The literary Trope of a Superfluous Man in Russian Literature and Culture

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Russian literature was very much influenced by the literary trope known as the superfluous man. This trope was ideal for writers to describe the shortcomings of Russian high-class society. There has been a witnessed general consistency when dealing with the superfluous man such as the exhibition of cynicism and existential angst, while indulging in vices such as affairs, gambling and duelling. These individuals are typically from noble birth yet refused to fit into society and disregard the societal norms. This trend can be witnessed through many examples such as Alexander Pushkin’s “Eugene Onegin” and “Diary of a Superfluous Man” by Ivan Turgenev. The characters described by these authors reflects the lifestyles of such a man, and seems to imitate the lives of the men who wrote these stories, as the real life Pushkin and Turgenev were both to be described as superfluous men.
Alexander Pushkin can best be described as an idle aristocrat, a man whom excelled at being superfluous. As his creation, Pushkin best portrays his character in Eugene Onegin, by following his own example. Born to an ancient and noble Russian family, Pushkin plays his part expertly. “The sly baseness, fit to throttle, of entertaining the half-dead: one smoothes the pillows down in bed, and glumly serves the medicine bottle, and sighs, and asks oneself all through: ‘When will the devil come for you?’” (Pushkin, I.I) The cyncism in Onegin reflects the unsatified and morbid curiosity of those of the…