Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

CONTENTS

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pp. v-vi

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Introduction

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pp. 1-5

THE PRESENT VOLUME is composed of essays and reviews largely written over the years when I was working on the five volumes I devoted to studying Dostoevsky and his times. Such incidental pieces were of course conditioned by my concern with that key figure in...

PART I. CLASSICS

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ONE. Poor Folk and House of the Dead

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pp. 9-28

IF ONE WERE ASKED to select two books of Dostoevsky that represented the variety and range of his literary talent, no better choice could be made than The House of the Dead and Poor Folk. Dostoevsky is best known for his larger and later novels such as...

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TWO. The Idiot

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pp. 29-45

DOSTOEVSKY’S great novel The Idiot, one of the finest works ever written inspired by the image and the ideal of Christ, was composed during a particularly difficult period of his life. To be sure, some other periods of his existence had been equally tumultuous...

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THREE. Demons

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pp. 46-63

DOSTOEVSKY’S Demons (Besi), sometimes also translated as The Devils or The Possessed, is probably the greatest novel ever inspired by a revolutionary conspiracy; but it was not the book that its author had intended to write. The story of how it came into being in its...

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FOUR. War and Peace

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pp. 64-83

IT IS SOMETHING of a surprise to realize that Tolstoy’s great novel War and Peace, which has now become so much a part of the literary heritage of Western culture, was initially greeted with some bewilderment and perplexity. “Taken as a whole,” wrote one critic, “this...

PART II. THE RUSSIAN TRADITION

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FIVE. Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia

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pp. 87-106

TO CALL a work designated as a cultural history of Russia “Natasha’s Dance” is unexpected, to say the least. What has such an appellation to do with so weighty a subject—and with a book of over six hundred pages? Why so seemingly frivolous a title for an inquiry which,...

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SIX. A Life of Pushkin

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pp. 107-117

IN HIS NEW LIFE of Pushkin, T. J. Binyon leaves the reader in no doubt as to the chief aim of his massive work. He begins with a brief preface, detailing the meteoric rise of the poet’s reputation from the very first public knowledge of his youthful compositions, its temporary...

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SEVEN. Oblomov and Goncharov

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pp. 118-128

ANYONE with a claim to literacy is familiar with the names of Tolstoy, Turgenev, and Dostoevsky, and at least can cite some of the titles of their most famous works. But Goncharov and his novel Oblomov, of which a new and very snappily colloquial and readable translation...

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EIGHT. Lydia Ginzburg, On Psychological Prose

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pp. 129-142

LYDIA IAKOVLEVNA GINZBURG is not a name widely known outside Russia except to Slavists, but this excellent translation by Judson Rosengrant of perhaps her most important book, On Psychological Prose, should help to introduce her to a larger public. Until a few...

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NINE. Richard Pipes, Russian Conservatism and Its Critics

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pp. 143-155

RICHARD PIPES has had an extremely distinguished career both as an historian specializing in Russian history and culture and as a member for two years of the National Security Council serving under President Reagan. The two books under review here, Russian Conservatism and Its Critics...

PART III. THE DOSTOEVSKIAN ORBIT

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TEN. Dostoevsky and Anti-Semitism

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pp. 159-172

LET ME BEGIN with something of a confession. My own work on Dostoevsky originally began by my interest in his relation to the radical ideology of his time. It seemed to me to have been neglected, particularly in Western interpretations of his work, perhaps largely...

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ELEVEN. In Search of Dostoevsky

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pp. 173-184

DURING HIS ALL-TOO-BRIEF LIFE (he died at the age of fifty-six), Dr. Leonid Tsypkin was indistinguishable from many other middle-class professionals in the Soviet Union. He was born in Minsk of Jewish parents, both of them doctors; part of the family...

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TWELVE. Arkady Kovner

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pp. 185-195

ADMIRERS of Dostoevsky both in his time and ours have been disturbed and puzzled by the anti-Semitism that became so virulent in his writings in the 1870s. One of his contemporaries took the trouble to make his objections known in a letter to the famous author and...

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THIRTEEN. J. M. COETZEE, The Master of Petersburg

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pp. 196-203

J. M. COETZEE is a subtle and complex writer whose works invariably contain more than appears on their seemingly pellucid surfaces. He made his reputation with novels that focused on the psychological tension created in the white South African psyche by the social and human...

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FOURTEEN. Dostoevsky and Evil

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pp. 204-215

IN THE SPRING OF 2002, a colloquium on the problem of evil, sponsored by the Nexus Foundation, was held at the University of Tilburg in Holland. I was a member of a panel assigned to discuss Dostoevsky, certainly the modern writer who has given the thematic of...

PART IV. TWENTIETH-CENTURY ISSUES

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FIFTEEN. Anton Chekhov

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pp. 219-229

CHEKHOV BIOGRAPHERS are a very lucky breed. They do not have to face the problem of spending a good deal of time studying the life of someone whom they may end up by disliking intensely. One famous example is the perhaps now-forgotten book by Lawrence...

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SIXTEEN. The Triumph of Abram Tertz

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pp. 230-248

SO MUCH CHANGE has taken place in the ex-Soviet Union since the breakup of the empire that it is difficult now even to imagine the excitement produced by the arrest, trial, and sentencing of two young writers, Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel, in February 1966. Their...

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SEVENTEEN. D. S. MIRSKY

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pp. 249-260

VERY FEW even of well-informed present-day readers will be familiar with the name of Prince Dimitri Svyatopolk-Mirsky; but anyone who took a course in Russian literature either in England or the United States between the mid-1920s and the present probably ran...

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EIGHTEEN. Vladimir Nabokov: Lectures on Literature

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pp. 261-285

BETWEEN 1941 AND 1948 Vladimir Nabokov taught courses in Russian and European literature at Wellesley College, and from 1948 to 1958 he was a professor of Russian literature at Cornell University. One of his courses at Cornell was devoted to “selected English,...

INDEX

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pp. 287-299