All posts in category Literature

Revolutionary Dostoevsky

How might we think of Dostoevsky as a radical writer? In his later years he certainly seemed anything but. From his searing critique of nihilist ideas in Notes from Underground and Crime and Punishment, and his scathing portrayal of revolutionaries in Demons, to his increasingly virulent Orthodox nationalism and support for the authoritarian Tsarist regime […]

Discovering Ivy Litvinov

A post for Women’s History Month A few weeks ago whilst preparing for my final-year undergraduate Dostoevsky class I plucked an old translation from my shelf that I’d bought a couple of years previously at the Amnesty shop in Shoreditch boxpark. I’d barely looked at it before – I tend to collect old Dostoevsky translations […]

Four short links: Victor Serge

I’ve read quite a few of Victor Serge’s (Victor Lvovich Kibalchich’s) fictional and autobiographical works recently, and have come to the conclusion that he is a truly remarkable writer – indeed one of the most underrated writers of the twentieth century. My plan to write a longer post or two about his work has stalled […]

Vera, or The Nihilists

My interest in British views of Russians recently led me to read Oscar Wilde’s first play, Vera, or The Nihilists, apparently inspired by Vera Zasulich’s attempted assassination of the Governor of St Petersburg in 1878. It’s spectacularly bad, and I’m surprised neither that its first productions, in London in 1880 and New York in 1882, […]

Dickens and anti-Semitism

Now I’ve finished reading Oliver Twist, I can say for certain that the depiction of Fagin is undoubtedly the most problematic aspect of the novel. It is widely known to be a graphic example of anti-Semitism, but even so, it’s quite shocking. I say this as someone who’s used to reading Dostoevsky, but I would […]