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Updated Up To 18/01/2017
Volume 3, Number 1 (January 2005) : 57-80
Russian Literature of 1868
In Search of a Positively Beautiful Person
Ilya Serman
Rubric A: Literature and Ideology



In response to the stern image of Rachmetov in Nikolai G. Chernyshevsky’s What Is to Be Done? (1863), the interest in which was considerably enhanced by an article coming from the pen of Dmitrii I. Pisarev, three major Russian works of 1868 -- Fedor Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, the final installments of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace (where Platon Karataev appears), and Alexey K. Tolstoy’s play Tsar Fedor Ioannovich -- create their own versions of what Dostoevsky called “a positively beautiful person.” The three works were responses to a profound inner need felt in the contemporary Russian society, and they implicitly pit Chernyshevsky’s revolutionary version of imitatio Christi against their own hagiographical images in which the saintly opposition to mundane or hegemonic values is combined with a restrained comicality that both invites and distances the sympathy of the reader.

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