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Publication Detail
Hesitation, Projection and Desire: The Fictionalizing ‘as if…’ in Dostoevskii’s Early Works
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Young SJ
  • Publisher:
    Modern Languages Open
  • Publication date:
  • Pagination:
    1, 22
  • Journal:
    Modern Languages Open
  • Volume:
  • Article number:
  • Status:
  • Country:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    Dostoevskii, Russian literature, 'as if', self-consciousness, childhood, narrative, the fantastic, digital humanities, concordance, machine reading
Dostoevskii’s narrators play a key role in creating a sense of ambiguity and uncertainty in his texts that has been associated stylistically with the presence of ‘as if’ phrases. This article uses concordances to identify and examine patterns of usage of ‘as if’ that indicate a shift to an unreal condition and introduce the imaginative dimension that underlies all fiction. The analysis focuses on three early works – the unfinished Bildungsroman, Netochka Nezvanova, the slight ‘month in the country’ story, ‘Malen′kii geroi’, and the over-wrought Gothic tale ‘Khoziaika’ – where one particular ‘as if’ phrase (kak budto) is used with heightened frequency. It identifies a three-stage process whereby ‘as if’ is used by the narrators of these texts to reflect on the self as narrator or focalizer, relate to the other, and project the other back on the self. It argues that this schema relates the development of Dostoevskian self-consciousness both to childhood perception, and the role of the fantastic in his works.
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