Febris Erotica: Aleksandr Herzen's post-romantic physiology

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This article explores Aleksandr Herzen's use of the lovesickness topos in his novel Kto vinovat? (1847) in the context of the long literary and medical traditions of lovesickness and the specifically Russian situation of the 1840s. Valeria Sobol argues that Herzen was among the first Russian writers to exploit the semiotics and diagnostics of lovesickness in order to address the questions of human spirituality and the status of scientific knowledge. Given Herzen's frequently proclaimed antispiritualist and antidualist position and the novel's apparent anti-Romantic pathos, one would expect him to reject the essentially dualist notion of lovesickness as a "malady of the soul," but the novel presents a far more complex picture. Herzen's struggle to reconcile the new scientific spirit of his age with the Romantic heritage reflects the transitional nature of the decade in which the novel was written.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)502-522
Number of pages21
JournalSlavic Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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