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The Intimate Stranger

Meetings with the Devil in Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature


Julian W. Connolly

The Intimate Stranger provides the first detailed investigation of a distinctive literary phenomenon: a fascination with demons and devils in nineteenth-century Russian literature. Nearly all of the major authors of the period – Pushkin, Gogol, Lermontov, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy – used images of devils to explore issues of human temptation, sin, and guilt in a troubled world. Asking fundamental questions – where does evil come from? when does it appear in characters’ lives? – these writers created a remarkable array of demonic figures, ranging from grotesque demons to handsome nihilists. This book discusses the various literary, religious, and folkloric factors that influenced the representation of the demonic, and it investigates the profound, soul-shattering effects that a personal encounter with the demonic may have on an individual’s life.