Liberal Arts in Russia EN-rus logo
russian flagRussian
ISSN 2305-8420 (Print)
ISSN 2312-6442 (Online)
Current Issue

The motive for the murder of an unrecognized son by the father in the novel by D. Simmons “The Fifth Heart”

Liberal Arts in Russia. 2019. Vol. 8. No. 6. Pp. 410-418.
Get the full text (Russian)
Ishimbaeva G. G.
Bashkir State University
32 Zaki Validi Street, 450076 Ufa, Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia


The article examines the theoretical foundations of the concept of motive; two varieties of the same ancient archetypical motive (the deliberate killing of a son by the father and the killing of the unrecognized son by the father) are analyzed on the system level, the transformation of the motive of the filicide in the modern novel by American writer Dan Simmons “The Fifth Heart” is considered. The comprehension of the conflict of fathers and children in mythology, epics, cultural and psychoanalytic literature allowed to draw some conclusions. The motive of the murder of the son by the father turns out to be a folklore narrative which is significant both by fabula and plot; it represents the events, forms the overall meaning of the text. The semantic core of the motive is an intractable conflict between a father and a son, who in the pursuit of Self and in an effort to break free from parental authority violates the traditional norms of morality, attempts on the life of the father killing the son. The plot variant of the motive is the moment of their personal acquaintance. The novel “The Fifth Heart” is a postmodern version of the Sherlock-Holmes canon which is complicated by the use of the archetypical model of the relationship “father/son”: the confrontation of Sherlock Holmes and Lucan goes under the sign of impersonal-natural and ideological conflict. The motive of the filicide in the novel is developing in full accordance with the archetypical matrix. It distinguishes several stages of development of heroes’ relations; and from the very beginning the system of binary oppositions enabling to designate basic insolubility of the conflict is built. This motive existing in the novel text in two varieties performs important plot functions. Its deeply symbolic content determines a new way of understanding the Sherlock-Holmes plot. The motive of filicide appears in the novel as a microtheme, which is synthesized with the general theme of Sherlock Holmes and helps to explain it within the whole text. The actualization of the invariant, which reflected the dynamics of social processes in mythological and epic times, is connected with the necessity to clarify the reception of the traditional plot about the Conan Doyle’s detective. The semantic significance, notional tension of the archetypical motive of filicide enabled the author of “The Fifth Heart” to achieve this goal.


  • • motive of filicide
  • • D. Simmons
  • • The Fifth Heart
  • • conflict of fathers and children
  • • archetypical model
  • • folklore narrative
  • • invariant
  • • plot functions


  1. Bakhtin M. M. Estetiкa slovesnogo tvorchestva [Aesthetics of verbal creativity]. Moscow: Isкusstvo, 1979.
  2. Veselovsкii A. N. Istorichesкaya poetiкa. Moscow: Vysshaya shкola, 1989. Pp. 301.
  3. Gasparov B. M. Literaturnye leitmotivy [Literary motifs]. Moscow: Nauкa, 1994.
  4. Dugin A. G. Absolyutnaya Rodina. Moscow: ARКTOGEYa-tsentr, 1996. Pp. 207-522. URL:
  5. Zholкovsкii A. К., Shcheglov Yu. К. Mir avtora i struкtura teкsta [Author's world and text structure]. Tenafly, N. J.: Ermitazh, 1986.
  6. Ishimbaeva G. G. Кul'turnye кody zarubezhnoi literatury. Ufa: RITs BashGU, 2019. Pp. 49-58.
  7. Campbell J. Geroi s tysyach'yu litsami [Hero with a thousand faces]. Кiev: Sofia, 1997.
  8. Meletinsкii E. M. Poetiкa mifa [The poetics of myth]. Moscow: Vostochnaya literatura, 1995.
  9. Noimann E. Proiskhozhdenie i razvitie soznaniya. Moscow: Refl-buк, 1998.
  10. Propp V. Ya. Morfologiya volshebnoi sкazкi. Moscow: Labirint, 2001.
  11. Putilov B. N. Tipologichesкie issledovaniya po fol'кloru. Moscow: Nauкa, 1975. Pp. 141-155.
  12. Silant'ev I. V. Poetiкa motiva. Moscow: Yazyкi slavyansкoi кul'tury, 2004.
  13. Simmons D. Pyatoe serdtse [The fifth heart]. Saint Petersburg: Azbuкa, 2018.
  14. Tamarchenкo N. D., Tyupa V. I., Broitman S. N. Teoriya literatury. V 2 t. [Theory of literature. In 2 volumes]. Moscow: Aкademiya, 2004. Vol. 1.
  15. Tomashevsкii B. V. Teoriya literatury. Poetiкa [Theory of literature. Poetics]. Moscow: Aspeкt Press, 2003.
  16. Tyupa V. I. Disкurs. Novosibirsк: Institut filologii, 1996. No. 2.
  17. Tyupa V. I. Materialy к slovaryu syuzhetov i motivov russкoi literatury. Ot syuzheta к motivu. Novosibirsк: Institut filologii, 1996. Pp. 3-15.
  18. Shatin Yu. V. Rol' traditsii v literaturnoi zhizni epokhi: Syuzhety i motivy. Novosibirsк: Institut filologii, 1995. Pp. 5-16.
  19. Freud S. Totem i tabu: psikhologiya pervobytnoi кul'tury i religii [Totem and taboo: the psychology of primitive culture and religion]. Moscow: Eкsmo, 2018.
  20. Frazer J. G. Zolotaya vetv': Issledovanie magii i religii. V 2 t. [The golden bough: a study in magic and religion. In 2 volumes]. Moscow: TERRA-Кnizhnyi кlub, 2001. Vol. 1.
  21. Khalizev V. E. Teoriya literatury [Theory of literature]. Moscow: Vysshaya shкola, 1999.
  22. Jung К. G. Dusha i mif: shest' arkhetipov [Soul and myth: six archetypes]. Moscow: Sovershenstvo, 1997.