The Superfluous Man in Russian Literature

(2255 words)
  • Ellen Chances (Princeton University)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

“Superfluous man” [“lishnii chelovek”] is a term used to describe the alienated heroes of many nineteenth-century Russian literary writings. It was first used by the writer Ivan Turgenev in his 1850 work The Diary of a Superfluous Man [Dnevnik lishnego cheloveka]. The term was later used as a derogatory characterisation in the ideological warfare of the so-called generation of the 1860s “sons”, materialists who were against the generation of Romantic 1840s “fathers”. For example, one of the Russian radicals, Nikolai Dobroliubov, a member of the generation of “sons”, described Oblomov, the aristocratic protagonist of Ivan Goncharov’s novel, Oblomov, as …

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are not a subscriber, please click here to read about membership. All our articles have been written recently by experts in their field, more than 95% of them university professors.

Citation:
Chances, Ellen. "The Superfluous Man in Russian Literature". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 11 February 2011
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=14900, accessed 22 November 2014.]


Related Groups

  1. Comparative Literature, Reception, Influences