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Romantic Novel “Jean Sbogar” by Charles Nodier in Dostoevsky’s Creative Reception

Liberal Arts in Russia. 2014. Vol. 3. No. 5. Pp. 378-387.
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Yakubova R. H.
Bashkir State University
32 Zaki Validi St., 450076 Ufa, Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia


The problem of the impact of traditions of romantic literature on Dostoevsky’s novel “The Idiot” is examined in the article. The author points out that the attitude of Russian novelist towards the phenomena of the outgoing culture was essentially devoid of dogmatism: the very approach to different cultural trends and styles was always notable for amazing flexibility and diversity. A novel by Charles Nodier, “Jean Sbogar”, is considered as one of the precedent texts. Its motivic repertoire is reproduced in full in the novel by F. Dostoevsky. A comparison of the protagonist of the French novel, Jean Sbogar, which is depicted in two masks, with the main characters of the novel “The Idiot” Prince Myshkin and Rogozhin, suggests that, starting from a given source, Dostoevsky developed Nodier’s art idea. Russian writer abandoned the principle of a split personality in favor of representation of two heroes that are fighting and, at the same time, there is a mystical connection between them. Comparison between Myshkin and angel-like Lothario and between Rogozhin and the rogue Jean Sbogar once again confirms the idea that in Dostoevsky’s novel there is an introduction of high philosophical symbolism in realism: “splitting” a romantic image sends a thoughtful reader to the Gospel legend about Christ and the robber. Thus, reading of the images of "The Idiot" through the prism of romantic novels of Charles Nodier detects correlation not only between the plot of the novel and literary tradition, but also between the plot and the Christian symbolism. Someone else's text not only becomes Dostoevsky’s material for improvisation, but also serves as a secret pointer to the reader and reconstructs his cultural memory.


  • • Dostoevsky
  • • Charles Nodier
  • • romantic
  • • creative reception
  • • motif
  • • plot transformation
  • • duplicity
  • • Christian symbolism


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