Lívio Abramo (1903 - 1992)

Untitled (from the series White Nights) (1955)

Wood engraving on translucent paper
height: 17cm
width: 11cm

Donated by Alex Gama 1995


In this image we see the narrator of Dostoyevsky's story in the grip of his own overactive imagination. On the second 'white night', when he meets Nastenka for the second time, he pours out the story of how he veers between ecstatic visions and gloomy despair. He is tortured by the idea that he is wasting his life as 'a slave of shadows' and that he will grow old without ever managing to experience any of life's delights for himself. Unlike Nastenka, who in the second print in the series is in control of the dreams in her heart, here the whole composition reinforces the narrator's helplessness: his haggard face and bony hands weighed down and distorted by the enveloping black phantom, and the shadowy wings, ever-ready to carry him away again.

Valerie Fraser, 2009

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