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Reference:

Byronic motives in the image of Raskolnikov

Lyan Ziheng

ORCID: 0009-0000-4117-8479

PhD in Philology

Postgraduate student, Department of History of Russian Literature, Moscow State University

101000, Russia, Moscow, Lomonosovsky Prospekt str., 31k3

1026723455@qq.com

DOI:

10.25136/2409-8698.2023.10.68858

EDN:

MSXMJS

Received:

30-10-2023


Published:

06-11-2023


Abstract: The article examines the features of Byronism in Raskolnikov's - one of Dostoevsky's characters. Based on the analysis of the works of Byron and his characters, an attempt is made to generalize the main features of this type of characteristic of the Byronic hero. Through comparison with the "Byronic heroes" and their inner world, Raskolnikov's character is analyzed more concretely and accurately. At the same time, the images of heroes of different historical periods, different nationalities and different literary trends are compared, similarities and differences between them are analyzed. Based on the comparison, an attempt is made to identify and generalize the Byronic features present in Raskolnikov's character. The comparative-historical approach, methods of generalization, interpretation of the results were used in the study. The scientific novelty of the study lies in the fact that in the course of the work, the features of Raskolnikov's image were revealed in the aspect of such a literary trend as romanticism. The author also analyzes the reception of Byronic heroes in Russian literature. The main conclusion of the study is that Raskolnikov, although he appears in Dostoevsky's work as a realistic character, may well be considered as the successor of the Byronic hero. The results of the research contribute to the study of Raskolnikov's image in all its complexity. In addition, the conclusions of the article can also be used in the study of Dostoevsky's literary and philosophical position as a whole.


Keywords:

romantic literature, Byronic heroes, romantic images, the creation of Dostoevsky, special characters, Raskolnikov, Byronic motives, self-awareness, rebel, reception of romantic literature

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

introduction

Dostoevsky's novel Crime and Punishment is one of the peaks of Russian realism of the XIX century and one of the masterpieces of F.M. Dostoevsky. Although "Crime and Punishment" is a realistic work, the unique psychological description and polyphonic structure created by the brilliant Dostoevsky make this work in some sense beyond the traditional realism. However, in addition to an excellent continuation of the Russian realistic literature of the XIX century, in the novel one can also see the borrowing of ideas from literary trends that preceded realism. In other words, in many characters and storylines of the novel, the reader sees the problems of many philosophical schools and their author's development. This is what Bakhtin calls the beauty of Dostoevsky's polyphonic novels.

In "Crime and Punishment" we see a young and promising university student, richly gifted intellectually and with a kind heart, but because of need he drops out of school and lives alone in a simple and cramped attic in the capital. As a result, he begins to rebel against society and the world and commits a terrible crime, guided by the "theory of superman", which he himself composed. Raskolnikov has specific and recognizable romantic motives namely, the features of the "Byronic hero". We will analyze them in this article.

The main part

George Gordon Byron is a great English romantic poet of the early XIX century, who in his short life left the world many poems and poems. The most famous of the latter are the poems "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage", "Don Juan", etc. In these works, called "lyrical epics", Byron creatively includes in his works personal experience of traveling to European countries, paints a vast and majestic picture of the poet's tragic struggle with society on a large scale and with deep strokes, painting the poet's "titanic" mood, his proud and bold challenge to despotism.

"Byronic heroes" belong to a unique type of characters. The thoughts and characters of these people are often contradictory: on the one hand, they love life, strive for happiness, have fiery passions and genius and a strong character; at the same time, they deny an unfair social system, so they are rebels by nature. They are always independent of society and the crowd, closed and rebellious, lonely in the struggle, do not have a clear goal and plan, often commit extreme acts, so their struggle ends in failure. In Byron's "Oriental Poems" there are many such characters: pirates, officers, young nobles, etc. Through their struggle Byron shows his uncompromising and rebellious spirit towards society. The worldview and character traits of these characters, in fact, are a reflection of the nature of Byron himself. That is why in the history of literature these characters were called "Byronic heroes".

The socio-political ideas of the Enlightenment caused the French Revolution, which shaped Napoleon. And in the sense of cultural changes, the Enlightenment gave rise to a romantic movement, the peak of which fell on Byron's work. If the ideals of the European bourgeois revolution and its results were concentrated in Napoleon, then Byron became the culmination of criticism of the old culture since the Enlightenment [1, p. 2]. It seems that there is no similarity between Napoleon and Byron, but in fact, from the point of view of cultural changes, Byron is really "Napoleon", shifted everything in the field of spiritual culture. His "Byronic heroes" established new, individualistic cultural values. Moreover, this concept was not limited to the literary sphere, but extended to a number of spiritual spheres, such as society, politics, philosophy, etc., as an increasingly integral ideological unity. Therefore, it is not surprising that the influence of Byronism can be traced in such a work as "Crime and Punishment", the main character of which is a fan of Napoleon

Russell points out the profound difference between Byron and Rousseau: "Rousseau values virtue as long as it is simple, and Byron approves of sin as long as it is loud" [3, p. 303]. "Praises of Sin" is, in fact, not only the difference between Byron and Rousseau, but also the difference between Byron and all writers, from the Enlightenment to his time. The influence of Byron's ideas, including God-fighting and the "glorification of sin", originates in the personal character of the English poet. The most obvious characteristic of Byronic heroes should be "rebelliousness". their rebellion is directed not only against a specific social authority and the state, but also extends to the field of public thought, the heroes also violently rebel against social norms and customs. In the end, this rebellion develops into a kind of rebellion against abstract fate and the world, and this rebellion against fate is embodied in the works of poets in the form of a kind of social protest. For example: Harold's journey to the mountains, away from society, or Manfred's challenge to human fate by his death.

At the same time, the Byronic hero is deeply tragic. The tragedy of Byronic heroes lies in the collapse of their idealistic aspirations. These heroes are often full of passion for the realization of their inner ideals, boldly rebel against the world, but in the end they cannot avoid failure or even death. An important reason for the failure of Byronic heroes in their rebellion is their individualism: the struggle of these characters is isolated and therefore doomed. Individualism also means limitation, because they are trying to explore independently, to know the ideal world, to fight against the permanent evil of the real world and hope for an improvement in the plight of all mankind. This in itself is unrealistic and does not correspond to the laws of nature: the power of an individual can never be greater than the scale of social existence, therefore the tragic end of the Byronic hero is inevitable. In "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" it is written: "But often in the glare, in the noise of crowded halls / Harold's face expressed anguish. He remembered the rejected passion/ Or felt the deadly sting of enmity No one's living heart recognized it. He had no friendly conversations with anyone. When confusion clouded the soul, In the hours of reflection, in the days of heart troubles/He met sympathetic advice with contempt" [6, p. 9]. This also shows the poet's attitude to the ideal world: he struggles and explores it with the most ardent enthusiasm, but no matter how hard he tries: "In spite of the storm and the darkness/On the road, helmsman! Take the ship to any land/But not to the native! Hello, hello, sea space/And to youat the end of the wayHello, forests, deserts of mountains! Britain, I'm sorry!" [6, p. 12]. But in the end, it can only undergo an inevitable collapse. Byron expects complete freedom from humanity, but he lives at a time when human existential freedom cannot be realized in principle. The whole capitalist world is based on the elimination of human freedom. The tragedy shown in Byron's works lies not so much in his negativity as in the depth of his awareness. The reason why Byronic heroes choose to fight the world with the help of personal power lies in another deep intention of Byronic characters: striving for self-awareness.

In romantic literature, the task of "finding self-consciousness and realizing self-consciousness" is one of the central ones, but real "self-consciousness" has two manifestations, more precisely, two different heights of "self-consciousness". The first is a kind of vital instinct that is hidden in the spiritual world of a person at a shallow level, this is an instinctive desire, regardless of national culture, religious beliefs, gender and age. This is a subconscious instinctive desire for strong feelings, desires, emotions and experiences. Generally speaking, most works of romantic literature reflect the "striving for oneself" at this level, they mainly pursue the return of the sensual content of a person to social life and a strong position, do not want to suppress and hide the true feelings of their own hearts because of social reality, they desire and celebrate the freedom of the human heart and positive emotions. However, the "self-consciousness" called by the Byronic hero has a second, more important essence. If the first realization of "self-consciousness" is in the human subconscious, rooted in human physiology and sensuality, then the second "self-consciousness" this is the existence of a thinking person who is spiritual, the secondary acquisition of the will of life. A person cannot determine his innate appearance and psychological character, but he can decide what kind of person he should become later. In this sense, the "search for self-awareness" this is not a search for an already existing, but hidden or undisclosed existence, but an action aimed at giving a new meaning to one's life. Therefore, the second level of the "search for self-awareness" requires a person to be above personal life, to be a true master of life, and not a "constructed person" in accordance with innately given conditions. In some cases, life is a price that must be paid to create a new meaning. Therefore, those who strive for such a "secondary self-consciousness" often experience intense loneliness and pain in life, because they struggle not only with external social reality, but also with life itself. The torments and sufferings that this struggle brings to a person are much stronger than the difficulties that arise in connection with the search for the "first self-consciousness". As it is said in the ancient Chinese book "Mengzi": "If fate sends a great task to a person, she must first of all suffer with his hearts and minds, work with his bones and muscles, starve their bodies and skins, empty their bodies and act so as not to violate what they have done. Therefore, the heart must be moved to endure and find what it cannot" [5, p. 355].

It follows, firstly, that Byronic heroes undoubtedly carry within themselves the desire for a primary kind of "self-consciousness" like the heroes of other romantic poets. But at the same time, they also have a secondary, higher level of "self-awareness". Lonely byronic heroines seek to escape through self-isolation, do not try to change their lonely situation by fighting politics and society. They are simply determined to move forward on the path of creating value for their lives, overcoming all obstacles that they encounter (including, but not limited to, social realities and traditional human thinking, cultural practices, etc.), and until the end of their lives comprehend the meaning of life through suffering from loneliness and pain: "Life has arisen it cannot shake off the burden. Suffering is rooted deep down/Into a barren, withered chest. But wellthe camel carries its load in silence!" [6, p. 311]. Manfred in the work of the same name, even when death is already imminent, still does not want to go to heaven by accepting repentance, or sell his soul to the devil and survive. He dies, unwilling to yield to heaven or bow down to the devil, and remains steadfast in his aspiration until his death. From an external point of view, Manfred resists everything that exists in this world, and obeys only the "selfconsciousness" that he pursues-in this willpower lies the charm of this character and aspiration.

After a certain understanding of Byron himself and the "Byronic hero" for the consideration of the work "Crime and Punishment", it is not difficult to notice that, although Raskolnikov is the hero of a realistic novel, there are features of the Byronic hero in his image, in his adaptation to Russian reality. The main evidence of the romantic basis of Raskolnikov's image is his fascination with the figure of Napoleon, who was the central figure for the entire era of Romanticism and the idol of Byron personally.

From the point of view of romantic ideology, Byron is a symbol of individualism, the only person in the new era who became a "superman", rose above the world and achieved perfect freedom, full selfrealization and power.

Raskolnikov's whole theory is based on a purely romantic worldview, which is characterized by individualism, self-aggrandizement and contempt for people, conflict with society and the world.

From the point of view of the social status of the characters, Byronic heroes are divided into two main categories: these are young aristocrats, such as Childe Harold and Don Juan, and various marginal characters from "Oriental Poems", including pirates, pagans, exiles, etc. It is obvious that Raskolnikov combines these two types: on the one hand, he is a young student who dropped out of school in a big city because of poverty and a hard life. But, despite his poor life, he possessed nobility, aristocratic appearance and a seasoned temperament: "He was very handsome, with beautiful dark eyes and dark brown hair, above average height, thin and even" [4, p. 4]. Raskolnikov possessed the qualities and character of a young and influential aristocrat, but in at the same time, he led the life of a representative of the lower strata of society. This is a combination of two types of "Byronic heroes" from the point of view of the identity of the image. It is this combination of different layers that is Dostoevsky's great success in creating the main character. Bakhtin in the book "Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics" asserts that "Dostoevsky's hero is not an object image, but a full-fledged word, a pure voice; we do not see him, we hear him; yet what we see and know, apart from his word, is not essential and is absorbed by the word as its material, or remains outside it, as a stimulating and provoking factor" [10, p. 31]. "Crime and Punishment" is a work created by Dostoevsky, but the combination of two Byronic heroes, both in the novel and in real Russia, can only be seen in a person like Raskolnikov. At the same time, such a combination is not an accident, but a key moment in which the real world coincides with the created world. Since Raskolnikov was poor and was at the very bottom of society, he developed dissatisfaction with reality and society and a desire to change the world. These discontents and desires for a person who is at the bottom of society are ultimately only personal experiences and a motive for committing a crime. But Raskolnikov is different from an ordinary person from the bottom of society: as a student, he is familiar with the latest European ideas that give him the opportunity to implement his theory. At the same time, it is precisely because he considers himself a superman that rebellion, not humility, is born in him. The rebelliousness of the Byronic hero comes from the inner passion of Byron himself, but Raskolnikov's rebelliousness does not come from Dostoevsky, but is born naturally in a relatively objective world. And we won't see such a trait in Byronic heroes.

Secondly, Raskolnikov, like the Byronic hero, is searching for self-awareness. But the difference is that at first life forces Raskolnikova to live in a small, dark room, passively isolated from human society. Up to this point, Raskolnikov had not shown any obvious features of a romantic hero. However, after living in a closet for some time, the hero begins to resemble a Byronic hero. It should be noted that the nature of Raskolnikov's rebellion has a direct reason poverty and isolation from people; and Byronic heroes have no such reason, they are inherent in rebellion. "But suddenly, in the prime of life, satiety began to speak in him /A fatal disease of the mind and heart/And everything seemed vile around: the homeland was a prison, the father's house was a grave" [6, p. 8]. Because of his own poverty, Raskolnikov begins to think and reconsider his attitude to his environment and society, and one of the most important ideas that influenced his rethinking of society is undoubtedly anarchism and the philosophy of the strong man. "On the other hand, young, fresh forces, wasted without support, and it's thousands, and it's everywhere! A hundred, a thousand good deeds and undertakings that can be arranged and corrected with the old woman's money, doomed to a monastery" [4, p. 64]. An idea he heard by chance in a restaurant gave him even more determination. Under the influence of these ideas, Raskolnikov's view of the entire human society changed. The essence of Raskolnikov's "superman theory" is that by focusing on himself and achieving the ideal of self-deification, he will surpass both himself and all other people. However, every individual in human society is the master of the will to live, and no matter how strong his will is, it is impossible for one person to surpass all people. Therefore, the theory of superman is doomed to failure, even such a powerful man as Napoleon could not avoid defeat at Waterloo. But Raskolnikov's excessive individualistic limitations did not allow him to see the true meaning and outcome of the philosophy of superman. At the same time, there was another reason for his desire to become a supermanlove for humanity. Yes, although in his theory, most people in the world are necessary sacrifices on the way to the strong. But, looking back, we can say that the goal of a superman for Raskolnikov is to correct and improve the whole society after he becomes the same figure as Napoleon, so that more people do not suffer from the torments and pains of life like himself: "Sonechka, Sonechka Marmeladova, eternal Sonechka, while the world stands! Have you fully measured the sacrifice, the sacrifice, both of you? Is that so? Is it possible? In favor of? Is it reasonable?" [4, p. 44] His whole theory leads to this. This also applies to Raskolnikov's help to his mother and sister, and to his friend Razumikhin, and to the Marmeladov family, about whom the novel is about, Raskolnikov carries in his heart a deep love for humanity. Therefore, the "superman" that Raskolnikov wants to become is always very rare in society, and people like him will inevitably find themselves opposed to the majority, presenting themselves as rulers and masters. Therefore, although Raskolnikov's theory of superman has a humanistic justification in the long run, it is often perceived as rejection of society and contempt for people. But in fact, such contempt was born in Raskolnikov precisely because of his great love for man (a similar paradox will be present in the Grand Inquisitor), because he is not satisfied with the current insignificance and meaninglessness of human existence. He despises and at the same time loves people.

In the novel Raskolnikov repeatedly compares himself to Napoleon, and it is here that the idea of dividing people into two categories the strong and the victims - is born. It is at this stage in Raskolnikov's life that an aspiration appears that dominates his self-consciousness and life, and for the first time he begins the transition from the search for "primary self-consciousness" to the search for "secondary self-consciousness". But here Dostoevsky uses a different approach than Byron's to show the reader the process of this transition. Byron's heroes are the "alter ego" of the author himself, and the search for themselves in which they are involved is at the same time the search for the poet himself. Thus, in Byronic heroes we see that infinite self-restoration becomes the core of the character of the hero and his inner driving impulse: "I trust the wind and the wave, I am alone in the world. Who can remember about me, Whom could I remember?" [6, p. 12] and therefore his nature is increasingly revealed to readers in all its depth and inconsistency. But Dostoevsky in no way identifies himself with Raskolnikov, he is not a handsome young aristocrat, and he does not have that painful inferiority complex that was in the heart of the hero. Raskolnikov does not go to that highest level of self-knowledge of Byronic heroes, which already means complete self-sufficiency and separation from the world. This is evidenced by his phrase: "Truly great people, it seems to me, should feel great sadness in the world," he added suddenly thoughtfully" [4, p. 267]. Raskolnikov has not yet experienced such sadness, which means a complete departure from the world and human feelings. If Byronic heroes' search for themselves is driven by their stubborn will, like Manfred's, then Raskolnikov's self-restoration, formulated in his "theory of superhumanity", is conditioned by society and the environment, the dependence on which Raskolnikov cannot eventually overcome and ends his spiritual quest by reuniting with people (in the person of Sonya) and coming to Christianity, which Dostoevsky as an author welcomes.

Although the resistance of Byronic heroes has no clear purpose and often ends in failure, they never regret what they have done, do not lament the pain they have suffered. The Byronic hero goes to his inner goal without thinking about the consequences or how society will perceive them. But, unlike Byron, Dostoevsky in the novel "Crime and Punishment" raises the most important topic self-redemption. Redemption is the recognition of one's past mistakes and the denial of one's past actions, both in the social and moral, as well as in the spiritual world of the individual. That is why Raskolnikov suffers so much because of the murder, after he seemingly realized his theory, and cannot escape his inner punishment. It can be said that Dostoevsky enters into a polemic with the ideas of Byron and debunks the type of Byronic hero ("he killed himself, but he respects himself for an honest man, despises people, walks like a pale angel") [4, p. 462], and this is how the transition from romantic to realistic character traits of Raskolnikov ends. From this point of view, Dostoevsky managed to take as a basis the best achievements of Byron's romantic literature, to embody his own unique ideas on their basis, thanks to which Raskolnikov's character was shown at a new depth and in a broad perspective of the ideas of the entire XIX century.

Conclusion

Summing up, we can draw the following conclusions: although the novel "Crime and Punishment" belongs to the era of realism, Raskolnikov as a type of "rebel" is projected onto the previous literary tradition and, undoubtedly, can be considered as the successor of the Byronic hero. It has unique and characteristic features and ideas characteristic of English Romanticism. Raskolnikov defends the power and freedom of the individual, strives for the realization of personal ideals and values. His consciousness is permeated with the spirit of rebellion, the desire to put himself above humanity. He is arrogant and proud, but sympathizes with the weak; he supports the "humiliated and insulted", but at the same time stands for individualism and anarchism. But, besides this, Raskolnikov has a character that cannot be overlooked and which belongs exclusively to Russian realistic literature. He is not a "natural person", completely independent of the world, he does not look like a real Byronic hero who can completely abandon the connections and relationships of the world. There is always a deep love for his family and people in his heart. If the Byronic hero is alone in his struggle with society and civilization, then Raskolnikov bears on his shoulders the suffering and responsibility of all mankind, and then fights against a corrupt and reactionary society. It's a fascinating contrast between two different cultures: Byron grew up in the shadow of childhood misfortunes, so he and his characters are full of individual tension, standing alone against the whole world. Dostoevsky, after exile and ten years of hard labor, did not rebel and fight society like Byron. On the contrary, he stoically bore heavy responsibility and silently waged war against Western civilization. Russian Russian literature, born of the culture of the Russian people, is the subject that is inherent only in Russian literature. This is the heaviness and depth that belongs only to the soul of the Russian people.

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The list of publisher reviewers can be found here.

The issue raised in the reviewed article is of due scientific novelty, however, it was considered in the circle of serious research. In my opinion, the author of this work is trying to actualize, and M.B. and popularize the influence of romantic ideas, in particular the work of J. G. Byron on the literary works of the classic of Russian literature F.M. Dostoevsky. Undoubtedly, "George Gordon Byron is a great English romantic poet of the early 19th century, who left many poems and poems to the world in his short life. The most famous of the latter are the poems "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage", "Don Juan", etc. In these works, called "lyrical epics", Byron creatively includes in his works personal experience of traveling to European countries, paints a vast and majestic picture of the poet's tragic struggle with society on a large scale and in deep strokes...". It is also true that "from the point of view of romantic ideology, Byron is a symbol of individualism, the only person in the new era who became a "superman", rose above the world and achieved perfect freedom, full selfrealization and power. Raskolnikov's entire theory is based on a purely romantic worldview, which is characterized by individualism, self-aggrandizement and contempt for people, conflict with society and the world." The characters of Byron and Dostoevsky are somewhat similar, but the circumstances, place, and conditions of existence are still different. The author of this essay does not pronounce, but it would be possible, this idea. The parts of the article are outwardly proportionate, the introductory and final parts are logically dependent. I think it's worth correcting some factual information: for example, "Dostoevsky, after exile and ten years of hard labor, did not rebel and fight society..." etc. Misleading a potential reader should not be done. The literary and historical context in the work is: "the socio-political ideas of the Enlightenment caused the French Revolution, which shaped Napoleon. And in terms of cultural change, the Enlightenment gave rise to the romantic movement, which peaked in Byron's work. If Napoleon concentrated the ideals of the European bourgeois revolution and its results, then Byron became the culmination of criticism of the old culture, starting from the Enlightenment era. It seems that there is no similarity between Napoleon and Byron, but in fact, in terms of cultural changes, Byron is really "Napoleon", who shifted everything in the field of spiritual culture ...". Moreover, the author of the article tries to give it not only in the nomination, but also in analytics. These fragments sometimes become impulses for writing, creating new research, and this is probably not a bad thing. The assessment of the main character of the novel "Crime and Punishment" is given objectively, but also with a number of dependent lines from the developments of M.M. Bakhtin, B. Tikhomirov, etc. For example, "but Raskolnikov differs from an ordinary person from the bottom of society: as a student, he is familiar with the latest European ideas that give him the opportunity to implement his theory. At the same time, it is precisely because he considers himself superhuman that rebellion, not humility, is born in him. The rebelliousness of the Byronic hero comes from the inner passion of Byron himself, but Raskolnikov's rebelliousness does not come from Dostoevsky, but is born naturally in a relatively objective world. And we will not see such a feature in Byronic heroes...", etc. The research methodology correlates with verified literary principles, no serious discrepancies have been revealed. I think that the topic of the work has been fully disclosed, the text has been analyzed, and the necessary quotation block has been introduced into the work. The author sums up a certain result in the final part: "the following conclusions can be drawn: although the novel Crime and Punishment belongs to the era of realism, Raskolnikov as a type of "rebel" is projected onto the previous literary tradition and, undoubtedly, can be considered as the successor of the Byronic hero. He has unique and characteristic features and ideas characteristic of English Romanticism. Raskolnikov defends the power and freedom of the individual, strives for the realization of personal ideals and values. His consciousness is permeated with the spirit of rebellion and the desire to put himself above humanity. He is arrogant and proud, but sympathizes with the weak; he supports the "humiliated and insulted", but at the same time stands for individualism and anarchism. But, besides this, Raskolnikov has a character that cannot be overlooked and which belongs exclusively to Russian realistic literature. He is not a "natural person", completely independent of the world, he does not look like a real Byronic hero who can completely detach himself from the connections and relationships of the world. There is always a deep love for his family and people in his heart. If the Byronic hero is alone in his struggle with society and civilization, then Raskolnikov bears on his shoulders the suffering and responsibility of all mankind..." The comparative tone is supported, and the transition logic is available. The material is not literally new, but the actualization of the issue regulates this indicator. The text can be used in the study of F.M. Dostoevsky's work, the history of Russian literature. The general requirements of the publication are taken into account, no serious editing is required, but it is advisable to correct a number of points that are indicated in the review. I recommend the peer-reviewed article "Byronic motives in the image of Raskolnikov" for publication in the scientific journal "Litera".
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