Dostoevskij's Legacy in the Twentieth Century: The Ugly Goes Mainstream


Inna Tigountsova, University of Toronto

The ugly (bezobraznoe) as it appears in Dostoevskij's works (both fictional and non-fictional) recurs in the texts of many Russian writers of the twentieth century, particularly in the post-perestroika period. In works from this period, what Dostoevskij calls the ugly becomes the basis for Russian byt (daily routine). In my talk, I will concentrate on different incarnations of the underground man, who--as R.L. Jackson noted--"lives a continuous life in Russian literature." (in Dostoevsky's Underground Man in Russian Literature). V. Ivanov concretely demonstrates this when he characterizes Notes from the Underground as "a devastating criticism of present-day social relations" (Ibid.)

In Vladimir Makanin's novel Andegraund, ili Geroj nashego vremeni, forexample, the underground man becomes an ordinary Soviet citizen and chaos becomes the standard organization of space. Jurij Mamleev's surrealist monsters can be traced back to the underground man, too. In works of Mamleev, the ugly of the corporal life after death ("ukhryab") is related to the corpses in Dostoevskij's Bobok.