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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

Information about the author:

Elena V. Stepanуan-Rumyantseva, PhD in Philology, Associate Professor, Department of Literature, Moscow State Institute of Culture, Bibliotechnaya 7, 141406 Khimki, Moscow, Russia.


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This article presents the novel The Adolescent by Fyodor Dostoevsky as a text that illustrates the specific visual approach inherent to the prose of the writer. Dostoevsky considers the viewpoints of all his characters, main as well as minor, positive as well as evil. This makes the picture of the world in The Adolescent panoramic and extremely broad, as the visual angles of different characters, and sometimes of the same, are related in the most paradoxical manner, that is, as if they contest each other. The visual element of the novel is enriched by many ekphrastic inclusions. The article adds to the most known and studied of these, the  detailed mentioning of Lorren’s “Landscape with Acis and Galatea”, the reference to G. Bellini’s “Lake Madonna”, which reveals a latent interrelationship with the visual world of The Adolescent. The two masterpieces create (one directly and the other subtly) a picture of the Golden Age seen by the internal vision of Versilov, who is the character that determines the ideology of the novel. The author of the article also draws attention to what is explicitly clear to the reader in the text of The Adolescent: the repeating details and situations related to characters that duplicate each other. In order to define such repetitions, the author of the article uses the term dvoichatka (didymous), which was introduced in literary writing by Osip Mandelstam, and should not be considered a strictly academic definition, though capacious and expressive. The novel, which was initially titled “Confusion”, reflects this concept, with the whirling structure of its text and the non-linear development of the plot. However, these repetitions, the duplications of significant as well as of insignificant details, play a regulating role, create a uniform rhythm, prompting the reader to sense and grasp the uniformity of the text, which at first seems non-uniform. The text, which is seemingly imbued with such figures, is essentially ornamentally uniform. Therefore, the visual aspect of The Adolescent is attained both through the vision of the characters and the reader’s ability to comprehend the text.

  • Keywords: visuality, Dostoevsky, The Adolescent, ekphrastic, the Golden Age, Lorren, Giovanni Bellini, didymous, doublets, repeating details, confusion, seemliness, rhythm.


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