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This paper offers an interpretation of the figure of Pawel Fyodorovitch Smerdyakov- the fourth of the Karamazov brothers, parricide featured in the last great novel byFyodor Dostoevsky. The analysis of existing criticism on Smerdyakov, which is mypoint of departure, invites an assertion that this figure tends to be regarded in almostexclusively negative terms. Looking for answers to the question whence comes thisunequivocal evaluation of Smerdyakov, I focus on plot resolutions, the way narrationis led, and on the poetics of Smerdyakov’s depictions in the The Brothers Karamazov.I establish that their aim is to fashion from the outset a much revolting imageof this particular protagonist. This perspective allows me to state a thesis that iscontrary to that of Michail Bakhtin who claimed that the polyphony of Dostoevsky’soeuvre renders each protagonist’s worldview fully individual and equally valuableand that access to their personalities is granted to us only in so far as they speak ofthemselves. In a critical discussion with Bakhtin I argue that Smerdyakov functionsas an example of an anti-dialogical, that is obscuring the protagonist’s individuality,specifically authorial take aiming to arrest his personality within a predetermined,monological interpretive regime. I then offer a meditation on the ethical messageof The Brothers Karamazov which rests on the notion of “the responsibility of everyonefor everyone” and I reflect on the reasons why this formula does not apply tothe figure of Smerdyakov who, surprisingly, is not treated as a “brother” by anyonein the novel, let alone a human being.
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