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Neither BURGHER nor BARIN: An Imagological and Intercultural Reading of Andrey Stoltz in Ivan Goncharov’s Oblomov (1859)

Joshua S. Walker


This article presents a reevaluation of Andrey Stolz as more than either a “weak point” in the novel or a “plot device” and “simple foil” to Oblomov (as D. Senese represents Dobrolyubov’s position). I investigate the problematic nature of “Germanness” in the novel according to the Imagological methodology, and this allows me to explore how Andrey’s intercultural identity is mediated through a myriad of different perspectives in the novel. Andrey accesses two politically-loaded symbolic sets of the German character in mid-nineteenth-century Russian literature: as an outsider, an Other, who is a negatively-valued opposite by which the positive Russian Self can be defined; and as an aspect of the internalized German in Russian culture, where the Other functions as a symbol of the westernizing process within Russian society. Andrey’s unstable Germanness thus exposes the paradox of expressing the Russian Self in the 19th century, where the Russian is constructed in contrast to-yet also in terms of-the imagined Western Other. I therefore challenge the prevailing assumption that Andrey is meant only to be the “antidote” to Oblomov, and suggest that his character elucidates the instability of the Russian Self Image.


Oblomov; Goncharov; Dobrolyubov; imagology; literary stereotypes; Germans in Russian Literature; 19th-century Russian literature; the literary construction of the Self and the Other; the image of Andrey Stolz; identity construction

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