Lonny Harrison

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This dissertation investigates the problem of duality as it relates to the moral situation of the protagonist of F. M. Dostoevsky's novella Dvoinik (The Double, 1846). Bearing the cultural and literary heritage as well as contemporary social realities of mid-nineteenth century Russia steadily in mind, I analyse the duality motif in Dvoinik in terms of the protagonist's self-consciousness [samosoznanie] and moral perceptions. In particular, the moral ideas that underpin his self-definitions are products of what I refer to as moral selfawareness. In the course of my analysis, I interrogate the modulations of moral reasoning in the mind of the protagonist to show how his perceptions and discourse create moral categories, which in turn motivate his contradictory self-definitions and behaviours. In view of this conflict, I argue that the protagonist's will to succeed in the civil bureaucratic order of nineteenth-century Petersburg is incompatible with his implicit need to find moral rectitude. Ego-driven motivations provide contrapuntal tensions to exacerbate his experience of inner division. At the same time, his view of himself as a moral being is obscured by mystified understandings of 'honour' and 'chivalry,' which he has adapted from popular lore and mimicry of the discursive conventions of privileged society. Where social humanism and philosophical Idealism inform the moral issues under examination, their projections through the paired lenses of ego psychology and myth ultimately show dual consciousness to hinge on the problem of moral selfawareness. Finally, with reference to Dostoevsky's notebook drafts, personal correspondence and literary journalism, I examine the author's plans for revision of Dvoinik in the early 1860s. I view these developments as evidence of the crystallization of Dostoevsky's idea of the 'underground type,' a term he applied to the hero of Dvoinik as prototype after recasting the role in Zapiski iz podpol'ia (Notes from Underground, 1864). In my conclusion, the protagonist of the latter work exhibits greater conscious understanding of the tensions between ego motivations and innate strivings for moral truth; yet he fails, in the end, to overcome the dualistic divide between the rational mind and the transrational pursuit of higher spiritual meaning and purpose.


Arts and Humanities | Modern Languages

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