Журнал: Научный журнал «Студенческий форум» выпуск №16(195)

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Vingranovskaya A. F.M. DOSTOEVSKY'S HUMOUR IN THE UNDERSTANDING OF A.A. GRIGORIEV AND N.N. STRAKHOV // Студенческий форум: электрон. научн. журн. 2022. № 16(195). URL: https://nauchforum.ru/journal/stud/195/109908 (дата обращения: 09.02.2023).
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Vingranovskaya Anastasia
Post-graduate student of master program, Belgorod National Research University, Russia, Belgorod


Abstract. The article is devoted to a topical problem, the problem of the comic of F.M. Dostoevsky. Based on the analysis of the place of the comic in Dostoevsky's work and the ways of its functioning, conclusions are drawn about the interaction of the comic with other categories of the writer's aesthetics; the necessity of  distinguishing of laughter and the comic is shown, special attention is paid to the originality of humour of the writer and the study of different scientists.


Keywords: F.M. Dostoevsky, laughter, humour, irony.


N.N. Strakhov in his «Memoirs of Dostoevsky», characterizing the journalistic work of Fyodor Mikhailovich, writes: "As to the predilection for feuilleton style of magazines, it never quite disappeared from him. He himself sometimes even forced himself, trying to be a scribbler and feuilletonist for the sake of the common good. Over the years, however, his writing became stricter and stricter, and there were many pages in his feuilleton writings that clearly showed the artistic force and rigorous techniques far exceeding the task of the feuilleton" [1, p.27].

N.N. Strakhov says of The Writer's Diary: "The tone of these feuilletons was unusually lively and heated, but underneath their excitement one could hear the complete firmness of convictions and views. Fyodor Mikhailovich spoke here with authority, and his speeches sometimes reached a remarkable skill, combining seriousness with jocularity, importance of thought with simplicity and lightness of talk.

Strakhov's attitude to Dostoevsky's humour is expressed most clearly in these words: "He often joked, especially at that time, but I did not particularly like his wit - it has been often an external wit, in the French way, more a play on words and images than on thoughts. Dostoyevsky's pun is a clear example of a diminishing play on words rather than thoughts, a transition to personality – finally, in these satiated years Strakhov did indeed noticeably gain body mass.

N.N. Strakhov goes on to describe Dostoevsky in the following words: "He has a very high opinion of himself, is disorderly in his affairs, is perpetually in debt and in need, and is perpetually immersed in literary squabbles. Critics, newspaper reviews, rivals in the craft, polemics - these are what he is constantly and assiduously occupied with. Attacks on him irritate him as if he were just a novice feuilletonist." "All literary forms, from feuilleton foolery, to supreme artistic creativity, had their legitimacy, their place, in his eyes, and he was ready to exercise himself in all sorts." 

Speaking of A.P. Grigoriev and his attitude to the feuilletonism of F.M. Dostoevsky, his point of view can be seen in his review of the novel The Humiliated and Insulted, A.P. Grigoriev accuses F.M. Dostoevsky of bookishness and feuilletonism. In 1864 N.N. Strakhov published his "Memories of Apollon Aleksandrovich Grigoriev" in the journal "Epoch". One of Grigoriev's letters to Strakhov stated that the editorial board of Vremya should "not drive like a post horse the high talent of F.M.Dostoevsky, but cherish and keep him from feuilleton activity"[2, p. 9]. Afterwards, Dostoevsky replied to Grigoriev's words: "This letter from Grigoriev obviously refers to my novel The Humiliated and Insulted, which was then printed in Vremya. If I wrote a feuilleton novel (of which I confess completely), I and I alone am to blame for it" [3, p. 134].

One of the most important components on the way to understanding and comprehending the integrity of F.M.Dostoevsky's artistic world is still the study of the place and significance of the laughter and the comic in his work. We have therefore turned to well-known texts by renowned literary critics in order to verify Strakhov's and Grigoriev's assessments.

Lia Mikhailovna Rozenblum, a researcher specializing in F.M.Dostoevsky's personality and works, in her 1999 article "F.M.Dostoevsky's Humour" cites the example of the critic V.G.Belinsky.

She writes: "The ironic review on the hapless humourists appeared in the Otechestvennye Zapiski (Fatherland Notes) No 2 of 1846, just in that memorable time for Mikhail Dostoevsky, when the critic was preparing for the next issue a review for the Petersburg Collection, where the novel Poor People was first published. V.G. Belinsky was deeply impressed by the novel. His article on Dostoevsky's literary debut has long been textbook material, and yet, let us remember what it says about humour: "It is clear from the first glance that Dostoevsky's talent is neither satirical nor descriptive, but highly creative and that the prevailing character of his talent is humour" [4, p. 548].

Further: "about the second novel, The Double, V.G. Belinsky remarked: 'the deeply tragic colour and tone' were hidden, so to speak, behind the humour, disguised by it".

Rosenblum explains that the critic saw "an excess of humour" in F.M.Dostoevsky: "The young talent, in the consciousness of his power and his richness, seems to indulge in humour, but there is so much actual humour, humour of thought and action, that he can safely disregard the humour of words and phrases" [5, p. 551].

Among the fragmentary sketches for the Writer's Diary, L. Rosenblum finds the following entries: “Whoever is deprived of the ability to understand a joke will never be truly happy”, “they cease to understand humor and jokes.  This is a very bad sign - a sign of the decline of mental faculties in the generation.

In the 60s, the problem of the comic F.M.  Dostoevsky addresses M.M.  Bakhtin [6, p. 486].  L. Rosenblum writes: “The deepest interpretation of Dostoevsky, as a thinker and artist, in Russian philosophical and religious literature at the turn of the century also did not touch humour.  A real revolution in the study of the serious-comical principle in the works of F.M.  Dostoevsky was the theory of “carnivalized literature” by M. Bakhtin.  But even here, according to L. Rosenblum, the problem of humour proper in the sense that F.M. Dostoevsky, it is not highlighted.

Then, L. Rosenblum mentions A. Chicherin, in his work “Ideas and Style” he writes: “Humour in the novels of Dostoevsky?  Is there humour in his novels?”, but A. Chicherin considered different forms of funny non-dismemberment, in his examples there is “sense of humour in describing family signs in the Epanchin’s house, and the image of Karmazinov in “Demons”, “endowed with various sarcasm of real satire”  , "very scathingly but with endless humour" [7, p.  195].

“Dostoevsky learned the art of jokes from Gogol, but the humour  of the young Dostoevsky does not reach “neither the strength nor the terrifying depth of humour which  distinguished a mentor,” says A. Chicherin.

Ponkratova's article, "Laughter and the Comic in Dostoevsky's Work: On Some Features of the Writer's Aesthetic", states that the first study in the 20th century on the comic in Dostoevsky's work was an article by I. I. Lapshin, "The Comic in Dostoevsky's Works"[8, p. 35].

The article raises the question of the duality of the writer's worldview, which caused, from the point of view of the researcher, the duality of the comic F.M. Dostoevsky: E.N. Ponkratov calls his laughter "hellish laughter". Further, she mentions D.O. Zaslavsky, he in his article "Notes on humor and satire in the works of F.M. Dostoevsky" also addresses the theme of the comic in the writer [9, p. 472].

In the study of N.M.  Chirkov "On the style of Dostoevsky" explains E.M.  Pankratov, talks about the interpenetration of the comic and the tragic.  “In Dostoevsky’s, just as with pathos, we often have not only scenes of scandals, but also observe moments of rude buffoon comedy, buffoonery and clownishness.  The function of the comic reduction is sometimes a direct parody of the pathetic.  However, such parody ultimately sharpens the pathetic,” writes N.M.  Chirkov[ 10, p.  173].

L. Pankratova writes: “The general, laughter in the perception of Dostoevsky is ambivalent.  It cannot be argued that his world is filled only with denial and heartbreaking laughter.  Laughter in Dostoevsky is also manifested in its primary function - to bring joy, fun. Pleasure for Dostoevsky is the highest point of sincere good-natured laughter.  The laughter world of Dostoevsky is unique.  Dostoevsky's laughter is subordinated to a special authorial task: it does not seek to make the reader laugh and evoke a reaction associated with reciprocal laughter.  "Killing" the reader's heart with the laughter of heroes over human tragedy, F.M.  Dostoevsky seeks to draw the reader's attention to something really important and significant.


1. Electronic resource http://dostoevskiy-lit.ru/ 27 p.
2. Epoch. 1864, № 9. 9 p.
3. Dostoevsky F. M. Complete Collected Works: In 30 vols. 1980, Т. 20. 715 с.
4. Belinsky V.G. Complete Collected Works: In 13 vols. Moscow: Publishing House of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, 1954, Vol. 9. 548p.
5. Belinsky V. G., Complete Collected Works, Vol. IX, 648 p.
6. Bakhtin M.M. Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics. Moscow: Khud. litt., 1986. 486 p.
7. Chicherin A. V., Ideas and Style. On the Nature of the Poetic Word, Moscow: 1965, 456 p.
8. Lapshin I.I. Comic in Dostoevsky's Works // On Dostoevsky: Sb. of Articles / Edited by A.L. Bem. Prague, 1933. Sb. II. С. 35 p.
9. Zaslavsky D.O. Notes on Humor and Satire in Dostoevsky's Works // The Creativity of Dostoevsky. Moscow: Publishing House of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, 1985, 534 p. 
10. Chirkov N.M. On the style of Dostoevsky. Moscow: 1967, 173 p.