Classification – name: Literary studies
Publisher: A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IWL RAS Publ.)
Rights – description: Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 (СС BY-ND)
Rights – URL:
Language of the publication: Russian
Type of document: Monograph
Collection: Literary process in Russia of the 18th  — 19th centuries. Secular and spiritual literature. Issue 2
Year of publication: 2020
Place of publication: Moscow


Author: Svetlana V. Burmistrova
Burmistrova S.V. Reception of the plot about road to Damascus in the poem “Agasfer” by Vasily Zhukovsky.

About the author

Svetlana V. Burmistrova, PhD in Philology, Associate Professor, Moscow Theological Academy, the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, 141300 Sergiyev Posad, Moscow Region, Russia

ORCID ID: 0000-0003-3852-9797

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



The article analyses the key work of Vasily Zhukovsky — the poem “Agasfer” (1852) in the context of the Apostolic story about the way to Damascus. The use of the story about the road to Damascus as an interpretative model of the poem “Agasfer” allows us to clarify the author’s concept of the spiritual transformation of the hero, as well as to comment on the features of the reception of the Apostolic text in Vasily Zhukovsky’s work. The main plot phases of the Apostolic discourse on the conversion of Saul, presented in the book of Acts of the Holy apostles, are read in the narrative of the spiritual transformation of the hero of Vasily Zhukovsky’s poem. At the heart of both plots is the motif of the road, symbolising the mental movement from spiritual error to true faith, from death to life, from the loss of the meaning of one’s own existence to the acquisition of the ability to understand the action of Divine Providence not only in one’s own destiny, but also in the universe. As a result of the study, the author came to the conclusion that the Apostolic text about the road to Damascus is interpreted in Vasily Zhukovsky’s poem as an archetype of repentance and spiritual rebirth of the person. Allusive references to the Apostolic discourse on the conversion of Saul are found not only at the level of the plot organisation of the poem, but are also found in the motif, character system of “Agasfer”.

Keywords: Vasily Zhukovsky, Apostolic text, story of path to Damascus, “Agasfer”, religion, spiritual transformation, subject transformation, Paul Apostle, archetype of repentance.