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Language and Text

Publisher: Moscow State University of Psychology and Education

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A Psychological Analysis of an Anti-Psychological Novel: Reading Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment with Vygotskian Spectacles 180


Marques P.N.
PhD, post-doctoral fellow, University of São Paulo, Sao Paolo, Brazil

The present paper discusses Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment as a novel that pushes the boundaries of psychological analysis in literature. Following L. S. Vygotsky’s approach to psychology of art, the commentary intends to delve into the structure of the novel to find the unique psychological perspective that is embedded in it. The analysis focuses on the opposition between fragmentation and unity in the novel’s structure and character portrayal, as well as on the epilogue as a moment in the narrative that fully unveils the anti-psychological nature of this literary work. The depiction of a deeper reality that cannot be grasped by a linear biographical-scientific understanding of personality is simultaneously the core of the novel’s anti-psychologism and its unique psychology, one that encompasses a metaphysical and spiritual realm in which epiphany finds its meaning. Lastly, we hope that this analytic and sensible effort can somehow contribute to enriching the contact with Dostoevsky’s literature, an experience that is in itself irreplaceable.

Keywords: Psychology of Art, 19th Century Russian Literature, L. S. Vygotsky, F. M. Dostoevsky, Close Reading

Column: World Literature. Textual Criticism


A Part of Article

Russia’s contribution to world prose literature in the 19th century has been unmistakably categorized under the label of Realism. However, it has been often argued that this tradition provided a unique type of realistic literature, not to be mistaken for the scientism and positivism of French realism.

For Reference


This paper is based on two research projects funded by São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP 07/52450-9 and FAPESP 2015/17830-1).

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