Protosuperheroes in Russian Classics of the 19th century
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Russian Classics
Mass Culture
Civic Theme

How to Cite

Zavyalova, E. (2020). Protosuperheroes in Russian Classics of the 19th century. Galactica Media: Journal of Media Studies, 2(3), 173-191.


The author reveals the general principles in construction of images of mass-cult superhero and several iconic characters of Russian classics. The author draws attention to their main attributes: liminality, emotionality, singlehood, anonymity, emblematicity, i.e. recognizability of the mask, and so on. The main character of N. Karamzin's essay Erast ("The Sensitive and the Cold") is called the first person in the literature of the XIX century who can at least partially claim the role of a protosuperhero. It is proved that the detailed image of the defender appears in the works of the Decembrists. The most obvious example of a rescuer of the weak in the Russian culture of the Golden period is A. Pushkin's Dubrovsky. In the novel by M. Lermontov the figure of Pechorin is ambiguous in this sense, but the principles of plot organization close to the serial structure are used ("A Hero of Our Time''). In many respects, I.Turgenev's Insarov is similar to the image of the superhero: biography, appearance, behavior ("On the Eve"). Because of certain schematicism in the image, even more similar to it is the N. Chernyshevsky's "special person" Rakhmetov ("What Is to Be Done?"). In the works of L.Tolstoy the image is completely embodied only in many disparate components. The author concludes that the inherent inconsistency of romantic characters in many cases turns into duality – a typical feature of the superhero aesthetic. During periods of historical cataclysms, times of aggravation of social contradictions, the popularity of characters who "know everything" increases.
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