Classification – name: Literary studies
Author: Alexander L. Renansky
Pages: 128-154
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: Research Article
Collection: F.M. Dostoevsky in Literary and Archival Sources of the Late 19th — the First Third of the 20th Century
Year of publication: 2021
Place of publication: Moscow


Alexander L. Renansky. How the Russian Theater Discovered Dostoevsky: an Experience in Findings and Losses

About the author:

Alexander L. Renansky, Professor of the Department of Theater Creativity, Belarusian State University of Culture and Arts (Minsk, Belarus).

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


The article is dedicated to conceptualization of the first the Moscow Art Theater experience in stage production of Dostoevsky’s novel “The Brothers Karamazov” in (1910). A description is given of the process of V.I. Nemirovich- Danchenko’s work over a staged version of the novel and its scenic evocation. Consideration is given to the artistic discoveries of fundamental importance for the world theater that occurred in the process of work over the stage play: the discovery of new stagecraft techniques for theatricalizing great literature, the discovery of new “cinematographic” principles of editing acting scenes that had not been invented yet by the then cinematograph itself, the radical rethinking of the traditional temporal structure of scenic action, and the introduction of a Reader (Narrator) into the performance, a novelty for the world theater that allowed the combination of drama action and epic narrative, and the anticipation of the epic theater of the future. The public reaction to the stage production of “The Brothers Karamazov” found expression in a bitter widespread and lengthy dispute among leading political and literary-artistic groupings that revealed not only the deepening polarization in the attitudes toward Dostoevsky’s work but also the far-flung symptoms and signs of the spiritual condition of the Russian society in the prerevolutionary period.

Keywords: Dostoevsky, “The Brothers Karamazov”, Vl. Nemirovich- Danchenko, dramatization, Moscow Art Theater, directing, performance, theater criticism, reviews.