Slavic 45: Survey of 19th-Century Russian Literature, from Pushkin to Chekhov

MWF 12-1, Dwinelle 182. Instructor: Thomas Dyne.

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

“We have no literature!” cried the hugely influential literary critic Vissarion Belinsky in the 1830s, bemoaning the lack of a Russian national literary canon. The 70 years that followed this pronouncement would see the flowering of the Russian realist tradition, with its psychological novels and attendant (unrealistic?) narrative omniscience.

In a survey of great Russian works of the nineteenth century, this course will examine this tradition, following threads of influence and intertextuality. We will read both short stories and short novels, and will proceed both chronologically and thematically, covering the various stages of writers’ careers from the 1830s to the end of the century. In class we will understand our weekly readings in their historical, biographical, and cultural contexts, and will discuss and explore issues ranging from the culture clashes of the 1840s and 1860s to questions of genre, from the reforms of Tsar Alexander II to the very definition of realism.

The course is a prerequisite for admission to the Slavic major and is recommended for prospective graduate students in Slavic. No knowledge of Russian is required, but students with knowledge of Russian are encouraged to do all or parts of the readings in the original. Classes are conducted in English. There are no prerequisites.

Grading breakdown

Attendance and Participation:  10%

Short Essay (3-5 pages): 15%

Longer Essay (5-7 pages): 30%

Midterm Exam: 15%

Final Exam: 30%

Required texts for purchase
Anton Chekhov, The Portable Chekhov. Ed. Avrahm Yarmolinsky. London: Penguin, 1977. ISBN: 978-0140150353

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Poor People. Trans. Hugh Aplin, London: Hesperus, 2002. ISBN: 978-1847493125

—. Notes from Underground., ed. & trans. Michael R. Katz. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 2000. ISBN: 978-0393976120

Nikolai Gogol, The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol. trans. Pevear & Volokhonsky. New York: Vintage, 1998. ISBN: 978-0375706158

Mikhail Lermontov, A Hero of Our Time. trans. Paul Foote. New York: Penguin, 2001. ISBN: 978-0140447958

Alexander Pushkin, The Queen of Spades and Other Stories. Trans. Alan Myers. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1997. ISBN: 978-0199538652

—. Eugene Onegin. Trans. James Falen. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1995. ISBN: 978-0199538645

Leo Tolstoy, Childhood, Boyhood, Youth. Trans. Judson Rosengrant. London: Penguin, 2012. ISBN: 978-0140449921

—. Tolstoy’s Short Fiction, ed. & trans. Michael R. Katz. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 2008. ISBN: 978-0393931501

Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Children, ed. & trans. Michael R. Katz. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 2008. ISBN: 978-0393927979

—. Sketches from a Hunter’s Album. trans. Richard Freeborn. London: Penguin, 1990. ISBN: 978-0140445220

Plus a course reader, containing the remaining secondary readings.