Oblomov and Myshkin: Some Aspects of the Issue

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Abstract


The article examines one of the possible parallels between the protagonists of the novels Oblomov and The Idiot , which was formulated by Dostoevsky himself. He pointed out both the similarities between Myshkin and Oblomov and the differences between the two. The purpose of the article is to explain the special status of the characters of Dostoevsky and Goncharov, which is linked to their explicit or implicit desire to save the world. The task is to systematize various views of scholars on the issue of Dostoevsky and Goncharov, especially in the light of their relation to the Russian spiritual tradition. The thesis is put forward that the similarity between the two protagonists may be explained by the similarity of the two authors’ views on the problem of secular holiness. In both novels similar versions of the “plot of salvation” are realized, in which the protagonist claims to be the savior of others, although another motif, that of personal salvation, is emphasized by Goncharov in Oblomov and has Dante origins. While in the case of Myshkin his wish to be Christ-alike lead him to a personal catastrophe, and the destruction of his inner circle, in Oblomov’s case there are no such losses, there are even some advantages in the form of the emerging life of Shtolz and Olga, in the form of awakening to a new life of Agafia Matveevna Pshenitsyna. The author of the article comes to the conclusion that both Dostoevsky and Goncharov did not forget about the human nature of their characters, but the former, as Goncharov put it, allowed his Myshkin, “Prince Christ”, to wear a “divine robe” and thus largely predetermined his failure as a savior, while the latter alleviated the traits of holiness in his Oblomov, leaving only traces of them, which attract people to the character making them and their small world better.


About the authors

Irina A. Belyaeva

Moscow City University; Lomonosov Moscow State University

Author for correspondence.
Email: belyaeva-i@mail.ru
ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2840-4034
4 2-Sel’skohos’ajstvennyi Pas., Moscow, 129226, Russian Federation; Leninskije Gory, GSP, Moscow, 119991, Russian Federation

Doctor of Philology, Professor of Russian Literature Department of Moscow City University, Professor of History of Russian Literature Department of Philological Faculty at Lomonosov Moscow State University

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