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This article was written on 29 Mar 2003, and is filed under Miscellania.

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The Little Demon, Fyodor Sologub: The Will to Profundity

And yet, there is one anomalous, eloquent passage that stands out from the paltry misery and conniving that dominates the book:

[Peredonov] felt that in nature was a true reflection of his own depression, a projection of his own fears. He was oblivious of that inner, indefinable life that is in the whole of nature, that life which alone creates deep and genuine relations between man and nature. Therefore all of nature was permeated with petty human emotions in his eyes. Blinded by the illusions of personality and his alienated existence, he had no understanding of those elemental Dionysian ecstasies triumphantly echoing throughout nature. He was pathetic and blind to them–like many of us.

This is the one time where the veil does fall–or perhaps, is replaced–and Sologub exhorts his readers. When Gogol did this, it was preachy and disingenuous; the last few pages of Dead Souls are ridiculously romantic next to what’s preceded them. But for Sologub here, it’s the sudden glimpse into unknown areas where there are not base vices and gossip, but chaotic, immanent purity. This is the one glimpse Sologub gives in the entire book, and more than any of its characters get. Whether it is a forged anomaly or the key moment of revelation (for the reader, certainly not for the characters) depends on what you’re looking for.

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