The image of America in a writer's diary by fyodor dostoevsky

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For the first time, the article deals with the "American" theme in A Writer's Dairy by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Basic types of America's image are revealed, each being analyzed in its evolution. It is proved that the way America is represented in the publicistic materials significantly differs from that in Dostoevsky's fiction. The peculiarity of America's image representation is primarily determined by the genre characteristics of A Writer's Diary. In the context of the writer's thoughts on the sociopolitical processes both in Russia and worldwide, America is depicted as a new developing empire. In A Writer's Diary, the image of America is represented in the following ways: a target country for almost every person who wants to find a better life; a bourgeois liberal country which aims at capital expansion and world domination; the fact of America's discovery and its impact on Europe and the entire world; a new religion-Dostoevsky rather often compares America with a new religion which can capture a great number of people. The motif of escape to America appears to be a main one in A Writer's Diary in 1873 and 1876. Due to the genre peculiarities, this motif is entwined in Dostoevsky's thoughts on the quality of modern education and young people's upbringing, on the gap between the intelligentsia and the common people, and on the excessive enthusiasm for the western ideas. The representation of America as a bourgeois liberal country is ambivalent: on the one hand, it is a country that focuses on wealth accumulation; on the other hand, it serves as an example in such issues as struggle for independence and guarantee of freedom for its citizens. In this context, Dostoevsky predicts the future confrontation of two countries-Russia and America. The very fact of America's discovery is viewed as positive. The analysis of the articles published in the journal Grazhdanin proves Dostoevsky's ambivalent attitude towards America. This country is represented in various contexts and from different perspectives. America can serve as an example to be followed in certain political, educational, and social issues. In addition, the journal articles identify such a peculiarity of this country as a strong desire for immensity, domination, and supremacy in various spheres of social life. The comparative analysis of the contexts of Grazhdanin, A Writer's Diary, and other fiction by Dostoevsky in which America is mentioned leads to the conclusion that the representation of America changes depending on the role that Dostoevsky takes upon himself.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-259
Number of pages17
JournalVestnik Tomskogo Gosudarstvennogo Universiteta, Filologiya
Issue number65
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • A writer's diary
  • America
  • Fyodor dostoevsky
  • Journal grazhdanin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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