Century (‘Piper-verlag’)”]. Russkaia literatura v zerkalakh mirovoi kul’tury. Retseptsiia. Perevody. Interpretatsiia [Russian Literature in the Mirrors of World Culture. Reception. Translations. Interpretation], ed. by A.B. Kudelin, V.V. Polonsky, M.F. Nadiarnykh, Moscow, IWL RAS, 2015, pp. 800–848. (In Russ.)

9. Bogdanova, O.A. “O proiskhozhdenii literaturovedcheskogo poniatiia ‘polifoniia’” [“On the Origin of the Literary Concept ‘Polyphony’”]. Stefanos, no. 3 (17), 2016, May, pp. 220–226. (In Russ.)

10. Bogdanova, O.A. “Issledovateli Dostoevskogo v SSSR 1920-1930-kh gg.: nauchnoe soobshchestvo vs liminal’naia gruppa” [“Dostoevsky’s Researchers in USSR of 1920-1930: Scientific Community vs Liminal Group”]. Novyi filologicheskii vestnik, no. 3 (50), 2019, pp. 283–294. (In Russ.)

11. Bogdanova, O.A. “Retseptsiia romana F.M. Dostoevskogo ‘Podrostok’ v issledovaniiakh russkikh avtorov 1900–1940-kh gg.: religiozno-filosofskoe osmyslenie, biografika, psikhoanaliz” [“The Reception of Dostoevsky’s Novel The Adolescent in the Studies of Russian Authors in 1900s–1940s: Religious and Philosophical Understanding, Biography, Psychoanalysis”]. Dostoevskii i mirovaia kul’tura. Filologicheskii zhurnal, no. 3 (15), 2021, pp. 157–195. (In Russ.)

12. Brodskii, N.L. “Ugasshii zamysel. ‘Zhitie velikogo greshnika’ (Plan romana)” [“A Faded Intent. ‘The Life of a Great Sinner’ (Plan for a Novel)”]. Dokumenty po istorii literatury i obshchestvennosti. Vyp. 1. F.M. Dostoevskii [Documents on the History of Literature and Society. Issue 1. F.M. Dostoevsky], prepared for publication by N.L. Brodsky, Moscow, Tsentrarkhiv RSFSR Publ., 1922, pp. 63–77. (In Russ.)

13. Viktorovich, V.A., and Shchennikov, G.K. “Podrostok” [“The Adolescent”]. Dostoevskii: Sochineniia, pis’ma, dokumenty. Slovar’-spravochnik [Dostoevsky: Essays, Letters, Documents. Reference Dictionary], ed. by G.K. Shchennikov, B.N. Tikhomirov, St. Petersburg, Pushkinskii Dom Publ., 2008, pp. 132–146. (In Russ.)

14. Grossman, L.P. Biblioteka Dostoevskogo po neizdannym materialam. S prilozheniem kataloga biblioteki Dostoevskogo [Dostoevsky’s Library of Unpublished Materials. With the Application of the Dostoevsky Library Catalog]. Odessa, A.A. Ivasenko Publ., 1919. 167 p. (In Russ.)

15. Grossman, L.P. Seminarii po Dostoevskomu. Materialy, bibliografiia i kommentarii [Seminaries on Dostoevsky. Materials, Bibliography, and Commentary]. Moscow; Petrograd, State Publishing House, 1922. 120 p. (In Russ.)

16. Davidovich, M.G. “Problema zanimatel’nosti v romanakh Dostoevskogo” [“The Problem of Occupation in Dostoevsky’s Novels”]. Tvorcheskii put’ Dostoevskogo: sbornik statei [Dostoevsky’s Creative Path: Collected Articles], ed. by N.L. Brodsky, Leningrad, Seiatel’ Publ., 1924, pp. 104–130. (In Russ.)

17. Dokumenty po istorii literatury i obshchestvennosti. Vyp. 1. F.M. Dostoevskii [Documents on the History of Literature and Society. Issue 1. F.M. Dostoevsky]. Moscow, Tsentrarkhiv RSFSR Publ., 1922. 79 p. (In Russ.)

18. Dolinin, A.S. V tvorcheskoi laboratorii Dostoevskogo (Istoriia sozdaniia romana “Podrostok”) [In Dostoevsky’s Creative Laboratory (The History of the Creation of the Novel The Adolescent)]. Moscow; Leningrad, Sovetskii pisatel’ Publ., 1947. 174 p. (In Russ.)

19. Dolinin, A.S. Poslednie romany Dostoevskogo. Kak sozdavalis’ “Podrostok” i “Brat’ia Karamazovy” [Dostoevsky’s Last Novels. How The Adolescent and The Brothers Karamazov Were Created]. Moscow; Leningrad, Sovetskii pisatel’ Publ., 1963. 344 p. (In Russ.)

20. Dostoevskii, F.M. Polnoe sobranie khudozhestvennyh proizvedenii: v 13 tomakh [Complete Works of Fiction: in 13 vols]. Ed. by B.V. Tomashevsky and K.I. Khalabaev. Moscow; Leningrad, State Publishing House, 1926–1930. (In Russ.)

21. Dostoevskii, F.M. Pis’ma [Letters]. Ed. and comm. by A.S. Dolinin, Moscow; Leningrad, GIZ Publ., 1928. 590 p. (In Russ.) 22. Dostoevskii, F.M. Sobranie sochinenii: v 10 tomakh [Collected Works: in 10 vols], vol. 8. Moscow, Goslitizdat Publ., 1957. 660 p. (In Russ.)

23. Durylin, S.N. “Ob odnom simvole u Dostoevskogo: Opyt tematicheskogo obzora” [“About One Symbol in Dostoevsky: A Thematic Review”]. Dostoevskii. Sbornik statei [Dostoevsky. Collected Articles], Moscow, GAKhN Publ., 1928, pp. 163–198. (In Russ.)

24. Ivanov-Razumnik, R.V. Vershiny. Aleksandr Blok. Andrei Belyi [Pinnacles. Alexander Blok. Andrey Bely]. Petrograd, Kolos Publ., 1923. 248 p. (In Russ.)

25. Komarovich, V.L. “Rukopisnye varianty romana ‘Podrostok’” [“Handwritten Versions of the Novel The Adolescent”]. Nachala [Beginnings], book 2, Petrograd, 1922, pp. 217–230. (In Russ.)

26. Komarovich, V.L. “Nenapisannaia poema Dostoevskogo” [“Dostoevsky’s Unwritten Poem”]. F.M. Dostoevskii: Stat’i i materialy. Sbornik I [F.M. Dostoevsky: Articles and Materials. Issue 1], ed. by A.S. Dolinin, Petesburg, Mysl’ Publ., 1922, pp. 177–207. (In Russ.)

27. Komarovich, V.L. “Novye problemy izucheniia Dostoevskogo: 1925–1930. Chast’ 2 (fragment)” [“New Problems in Dostoevsky’s Studies: 1925–1930. Part 2 (Fragment)”]. Mikhail Bakhtin: pro et contra. Tvorchestvo i nasledie Bakhtina v kontekste russkoi kul’tury [Mikhail Bakhtin: Pro et Contra. Bakhtin’s Creativity and Heritage in the Context of Russian Culture], vol. 1, St. Petersburg, RKhGI Publ., 2001, pp. 202–209. (In Russ.)

28. Komarovich, V.L. “Ves’ ustremlenie”: Stat’i i issledovaniia o F.M. Dostoevskom [“All Aspiration”: Articles and Research about Fyodor Dostoevsky]. Ed. by O.A. Bogdanova. Moscow, IWL RAS Publ., 2018. 927 p. (In Russ.)

29. Kristeva, Iu. “Razrushenie poetiki” [“The Destruction of Poetics”]. Mikhail Bakhtin: pro et contra. Tvorchestvo i nasledie Bakhtina v kontekste russkoi kul’tury [Mikhail Bakhtin: Pro et Contra. Bakhtin’s Creativity and Heritage in the Context of Russian Culture], vol. 2, St. Petersburg, RKhGI Publ., 2002, pp. 7–32 (In Russ.)

30. Literaturnoe nasledstvo [Literary Heritage], vol. 29–30: Russkaia kul’tura i Frantsiia. I [Russian Culture and France. I]. Moscow, Zhur.-gaz. ob’’edinenie Publ., 1937. 764 p. (In Russ.)

31. Literaturnoe nasledstvo [Literary Heritage], vol. 77: F.M. Dostoevskii v rabote nad romanom “Podrostok”. Tvorcheskie rukopisi [F.M. Dostoevsky at Work on the Novel The Adolescent. Creative Manuscripts]. Moscow, Nauka Publ., 1965. 520 p. (In Russ.)

32. Magidova, M. “Materialy k istorii literaturnykh kontaktov A.L. Bema 1920-kh gg. (Pis’ma A.S. Dolinina i T.A. Kriukovoi)” [“Materials for a History of A.L. Bem’s Literary Contacts in 1920s (Letters by A.S. Dolinin and T.A. Kryukova)”]. Dostoevskii i mirovaia kul’tura. Al’manakh, no. 19, 2003, pp. 241–261. (In Russ.)

33. Magomedova, D.M. “Polifoniia” [“Polyphony”]. Poetika. Slovar’ aktual’nyh terminov i poniatii [Poetics. Dictionary of Current Terms and Concepts], ed. by N.D. Tamarchenko, Moscow, Izd-vo Kulaginoj–Intrada Publ., 2008, pp. 174–176. (In Russ.)

34. Mochul’skii, K.V. “Dostoevskii. Zhizn' i tvorchestvo” [“Dostoevsky. Life and Works”]. Gogol’. Solov’ev. Dostoevskii [Gogol. Solovyov. Dostoevsky], Moscow, Respublika Publ., 1995, pp. 219–562. (In Russ.)

35. O Dostoevskom. Sbornik statei pod redaktsiei A.L. Bema. Praga, 1929/1933/1936 [About Dostoevsky. Collected Articles, Edited by A.L. Bem. Prague, 1929/1933/1936]. Moscow, Russkii put’ Publ., 2007. 576 p. (In Russ.)

36. Nechaeva, Vs., editor. Opisanie rukopisei F.M. Dostoevskogo [Description of F.M. Dostoevsky’s Manuscripts]. Moscow, AN SSSR Publ., 1957. 590 p. (In Russ.)

37. Piksanov, N.K. “Novyi put’ literaturnoi nauki (Printsipy i metody)” [“The New Way of Literary Studies (Principles and Methods)”]. Iskusstvo, no. 1, 1923, pp. 94–113. (In Russ.)

38. Ponomareva, G.B. Dostoevskii: Ia zanimaius’ etoi tainoi [Dostoevsky: I Study This Mystery]. 2nd Edition. Moscow, Russkii Mir Publ., 2016, 2018. 448 p. (In Russ.)

39. Sadaesi, I. “Ivanov – Pumpianskii – Bakhtin” [“Ivanov –Pumpyansky – Bakhtin”]. Comparative and contrastive studies in Slavic languages and literatures. Japanese contributions to the Tenth International Congress of Slavists, Tokyo, 1988, pp. 81–91. (In Russ.)

40. Grossman, L.P., editor. Tvorchestvo Dostoevskogo. 1821–1881–1921: Sb. statei i materialov [Dostoevsky’s Works. 1821–1881–1921: Collected Articles and Materials], Odessa, Vseukr. gos. izd-vo Publ., 1921. 152 p. (In Russ.)

41. Fridlender, G.M. “Dostoevskii i Viacheslav Ivanov” [“Dostoevsky and Vyacheslav Ivanov”]. Dostoevskii. Materialy i issledovaniia [Dostoevsky. Materials and Research], vol. 11, St. Petersburg, Nauka Publ., 1994, pp. 132–145. (In Russ.)

42. Khristiansen, B. Filosofiia iskusstva [Philosophy of Art]. Trans. from German by G.P. Fedotov; ed. by E.V. Anichkov. St. Petersburg, Shipovnik Publ., 1911. 289 p. (In Russ.)

43. Chulkov, G.I. Kak rabotal Dostoevskii [How Dostoevsky Worked]. Moscow, Sovetskii pisatel’ Publ., 1939. 340 p. (In Russ.)

44. Engel’gardt, B.M. “Ideologicheskii roman Dostoevskogo” [“Dostoevsky’s Ideological Novel”]. F.M. Dostoevskii. Stat’i i materialy [F.M. Dostoevsky. Articles and Materials], ed. by A.S. Dolinin, Issue 2, Leningrad; Moscow, Mysl’ Publ., 1924, pp. 71–105. (In Russ.)

45. “Handschrifte, Aufzeichnungen, Varianten und Briefe zu den Roman ‘Der Jungling’. Erläutert von W. Komarowitsch”. Der unbekannte Dostojewski, München, R. Piper, 1926, pp. 445–536. (In German)