Dostoevsky and Tokarzewski: Two Sides of the Same Plot Model

Alexander Shunkov, Irina Yurtaeva

Abstract


The paper considers the correlation between two literary works about Siberian hard labour: F. Dostoyevsky’s The House of the Dead and S. Tokarzewski’s memoirs Seven Years of Hard Labour. The authors use a comparative method to identify the archetypes present in each work. They establish that the difference in the archetypes is predetermined by contrasting attitudes to the same labour camp: their opposed perceptions of the same plot are based on the mythologisation and demythologisation of prison respectively. The Polish patriot’s view of his imprisonment in Siberia as nothing but cruel punishment which he endured with great courage resulted in a projection of martyrdom in his memoirs. The Russian writer’s exile in Siberia, however, had a sacral significance in line with the Russian national tradition. Gaining new knowledge by passing through death becomes the mythological basis for the so-called “image from a distance” found in The House of the Dead. Its analytical plot is the main factor for regarding this text as a novel on the one hand, and part of the hagiographic tradition on the other.


Keywords


F. Dostoyevsky; The House of the Dead; history of 19th century Russian literature; history of 19th century Polish literature; S. Tokarzewski.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15826/qr.2016.4.196

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