This paper will address the problem of Stavrogin’s ambivalence and Walter Benjamin’s interpretation of Dostoevsky’s hero in the essay Surrealism: The Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia. Stavrogin is characterized by radical ambivalence, embodying the ultimate contradiction between the evil depicted in the crime of violating a child, and the utopic dream of the Golden Age. Benjamin sees Stavrogin as a precursor of surrealism and uses him to justify evil in the revolutionary practice. The first objective is to analyse Benjamin’s essay, to elaborate on how he understands surrealism and why he sees Stavrogin as its predecessor. Further on, I will try to grasp what are the aesthetic and thematic implications of Benjamin’s reading and why in his concept of Stavrogin images and language precede the self and meaning. In the end, I propose that Benjamin’s Stavrogin opens other paths for understanding both Dostoevsky’s writing and Demons from the perspective of pre-surrealist literary techniques and poetics.

The ambivalence of Stavrogin: Benjamin's reading of Dostoevsky's character as a precursor of Surrealism

Petra Bjelica
2020-01-01

Abstract

This paper will address the problem of Stavrogin’s ambivalence and Walter Benjamin’s interpretation of Dostoevsky’s hero in the essay Surrealism: The Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia. Stavrogin is characterized by radical ambivalence, embodying the ultimate contradiction between the evil depicted in the crime of violating a child, and the utopic dream of the Golden Age. Benjamin sees Stavrogin as a precursor of surrealism and uses him to justify evil in the revolutionary practice. The first objective is to analyse Benjamin’s essay, to elaborate on how he understands surrealism and why he sees Stavrogin as its predecessor. Further on, I will try to grasp what are the aesthetic and thematic implications of Benjamin’s reading and why in his concept of Stavrogin images and language precede the self and meaning. In the end, I propose that Benjamin’s Stavrogin opens other paths for understanding both Dostoevsky’s writing and Demons from the perspective of pre-surrealist literary techniques and poetics.
Stavrogin, Dostoevsky, Demons, ambivalence, Walter Benjamin, surrealism
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/1067343
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