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Semantics and function of photography in the literary world of the novel “Idiot” by F.M. Dostoevsky

N.V. Prodanik
80,00 ₽

UDC 821.161.1:77


Prodanik Nadezhda V.,

Candidate of Philology, Assistant Professor,

Assistant Professor of the Literature and Cultural Studies Department

Omsk State Pedagogical University



The article examines the semantics and function of the photographic portrait of Nastasya Filippovna in the novel “The Idiot” by F.M. Dostoevsky’s; the symbolic nature and role of photography in the polyphonic world of the novel are determined. In the middle of the 19th century, this type of visual art was in the zone of increased attention and controversy; the reason for this was the possibility of replicating photographs and, accordingly, their non-unique nature. The purpose of the article is to understand how F.M. Dostoevsky responded to discussion about photography; to determine what meanings he put into this aesthetic sign, what function photography performs in the literary world of “The Idiot”. The research methodology is based on semiotic, historical, cultural and narrative approaches: photography is viewed as a semiotic element (a sign with semantics); as an element of a narrative constructions about the image of Nastasya Filippovna. The historical and cultural context makes it possible to clarify the attitude of contemporaries and F.M. Dostoevsky to the phenomenon of photography. In the course of the study, it was established that photography is a significant element of the artistic image of Nastasya Filippovna; important character traits of the heroine are revealed due to a photographic portrait: pride, the desire for personal significance, a sense of taste. Sharing the opinion of his contemporaries about the impermeability of a person's inner appearance to the camera, Dostoevsky makes photography a structural principle of the female image: a photographic portrait demonstrates the heroine’s external beauty, but hides her inner appearance. In the literary world of the polyphonic novel, photography forms the mystery of the Nastasya Filippovna’s image, its dialectical complexity and contradictoriness.

Keywords: photography in the culture of the 19th century, semiotics of photography, photography as an element of literary character, the novel by F.M. Dostoevsky’s “The Idiot”, the image of Nastasya Filippovna.



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