Submission note: A thesis submitted in total fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy [to the] School of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce, La Trobe University, Victoria, Australia.
This study is an investigation of space and spatial motifs in Dostoevsky’s postSiberian fiction. Drawing upon Henri Lefebvre’s tripartite order of space, (physical, social and mental) I examine spaces and spatial motifs and configurations in Dostoevsky’s fiction at multiple levels of representation, with particular attention paid to mental (or psychological and symbolic) space. Given that space is a priori, I propose that space is of ontological primacy in Dostoevsky’s fiction; space is the ground and foundation upon which all moral and existential action, is performed. How Dostoevsky’s characters inhabit space, or are positioned towards specific sites and spatial configurations, reveals how they form their ontological connection with their narrative worlds. My line of inquiry takes into consideration both Dostoevsky’s Christian worldview, as well as what he perceived to be our most characteristic state of being-in-the-world; we are ‘transitional’ creatures. Given that Dostoevsky characterised our state of being-in-the-world as ‘transitional’ (we are not yet able to embody our highest ideals), I argue that for those of Dostoevsky’s characters who inhabit spaces that are closed (literally and symbolically), or who attempt to reify a completed form, signals the constriction of their ontological and existential possibilities of being. While those of Dostoevsky’s characters who accept their transitional and contingent state of being, are aligned with threshold space and the possibility of moral transformation.
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