Vol. 58 No. 4 (2010)
Research Article

Crime is in the Eye of the Beholder: Petr Petrovich Luzhin as a Distorting “Puddle-Mirror” in Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment

Published 2010-12-01


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This study demonstrates how conceptualizations ingrained in our linguistic consciousness help us realize the full semantics that an author com municates to his reader through a “speaking name”; this kind of name, together with the character's behavioral profile create a multidimensional psychological portrait.

The examples are taken from Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, specifically the “puddle-name” Luzhin. The speaking name of Petr Petrovich Luzhin evokes a number of cognitive conceptualizations that are rooted in human experience, as well as in the history, mythology, and culture of the Russian people and that are in dialogical relationships with the other characters in the novel through their speaking names. The analysis, based on cognitive stylistics and, more specifically, cognitive metaphor theory in the Lakoff tradition, underscores the significance of the cultural water metaphor when applied to the human domain. It also confirms that the “speaking name” is a major device in Dostoevsky's poetics.


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