Information about the author:
Tatiana G. Magaril-Il’iaeva, Associate Researcher, Research Centre “Dostoevsky and World Culture”, A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 a, 121069 Moscow, Russia.
ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7521-1898
Through the example of Voltaire’s comedy The Prodigal Son, the article shows how Dostoevsky actualizes the worldview and life strategies behind the imagery of other authors when using their texts in his novel The Adolescent. Nonetheless, Dostoevsky not only proposes several different perspectives but also engages in a dialogue with them and transforms them according to his aim. Dostoevsky thoroughly weaves the slightly mentioned comedy by the French philosopher into the fabric of the text, and the writer works with it in several mutually dependent directions at once. The quote is taken from the preface, not from the play, and it stresses the matters that are raised in the preface and the preface itself as a significant element of the composition. The French sentence borrowed by Versilov relates his image with Voltaire’s, as it was perceived by Dostoevsky. In the novel, Dostoevsky reflects on the motif of the prodigal son as it is presented in the Bible as well as in its transformed version by Voltaire.