All posts tagged Belinsky

Russian thought lecture 5: Dostoevsky and the anti-rationalist argument

Reading: Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground (1864) This week we turn to the main response to the Nihilists’ ideas of rational egoism and social reorganization, in the form of Dostoevsky’s 1864 novel, Notes from Underground. Dostoevsky is the only writer whose fictional texts we are examining in any detail, but I think this is justified in […]

Review: St Petersburg city-pick

City-pick St Petersburg, ed. Heather Reyes, Marina Samsonova and James Rann (Oxygen Books, 2012) The city-pick series of anthologies of city writing has turned its attention to St Petersburg, producing a thoroughly enjoyable collection that made me want to revisit old favourites and seek out some very interesting-looking texts (particularly non-Russian ones) that I hadn’t […]

Russian thought lecture 4: Nihilism and the birth of Russian radicalism: from science to art

Readings: Nikolai Chernyshevsky, extracts from “The Anthropological Principle in Philosophy” (1860); Dmitry Pisarev, “The Realists” (1864) and “The Thinking Proletariat” (1865) We’re now moving away from the debate that arose initially out of Chaadaev’s “First Philosophical Letter” and dominated Russian intellectual life in the 1830s and 1840s. In the next generation a different set of […]

Russian thought lecture 3: The Westernizers and concepts of the self: from reconciliation to action

Readings: Vissarion Belinsky, “Society and the Individual” (1839) extracts from “Letters to Botkin” (1840-1841) and “Letter to Gogol” (1847); Alexander Herzen, extracts from “Dilettantism in Science” (1843) “From the Other Shore” (1848-9) and “Robert Owen” (1861). Having examined the Slavophiles and the development of the idea of communality as a specifically Russian phenomenon, we now […]

Russian Thought Lecture 1: Petr Chaadaev and the Russian Question

Readings: Petr Chaadaev, “First Philosophical Letter” and “Apologia of a Madman” Before we get on to Chaadaev, the first question we must address is why he acts as the starting point for our exploration of Russian intellectual history. Chaadaev did not invent Russian philosophy; there was already a significant tradition of philosophical and polemical writing […]

Mapping Petersburg

Over the last few months I have been working with John Levin on the pilot for a digital Russian literature project, and last week we launched the website, Mapping Petersburg: Experiments in Literary Cartography. The project aims to explore the role of Petersburg’s topography in shaping the literature for which the city is so famous, […]