decorated initial 'T'he possibilities for flexibility and richness in Dickens's narrative style, characterisation, and themes, particularly in the large novels The Pickwick Papers (1836-37) and Our Mutual Friend (1864-65), were highly attractive for Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (1821-81), whose search for models of characterization and style was an essential part of his creative process. The great Russian writer believed that for the novelist the matter is not in the object itself, but in his artistic vision that transmutes that object: "If you have [a functioning] eye, the object emerges. If the eye lacks sight [i. e., if you are blind], nothing will be found in an object" (Works, vol. 21: 76)

Being distinctive and even idiosyncratic, Dostoevsky's imagery cannot be comprehended without appreciating Dickens's role in his Russian contemporary's development of his unique style. For Dostoevsky's innovative use of language the most important element in Dickens's writing was the English novelist's using his visual imagination to express human feelings and relationships. One can appreciate Dostoevsky's inimitable style and characterization more clearly by comparing his characters and plots with those in Dickens's works.

In considering the role that Dickens's works played in Dostoevsky's creative work in applying Dickens's observations about English society to that of Russia, we should focus on the moral, psychological, and aesthetic force of F. M. Dostoevsky's applications of Dickens's plotting and characterization. In his Diary of a Writer (1873) Dostoevsky expressed his appreciation of Dickens in this way:

We understand Dickens in Russia, I am convinced, almost as well as the English, and maybe even all the subtleties; maybe even we love him no less than his own countrymen; and yet how typical, distinctive, and national Dickens is. [Works, vol. 21: 69]

Dostoevsky grasped the power of the English writer's artistic vision; he called him a "great Christian," admiring especially Dickens's humbler characters. Moreover, the basis for Dostoevsky's assimilation of Dickens's style and vision was Dickens's treatment of the theme about the need for the reconstitution of society, and especially for the wealthy and powerful to display a greater humanitarianism towards that society's less privileged. As David Gervais remarks, "Dostoevsky saw a poetic spirituality beyond Dickens's morality" (52). As Dickens determined to be their voice in Great Britain, so Dostoevsky determined to be their voice in Russia.

Before treating the issues of creative assimilation of Dickens's manner and substance in Dostoevsky's works (1860-70), we should mention the external evidence of the Russian writer's passionate interest in emulating Dickens's genius. The period 1850-60 was crucial in Dostoevsky's creative assimilation of the spirit and style of Dickens's works. Dostoevsky's creative development was forcibly interrupted by four years of Siberian exile in Omsk "ostrog" (prison) between 1850 and 1854 and a further five years of relative isolation from mainstream culture spent in the Semipalatinsk settlement (1854-59). During this decade the Russian writer was alienated from the social and literary processes at work in Russia's cultural centres, Moscow and St. Petersburg. Even during this period of exile, however, we can detect his voracious interest in Dickens. In his book of remembrances and memoirs about Dostoevsky's exile, M. Nikitin presents anecdotal evidence; for example, M. Nikitin remarks that, "after his Siberian imprisonment in Semipalatinsk, Dostoevsky read Dickens's novels by candlelight while often on the verge of tears" (Nikitin 172).

The result of Dostoevsky's fascination with Dickens one can find in Memoirs by Petr Martjanov, who was in military service in Omsk 'ostrog' at the time of Dostoevsky's exile. According to Martjanov's reminiscences, Dostoevsky in his Siberian sojourn "refused to read the books brought to him even by young people, and only twice developed his indulged his imaginative needs by reading David Copperfield and The Posthumous Papers of Pickwick Club in translations by Irinarch Vvedensky" (Martyanov, 2: 450).

While living outside Russia, Dostoevsky drew the attention of his wife, Anna Grigorjevna (whose reading he both encouraged and supervised), to the works of Dickens. Joking about their poverty during the Dresden period, Dostoevsky refers to himself as "Mr. Micawber" and to Anna Grigorjevna as "Mrs. Micawber." Anna Dostoevskaya recalls that "Dickens's sense of humour was part of our life. We endured our poverty resignedly, sometimes careless[ly]." She noted in her diary during May 1867 that her husband borrowed from a Dresden library The Old Curiosity Shop in French, but refused the offer of a copy of David Copperfield because he had already read it (Dostoevskaya 100). In Dresden both Fyodor Michailovitch and Anna Grigoryevna read Dickens in French and Russian translations.

Although Dostoevsky read David Copperfield several times, the only character from that lengthy bildungsroman whom he mentioned in his notes, letters, and diaries is Mr. Micawber. In a 25 March 1870 letter to A. N. Maikov he compared his circumstances to those of one of the chief characters of David Copperfield (1849-50): "I am positively in a terrible situation now (Mr. Micawber). Not a kopek of money" (Letters, ed. A. S. Dolinin, 2: 262). This self-identification with the ever-optimistic clerk instead of the soul-searching novelist David Copperfield shows the depth of Dostoevsky's sympathy with and appreciation of Dickens's characters and their situations — the allusion even reveals a Dickensian sense of humour in a writer almost universally regarded as dour! Dostoevsky's daughter, Lyubov' Dostoevskaya, wrote in her Memoirs:

When our father went to Ems, he was not able to read himself because of his work, [so] he made our mother, Anna Grigoryevna, read aloud [to him the works of] Walter Scott and Dickens, this Great Christian, as my father called him in his Diary of a Writer. During the dinner time my father asked us whether we were impressed by Dickens's novels and [whether we] recollected the episodes from Dickens's works. My father, who forgot the second name of his wife and the face of his sweetheart, remembered the names of all the characters from Dickens's and Walter Scott novels. . . . [90-91]

D. A. Averkiev, the Russian dramatist, critic, and publisher of Dostoevsky's Diary of a Writer in 1885-1886, discussing Dostoevsky's paper "About Predestination of Christianity in Art" ("O prednaznatchenii christianstva v iskusstve") wrote:

In Dostoevsky's opinion, what was the [primary] task of "Christian Art"? Not only in the influence of Christian ideas on an artist, but in the selection of plots, in the appeal of art to the depiction of injured, humiliated . . . and Dostoevsky considered Dickens as a founder of this direction [trend] in literature. [Diary of a Writer, 12th installment]

E. A. Stakenshneyder, the owner of the literary salon in St. Petersburg, writing in her diary on 6 February 1884, was more succinct: "The favourite writer of Dostoevsky was Dickens." In her Memoirs she enumerated "the main similar features in the works of both writers�sophisticated plots, a great numbers of characters, Our Mutual Friend, for instance. . ." (Stakenschneyder 456), which can be explained by the close affinity of their world perception, similar philosophical and social positions based on Christian principles of love and compassion which predetermines the similarity between their aesthetic and moral strivings. In Dickens's novels, Dostoevsky found the idea about what Dickens in Hard Times (1854) described as the "wisdom of the heart" (the so-called "principal mind"), which involves compassion for the insulted and injured, and leads to a spiritual resurrection for those characters such as Thomas Gradgrind and Ebenezer Scrooge, whose callous hearts and hard souls are softened by the influence of love and compassion.

As one of Dostoevsky's spiritual counterparts, Dickens played a significant role in the development of Russian writer's literary imagination. What made Dickens's novels of particular interest for Dostoevsky as he wrote his own work? The attitude both writers express towards the social issues of crime and punishment is an important indicator of a socio-cultural consciousness they shared. Take, for example, Dickens's method of depicting of criminal psychology in his works in a warped character such as Jonas Chuzzlewit (in Martin Chuzzlewit, 1843). Dickens's psychological analysis of the malefactor's consciousness and motivations attracted the attention of Russian critics such as G. Larosh (writing under the pseudonym "L. Nelyubov"), who observed that "Dickens entered in the new area of depicting crime and subconscious impulses of human psyche [soul]" (Kulischer, 5: 94).

In 1912 at a congress of Russian lawyers convened specifically to investigate criminal psychology, E. Kulischer, an outstanding Russian attorney, delivered a speech entitled "Dickens as a Criminalist," which he dedicated to Dickens's centenary jubilee (1912 marking the hundredth anniversary of Dickens's birth). In this speech he underscored the notion that "Dickens in his works anticipated new ideas in criminal law, and the description of criminal mentality in Dickens's characters paved the way for a new understanding of a criminal as a human being with a specific psycho type" (5: 94) or mindset.

The destruction of the moral aspect of the personality wrought by guilt and the perpetration of criminal acts, particularly murder, are frequent subjects in Dostoevsky's and in Dickens's later novels. Investigating the approach to the question of whether Dickens inspired Dostoevsky in his descriptions of criminal psychology, we must endeavor to draw parallels, for example, between the characters of Raskolnikov (in Crime and Punishment) and Bradley Headstone (in Our Mutual Friend); such a parallel is the basis of an article by an outstanding nineteenth-century Russian critic, N. N. Strakhov, "O Prestuplenii i nakasanii" ("About Crime and Punishment"), published in Otechestvennye Zapiski in April 1867.

Strakhov seems to have been the first to notice that Raskolnikov's emotional anguish occasioned by his having murdered a pawnbroker-hag resembles Bradley Headstone's psychological torments after he succumbs to a jealous rage in which he attempts to murder the attorney Eugene Wrayburne. Like Raskolnikov, Bradley Headstone is conscience-stricken. With respect to the emotionally-disturbed schoolmaster, as later with the drug-addicted choirmaster John Jasper in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, in his analysis of the criminal's state of mind after the crime in "Better to be Abel than Cain" (Book 4, Chapter 7) Dickens emphasizes that, although the schoolmaster may feel no remorse,

the evil-doer . . . cannot escape the slower torture of incessantly doing the evil deed again and doing it more efficiently. . . . If I had done it as alleged, is it conceivable that I would have made this and this mistake? [Our Mutual Friend 690]

The change in narrative point-of-view is particularly informative here because the first-person supplants the third-person, as if the narrator has suddenly shifted into the actual mental processes of the malefactor, "that wretch who continually finds the weak spots in his own crime, and strives to strengthen them when it is unchangeable. . . ." The above excerpts directly communicate the depth of spiritual pain in Headstone's soul. Dickens's presentation of the criminal's psychology in his revelation of Headstone's thoughts resembles Dostoevsky's presentation of Raskolnikov; in both characters' minds the doubts about the moral rightness of having committed murder begin to arise shortly after they have committed the deed. Dostoevsky treats the psychological ramifications of having committed a crime in Raskolnikov's mind as a deep transformation that incorporates a "fantastic reality" which underscores the essential irrationality in human nature. In his letter to M. N. Katkov, the editor of the Russian journal Russkii Vestnik, Dostoevsky elaborates upon this central idea of his work: "The murderer faces unsolvable problems, utterly unanticipated, and unexpected feelings torture his heart" (works 7: 310). Dostoevsky found in Dickens's works characters like Bill Sikes in Oliver Twist similarly swept up with an "obsession" about their crimes; he, like Dickens, tests whether a Christian morality still has the potential to offer consolation, and whether any man in a Christian society, even so tortured and jealous a person as Headstone, can wholeheartedly sanction committing murder for any reason.

Strakhov in his paper "About Crime and Punishment" compares Raskolnikov's and Headstone's states of mind after they have attempted to commit or have committed a murder: "In Raskolnikov's soul besides fear and pain the remembrance of his crime plays the great role. The criminal's imagination and memory revert to the process of committing the crime" (520). Clarifying this idea, Strakhov mentions the superb description of the attempted murder in Book 4, Chapter 6, of Our Mutual Friend. Describing a murderer's state of mind based on Headstone's character, Strakhov quotes three extracts from the Chapter 7, Book 4 ("Better To Be Abel Than Cain"), in the translation by Nikolay Aurbach published in the journal Russkii Vestnik (November 1865, pp. 336-337).

It is worth mentioning that in 1893 the novel Our Mutual Friend was translated by the practising Russian lawyer R. I. Sementkovsky (Dickens, Works, 5: 1-648), who was fascinated by the deep penetration of the English novelist into the psychology of a criminal. Focusing on Dickens's description of Bradley Headstone's perception of himself and his world, the Russian translator was curious about exploring the "criminal" intellect—indeed, this Dickens character haunts the imagination of the barrister in all aspects—as an individual, as a "social portent," and as self-projection of his creator. The manner in which Dickens investigates Headstone's internal conflicts was of great interest for R. I. Sementkovsky, not so much in terms of issues connected with translation, but rather from a professional or "case study" perspective; in fact, his rendering Our Mutual Friend from English into Russian was Sementkovsky's only experience in this field. Not surprisingly, the moments connected with Dickens's communication of Headstone's inner life are among the most successful in his translation of the novel.

The foregoing comparison of the two criminal characters, Bradley Headstone and Raskolnikov, in terms of investigating the root cause of their criminality, and of each character's psychological development demonstrates how deeply Dostoevsky had grasped Dickens's psychological conceptions, transforming and enriching them in his imagination. However, the Russian writer also turns to more general philosophical questions in Crime and Punishment. In Our Mutual Friend Dickens describes the psychology of an individual who makes up his mind to commit a murder under the influence of sexual jealousy and moral dissatisfaction with himself and his life; hence, the selfish mentality lies at the core of Dickens's depiction of the criminal type, whereas at the centre of Crime and Punishment is Dostoevsky's acute perception of philosophical and social problems.

The novel Our Mutual Friend was published serially in the weekly journal All The Year Round from May 1864 to November 1865. Dickens's popularity with Russian audience was enhanced in the 1860s by various translations that followed simultaneously in three Russian periodicals: Russkii Vestnik (translation by N. Aurbach), Otetchestvennye Zapiski (translation by V. A. Timiryasev), and Bibliotheka dlya Tchtenia (translation by A. I. Benni). Such multiplicity of translation, making Our Mutual Friend more widely available to readers right across Russia, we may take as evidence of the Russian reading public's considerable interest in Dickens's works.

According to Anna Grigorjevna Dostoevskaya's diary, Fyodor Michailovitch's interest in Dickens increased in 1867, immediately upon the eve of his starting work on The Idiot (92). Undoubtedly Dostoevsky had read the paper by N. N. Strakhov "About Crime and Punishment" in Russkii Vestnik, and, perhaps, it set him thinking about Our Mutual Friend and helped him to develop his new conception of the true Christian gentleman in The Idiot.

The first installment of The Idiot was scheduled to appear in the the January number of the literary journal Russkii Vestnik, and Dostoevsky wrote in a letter to his niece, S. Ivanova, desribing the central idea for his new novel:

The idea behind the novel is an old and precious conception of mine, but so difficult that for a long I have not dared to attempt it; and if I have decided to attempt it now, it is only because I found myself in an almost desperate situation. The chief idea of the novel is to depict a "positively beautiful" (polozhitel'no prekrasnyi) man. . . . There is only one positively beautiful person in the world—Christ—and the appearance of this measurelessly, infinitely beautiful person is, of course, an infinite miracle. . . . I'll simply say that of the beautiful persons in Christian literature the most perfect is Don Quixote. But he is beautiful only because at the same time he is funny. Dickens's Pickwick (an infinitely weaker conception than Don Quixote, but all the same immense) is also funny, and succeeds only because of this quality. Compassion arises for the beautiful when it is laughed at and ignorant of its own worth�and so sympathy arises in the reader. This rousing of compassion is the secret of humour. [The Dostoevsky Archive, 120]

Dostoevsky's chief inspiration for The Idiot was Russian middle-class daily life during the decade 1860-1870, which, despite his personal suffering at the time of composition, he depicted cheerfully. However, in terms of the sources of this novel (based on analysis of Dostoevsky's archival materials), one must take into consideration that, in constructing the fabula or plot (that is, the framework around which his imagination would work), Dostoevsky turned to Don Miguel Cervantes' Don Quixote, Charles Dickens's The Pickwick Papers, and the majestic image of the New Testament Christ, "being afraid that it will be a positive value" (Sakulin and Bel'chikov 120). Among these sources we must include once again Our Mutual Friend, since it seems to have affected or influenced the whole plot structure of The Idiot. Despite the lighter notes derived from Pickwick, the tone of both novels is pessimistic, and both authors utilize social "collisions" to effect the moral resurrection of individual characters; both Dickens and Dostoevsky bring their readers to the realization that achieving social ideals is possible only by improving human nature one individual at a time. Exactly when Dickens was writing Our Mutual Friend (1864), he reached the pinnacle of his creative development in depicting a great range of social and psychological types; his conceptions as reflected in his characterization reached their aesthetic and philosophical completeness, and became both more profound and more artistically integral in the work.

As mentioned above, in The Idiot Dostoevsky's chief challenge seems to have been to depict the ideal of a "positively beautiful" ("polozhitel'no prekrasnyi") man, and to show what such a figure might look like in the Russian society of that period. Dostoevsky himself hinted that the "ideal" was an aesthetic one; he intended that his hero Prince Myshkin would prove the notion that "beauty has the spiritual capacity to save the world." Both Dickens and Dostoevsky set out to position an embodiment of the ideal in the world as it is. The Russian novelist admired Dickens's "ideal" or poetic characters, even though his own heroes suffered from far more grievous self-doubt and "inner division." Dickens had succeeded in creating some ideal types; moreover, he found a "general idea," and embodied it in his later writings in such characters as John Harmon of Our Mutual Friend. The main character is clearly interpreted as a positive and harmonious one. Dostoevsky similarly conceived of Prince Myshkin as embodying an ideal. Dostoevsky's character feels himself a completely "alien element" among the Russian aristocratic society, just as Harmon, who feels deeply alienated from the main values of middle-class Victorian society. Here a strong psychological similarity between these main characters is obvious: both have spent their youth abroad (in Brussels, and in Switzerland), and, after coming back to their native land, have inherited vast fortunes. Moreover, both characters are self-sacrificing: John Harmon refuses to reveal his name and thereby rejects his inheritance in favour of his servants, the Boffins, and his beloved Bella, while Prince Myshkin's love for Nastasya Filippovna, based on compassion, prevails over his real love for Aglaya; similarly, Myshkin's proposal to Nastasya Filippovna is a revelation of his essential goodness, kindness, and honesty. The plot-line involving John Harmon and Bella Wilfer corresponds in psychological terms to the plot-line involving Prince Myshkin and Aglaya Epanchina. Defining the complex of common features in the characters of John Harmon and Prince Myshkin, one could not but mention their deep insight into human nature, their ability to understand refined and subtle spiritual processes, and, most obviously, their generosity.

In the character of the petulant Bella Wilfer in Our Mutual Friend, especially in her "wayward, playful, affectionate nature," we see a clear resemblance to the childish, capricious, feminine, and slightly spoilt Aglaya. Through Bella (an interesting variant of "Ellen," as in "Ellen Ternan," the young mistress for whom he abandoned his wife of twenty years) Dickens articulates some of the tensions between the sexes in Victorian society. Dostoevsky as a Russian student of Dickens put the strongly drawn character of Bella Wilfer to good use. Like Bella, Aglaya conceals her love for Prince Myshkin. Both heroines display a brilliant sense of humour, a shallow capriciousness, and an inability to sacrifice themselves.

As an artist whose perception of the world was almost exclusively tragic, in his work Dostoevsky concentrated on the issues of "moral ideal" and "spiritual beauty," both of which he felt must be realised in order to rescue the world from its steadily moving downward to an Apocalypse. However, Dostoevsky grasped the "idea of female beauty" in its manifold forms; for instance, the beauty of Nastasia Filippovna seems "tragic" to him. We should appreciate here the originality of such a female character in Our Mutual Friend as Lizzie Hexam, because there is "something quite refined in her beauty . . . , a shade of sadness upon her that is quite touching." One can see something striking and tragic in Lizzie's and Nastasya's beauty. Lizzie's face seems tragic to Eugene:

There was a kind of film or flicker on her face which at first he took to be the fitful firelight; but on the second look, he saw that she was weeping. A sad and solitary spectacle, as shown him by the rising and the falling of the fire. . . . A deep rich piece of colour, with the brown flash on her cheek and the shining luster of her hair, though sad and solitary. . . . [Our Mutual Friend 158-159]

The moment arouses the reader's compassion, and introduces the reader to the emotions from the Platonic realm of the "perfectly beautiful." The reader sees much in common between the two, not merely in their beauty, but also in their "false pride" or masochistic arrogance and self-loathing. Nastasya Filippovna's behaviour demonstrates excessive or inflexible pride and self-love; Prince Myshkin sees something masochistic in her beauty when he studies her photograph: "This face, unusual for its beauty, as well as for something else, now struck him even more strongly. It was as though there was boundless pride and contempt, almost hatred, in this face . . . ." (Dostoevsky, Works: 8: 286)

Dostoevsky saw in Dickens's characterization of Bradley Headstone the possibility for making antagonists into "suffering victims . . . [and] monsters of pride and envy, like Natasya Filipovna in The Idiot" (Gervais, 60). Lizzie hides from Eugene, denigrating herself: "She thought [herself]. . . so far below him and so different" (Our Mutual Friend, 230). We see the influence of the character of Lizzie in Nastasya Fillippovna when she conceals where she is living from Prince Myshkin:

This unhappy woman is deeply convinced that she is the most fallen, most vicious of beings on earth. Oh, do not shame her, don't cast a stone. She has tortured herself too much with the consciousness of her own undeserved shame! And of what is she guilty, oh God!" [Dostoevsky, Works 8: 361]

Dostoevsky transforms Dickens's inwardly developed characters into dramatic characters; they exist in a constantly changing relationship. Of course, there are great differences between Dickens's characters and their Dostoevskian counterparts: Nastasya Filippovna's function is partly allegorical, for besides being a masochist she is a figure embodying the social crisis in Russia found herself at the time. Nevertheless, we can see some points of resemblance in the masochist pride of both female characters. Perhaps Dostoevsky was writing under the influence of Lizzie's character, but used his own distinctive methods in handling Dickens's themes.

In addition, we have considered the minor characters from Our Mutual Friend who influenced Dostoevsky when he was writing The Idiot. Dickens creates grotesque figures, eccentric types, which engage and frequently amuse the reader. For instance, Silas Wegg is a peculiar character, a Dickensian original; after the amputation of Wegg's leg in a hospital, Mr. Venus purchases the limb to use in assembling artificial skeletons. With detached humour Dickens describes the distress of Silas Wegg, who yearns for this missing part of his body. Wegg's leg (even the personage's name seems to be derived by shortening of a set phrase "wooden leg") appears to be bandy and not useful in Venus's artificial skeletons. Wegg, indignant about such lack of respect, demands that Mr. Venus give it back. However, discourteously, Mr. Venus brings Wegg his leg under his arm, walking through the streets instead of taking a cab.

This Dickens motif was adapted by Dostoevsky in the Chapter 4 of The Idiot. The adventures of Wegg's leg are reflected in the incident with Lebedev's leg. The character of Dostoevsky's novel indicates that in 1812, when he was a boy, French soldiers shot his leg, and that as if he were burying a beloved relative he buried his mutilated limb in the Vagankovsky cemetery with the memorial and epitaph, observing an annual memorial service for his severed leg, and coming to Moscow for this occasion. This anecdote about the separation of a leg from one's body and the annual memorial dedicated to it is an example of Dostoevsky's dark humour that has as its predecessor Dickens's whimsical sarcasm, evident in his handling of Wegg's leg in Our Mutual Friend (and, of course, elsewhere in the Dickens canon).

Thus, analyzing the parallels and the points of similarity between the characters from Our Mutual Friend and The Idiot, we may conclude that, although these Dostoevskian characters were influenced by Dickensian originals, Dostoevsky chose nevertheless to present them as distinctively Russian. The Russian writer appreciated the power of Dickens's artistic vision, but, in Dostoevsky's imaginative assimilation of the English master, Dickens's social vision, themes, style, and characterization are refracted through the Dostoevskian prism of the quintessentially nineteenth-century Russian experience.

The method of observation which we have used to establish the bearing of Dostoevsky's reminiscences of Our Mutual Friend upon the formation of some of the characters in The Idiot can also be applied with revealing results to the analysis of some scenes from The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-41). The dramatic scene (Dostoevsky himself called it "of a strength never [before] met in literature") in the formation of which the reminiscences from Dickens affected the creative work of Dostoevsky in the most striking manner is the scene with Rogozhin and Prince Myshkin near the murdered Nastasya Filippovna. When comparing this scene with that of dead Nell in The Old Curiosity Shop, one should bear in mind that Dostoevsky's treatment of the situation in entirely somber, realistic colours, involves the elimination of all stylistic devices; this was for Dostoevsky a means of bringing out the psychological aspects and the moral significances of the narrated event. Dostoevsky must have regarded the moving scene in Part 39 of The Old Curiosity Shop (Ch. 71, 30 January 1841, according to Vann, 64-65), when Grandfather Trent and Kit discover Nell dead in the adjoining room, as possessing considerable dramatic potential. As we have mentioned above, such material in Dickens may be regarded as a literary quarry for Dostoevsky: take, for example, the direct evidence that Dostoevsky re-read the picaresque novel The Old Curiosity Shop before writing The Idiot (as already noted, A. G. Dostoevskaya pointed out in her diary in May 1867 that her husband had just borrowed a copy of The Old Curiosity Shop in a French translation from the local library), while during his Siberian exile he was, as David Gervais notes, "reading little else but the Bible" (50).

Thus, Dostoevsky's response to Dickens was a broad one: consciously or not, the Russian novelist refracted through his creative prism the overall power of Dickens's imaginative structures. Close comparison of some texts (The Idiot, Our Mutual Friend, and The Old Curiosity Shop) has revealed some parallels. Comparing Dickens's and Dostoevsky's works, we should bear in mind the distinguishing features of the Dostoevskian creative process, eliminating the possibility of simple imitation but including the operation of imagination and of subconscious deliberation, the Russian novelist's drawing creative energy from the potent influence of an artist whom he recognized as "typologically close" to his own interests in fiction.


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