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A.M. Gorky Institute
of World Literature
of the Russian Academy of Sciences

IWL RAS Publishing

A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature
of the Russian Academy of Sciences


Povarskaya 25a, 121069 Moscow, Russia



Types of publications

About the author:

Polina D. Orekhova, PhD-student (IGК 1956: RSUH / the University of Freiburg im Breisgau), Albert-Ludwigs-Universitat Freiburg, Postfach, 79085 Freiburg, Germany.

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The article focuses on Thomas Mann’s reception of Dostoevsky‘s Notes from Underground and is based on materials (books and annotations) from Thomas Mann’s personal library (Thomas-Mann-Archiv, ETH-Zurich). The annotated passages can be assigned to two complexes of themes: first, human nature’s inherent inclination to destruction and chaos versus the concept of civilization, second, the narrator’s self-characterization. The annotations will be compared with quotes from Mann‘s essay Dostoevsky — in Moderation, which illuminates the importance of the Notes from Underground for the reception of Dostoevsky by Mann and also shows the characteristics of its later interpretation by Mann. Features of the Underground Man he attributes himself with, Mann partially transfers onto his image of Dostoevsky by using quotes from Dostoevsky’s text to describe its author. The Underground Man’s polemic against positivsm is read as a strongly related to Mann’s contemporary historic discourses and contexts — German National Socialism, the Second World War and its consequences. Of many mediators for Dostoevsky’s reception by Mann, two will be examined in this article: Merezhkovsky, who also uses Notes from Underground to characterize Dostoevsky, and Hermann Rohl, whose translation of Dostoevsky’s novel serves Mann as a source for his essay.

  • Keywords: Thomas Mann, Fyodor M. Dostoevsky, Hermann Rohl, Dmitry S. Merezhkovsky, Notes from Underground, Dostoevsky — in Moderation, archival holdings, reception, cultural transfer, positivism, humanism.


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