Article: PDF
DOI: 10.51762/1FK-2021-26-01-17
Abstract: The article addresses one of the most important Goncharov’s characters – Mark Volokhov from the novel The Precipice. It is argued that Goncharov deliberately created ambiguous image of the character, ironically forcing the negative superficial impression. It is believed that the technique of the audience opinion manipulation was noticed but not realized to the full by the novel critics. Volokhov was taken by the contemporaries (both critics and readers) in a sharp social context – as a bearer of new ideas; and the discussion of the novel actually boiled down to ideological disputes. The article argues that in his novel, Goncharov masterfully develops the technique of forcing upon readers a subjective characteristic of his personage, which he had earlier used in A Common Story and Oblomov. Long before the readers meet Mark Volokhov “in person”, they get some information about him from outer sources. Later on, the first biased impression about the character channels the further interpretation of his deeds by the reader. The key to the literary game of the novelists may be found in the duality of the main character of the novel Boris Raisky and the secondary character Mark Volokhov (long ago noted by readers and critics). In fact, Goncharov makes his reader apply double standards to the assessment of similar characters’ behaviors. The critics considered it as a drawback and a nonconsistency. The article poses a different version: to interpret the duality of Raisky and Volokhov as a manifestation of the principle that it is the how but not the what that is important in art. The lifetime reception of The Precipice is viewed in the context of comparison of the epic and novel discourses of the literary process of Russia of the second half of the 19th century. Goncharov’s contemporaries might have interpreted The Precipice not from the novel positions, but from the opposite epic ones. In such discourse, the character cannot be in the zone of direct contact; he must be different and higher than all other characters. On the contrary, the character of Mark Volokhov is absolutely devoid of epic distance – he actually impersonates a travesty of the myth of a new man, which was an influential ideologeme of the time and a basic construct of the Russian utopian tradition.
Key words: I. A. Goncharov; irony; epos; novel; epic discourse; literary creative activity; literary genres; literary plots; literary characters

For citation

Kazakova, S. K. (2021). A Novel Character in Epic Discourse (To the Issue of Reception of the Novel “The Precipice” by Goncharov). In Philological Class. 2021. Vol. 26 ⋅ №1. P. 206–217. DOI 10.51762/1FK-2021-26-01-17.