Loose and baggy spirits: Reading Dostoevskii and Mendeleev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


In his 1876 Writer's Diary, novelist Fedor Mikhailovich Dostoevskii wrote a series of three journalistic articles parodying both the contemporary movement of modern spiritualism and its principal critic in St. Petersburg, noted chemist Dmitrii Ivanovich Mendeleev. This article explores Dostoevskii's views on spiritualism and examines the rhetorical strategy he developed to help persuade Russians away from what he perceived as a dangerous mystical fad. Mendeleev had similar goals, but the two differed on the urgency of the problem - and hence the proper rhetoric for the task - and thus both spent as much time fighting the other as the movement they deplored. This article endeavors both to analyze a Russian scientific text alongside works traditionally considered more "rhetorical" and to explore in detail the specific involvement of Dostoevskii the journalist with contemporary issues in Russian culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)756-779
Number of pages24
JournalSlavic Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Loose and baggy spirits: Reading Dostoevskii and Mendeleev'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this