Nation as Invisible Protagonist in Dickens and Dostoevsky

Author: Stuchebrukhov, Olga A.
Contributes greatly to the study of two important authors from the 19th century, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Charles Dickens. Acknowledging the radically different national traditions that influenced Dostoevsky’s and Dickens’ novels, such studies failed to make a serious attempt to define this difference or to place it within the proper historical context. The historical significance of “national” is usually overlooked. In the 19th century, reference to “National” is highly charged with special meaning since many nations as we know them now appeared during this period and so nationalism was a major influence both in the political and literary arenas of the time. This study examines the impact of nationalism on the content and form of Dostoevsky’s and Dickens’ novels.


“Studies of Dickens and Dostoevsky have mostly focused on the problems of character and genre, specifically, the contribution of the two authors to the development of various forms of realism ... Dr. Stuchebrukhov's study takes the question of Dickens and Dostoevsky in a different direction, interweaving the question of narrative form, national identity, and gender in a fresh and innovative fashion ... Dr. Stuchebrukhov shows that Dickens and Dostoevsky modified the structure of the novel and journalism away from the emphasis on linear time and secular content, using the forms of allegory and symbolism in their creation of the image of the ideal nation. Both Dostoevsky and Dickens wanted to find alternatives to the rational modern state, but each had his own idea of what this image should look like.” – (from the Foreword) Professor Harriet Murav, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“... In this well-researched and well-argued manuscript, Dr. Stuchebrukhov analyzes selected fictional works together with journalism written by two of the greatest masters of 19th century realism, ... the manuscript is written clearly and convincingly. The theories are introduced in a nuanced way and Dr. Stuchebrukhov is sensitive to how the material studied challenges the theoretical frameworks she employs. This is a fine contribution to scholarship on Dostoevsky, 19th century realism, and nationalism and literature.” – Professor Brian James Baer, Kent State University

“Dr. Stuchebrukhov’s approach to Dostoevsky scholarship breaks new ground: it moves Dostoevsky research out of the narrow confines of disciplinary studies into the wider arena of comparative literature. However, in broaching this field, Dr. Stuchebrukhov does not merely ‘compare’ two authors from the world canon and their literary techniques – a trend characterizing older comparative studies on Dostoevsky. Instead, she takes an interdisciplinary approach and sifts the primary material – certain key works of Dickens and Dostoevsky – through a critical perspective: that of nationalism. As a result, Dr. Stuchebrukhov produces a valuable new critical study on the subject of community building through the literary and journalistic writings of two key authors associated with the genre of the 19th century novel – the genre of European capitalist society par excellence.” – Professor Slobodanka Vladiv-Glover, Monash University

Table of Contents

Preface by Harriet Murav
1. Nation, State, and Gender in Political and Cultural Nationalisms
2. An Allegory of the Nation in Bleak House
3. The Nationalist Symbolism in The Devils
4. Nostalgia for the Lost World: Childhood, France, and the “Murdered” Nation in Household Words and All the Year Round
5. Nostalgia for the Lost Word: The State, the Land, and the Problem of Authenticity of Being in the Diary of a Writer