Dostoevsky’s influence on Bryusov
The aim of the paper is to see the line of Dostoevsky’s influence on the creative work of Valeriy Bryusov through his prose story ‘The Republic of the Southern Cross’ originally published in 1907. It is stated, that the main influence, through which ‘The Republic of the Southern Cross’ may be seen from the viewpoint of Dostoevsky’s creative work is the influence of his Raskolnikov on the way Bryusov’s story has been written. Similar analogies can be traced through the comparison of the Dostoevsky’s works and statement that ‘The Republic of the Southern Cross’ is antiutopia.
(Jackson, 1958) However, to clearly see these similarities it is necessary to analyze the story closer. The Republic of the Southern Cross remains to be the most popular prose work of Bryusov. He has been able to write ‘realistic fantastic story’, which has immediately called critics for te comparisons with the Dostoevsky’s works. The dead end of the people’s lives which Bryusov was able to depict is easily seen in Dostoevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’. ‘It must be said that this democratic exterior concealed the purely autocratic tyranny
of the shareholders and directors of a former Trust. Giving up to others the places of deputies in the Chamber they inevitably brought in their own candidates as directors of the factories. In the hands of the Board of Directors was concentrated the economic life of the country. The directors received all the orders and assigned them to the various factories for fulfilment; they purchased the materials and the machines for the work; they managed the whole business of the factories. Through their hands passed immense sums of money, to be reckoned in milliards’. (Bryusov, 1907)
The influence of Dostoevsky was seen through the fact that antiutopic scenes in Bryusov are based on the Raskolnikov’s dream in ‘Crime and Punishment’. (Jackson 1958) However, it is also possible that when writing his Republic Bryusov was also using the principal themes of the ‘Apocalypses’. The initial situation of the subject who has sinned is very similar to that of Raskolnikov, his loneliness and sadness which he does not really realize himself. From the citation above, it is easy to understand why people started to suffer from the Disease of Contradiction.
The endlessness of the silly behaviors of people in the republic has led to the terrible catastrophe, and only several men try to resist to this chaos. ‘A train conductor on the metropolitan railway, instead of receiving money from the passengers, himself pays them. A policeman, whose duty it was to regulate the traffic, confuses it all day long. A visitor to a gallery, walking from room to room, turns all the pictures with their faces to the wall. A newspaper page of proof, being corrected by the hand of a reader already overtaken by the disease, is printed next morning full of the most amusing absurdities.
At a concert, a sick violinist suddenly interrupts the harmonious efforts of the orchestra with the most dreadful dissonances. A whole long series of such happenings gave plenty of scope for the wits of local journalists’. (Bryusov, 1907) Isn’t it similar to the way Raskolnikov was seen to behave after he has committed the crime? The fall of morality in the society is also in the line with moral fall of Rasolnikov. (Jackson, 1973) Bryusov makes special stress on the way morality disappears and people become animals.
Morality was seen as the thin surface which has been easily breached despite the fact that it had been held with people through millennia. However, the story is as if the reverse reflection of Dostoevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’ – if he has been able to show the fall of morality in Raskolnikov at the beginning of his book, making it the center of his revival, spiritual and moral tortures, as well as his understanding of the seriousness of his crime, the story written by Bryusov makes the reverse action and the moral fall is shown at the end of the story, with the life of the Republic making it possible step by step.
These are the characteristic features of antiutopia. It means, that the story shows the consequences of utopia, works with complex social models and suggests possible development of the certain social events. Dostoevsky didn’t do this in his story; he has not suggested any other versions of Raskolnikov’s crime. The lines of Dostoevsky’s ‘Notes from the Underground’ are even more clearly seen through reading Bryusov’s The Republic.
Dostoevsky’s Notes have been written as the means for Dostoevsky to show that he had been against any strict rationalism in the human life, and it was probably his biggest fear that once human lives would be ruled by rationality, about which we have read in The Republic. The symbols of this fear included by Dostoevsky into his work are mathematical tables and piano key. For example, if the analogy is made between the anthill and the ants, according to Dostoevsky, the individuality is lost when all ants work towards one and the same objective, especially when the work is standardized, as everything has been standardized in The Republic.
(Brians, 1995) Mathematical tables appeared to be the way to investigate the feelings of people in the notes, but it is understandable that the fears and other emotional states of people cannot be mapped out, and the result of this mapping out was described by Bryusov. Dostoevsky as a writer was against discussing and explaining the behavior of people in scientific terms and means. This behavior he has been explaining through other deeper meanings, which are also found in Crime and Punishment.
(Jackson, 1973) ‘The greatest example of science and modernity that Dostoevsky presents to the reader is the Crystal Palace. The Crystal Palace was a structure built in 1851 in London. It was the first modern building. It was made entirely out of glass and iron. This palace was supposed to be as good as it gets. It was utopianism brought out into real life. To Dostoevsky it represented reason, science and logic’. (Brians, 1995) The parallel with Bryusov’s Republic is so vivid that cannot be denied:
‘Because of the severity of the climate, an impenetrable and opaque roof had been built over the town, with powerful ventilators for a constant change of air. These localities of the globe have but one day in six months, and one long night also of six months, but the streets of Zvezdny were always lighted by a bright and even light. In the same way in all seasons of the year the temperature of the streets was kept at one and the same height’. (Bryusov, 1907)
In Dostoevsky’s prose people are seen to be submitted to an organized living through the strict standards which are uniform for everyone without an exception; as far as people were working in one environment towards the same goal, individualism was absent, as well as it was absent in the Republic. Conclusion The influence of Dostoevsky on the creative work of Bryusov is clear, and the Republic of Southern Cross is the brightest example to see this influence. It has been analyzed through the two essential Dostoevsky’s works – ‘Crime and Punishment’ and ‘Notes from Underground’.
The reason for choosing these two stories lies in the fact, that first of all, The Notes and The Republic are often criticized for being similar in their literary implications and backgrounds, and the work has proved that the principal motives are similar in both; as for Crime and Punishment, I guess it was a good example to show the moral fall of people, and how fast it can be to turn people into beasts, and though the development of the events and moral fall are opposite in both works, it has been interesting to trace analogies in them.
Works cited Brians, Paul. Study Guide: Notes from the Underground. Washington State University, 1995 Bryusov. V. The Republic of the Southern Cross. 1907. Available at http://gaslight. mtroyal. ab. ca/repsouth. htm (accessed 03 March 2007) Jackson, R. L. Twentieth Century Interpretations of Crime and Punishment. Prentice Hall Trade, 1973 Jackson, R. L. Dostoevsky’s Underground Man in Russian Literature. Mouton, Hague, 1958.