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A.M. Gorky Institute
of World Literature
of the Russian Academy of Sciences

IWL RAS Publishing

A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature
of the Russian Academy of Sciences


Povarskaya 25a, 121069 Moscow, Russia



Types of publications


The article analyzes the history of Italian translations of Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky. The early Italian reception of the novel was influenced, on one hand, by the myth of “mysterious Russian soul”, and on the other hand by the need to make the text more understandable for Italian readers. These two opposing tendencies manifested themselves in two different approaches to the translation of Notes: on one hand — trying to smooth out the style of the novel, on the other hand — various attempts to convey the peculiarities of Dostoevsky’s writing. Critical and philological apparatus of Italian editions also combines an interest to “exotic” Russian culture with attempts to familiarize the novel using various interpretation paradigms. Biographical approach sees Notes as a reflection of events of the author’s life; psychoanalytical approach interprets “underground” as the subconscious, thus making Dostoevsky a forerunner of S. Freud; A. Moravia calls Notes the first “existential novel”, supporting the common notion of Dostoevsky as the father of Existentialism; the interpretation of the novel as a Christian text helps identify its religious message; some researchers trying to connect Notes with Italian culture point out a number of parallels between Dostoevsky and Italian authors. Each of these approaches reveals some important aspects of the novel, while the growing number of new translations and editions proves that translators and readers still find Notes from Underground relevant and full of meaning.

Information about the author:

Anastasia V. Golubtsova, PhD in Philology, Senior Researcher, А.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 а, 121069 Moscow, Russia.


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  • Keywords: Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground, translation, reception, Eugène-Melchior de Vogüé, Ettore Lo Gatto, Boris Yakovenko, Alfredo Polledro, Tommaso Landolfi, Alberto Moravia, Igor Sibaldi, Emanuela Guercetti, Milli Martinelli, Paolo Nori, Elena Mazzola.


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