Violence, murder, and fallen women: Prostitution in the works of Vsevolod Garshin

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This article investigates the theme of prostitution in two stories by the Russian writer Vsevolod Garshin (1855–88). Like many authors of the nineteenth century, Garshin utilizes the symbolic figure of the prostitute to question social and medical beliefs about commercial sex. Focusing on Garshin’s “Proisshestvie” (“An Occurrence”, 1878) and “Nadezhda Nikolaevna” (1885), the article traces the use of melodrama and violence in the depiction of prostitution. Particular attention is paid to Garshin’s use of St. Petersburg to add heightened meaning to the fallen woman’s plight. Connected through the Petersburg myth and the character of Nadezhda Nikolaevna, the stories complicate the traditional redemption plot associated with prostitutes by focusing on the inner life of the fallen woman and her impact on the male characters that she encounters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)362-385
Number of pages24
JournalCanadian Slavonic Papers
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 21 2016


  • Dostoevskii
  • Melodrama
  • Petersburg text
  • Prostitution
  • St. Petersburg
  • Vsevolod Garshin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • History
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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