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The Novel in the Age of Disintegration

Dostoevsky and the Problem of Genre in the 1870s

Kate Holland

Publication Year: 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.

Published by: Northwestern University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

This book would not have been possible without the help and support of people in four countries: the United Kingdom, the United States, Russia, and Canada. Parts of it were conceived at the University of Cambridge; it took shape at Yale University and was completed at the University of Toronto. ...

A Note on Transliteration and Sources

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. 3-24

At the end of 1872, following the end of the publication of his most controversial novel, Demons, Fyodor Dostoevsky became editor of Prince Meshchersky’s conservative weekly journal, The Citizen, returning to the world of journalism for the first time in almost a decade. ...

Part I. Context

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Chapter One: From Time to Demons : Genre, History, and Modernization, 1861–1871

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pp. 27-69

In the middle of December 1859, Dostoevsky returned to St. Petersburg from his ten-year exile in Siberia. A new tsar, Alexander II, had been on the throne since 1855, and limited consultation regarding changes to the system of serfdom and censorship reform had already begun. ...

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Chapter Two: Dostoevsky as Editor: Conflicting Visions of Russian Modernity in The Citizen

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pp. 70-98

At the end of 1872, following the end of the serialization of Demons, Dostoevsky returned to the world of journalism for the first time since the closure of his journal Epoch in 1865, becoming the editor of Prince Meshchersky’s weekly journal The Citizen. He edited sixty-five issues of the journal, from January 1, 1873, to April 22, 1874.1 ...

Part II. Readings

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Chapter Three: The Adolescent : Remaking the Noble Family Novel

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pp. 101-130

Since the moment of its first publication in the pages of Fatherland Notes, The Adolescent has been the subject of critical misunderstanding, condemnation, and neglect. The first negative reviews began to appear in the thick journals and newspapers after the publication of the novel’s first installment in January 1875.1 ...

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Chapter Four: Between Babel and a New Word: A Writer's Diary as Monojournal

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pp. 131-161

In the short story “Dream of a Ridiculous Man,” published in the April 1877 issue of A Writer's Diary, Dostoevsky provides a powerful account of narrative collapse in the face of an ineffable transcendent ideal. The ridiculous man is saved from suicide by a redemptive vision, yet he is unable to communicate that vision to those around him. ...

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Chapter Five: The Novel and Legend: Religious Narrative in The Brothers Karamazov

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pp. 162-188

In the chapter of the Brothers Karamazov entitled “Cana of Galilee” Dostoevsky presents the novel theorist with a rich web of problems of interpretation.1 Returning to the monastery after the death and subsequent putrefaction of Elder Zosima have challenged his faith, ...

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pp. 189-192

This study has argued that Dostoevsky’s works of the 1870s are characterized by two contradictory formal impulses. The first is expressed in Dostoevsky’s choice of an illegitimate half-peasant, half-noble adolescent for his hero in The Adolescent, a choice that represents a direct challenge to the aristocratic heroes of Tolstoy and Turgenev. ...


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pp. 193-224


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pp. 225-242


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pp. 243-252

E-ISBN-13: 9780810167230
E-ISBN-10: 0810167239
Print-ISBN-13: 9780810129269
Print-ISBN-10: 0810167239

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1