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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:

Tatiana N. Potnitseva, DSc in Philology, Professor, Foreign Literature Department, Oles Honchar Dnipro National University, Gagarin av. 72, 49010 Dnipro, Ukrainе.


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The article focuses on the first play by O. Wilde, which got investigators’ undeserved mark as “an imperfection of the first pen attempt”. Meanwhile, as the analysis confirms, the parody and farcical manner of this work of art, which had the signs of Wilde’s future recognizable style, gave birth to the brilliant travesty of “the cloak and sword drama” production. But for its caustic satire and ironic presentation the playwright turned to the plot about Russian conspirators and Russian anarchism. This plot was prompted both by the modern time and by the works of Russian classical writers. Among them — “Fathers and Children” by I. Turgenev and “Demons” by Dostoyevsky — the books Wilde read and used as an ironic background. The parody and farcical, grotesque manner of Wilde’s first play is revealed due to the endless allusions, references, reminiscences, a play on words, word forms, locations, and choice of names, colour symbolism, and the forming decorative style. In the history of the Russian nihilists’ conspiracy — a kind of “demons’ coven” — the author of “Vera…”, as the work convinces, combined a lot of what he had learnt from the Russian literature and from what the creation of his own imagination was. The very word “nihilism” became in his work a key one, a conceptual centre. And the Wilde’s nihilists appear as a generalized image of any despotic ideology unnatural to human relations.

  • Keywords: O. Wilde, I.S. Turgenev, F.M. Dostoyevsky, nihilism, grotesque, farce, parody.


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