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In this article the functioning of the literary motif of aggression against the Old Believers' icons by the state authorities in the story “The Sealed Angel” (1873) by Nikolai Leskov and in Pavel Melnikov-Pechersky’s novel “In the Forests” (1871 – 1881) was analyzed. A relation was established between the biographies and the worldviews of the authors and their attitude towards the problem of confiscation and destruction of Old Belivers’ images.

So in the Nikolai Leskov’s novel, as well as the first part of Pavel Melnikov-Pechersky’s dilogy, the confiscation and destruction of Old-Belivers’ icons are indicated as one of the more significant elements of state repression against Old Believers, although the assessment of repression directed against each of the above writers is completely different. Despite the fact that both authors wanted to reunite the Old Believers with the Orthodox Church, the coercive measures of government officials in relation to the adherents of the old faith were considered differently. The sympathizing Old Believers Orthodox journalist Leskov in his “The Sealed Angel” creates an extremely pessimistic picture of the absolute self-will and the self-rule of state officials towards the Old Believers deprived of civil rights, which goes beyond all moral boundaries and does not stop even before the obvious blasphemy committed against the all-Orthodox holy –icon of Angel. At the same time, the government official Melnikov-Pechersky, who is actively fighting with the Old Believers, shows the confiscation of the Old Believers’ Icon of Our Lady of Kazan as a fully justified measure, which contributes to the speedy elimination of the church schism.


Icon, iconoclasm, orthodoxy, schism, Old Believers, repressions, Nikolai Leskov, Pavel Melnikov-Pechersky