Slavic 132: Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and the English Novel

TT 3:30-5, 88 Dwinelle. Instructor: Irina Paperno.

Units: 4 Satisfies L&S Arts & Literature breadth requirement.

This Course is Cross-listed with English 125C

 A close reading of selected works of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy in conjunction with English novels. We will focus on how the Russian and English novels resemble one another, differ from one another, and respond to one another, especially in their treatment of love, family, community and society, and in the workings of the novel as a genre. In her famous essay “The Russian Point of View,” Virginia Woolf suggests that whereas the English novelist feels a “constant pressure” to recognize “barriers” and “boundaries,” both ideological and formal, the Russian novelist “cannot restrain himself.” The English novelist is inclined to “satire,” the Russian to “compassion”; the English to scrutiny of society, and the Russian to understanding of individuals. Is Woolf right? The course begins with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813), proceeds to Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Idiot (1869) and Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina (1877), and concludes with Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway (1925).

 Workload: Close reading of assigned texts (up to 200 pages per week), regular attendance, midterm, one paper, final exam.

Prerequisites: None. No knowledge of Russian required. All readings are done in English. Students who know Russian are encouraged to do at least some reading in Russian.

Books: Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice in the Norton Critical Edition; Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot in the Peaver and Volokhonsky translation; Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina in the Maude translation and Norton Critical Edition; Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway, ed. Mark Hussey.