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  • Book
    Ekaterina Neklyudova.
    My dissertation deals with the figure of the doctor in early Russian nineteenth-century prose, which manifests a shift in the way literature depicts human physicality and the characters' everyday life. My major source is 1820s-1840s prose, mostly published in the literary and cultural journals Biblioteka dlia Chtenia, Syn Otechestva, and others. My sources reflect the impressive expansion in Russian literature and medicine in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Using documentary and literary sources, I demonstrate that the artistic representation of physicians in Romantic and Realist prose contributes to the introduction of previously unknown themes into literature: medical perspectives on physical suffering, the private everyday lives of ordinary people, and even the mystical view of other worlds. The combination of medical and mystical discourses in the vocabulary of real doctors in the first half of the nineteenth century gave them the authority to judge human bodies, lives, and, they believed, souls: they seemed to observe from inside and outside at the same time. By including a doctor among their characters, fiction writers thus could use a powerful instrument that let them introduce new topics. As I show, through the mid nineteenth century, the fictional doctors situated at the margin of literary plots performed the role of an important textual device: they served as go-betweens among other characters, mediating, connecting or splitting them. They affected the relationship between characters, the plot's trajectory, and the readers' perception. The situation shifts in mid century; with the gradual separation of doctor from his instrumental function, this character moves to the center of the plot and loses his structural power.