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Article

Journalist, Reader and Writer: Investigating Leskov’s Creative Method

Scando-Slavica. 2016. Vol. 62. No. 2. P. 58-78.

This paper explores the mechanisms of N. S. Leskov’s creative method by examining his sketch «Lady Macbeth of the Mcensk District» (1865). The sketch, which Leskov stylizes as a description of real events that took place in the Mcensk District, is shown to be much more closely connected with the journalistic writing of the early 1860s than with real life. In his choice of subject matter, construction of the protagonist, plot development, and descriptions of nature, Leskov makes use of the most discussed topics from the periodicals of the time, namely, the «woman question» and the «prison question,» and also relies on Ilya Selivanov’s crime stories and the mystical stories of Edgar Allan Poe, which were quite popular during the 1860s. Consequently, the sketch, about which Leskov said that he had «made it up» in reality came together under the powerful influence of topical publications in newspapers and magazines.