Classification – name: Literary studies
Author: Natalia N. Arsentieva, Rosa María Moreno Rodríguez
Pages: 269-290
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


Rosa María Moreno Rodríguez, Natalia N. Arsentieva. “The Stress of Life” in the Work of Dostoevsky and Andreyev in the Light of the Neurophysiological Investigation

About the authors:

Natalia N. Arsentieva — PhD in Philology, Professor of Russian Literature at Oryol State University (1997–2000), now lecturer at the Department of Greek and Slavic Philology at the University of Granada, Head of the research group HUM404 HERMEKATE (The Classical Tradition), Campus de la Cartuja, Calle del Prof. Clavera, s/n, 18011 Granada, Spain.

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Rosa María Moreno Rodríguez, PhD in Medical Sciences, Lecturer at the Department of Pathological Anatomy and History of Medicine, University of Granada (Spain).

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This article addresses the relationships between Russian literature and the development of psychiatry at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. The research is based on the study of the medical contents drawn from the work of Dostoevsky and Andreyev, which deals with the neurophysiological presuppositions of behavioral psychology, theory inaugurated by Pavlov and Bekhterev, and adaptive responses to stress proposed by Hans Selye. We consider both activities, literature and science, as discourse and praxis of theory, either factually, from the development of drugs or instruments that act on brain functioning, or didactically, through the development of roles and dramatic instruments. Moreover, our research also focuses on the psychological expression in the face of misfortune and the sterility of psychic effort, within the two classical dimensions of anthropology and psychology: the correlation between emotions and reason, and the activation of somatic functions. In their work, both authors coincide in showing a psychopathological and somatic correlate either as insanity, paralysis or death. Finally, we analyzed whether the relationship with science is of dependency or whether it constitutes a core part of a cultural continuum.

Keywords: Psychiatry, literature, Dostoevsky, Leonid Andreyev, classical tradition, neurophysiology, Pavlov, Selye.