Fantasia on the novel of the same name by Fyodor Sologub
Libretto by Valery Semenovsky and Alexander Zhurbin based on the play Beast by Valery Semenovsky
Stage Director: Georgy Isahakyan
Music Director: Vladimir Agronsky
Set Designer: Stepan Zograbyan
Costume Designer: Natalia Voynova
Lighting Designer: Evgeny Ganzburg
The Petty Demon attempted to create a description of poshlost', a Russian concept that has characteristics of both evil and banality. The antihero is a provincial schoolteacher, Peredonov, notable for his complete lack of redeeming human qualities. The novel recounts the story of the morally corrupt Peredonov going insane and paranoid in an unnamed Russian provincial town, parallel with his struggle to be promoted to governmental inspector of his province. The omniscient third-person narrative allowed Sologub to combine his Symbolist tendencies and the tradition of Russian Realism in which he engaged throughout his earlier novels, a style similar to Maupassant's fantastic realism.
Realistic elements of The Petty Demon include a vivid description of 19th-century rural everyday life, while a fantastic element is the presentation of Peredonov's hallucinations on equal terms with external events. While the book was received as an indictment of Russian society, it is a very metaphysical novel and one of the major prose works of the Russian Symbolist movement. James H. Billington said of it:
The book puts on display a Freudian treasure chest of perversions with subtlety and credibility. The name of the novel's hero, Peredonov, became a symbol of calculating concupiscence for an entire generation... He torments his students, derives erotic satisfaction from watching them kneel to pray, and systematically befouls his apartment before leaving it as part of his generalized spite against the universe.