|The Brothers Carne - Dostoevskian body doubles?|
|Aidan Turner and his chest|
I owe Viv Groskop, the Guardian's brilliant Poldark blogger and out-of-the-closet Russianist (I'm working through her very funny The Anna Karenina Fix: Life Lessons from Russian Literature) for my other Dostoevskian interpretation of Poldark. The actor Aidan Turner, who plays Ross Poldark, is widely celebrated for his chest (I can't imagine why). Since Turner proved reluctant to keep displaying his chest in semi-nude scything scenes after the first series, his on-screen wife Demelza's two brothers were 'bussed in as Replacement Torso action', in Groskop's words. (These are the same pair who face public asphyxiation in Season Four.) It really shouldn't have taken two more series before I realized that the brothers are, as Groskop all but points out, Dostoevskian doubles of Poldark himself. Just think of the complicated sequence of doubles in Crime and Punishment - the rational side of hero Raskolnikov is reflected by his 'good' friend, Razumikhin, his evil sub-Nietzschean id by the monstrous Svidrigailov, and so on, so mise en abyme, as the doubles get doubles. The Idiot is even worse, with female doubles joining the fray, and Demons, if it had a plot, would lose it entirely, such is the proliferation of alter egos. The Carne brothers may be body doubles (torso doubles) of their brother-in-law in a crudely material sense, but they are also a pair of sensible Razumikhins to Ross's hell-raising Raskolnikov. Meanwhile Ross' nemesis George Warleggan, who glories in the Groskopic moniker of Evil George, is clearly Svidrigailov, attempting to debauch the women Ross/Raskolnikov loves. (I'm managing to oversimplify and distort both plots here, which is no mean feat).
|Ross Poldark and Svidrigailov, alias Evil George|
|Expired Elizabeth Warleggan, Ross Poldark's first love|
|Ilya Glazunov's impression of The Idiot's finale|
A parallel which I could extend further, but not without risk of descending into the same gabbling incoherence as Myshkin or poor Nikolai Grigoryev post-mock-execution.
If you've missed Poldark on-screen, there's always the books. Or the originals. And Series 5 in 2019....
Acknowledgements: I relied heavily on Joseph Frank's Dostoevsky: The Years of Ordeal, 1850-1859 for the facts presented about the mock execution staged in 1849 in Semenovsky Square.