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Literary Criticism Russian & Former Soviet Union

Archetypes from Underground

Notes on the Dostoevskian Self

by (author) Lonny Harrison

Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Initial publish date
May 2016
Russian & Former Soviet Union
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2016
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  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2016
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Archetypes from Underground: Notes on the Dostoevskian Self uncovers archetypal imagery in Dostoevsky’s stories and novels and argues that archetypes bring a new dimension to our understanding and appreciation of his works. In this interdisciplinary study, Harrison analyzes selected texts in light of fresh research in Dostoevsky studies, cultural history, comparative mythology, and depth psychology. He argues that one of Dostoevsky's chief concerns is the crisis of modernity, and that he dramatizes the conflicts of the modern self by depicting the dynamic, transformative nature of the psyche. Harrison finds the language and imagery of archetypes in Dostoevsky’s characters, symbols, and themes, and shows how these resonate in remarkable ways with the archetypes of self, persona, and the shadow. He demonstrates that major themes in Dostoevsky coincide with Western esotericism, such as the complementarity of opposites, transformation, and the symbolism of death and resurrection. These arguments inform a close reading of several of Dostoevsky’s texts, including The Double, Notes from Underground, and The Brothers Karamazov. Archetypes inform these works and others, bringing vitality to Dostoevsky’s major characters and themes.

This research represents a departure from the religious and philosophical questions that have dominated Dostoevsky studies. This work is the first sustained analysis of Dostoevsky’s work in light of archetypes, framing a topic that calls for further investigation. Archetypes illumine the author’s ideas about Russian national identity and its faith traditions and help us redefine our understanding of Russian realism and the prominent place Dostoevsky occupies within it.

About the author

Lonny Harrison is an assistant professor of Russian at the University of Texas at Arlington. His research, published in Slavic and East European Journal, Canadian Slavonic Papers, and other venues, takes an interdisciplinary approach to the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky, incorporating Russian and European trends in intellectual history and philosophy. Other research interests include Russian cinema, translation, and technology-enhanced language learning.

Lonny Harrison's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Readers are often asked to choose between two filters, the secular and the religious, in their quest for Dostoevsky's paradoxical sense of personality: socially conditioned but not schematic, rebellious but not free. Lonny Harrison suggests that we work instead with an expanded Jungian concept of archetype, with its unconscious, its shadow, its ego-transcendence and rebirth. The result is a fascinating hypothesis about the Dostoevskian psyche, poised between the ruins of European positivism and the potentials of cosmic myth."

Caryl Emerson