Fall 2008

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Listed in: Russian, as RUSS-27


Catherine A. Ciepiela (Section 01)


Among the many paradoxes Dostoevsky presents is the paradox of his own achievement. Perceived as the most “Russian” of Russian writers, he finds many enthusiastic readers in the West. A nineteenth-century author, urgently engaged in the debates of his time, his work remains relevant today. The most influential theorists of the novel feel called upon to account for the Dostoevsky phenomenon. How can we understand Dostoevsky’s appeal to so many audiences? This broad question will inform our reading of Dostoevsky’s fiction, as we consider its social-critical, metaphysical, psychological, and formal significance. We will begin with several early works (“Notes from Underground,” “The Double”) whose concerns persist and develop in the great novels that are the focus of the course: Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov. All readings and discussion in English. Conducted as a seminar. Two class meetings per week. Fall semester. Professor Ciepiela.

Fyodor Dostoevsky, 1872