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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

About the author:

Marina A. Kozlova, PhD student, Department of Comparative literature, Russian State University for Humanities, Miusskaja sq. 6, 125993 GSP‑3, Moscow, Russia; Assistant Professor, Department of literary translation, Maxim Gorky Institute of Literature and Creative Writing, Tverskoy Blvd, 25, 123104 Moscow, Russia.

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The paper examinates the peculiarities of the construction of urban text in Notes from Underground by F.M. Dostoevsky and the works of Belgian symbolists, Emile Verhaeren and Georges Rodenbach. The urban space in their literary works is looked as a reception object and is perceived as a model which is interpreted by the author within the framework of his own poetics and general literary context, while maintaining similar basic structures. In accordance with the oppositional model of “St. Petersburg’s” text elaborated by V.N. Toporov’s, we look through such aspects of urban space as: ≪life-death≫, ≪betweennessmarginality ≫ and ≪high-low≫. A category of ≪intentionality≫ (≪umyshlennost’≫), which is central in the urban text, is opposed to the freedom of the human will, is also investigated; a semantic parallel is established between the consciousness of the subject, a big city habitant, and the character of image of the space around him. The similarities in the interpretation of images and the above-mentioned oppositions are due to independent typological parallels, the commonality of the model of consciousness and urban space and, to a lesser extent, to contact and genetic connections related to common precedent texts and phenomena.

  • Keywords: Notes from Underground, urban text, city image, urban space, St. Petersburg’s text, Dostoevsky, Verhaeren, Rodenbach, Baudelaire, Belgian symbolism.


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