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The Annihilation of Inertia
Dostoevsky and Metaphysics
Liza Knapp
Northwestern University Press, 1996
Winner of 1996 AATSEEL Outstanding Translation Award
This study is an exploration of the dichotomy of faith and science as presented in the writings of the 19th-century Russian novelist Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky.

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The Bond of the Furthest Apart
Essays on Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Bresson, and Kafka
Sharon Cameron
University of Chicago Press, 2017
In the French filmmaker Robert Bresson’s cinematography, the linkage of fragmented, dissimilar images challenges our assumption that we know either what things are in themselves or the infinite ways in which they are entangled. The “bond” of Sharon Cameron’s title refers to the astonishing connections found both within Bresson’s films and across literary works by Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Kafka, whose visionary rethinkings of experience are akin to Bresson’s in their resistance to all forms of abstraction and classification that segregate aspects of reality. 

Whether exploring Bresson’s efforts to reassess the limits of human reason and will, Dostoevsky’s subversions of Christian conventions, Tolstoy’s incompatible beliefs about death, or Kafka’s focus on creatures neither human nor animal, Cameron illuminates how the repeated juxtaposition of disparate, even antithetical, phenomena carves out new approaches to defining the essence of being, one where the very nature of fixed categories is brought into question. An innovative look at a classic French auteur and three giants of European literature, The Bond of the Furthest Apart will interest scholars of literature, film, ethics, aesthetics, and anyone drawn to an experimental venture in critical thought.

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Challenging the Bard
Dostoevsky and Pushkin, a Study of Literary Relationship
Gary Rosenshield
University of Wisconsin Press, 2013
When geniuses meet, something extraordinary happens, like lightning produced from colliding clouds, observed Russian poet Alexander Blok. There is perhaps no literary collision more fascinating and deserving of study than the relationship between Alexander Pushkin (1799–1837), Russia's greatest poet, and Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821–81), its greatest prose writer. In the twentieth century, Pushkin, "Russia's Shakespeare," became enormously influential, his literary successors universally acknowledging and venerating his achievements. In the nineteenth century, however, it was Dostoevsky more than any other Russian writer who wrestled with Pushkin's legacy as cultural icon and writer. Though he idolized Pushkin in his later years, the younger Dostoevsky exhibited a much more contentious relationship with his eminent precursor.
            In Challenging the Bard, Gary Rosenshield engages with the critical histories of these two literary titans, illuminating how Dostoevsky reacted to, challenged, adapted, and ultimately transformed the work of his predecessor Pushkin. Focusing primarily on Dostoevsky's works through 1866—including Poor Folk, The Double, Mr. Prokharchin, The Gambler, and Crime and Punishment—Rosenshield observes that the younger writer's way to literary greatness was not around Pushkin, but through him. By examining each literary figure in terms of the other, Rosenshield demonstrates how Dostoevsky both deviates from and honors the work of Pushkin. At its core, Challenging the Bard offers a unique perspective on the poetry of the master, Pushkin, the prose of his successor, Dostoevsky, and the nature of literary influence.

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A Devil's Vaudeville
The Demonic in Dostoevsky's Major Fiction
William J. Leatherbarrow
Northwestern University Press, 2005
"Real" demons do rear their heads in Dostoevsky's writing; but what of the demonic more broadly interpreted such as the unclean forces—so diffuse, ugly, and ubiquitous—found throughout Russian folklore, in Christian demonology, and in the demon-figure of European Romanticism? These are the "demonic markers" that William J. Leatherbarrow traces through Dostoevsky's fiction, with a view to discovering the cultural genealogy, nature, and significance of these inscriptions. Whether found in the voices of particular characters or those of the narrator and implied author, these demonic markers contaminate much of the narrative terrain of Dostoevsky's major fiction. They also, as Dostoevsky scholar Leatherbarrow clearly demonstrates, function as a coherent semiotic system and serve as a rhetoric through which that fiction mediates its most pressing ideological and artistic concerns.

In fresh, often surprising readings of Dostoevsky's individual works, Leatherbarrow shows how such a "language" articulates a series of concerns linked to views expressed elsewhere—in Dostoevsky's journalism and letters—on the question of Russia's relationship to Western Europe. His study also explores the narrative and generic implications of the way Dostoevsky inscribes the demonic in his fictional works—implications that point to a new understanding of familiar concepts in the work of this Russian master. Highly original, deftly argued and written, Leatherbarrow's work offers Dostoevsky specialists and general readers alike an opportunity to rediscover and reassess the rich complexities of some of the world's greatest literature.

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Discovering Sexuality in Dostoevsky
Susanne Fusso
Northwestern University Press, 2008
Most discussions of sexuality in the work of Dostoevsky have been framed in Freudian terms. But Dostoevsky himself wrote about sexuality from a decidedly pre-Freudian perspective. By looking at the views of human sexual development that were available in Dostoevsky's time and that he, an avid reader and observer of his own social context, absorbed and reacted to, Susanne Fusso gives us a new way of understanding a critical element in the writing of one of Russia's literary masters. Beyond discovering Dostoevsky's own views and representations of sexuality as a reflection of his culture and his time, Fusso also explores his artistic treatment of how children and adolescents discover sexuality as part of their growth.

Some of the topics Fusso considers are Dostoevsky's search for an appropriate artistic language for sexuality, a young narrator's experimentation with homoerotic desire and unconventional narrative in A Raw Youth; and Dostoevsky's approach to a young man's sexual development in A Raw Youth and The Brothers Karamazov. She also explores his complex treatment of a child's secret sexuality in his account of the Kroneberg child abuse case in A Writer's Diary; and his conception of the ideal family, a type of family that appears in his works mainly by negative example. Focusing mainly on sexual practices considered "deviant" in Dostoevsky's time--both because these are the practices that his young characters confront and because they offer the most intriguing interpretive problems--Fusso decodes the author's texts and their social contexts. In doing so, she highlights one thread in the intricate thematic weave of Dostoevsky's novels and newly illuminates his artistic process.

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Dostoevsky and The Idiot
Author, Narrator, and Reader
Robin Feuer Miller
Harvard University Press, 1981

The Idiot is perhaps the most difficult and surely most enigmatic of Dostoevsky’s novels. In it the novelist developed a narrator-chronicler who uses an intricate web of alternately truthful and deceptive words to create a narrative of baffling intricacy. The reader is confronted with moral and ethical problems and is forced to make his or her own decisions about the import of what has occurred.

Robin Miller analyzes the varied narrative modes and voices, as well as the inserted narratives, and examines the effects of all these on the reader. She has derived helpful insights from current writing about the phenomenology of reading by such critics as Wayne Booth, Wolfgang Iser, and Stanley Fish. She draws extensively on Dostoevsky’s letters, notebooks, and journalistic writings in describing his ideas about his readers and about the craft of fiction. These writings also provide clues to the importance of Rousseau’s Confessions and the Gothic novels for the development of Dostoevsky’s narrative techniques. The notebooks, moreover, are an indispensable source of information concerning the genesis of The Idiot and the radical changes it underwent in the course of its composition.

Although the book is primarily a close reading of The Idiot, it throws light on the later novels, The Possessed and The Brothers Karamazov, in which Dostoevsky again makes use of a fictional narrator.


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Dostoevsky and Romantic Realism
A Study of Dostoevsky in Relation to Balzac, Dickens, and Gogol
Donald Fanger
Northwestern University Press, 1998
Dostoevsky and Romantic Realism is Donald Fanger's groundbreaking study of the art of Dostoevsky and the literary and historical context in which it was created. Through detailed analyses of the work of Balzac, Dickens, and Gogol, Fanger identifies romantic realism, the transformative fusion of two generic categories, as a powerful imaginary response to the great modern city. This fusion reaches its aesthetic and metaphysical climax in Dostoevsky, whose vision culminating in Crime and Punishment is seen by Fanger as the final synthesis of romantic realism.

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Dostoevsky and the Affirmation of Life
Predrag Cicovacki
St. Augustine's Press, 2008

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Dostoevsky and the Catholic Underground
Elizabeth A. Blake
Northwestern University Press, 2014

While Dostoevsky’s relation to religion is well-trod ground, there exists no comprehensive study of Dostoevsky and Catholicism. Elizabeth Blake’s ambitious and learned Dostoevsky and the Catholic Underground fills this glaring omission in the scholarship. Previous commentators have traced a wide-ranging hostility in Dostoevsky’s understanding of Catholicism to his Slavophilism. Blake depicts a far more nuanced picture. Her close reading demonstrates that he is repelled and fascinated by Catholicism in all its medieval, Reformation, and modern manifestations. Dostoevsky saw in Catholicism not just an inspirational source for the Grand Inquisitor but a political force, an ideological wellspring, a unique mode of intellectual inquiry, and a source of cultural production. Blake’s insightful textual analysis is accompanied by an equally penetrating analysis of nineteenth-century European revolutionary history, from Paris to Siberia, that undoubtedly influenced the evolution of Dostoevsky’s thought.


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Dostoevsky and the Ethics of Narrative Form
Suspense, Closure, Minor Characters
Greta Matzner-Gore
Northwestern University Press, 2020
Three questions of novelistic form preoccupied Fyodor Dostoevsky throughout his career: how to build suspense, how to end a narrative effectively, and how to distribute attention among major and minor characters. For Dostoevsky, these were much more than practical questions about novelistic craft; they were ethical questions as well. Dostoevsky and the Ethics of Narrative Form traces Dostoevsky’s indefatigable investigations into the ethical implications of his own formal choices. Drawing on his drafts, notebooks, and writings on aesthetics, Greta Matzner-Gore argues that Dostoevsky wove the moral and formal questions that obsessed him into the fabric of his last three novels: Demons, The Adolescent, and The Brothers Karamazov. In so doing, he anticipated some of the most pressing debates taking place in the study of narrative ethics today.

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Dostoevsky and the Riddle of the Self
Yuri Corrigan
Northwestern University Press, 2017
Dostoevsky was hostile to the notion of individual autonomy, and yet, throughout his life and work, he vigorously advocated the freedom and inviolability of the self. This ambivalence has animated his diverse and often self-contradictory legacy: as precursor of psychoanalysis, forefather of existentialism, postmodernist avant la lettre, religious traditionalist, and Romantic mystic. 

Dostoevsky and the Riddle of the Self charts a unifying path through Dostoevsky's artistic journey to solve the “mystery” of the human being. Starting from the unusual forms of intimacy shown by characters seeking to lose themselves within larger collective selves, Yuri Corrigan approaches the fictional works as a continuous experimental canvas on which Dostoevsky explored the problem of selfhood through recurring symbolic and narrative paradigms. Presenting new readings of such works as The IdiotDemons, and The Brothers Karamazov, Corrigan tells the story of Dostoevsky’s career-long journey to overcome the pathology of collectivism by discovering a passage into the wounded, embattled, forbidding, revelatory landscape of the psyche.

Corrigan’s argument offers a fundamental shift in theories about Dostoevsky's work and will be of great interest to scholars of Russian literature, as well as to readers interested in the prehistory of psychoanalysis and trauma studies and in theories of selfhood and their cultural sources.

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Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Nietzsche
Lev Shestov
Ohio University Press, 1969

In the essays brought together in this volume Shestov presents a profound and original analysis of the thought of three of the most brilliant literary figures of nineteenth-century Europe—Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Nietzsche—all of whom had a decisive influence on the development of his own philosophy.

According to Shestov, the greatness of these writers consists in their deep probing into the question of the meaning of life and the problems of human suffering, evil, and death. That all three of them at times abandoned their probing and lapsed into the banality of preaching does not diminish their stature but shows only that there are limits to man’s capacity for looking unflichingly at reality.

Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Nietzsche are united, in Shestov’s view, by their common insight into the essential tragedy of human life—a tragedy which no increase in scientific knowledge and no degree of political and social reform can significantly mitigate but which can ultimately be redeemed only by faith in the omnipotent God proclaimed by the Bible.

In all three of his subjects Shestov sees a rebellion against the tyranny of idealist systems of philosophy, as well as a recognition that the supposedly universal and necessary laws discovered by science and the moral principles for which autonomous ethics claims eternal validity do not liberate man but rather crush and destroy him. This rebellion and this recognition are often suppressed by Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Nietzsche, byt they break forth again and again with overwhelming power.

In this provocative discussion of the novels and stories of the two celebrated Russian writers and of the essays and aphorisms of the solitary German philosopher whose genius was finally extinguished by insanity, Shestov finds ideas and insights that other critics have overlooked or the important of which they have not adequately understood. The value of his achievement has been widely recognized. Prince Mirsky, for example, does not hesitate to say in his authorative history of Russian literature that, as far as Dostoevsky is concerned, Shestov is undoubtedly his greatest commentator.

The reader will find in these remarkable studies of the men who exercised the strongest intellectual influence on the young Shestov the beginnings of the Russian philosopher’s own lifelong polemic against idealism, scientism, and conventional morality, as well as the first gropings of the quest for faith in the Biblical God that was to become the leitmotif of all his thinking and writing in the last decades of his life.


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Dostoevsky's Dialectics and the Problem of Sin
Ksana Blank
Northwestern University Press, 2010

In Dostoevsky’s Dialectics and the Problem of Sin, Ksana Blank borrows from ancient Greek, Chinese, and Christian dialectical traditions to formulate a dynamic image of Dostoevsky’s dialectics—distinct from Hegelian dialectics—as a philosophy of “compatible contradictions.” Expanding on the classical triad of Goodness, Beauty, and Truth, Blank guides us through Dostoevsky’s most difficult paradoxes: goodness that begets evil, beautiful personalities that bring about grief, and criminality that brings about salvation.

Dostoevsky’s philosophy of contradictions, this book demonstrates, contributes to the development of antinomian thought in the writings of early twentieth-century Russian religious thinkers and to the development of Bakhtin’s dialogism. Dostoevsky’s Dialectics and the Problem of Sin marks an important and original intervention into the enduring debate over Dostoevsky’s spiritual philosophy.


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Dostoevsky's Idiot
Dialogue and the Spiritually Good Life
Bruce A. French
Northwestern University Press, 2001
Prince Myshkin is one of Dostoevsky's most perplexing creations. In this study, Bruce A. French presents a provocative interpretation of the religious dimension of Myshkin's goodness from a Bakhtinian perspective.

In three chapters, French takes up in turn the narrator and narrative points of view, the author’s use of inserted narratives, and three modes of interaction French calls Monologue, Dialogue, and Dialogical Living.

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Dostoevsky's Occasional Writings
Fyodor Dostoevsky
Northwestern University Press, 1997
This classic collection of articles, sketches, and letters spans thirty-three years in Fyodor Dostoevsky's writing career: from 1847, just after the publication of his first novel, until 1880, a year before his death. The writings show the scope of his artistic development and the changes that occurred as a result of such cataclysmic events as his arrest and trial for treason, and his subsequent imprisonment and exile in Siberia.

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Dostoevsky’s Provocateurs
Lynn Ellen Patyk
Northwestern University Press, 2023

Confronting Bakhtin’s formative reading of Dostoevsky to recover the ways the novelist stokes conflict and engages readers—and to explore the reasons behind his adversarial approach
Like so many other elements of his work, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s deliberate deployment of provocation was both prescient and precocious. In this book, Lynn Ellen Patyk singles out these forms of incitement as a communicative strategy that drives his paradoxical art. Challenging, revising, and expanding on Mikhail Bakhtin’s foundational analysis in Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics, Patyk demonstrates that provocation is the moving mover of Dostoevsky’s poetics of conflict, and she identifies the literary devices he uses to propel plot conflict and capture our attention. Yet the full scope of Dostoevsky’s provocative authorial activity can only be grasped alongside an understanding of his key themes, which both probed and exploited the most divisive conflicts of his era. The ultimate stakes of such friction are, for him, nothing less than moral responsibility and the truth of identity.
Sober and strikingly original, compassionate but not uncritical, Dostoevsky’s Provocateurs exposes the charged current in the wiring of our modern selves. In an economy of attention and its spoils, provocation is an inexhaustibly renewable and often toxic resource.


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Dostoevsky's Secrets
Reading Against the Grain
Carol Apollonio
Northwestern University Press, 2009
When Fyodor Dostoevsky proclaims that he is a "realist in a higher sense," it is because the facts are irrelevant to his truth. And it is in this spirit that Apollonio approaches Dostoevsky’s work, reading through the facts--the text--of his canonical novels for the deeper truth that they distort, mask, and, ultimately, disclose. This sort of reading against the grain is, Apollonio suggests, precisely what these works, with their emphasis on the hidden and the private and their narrative reliance on secrecy and slander, demand.
In each work Apollonio focuses on one character or theme caught in the compromising, self-serving, or distorting narrative lens. Who, she asks, really exploits whom in <i>Poor Folk</i>? Does "White Nights" ever escape the dream state? What is actually lost--and what is won--in <i>The Gambler</i>? Is Svidrigailov, of such ill repute in <i>Crime and Punishment</i>, in fact an exemplar of generosity and truth? Who, in <i>Demons</i>, is truly demonic? Here we see how Dostoevsky has crafted his novels to help us see these distorting filters and develop the critical skills to resist their anaesthetic effect. Apollonio's readings show how Dostoevsky's paradoxes counter and usurp our comfortable assumptions about the way the world is and offer access to a deeper, immanent essence. His works gain power when we read beyond the primitive logic of external appearances and recognize the deeper life of the text.

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Dostoevsky's "The Devils"
A Critical Companion
William Leatherbarrow
Northwestern University Press, 1999
The Devils is one of Dostoevsky's four major novels--and the most openly political of his works. Known by several names, including The Demons and The Possessed, this novel often anchors courses of Dostoevsky's works. This critical companion contains essays that shed light on both the tricky literary structure of the novel and its social and political components. In addition, editor W.J. Leatherbarrow provides a detailed introduction, extracts from Dostoevsky's correspondence about The Devils, and an annotated bibliography.

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Dostoevsky's "The Idiot"
A Critical Companion
Liza Knapp
Northwestern University Press, 1998
This book, part of the acclaimed AATSEEL Critical Companions series, is designed to guide readers through Dostoevsky's most mysterious and confusing work. It begins with introductory essays looking at where, when, and how The Idiot was written and at the novel's major characters. Other essays guide the reader through the author's plans and notebooks; use contemporary feminist criticism to shed light on how this novel explores alternatives to traditional roles; examine the ways in which the novel reflects Dostoevsky's concern with apocalypse, modernity, and time; and address the ways the novel's hero, Prince Myshkin, can be compared to Christ. A final section offers a rich collection of primary sources, including Dostoevsky's letters concerning The Idiot, and an annotated bibliography.

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Economies of Feeling
Russian Literature under Nicholas I
Jillian Porter
Northwestern University Press, 2017
Economies of Feeling offers new explanations for the fantastical plots of mad or blocked ambition that set the nineteenth-century Russian prose tradition in motion. Jillian Porter compares the conceptual history of social ambition in post-Napoleonic France and post-Decembrist Russia and argues that the dissonance between foreign and domestic understandings of this economic passion shaped the literature of Nicholas I’s reign (1825 —1855).
Porter shows how, for Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, and Faddei Bulgarin, ambition became a staging ground for experiments with transnational literary exchange. In its encounters with the celebrated Russian cultural value of hospitality and the age-old vice of miserliness, ambition appears both timely and anachronistic, suspiciously foreign and disturbingly Russian—it challenges readers to question the equivalence of local and imported words, feelings, and forms.
Economies of Feeling examines founding texts of nineteenth-century Russian prose alongside nonliterary materials from which they drew energy—from French clinical diagnoses of “ambitious monomania” to the various types of currency that proliferated under Nicholas I. It thus contributes fresh and fascinating insights into Russian characters’ impulses to attain rank and to squander, counterfeit, and hoard. Porter’s interdisciplinary approach will appeal to scholars of comparative as well as Russian literature.

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Fyodor Dostoevsky, Walker Percy, and the Age of Suicide
John F. Desmond
Catholic University of America Press, 2019
Fyodor Dostoevsky, Walker Percy, and the Age of Suicide is a study of the phenomenon of suicide in modern and post-modern society as represented in the major fictional works of Fyodor Dostoevsky and Walker Percy. In his study, suicide is understood in both a literal and spiritual sense as referring to both the actual suicides in their works and to the broader social malaise of spiritual suicide, or despair. In the 19th century Dostoevsky called suicide “the terrible question of our age”. For his part, Percy understood 20th century Western culture as “suicidal” in both its social, political and military behavior and in the deeper sense that its citizenry had suffered an ontological “loss of self” or “deformation” of being. Likewise, Thomas Merton called the 20th century an “age of suicide”.

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Genesis of The Brothers Karamazov
The Aesthetics, Ideology, and Psychology of Making a Text
Robert L. Belknap
Northwestern University Press, 1990
Robert L. Belknap is the author of The Structure of "The Brothers Karamazov," which is generally regarded as one of the best studies on Dostoevsky produced by the present generation of scholars. The Genesis of "The Brothers Karamazov" continues and complements Belknap's earlier work, tracing Dostoevsky's last, great novel to its sources and exploring the works Dostoevsky read and consciously employed in constructing it.

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The Gift of Active Empathy
Scheler, Bakhtin, and Dostoevsky
Alina Wyman
Northwestern University Press, 2016
This innovative study brings the early writings of Mikhail Bakhtin into conversation with Max Scheler and Fyodor Dostoevsky to explore the question of what makes emotional co-experiencing ethically and spiritually productive. In Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics, Bakhtin's well-known concept of the dialogical partner expresses what he sees as the potential of human relationships in Dostoevsky's work. But his earlier reflections on the ethical and aesthetic uses of empathy, in part inspired by Scheler's philosophy, suggest a still more fundamental form of communication that operates as a basis for human togetherness in Dostoevsky. Applying this rich and previously neglected theoretical apparatus in a literary analysis, Wyman examines the obstacles to active empathy in Dostoevsky's fictional world, considers the limitations and excesses of empathy, addresses the problem of frustrated love in The Idiot and Notes from Underground, and provides a fresh interpretation of two of Dostoevsky's most iconic characters, Prince Myshkin and Alyosha Karamazov.

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How the Russians Read the French
Lermontov, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy
Priscilla Meyer
University of Wisconsin Press, 2008
Russian writers of the nineteenth century were quite consciously creating a new national literary tradition. They saw themselves self-consciously through Western European eyes, at once admiring Europe and feeling inferior to it. This ambivalence was perhaps most keenly felt in relation to France, whose language and culture had shaped the world of the Russian aristocracy from the time of Catherine the Great.
            In How the Russians Read the French, Priscilla Meyer shows how Mikhail Lermontov, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Lev Tolstoy engaged with French literature and culture to define their own positions as Russian writers with specifically Russian aesthetic and moral values. Rejecting French sensationalism and what they perceived as a lack of spirituality among Westerners, these three writers attempted to create moral and philosophical works of art that drew on sources deemed more acceptable to a Russian worldview, particularly Pushkin and the Gospels. Through close readings of A Hero of Our Time, Crime and Punishment, and Anna Karenina, Meyer argues that each of these great Russian authors takes the French tradition as a thesis, proposes his own antithesis, and creates in his novel a synthesis meant to foster a genuinely Russian national tradition, free from imitation of Western models.
Winner, University of Southern California Book Prize in Literary and Cultural Studies, American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies

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A Karamazov Companion
Commentary on the Genesis, Language, and Style of Dostoevsky's Novel
Victor Terras
University of Wisconsin Press, 1981
    The text of The Brothers Karamazov is removed from English-speaking readers today not only by time but also by linguistic and cultural boundaries. Victor Terras’s companion work provides readers with a richer understanding of the Dostoevsky novel as the expression of a philosophy and a work of art.
     In his introduction, Terras outlines the genesis, main ideas, and structural peculiarities of the novel as well as Dostoevsky’s political, philosophical, and aesthetic stance. The detailed commentary takes the reader through the novel, clarifying aspects of Russian life, the novel’s sociopolitical background, and a number of polemic issues. Terras identifies and explains hundreds of literary and biblical quotations and allusions. He discusses symbols, recurrent images, and structural stylistic patterns, including those lost in English translation.

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The Merleau-Ponty Reader
Leonard Lawlor and Ted Toadvine
Northwestern University Press, 2007
The first reader to offer a comprehensive view of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s (1908-1961) work, this selection collects in one volume the foundational essays necessary for understanding the core of this critical twentieth-century philosopher’s thought.

Arranged chronologically, the essays are grouped in three sections corresponding to the major periods of Merleau-Ponty’s work: First, the years prior to his appointment to the Sorbonne in 1949, the early, existentialist period during which he wrote important works on the phenomenology of perception and the primacy of perception; second, the years of his work as professor of child psychology and pedagogy at the Sorbonne, a period especially concerned with language; and finally, his years as chair of modern philosophy at the Collège de France, a time devoted to the articulation of a new ontology and philosophy of nature. The editors, who provide an interpretive introduction, also include previously unpublished working notes found in Merleau-Ponty’s papers after his death. Translations of all selections have been updated and several appear here in English for the first time.

By contextualizing Merleau-Ponty’s writings on the philosophy of art and politics within the overall development of his thought, this volume allows readers to see both the breadth of his contribution to twentieth-century philosophy and the convergence of the various strands of his reflection.

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Mimetic Lives
Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Character in the Novel
Chloë Kitzinger
Northwestern University Press, 2021
What makes some characters seem so real? Mimetic Lives: Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Character in the Novel explores this question through readings of major works by Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky. Working at the height of the Russian realist tradition, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky each discovered unprecedented techniques for intensifying the aesthetic illusion that Chloë Kitzinger calls mimetic life—the reader’s sense of a character’s autonomous, embodied existence. At the same time, both authors tested the practical limits of that illusion by extending it toward the novel’s formal and generic bounds: philosophy, history, journalism, theology, myth.
Through new readings of War and Peace, Anna Karenina, The Brothers Karamazov, and other novels, Kitzinger traces a productive tension between mimetic characterization and the author’s ambition to transform the reader. She shows how Tolstoy and Dostoevsky create lifelike characters and why the dream of carrying the illusion of “life” beyond the novel consistently fails. Mimetic Lives challenges the contemporary truism that novels educate us by providing enduring models for the perspectives of others, with whom we can then better empathize. Seen close, the realist novel’s power to create a world of compelling fictional persons underscores its resources as a form for thought and its limits as a direct source of spiritual, social, or political change.
Drawing on scholarship in Russian literary studies as well as the theory of the novel, Kitzinger’s lucid work of criticism will intrigue and challenge scholars working in both fields. 

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Multi-Mediated Dostoevsky
Transposing Novels into Opera, Film, and Drama
Alexander Burry
Northwestern University Press, 2011
Since their publication, the works of Dostoevsky have provided rich fodder for adaptations to opera, film, and drama. While Dostoevsky gave his blessing to the idea of adapting his work to other forms, he believed that "each art form corresponds to a series of poetic thoughts, so that one idea cannot be expressed in another non-corresponding form." In Multi-Mediated Dostoevsky, Alexander Burry argues that twentieth-century adaptations (which he calls "transpositions") of four of Dostoevsky’s works—Sergei Prokofiev’s opera The Gambler, Leos Janacek’s opera From the Dead House, Akira Kurosawa’s film The Idiot, and Adrzej Wajda’s drama The Devils—follow Dostoevsky’s precept by bringing to light underdeveloped or unappreciated aspects of Dostoevsky’s texts rather than by slavishly attempting to recreate their sources. Burry’s interdisciplinary approach gives his study broad appeal to scholars as well as to students of Russian, comparative literature, music, film, drama, and cultural studies.

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A New Word on The Brothers Karamazov
Robert Louis Jackson
Northwestern University Press, 2004
V. S. Pritchett has written of Dostoevsky that he "is still the master [because] he moves forward with us as the sense of our danger changes." Nearly a century and a quarter have passed since Dostoevsky's last and greatest novel began to appear in installments in The Russian Herald. The essays in A New Word on "The Brothers Karamazov" show us that Dostoevsky does indeed continue to change with us, and that The Brothers Karamazov is very much a novel of our time.

Edited by the nation's most respected senior Dostoevsky scholar, this collection brings together original work by notable writers of varying backgrounds and interests. While drawing on Dostoevsky's other fiction, journalism, and correspondence, the writing of his contemporaries, the state of Russian culture to illuminate the unfolding novel--these essays also make use of new fields of scholarship, such as cognitive psychology, as well as recent theoretical approaches and critical insights. The authors propose readings remarkable for their attentiveness to detail, relatively peripheral characters, and heretofore overlooked incidents, passages, or fragments of dialogue. Some contributors suggest readings so new that they are subvert our usual modes of approaching this novel; all reflect the immediacy of adventuresome, informed encounters with Dostoevsky's final novel. Treating The Brothers Karamazov in terms of a broad range of genres (poetry, narrative, parody, confession, detective fiction) and discourses (medical, scientific, sexual, judicial, philosophical, and theological), these essays embody on a critical and analytic level a search for coherence, meaning, and harmony that continues to animate Dostoevsky's novel in our day.

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Nietzsche and Dostoevsky
Philosophy, Morality, Tragedy
Edited by Jeff Love and Jeffrey Metzger
Northwestern University Press, 2016
After more than a century, the urgency with which the writing of Fyodor Dostoevsky and Friedrich Nietzsche speaks to us is undiminished. Nietzsche explicitly acknowledged Dostoevsky’s relevance to his work, noting its affinities as well as its points of opposition. Both of them are credited with laying much of the foundation for what came to be called existentialist thought. The essays in this volume bring a fresh perspective to a relationship that illuminates a great deal of twentieth-century intellectual history. Among the questions taken up by contributors are the possibility of morality in a godless world, the function of philosophy if reason is not the highest expression of our humanity, the nature of tragedy when performed for a bourgeois audience, and the justification of suffering if it is not divinely sanctioned. Above all, these essays remind us of the supreme value of the questioning itself that pervades the work of Dostoevsky and Nietzsche.

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The Novel in the Age of Disintegration
Dostoevsky and the Problem of Genre in the 1870s
Kate Holland
Northwestern University Press, 2013
Scholars have long been fascinated by the creative struggles with genre manifested throughout Dostoevsky’s career. In The Novel in the Age of Disintegration, Kate Holland brings historical context to bear, showing that Dostoevsky wanted to use the form of the novel as a means of depicting disintegration brought on by various crises in Russian society in the 1860s. This required him to reinvent the genre. At the same time he sought to infuse his novels with the capacity to inspire belief in social and spiritual reintegration, so he returned to some older conventions of a society that was already becoming outmoded.

In thoughtful readings of Demons, The Adolescent, A Writer’s Diary, and The Brothers Karamazov, Holland delineates Dostoevsky’s struggle to adapt a genre to the reality of the present, with all its upheavals, while maintaining a utopian vision of Russia’s future mission.

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Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics
Mikhail Bakhtin
University of Minnesota Press, 1984
This book is not only a major twentieth-century contribution to Dostoevsky’s studies, but also one of the most important theories of the novel produced in our century. As a modern reinterpretation of poetics, it bears comparison with Aristotle.“Bakhtin’s statement on the dialogical nature of artistic creation, and his differentiation of this from a history of monological commentary, is profoundly original and illuminating. This is a classic work on Dostoevsky and a statement of importance to critical theory.” Edward Wasiolek“Concentrating on the particular features of ‘Dostoevskian discourse,’ how Dostoevsky structures a hero and a plot, and what it means to write dialogically, Bakhtin concludes with a major theoretical statement on dialogue as a category of language. One of the most important theories of the novel in this century.” The Bloomsbury Review

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Reader as Accomplice
Narrative Ethics in Dostoevsky and Nabokov
Alexander Spektor
Northwestern University Press, 2021

Reader as Accomplice: Narrative Ethics in Dostoevsky and Nabokov argues that Fyodor Dostoevsky and Vladimir Nabokov seek to affect the moral imagination of their readers by linking morally laden plots to the ethical questions raised by narrative fiction at the formal level. By doing so, these two authors ask us to consider and respond to the ethical demands that narrative acts of representation and interpretation place on authors and readers.

Using the lens of narrative ethics, Alexander Spektor brings to light the important, previously unexplored correspondences between Dostoevsky and Nabokov. Ultimately, he argues for a productive comparison of how each writer investigates the ethical costs of narrating oneself and others. He also explores the power dynamics between author, character, narrator, and reader. In his readings of such texts as “The Meek One” and The Idiot by Dostoevsky and Bend Sinister and Despair by Nabokov, Spektor demonstrates that these authors incite the reader’s sense of ethics by exposing the risks but also the possibilities of narrative fiction.


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Reading Dostoevsky
Victor Terras
University of Wisconsin Press, 1998

“A substantial contribution both to Dostoevsky scholarship and to scholarship on the novel. . . . The first book in quite a while to address itself to all of Dostoevsky’s opus, certainly a bold move that only someone of Terras’s stature could pull off.”—Gary Rosenshield, University of Madison–Wisconsin

Admirers have praised Fedor Dostoevsky as the Russian Shakespeare, while his critics have slighted his novels as merely cheap amusements. In this stimulating critical introduction to Dostoevsky’s fiction, literary scholar Victor Terras asks readers to draw their own conclusions about the nineteenth-century Russian writer. Discussing psychological, political, mythical, and philosophical approaches, Terras deftly guides readers through the range of diverse and even contradictory interpretations of Dostoevsky's rich novels.
    Moving through the novelist's career, Terras presents a general analysis of the novel at issue, each chapter focusing on a particular aspect of Dostoevsky's art. He probes the form and style of Crime and Punishment, and explores the ambiguity of The Brothers Karamazov. Terras emphasizes the "markedness," of Dostoevsky's novels, their wealth of literary devices such as irony, literary allusions, scenic effects, puns, and witticisms.
    Terras conveys the vital contradictions and ambiguities of the novels. In this informative, engaging literary study, Terras brings Dostoevsky and his art to life.


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Resurrection from the Underground
Feodor Dostoevsky
René Girard
Michigan State University Press, 2012

In a fascinating analysis of critical themes in Feodor Dostoevsky’s work, René Girard explores the implications of the Russian author’s “underground,” a site of isolation, alienation, and resentment. Brilliantly translated, this book is a testament to Girard’s remarkable engagement with Dostoevsky’s work, through which he discusses numerous aspects of the human condition, including desire, which Girard argues is “triangular” or “mimetic”—copied from models or mediators whose objects of desire become our own. Girard’s interdisciplinary approach allows him to shed new light on religion, spirituality, and redemption in Dostoevsky’s writing, culminating in a revelatory discussion of the author’s spiritual understanding and personal integration. Resurrection is an essential and thought-provoking companion to Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground.


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Russia’s Capitalist Realism
Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Chekhov
Vadim Shneyder
Northwestern University Press, 2021

Russia’s Capitalist Realism examines how the literary tradition that produced the great works of Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Anton Chekhov responded to the dangers and possibilities posed by Russia’s industrial revolution. During Russia’s first tumultuous transition to capitalism, social problems became issues of literary form for writers trying to make sense of economic change. The new environments created by industry, such as giant factories and mills, demanded some kind of response from writers but defied all existing forms of language.

This book recovers the rich and lively public discourse of this volatile historical period, which Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Chekhov transformed into some of the world’s greatest works of literature. Russia’s Capitalist Realism will appeal to readers interested in nineteenth‑century Russian literature and history, the relationship between capitalism and literary form, and theories of the novel.


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Selling the Story
Transaction and Narrative Value in Balzac, Dostoevsky, and Zola
Jonathan Paine
Harvard University Press, 2019

A literary scholar and investment banker applies economic criticism to canonical novels, dramatically changing the way we read these classics and proposing a new model for how economics can inform literary analysis.

Every writer is a player in the marketplace for literature. Jonathan Paine locates the economics ingrained within the stories themselves, revealing how a text provides a record of its author’s attempt to sell the story to his or her readers.

An unusual literary scholar with a background in finance, Paine mines stories for evidence of the conditions of their production. Through his wholly original reading, Balzac’s The Splendors and Miseries of Courtesans becomes a secret diary of its author’s struggles to cope with the commercializing influence of serial publication in newspapers. The Brothers Karamazov transforms into a story of Dostoevsky’s sequential bets with his readers, present and future, about how to write a novel. Zola’s Money documents the rise of big business and is itself a product of Zola’s own big business, his factory of novels.

Combining close readings with detailed analyses of the nineteenth-century publishing contexts in which prose fiction first became a product, Selling the Story shows how the business of literature affects even literary devices such as genre, plot, and repetition. Paine argues that no book can be properly understood without reference to its point of sale: the author’s knowledge of the market, of reader expectations, and of his or her own efforts to define and achieve literary value.


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Siblings in Tolstoy and Dostoevsky
The Path to Universal Brotherhood
Anna A. Berman
Northwestern University Press, 2015

Anna A. Berman’s book brings to light the significance of sibling relationships in the writings of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. Relationships in their works have typically been studied through the lens of erotic love in the former, and intergenerational conflict in the latter.

In close readings of their major novels, Berman shows how both writers portray sibling relationships as a stabilizing force that counters the unpredictable, often destructive elements of romantic entanglements and the hierarchical structure of generations. Power and interconnectedness are cast in a new light. Berman persuasively argues that both authors gradually come to consider siblinghood a model of all human relations, discerning a career arc in each that moves from the dynamics within families to a much broader vision of universal brotherhood.


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Surprised by Shame
Dostoevsky's Liars and Narrative Exposure
Deborah A. Martinsen
The Ohio State University Press, 2003

In Surprised by Shame, Deborah A. Martinsen combines shame studies and literary criticism. She begins with a discussion of shame dynamics, including the tendency of those who witness shame to feel shame themselves. Because Dostoevsky identified shame as a fundamental source of lying, Martinsen focuses on scenes when liars are exposed. She argues that by making readers witness such scandal scenes, Dostoevsky surprises them with shame, thereby collapsing the distance between readers and characters and viscerally involving them in his message of human interconnection.

Treating Dostoevsky’s liars as case studies, Surprised by Shame discusses varieties of shame and shamelessness; it also illustrates how Dostoevsky uses lying to indicate and expose subconscious processes. In addition, Martinsen demonstrates how Dostoevsky plucks shame from the realm of character trait and plot motive and embeds it in the narrative dynamics of The Idiot, Demons, and The Brothers Karamazov, thereby plunging readers into fictional experience and ethically transforming them.

By focusing on shame, this book uncovers new perspectives on Dostoevsky as writer and psychologist. By exposing how shame dynamics implicate readers in texts’ ethical actions, it enriches understanding of his tremendous influence on twentieth-century thinkers and writers. Finally, reading Dostoevsky as a prophet of shame-begotten violence reveals his universal relevance in a twenty-first century already scarred by acts of violence.


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The Trace of Judaism
Dostoevsky, Babel, Mandelstam, Levinas
Val Vinokur
Northwestern University Press, 2009
Recipient, 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship

The defining quality of Russian literature, for most critics, is its ethical seriousness expressed through formal originality. The Trace of Judaism addresses this characteristic through the thought of the Lithuanian-born Franco-Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. Steeped in the Russian classics from an early age, Levinas drew significantly from Dostoevsky in his ethical thought. One can profitably read Russian literature through Levinas, and vice versa.
Vinokur links new readings of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Isaac Babel, and Osip Mandelstam to the work of Levinas, to ask: How does Judaism haunt Russian literature? In what ways is Levinas' ethics as "Russian" as it is arguably "Jewish"? And more broadly, how do ethics and aesthetics inflect each other? Vinokur considers how the encounter with the other invokes responsibilities ethical and aesthetic, and shows how the volatile relationship between ethics and aesthetics--much like the connection between the Russian and Jewish traditions--may be inextricably symbiotic. In an ambitious work that illuminates the writings of all of these authors, Vinokur pursues the implications of this reading for our understanding of the function of literature--its unique status as a sphere in which an ethical vision such as that of Levinas becomes comprehensible.

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Turned Inside Out
Reading the Russian Novel in Prison
Steven Shankman
Northwestern University Press, 2017
In Turned Inside Out: Reading the Russian Novel in Prison, Steven Shankman reflects on his remarkable experience teaching texts by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Vasily Grossman, and Emmanuel Levinas in prison to a mix of university students and inmates. These persecuted writers—Shankman argues that Dostoevsky’s and Levinas’s experiences of incarceration were formative—describe ethical obligation as an experience of being turned inside out by the face-to-face encounter. Shankman relates this experience of being turned inside out to the very significance of the word “God,” to Dostoevsky’s tormented struggles with religious faith, to Vasily Grossman’s understanding of his Jewishness in his great novel Life and Fate, and to the interpersonal encounters the author has witnessed reading these texts with his students in the prison environment.
Turned Inside Out will appeal to readers with interests in the classic novels of Russian literature, in prisons and pedagogy, or in Levinas and phenomenology. At a time when the humanities are struggling to justify the centrality of their mission in today’s colleges and universities, Steven Shankman by example makes an undeniably powerful case for the transformative power of reading great texts.

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Wages of Evil
Dostoevsky and Punishment
Anna Schur
Northwestern University Press, 2012
Dostoevsky’s views on punishment are usually examined through the prism of his Christian commitments. For some, this means an orientation toward mercy; for others, an affirmation of suffering as a path to redemption. Anna Schur incorporates sources from philosophy, criminology, psychology, and history to argue that Dostoevsky’s thinking about punishment was shaped not only by his Christian ethics but also by the debates on penal theory and practice unfolding during his lifetime.
As Dostoevsky attempts to balance the various ethical and cultural imperatives, he displays ambivalence both about punishment and about mercy. This ambivalence, Schur argues, is further complicated by what Dostoevsky sees as the unfathomable quality of the self, which hinders every attempt to match crimes with punishments. The one certainty he holds is that a proper response to wrongdoing must include a concern for the wrongdoer’s moral improvement.

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Walker Percy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and the Search for Influence
Jessica Hooten Wilson
The Ohio State University Press, 2017
Although Walker Percy named many influences on his work and critics have zeroed in on Kierkegaard in particular, no one has considered his intentional influence: the nineteenth-century Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky. In a study that revives and complicates notions of adaptation and influence, Jessica Hooten Wilson details the long career of Walker Percy. Walker Percy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and the Search for Influence demonstrates—through close reading of both writers’ works, examination of archival materials, and biographical criticism—not only how pervasive and inescapable Dostoevsky’s influence was but also how necessary it was to the distinctive strengths of Percy’s fiction.
From Dostoevsky, Percy learned how to captivate his non-Christian readership with fiction saturated by a Christian vision of reality. Not only was his method of imitation in line with this Christian faith but also the aesthetic mode and very content of his narratives centered on his knowledge of Christ. The influence of Dostoevsky on Percy, then, becomes significant as a modern case study for showing the illusion of artistic autonomy and long-held, Romantic assumptions about artistic originality. Ultimately, Wilson suggests, only by studying the good that came before can one translate it in a new voice for the here and now.

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Western Law, Russian Justice
Dostoevsky, the Jury Trial, and the Law
Gary Rosenshield
University of Wisconsin Press, 2005
    Gary Rosenshield offers a new interpretation of Dostoevsky's greatest novel, The Brothers Karamazov. He explores Dostoevsky's critique and exploitation of the jury trial for his own ideological agenda, both in his journalism and his fiction, contextualizing his portrayal of trials and trial participants (lawyers, jurors, defendants, judges) in the political, social, and ideological milieu of his time. Further, the author presents Dostoevsky's critique in terms of the main notions of the critical legal studies movement in the United States, showing how, over one hundred and twenty years ago, Dostoevsky explicitly dealt with the same problems that the law-and-literature movement has been confronting over the past two decades. This book should appeal to anyone with an interest in Russian literature, Russian history and culture, legal studies, law and literature, narratology, or metafiction and literary theory.

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Winter Notes on Summer Impressions
Fyodor Dostoevsky
Northwestern University Press, 1997
Winter Notes on Summer Impressions (Зимние заметки о летних впечатлениях) is an early book-length essay by Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky which he composed while traveling in western Europe. Many commentators believe that in the themes it explores, the essay anticipates his later work Notes from the Underground.

In June 1862, Dostoevsky left Petersburg on his first excursion to Western Europe. Ostensibly making the trip to consult Western specialists about his epilepsy, he also wished to see firsthand the source of the Western ideas he believed were corrupting Russia. Over the course of his journey he visited a number of major cities, including Berlin, Paris, London, Florence, Milan, and Vienna. He recorded his impressions in Winter Notes on Summer Impressions, which were first published in the February 1863 issue of Vremya (Time), the periodical of which he was the editor.

Among other themes, Dostoevsky reveals his Pan-Slavism, rejecting European culture as corrupt and exhorting Russians to resist the temptation to emulate or adopt European ways of life.

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Written in Blood
Revolutionary Terrorism and Russian Literary Culture, 1861–1881
Lynn Ellen Patyk
University of Wisconsin Press, 2017
Written in Blood offers a fundamentally new interpretation of the emergence of modern terrorism, arguing that it formed in the Russian literary imagination well before any shot was fired or bomb exploded. In March 1881, Russia stunned the world when a small band of revolutionaries calling themselves "terrorists" assassinated the Tsar-Liberator, Alexander II. Horrified Russians blamed the influence of European political and social ideas, while shocked Europeans perceived something new and distinctly Russian in a strategy of political violence that became known the world over as "terrorism" or "the Russian method."

Lynn Ellen Patyk contends that the prototype for the terrorist was the Russian writer, whose seditious word was interpreted as an audacious deed—and a violent assault on autocratic authority. The interplay and interchangeability of word and deed, Patyk argues, laid the semiotic groundwork for the symbolic act of violence at the center of revolutionary terrorism. While demonstrating how literary culture fostered the ethos, pathos, and image of the revolutionary terrorist and terrorism, she spotlights Fyodor Dostoevsky and his "terrorism trilogy"—Crime and Punishment (1866), Demons (1870–73), and The Brothers Karamazov (1878–80)—as novels that uniquely illuminate terrorism's methods and trajectory. Deftly combining riveting historical narrative with penetrating literary analysis of major and minor works, Patyk's groundbreaking book reveals the power of the word to spawn deeds and the power of literature to usher new realities into the world.

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