Online Talk: On the Structure of the Idea in Dostoevsky’s Works

To mark the bicentenary of Dostoevsky’s birth, Dr Vladimir Dimitriev’s lecture will examine the hallmark of the writer’s plot construction in his later works.

The action in Dostoevsky’s novels develops in such a way that the fate and character of any given protagonist may alter significantly without exhaustive explanation in the plot. The shift in Raskolnikov’s outlook, Stavrogin’s sufferings after his crime against Matryosha or the character development of Arkady Dolgoruky as he comes of age are not sufficiently motivated by any particular plot developments.

Fyodor Dostoyaevsky @Wikipedia

An analysis of the manuscript history reveals the unfolding complexity of the grounding of protagonists’ motivations in the plot: the passages removed from the novels’ preparatory materials are precisely those which might have rendered possible an unambiguous psychological or moral underpinning of a protagonist’s actions. As will be demonstrated in Dr Dimitriev’s lecture, this distinctive feature is also linked to the structure of the idea in Dostoevsky’s novels.

In Dr Dimitriev’s view, it is not that the protagonists become the servants of ideas in Dostoevsky’s texts, but rather it would be more accurate to say that particular stages in the lives of the protagonists create particular forms of the idea. It is the changing character of ideas, and their dependence on particular moments in the lives of the protagonists, that renders possible that ambiguity of plot which is so important to the writer.

The lecture will be followed by a Q&A session. Live gist translation into English will be provided in the Zoom chat.

WHEN: Thursday 4 November, 19:00 WHERE: Zoom LANGUAGE: Russian (with live gist translation into English via the Zoom chat)


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