Mimetic desire, competition between father and son and traumatic experience in Ivan Turgenev’s novella “First Love”

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Ivan Turgenev’s novella “First Love” in the light of the Oedipus conflict is studied. But it’s done not according to S. Freud’s conception, in which erotic desire is the starting point and crucial aspect of the conflict between father and son. Rather, it interprets the way it is understood by Freud’s heirs S. Ferenczi and J.M. Masson, and even more in the light of R. Girard’s culturology. Thus, what is crucial for the author is the competitive conflict in itself, which only in a second step leads to father and son desiring the same woman. Nevertheless, some symbols that might play a role in Freud’s psychoanalytic observations are impor- tant for as well. Among these symbols are the jacket fit for children which his mother forces Vladimir to wear in Zinaida’s presence, Vladimir’s hair torn out by Zinaida, the knife with which Vladimir wanted to kill his rival but which he drops, the fact that Vladimir’s father rides on horseback better than Vladimir, and the whip with which the father beats Zinaida. To our point of view, the starting point of the plot is that Vladimir’s parents do not care for him. This is a trauma for the young man and the origin of an erotic rivalry for his father. When Vladimir discovers that Zinaida is his father’s lover and, even more, that they are unhappy in their relationship, this becomes a profound trauma for the young man, one could even say, it symbolically castrates him. Later on, he is not able to love or to overcome circumstances in order to reach his aims. He rather somehow goes on instead of living. For example, he does not marry.

About the authors

Stephan Lipke

Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University); St. Thomas Institute

Author for correspondence.
Email: stephanlipkesj@gmail.com
ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9072-6945

Candidate of Science (Philology), Assistant Professor, History of Philosophy Department, Peoples’ Friendship University (RUDN University), director of the St. Thomas Institute

6 Miklukho-Maklaya St, Moscow, 117198, Russian Federation; 46 Fridrikha Engelsa St., bldg 4, Moscow, 105005, Russian Federation


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