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Motive of the Predetermined Duel in Novels by Balzac, Lermontov and Dostoevsky

Liberal Arts in Russia. 2014. Vol. 3. No. 5. Pp. 312-320.
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Nazirov R. G.
Bashkir State University
32 Zaki Validi St., 450076 Ufa, Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia


The article introduces to the domestic reader an unknown French work of Romain Nazirov titled “Trois duels (Balzac, Lermontov, Dostoievski)”. Nazirov compares the variations of the theme “barren omnipotence” in the novel “The magic skin”, “A Hero of Our Time” and “Demons”, considering the episode of “predetermined duel” as the climax of the of the theme development. Comparative analysis gives the author a reason to believe that Lermontov describing duel in the “Hero of Our Time” was under the influence of a similar episode of the novel “The magic skin” by Balzac. However, according Nazirov, in the novel by Lermontov duel becomes a philosophical experiment of the hero. This observation naturally leads the author to Dostoevsky’s novels in which such experiments directly determine the fate of tragic ideologists, the central figures of these texts. Stavrogin’s duel Nazirov interprets as a result of creative debate of Dostoevsky with Balzac and Lermontov. “The magic skin” and “A Hero of Our Time” emphasized the inability to find a goal worthy of omnipotence of hero. “Demons” accentuate the motive of personal guilt, which renders meaningless all further goals and actions of the hero. However Nazirov’s interpretation of “Demons” is determined not only by moral issues. For the soviet literary scholarship in 1970s social the context of moral conflict of “Demons” is also important. This context defined by process of breakdown of traditional Russian society structures during the second half of the XIX century. Thus, the article presents a historical and literary-historical comment of the topic “barren omnipotence” of Balzac to Dostoevsky. In this work, there are all the typical characteristics of a mature scientific style of Nazirov: attention to the social aspects of the history of literature, historical approach to the actual literary phenomena, moral sharpening of artistic perspective.


  • • Balzac
  • • Lermontov
  • • Dostoevsky
  • • a literary motif
  • • philosophical experiment
  • • tradition


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