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Life Is ElsewhereSymbolic Geography in the Russian Provinces, 1800-1917$
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Anne Lounsbery

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781501747915

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501747915.001.0001

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Centering and Decentering in Dostoevsky and Tolstoy

Centering and Decentering in Dostoevsky and Tolstoy

(p.186) Chapter Nine Centering and Decentering in Dostoevsky and Tolstoy
Life Is Elsewhere

Anne Lounsbery

Cornell University Press

This chapter begins with a brief look at Leo Tolstoy's symbolic geography. His is an imaginary landscape that is by no means structured around a provintsiia/stolitsa binary and is thus an exception to the rule that is the subject of this book. The overview of Tolstoy serves as background to a closer analysis of Fyodor Dostoevsky's geography, an analysis focused on Demons—a novel in which both the provintsiia/stolitsa binary and the trope of Russia's empty provinces take on great determinative power. If Dostoevsky at times recapitulates familiar images of the provinces, in Demons he also makes ideological use of them in ways that are strikingly original. He dwells on the essentialized difference between center and periphery in order to underscore how provincial isolation fosters a dangerous kind of intellectual vulnerability.

Keywords:   Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Demons, empty provinces, provincial isolation

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