The Reflection of Dostoevsky’s Underground Man in Faulkner’s Sartoris

Keywords: F. Dostoevsky, W. Faulkner, K. G. Jung, archetype, Underground Man


This article is devoted to the comparative typological research related to the ‘Underground Man’, as featured in the works of F. Dostoevsky and W. Faulkner. Based on the study of the phenomenon of moral alienation – the “underground” embodied in the character of the storyteller in Dostoevsky’s novella, Notes from Underground – we identify its reflection in Faulkner’s novel, Sartoris. The relevance of this study is due to the importance of the “underground”, which has not lost its significance in either Russia or the West. The character of the Underground Man, admittedly archetypal, has become part of the vocabulary of modern culture, and the novella Notes from Underground is rightly called the prologue to twentieth-century literature. The novelty of the present study is that, despite the existence of a number of works focused on the study of the “underground” in the literary world of Dostoevsky, and the wide scope for a comparative analysis of the works of Dostoevsky and Faulkner, the problem of the “underground” has not previously been considered from this perspective. This study draws on a number of methodologies alongside the comparative typological, including the doctrine of archetypes originated in late antique philosophy, the theory of archetypes first developed by C. G. Jung, and the archetypal approach found in literary criticism. As the results of the study show, in the archetypal character of the Underground Man, the model of “underground” consciousness is clearly expressed (Man-god consciousness, one’s own inconsistencies with the ideal, cruel self-punishment and aesthetization of it, estrangement, and spiritual decay) and may be defined – in a broad sense – at the stage of the formation of an “underground” worldview; and in a narrower sense – when complete moral alienation results in a state of “underground”. Idealization of the past, depicted in Sartoris (the “heroism” of young Bayard, the symbolic “deafness” of old Bayard, the “serenity” of Narcissa, the infantilism and desire to hide from life in a house surrounded by cedars demonstrated by her brother Horace), is functionally similar to the feeling of “sublime and beautiful” by the Underground Man of Dostoevsky and reflects the Man-god consciousness leading the characters of the novel to moral estrangement (“underground” in the broad sense). In the character of young Bayard, the “underground” matrix is fully realized, which allows us to define him as the actual Underground Man (“underground” in the narrow sense).

Author Biography

Yuri Romanov

PhD (Philology), Associate Professor, National Technical University Kharkov Polytechnic Institute.

2, Kirpichev Str., 61002, Kharkiv, Ukraine.

ORCID 0000-0002-7819-3119


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How to Cite
Romanov, Y. (2021). The Reflection of Dostoevsky’s Underground Man in Faulkner’s Sartoris. Quaestio Rossica, 9(4), 1458–1472.