From Juvenal’s bile to the ‘livers’ of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Raskolnikov

Valery Maroshi

Abstract


The article examines the origin of bile and liver as somatic metaphors of the character’s emotional state and of the mode of satire in European and Russian literatures. Bile in fiction is a metaphor of the emotional state of the character, the narrator and the author rather than a ‘flesh’ motif. The interdependence between the bodily and emotional aspects of the character suggests the importance of “bile” for the verbal behavior and corporeality of the marginal and rebellious characters (outsiders and ‘bilious people’) in Russian literature of the early – mid-19th century. Typologically, it is close to the European character of ‘melancholy’ and ‘spleen’. In addition, in European and Russian literatures bile became a synecdoche of the satirical mode as a whole and entered, as an emotional tone, the set of the characteristic features of the diatribe.


Keywords


satire; corporeality; liver; bile; spleen; temperament; character; poetics; world literature.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15826/qr.2016.1.151

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