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All posts in category Dostoevsky

Re-reading Crime and Punishment: the Drunkards

When Dostoevsky first conceived of the work that ultimately became Crime and Punishment, he titled it ‘The Drunkards’, and said that it would deal with ‘the present question of drunkenness … [in] all its ramifications, especially the picture of a family and the bringing up of children in these circumstances’ (letter to A. A. Kraevsky, June […]

Re-reading Crime and Punishment: mis-naming

My recent posts collating contents pages of Russian journals do not, I will admit, make for very exciting reading. They do have a purpose, though, and are going to be appearing for some time. But I do want to continue writing on other subjects, partly so as not to alienate all my readers, and partly […]

Re-reading Crime and Punishment: characters

Re-reading Crime and Punishment hasn’t entirely resolved the perennial problem of Sonia, which I’ve mentioned previously, but I do finally seem to have found a way of accepting her as a character, which makes the novel’s denouement less contentious. Or maybe it’s just that I was focusing on the fine details rather than the big […]

Re-reading Crime and Punishment: Dostoevsky’s spaces

The process of re-reading a novel is simultaneously frustrating and interesting. It’s frustrating because there are too many books out there, and too little time to read them, so returning to ones you’ve already read is always accompanied by a depressing awareness that you’re getting further away from others you’d like to read — I […]

Porfiry: a poor pastiche

In response to the disappointment I expressed in my review of Tom Rob Smith’s Child 44, a reader alerted me (please note: not ‘recommended’) to the existence of a series of crime novels by R. N. Morris set in 19th century St Petersburg, and featuring Porfiry Petrovich. The detective from Crime and Punishment is a […]

Dostoevsky: not so grim?

The recent stories about the murals at the new Dostoevsky metro station in Moscow, which have led to concerns that it could become a favourite spot for suicides, have made me think about why Dostoevsky is considered such a depressing writer. Is it because he depicts so much poverty and misery? I doubt it, because […]

Women, beauty and other things

The ambiguous treatment of some of Dostoevsky’s major themes was high on the menu in the first session on Thursday. Joe Andrew gave a very interesting paper on the ‘woman question’ in The Brothers Karamazov, discussing how marginalized the female characters are – in the central family grouping there are no mothers, daughters or sisters […]

The underground man at the International Dostoevsky Symposium

Wednesday was all about Notes from Underground for me. Carol Apollonio’s paper was stunning, probably the highlight of the symposium, and it confirmed my view of her as one of the most original scholars working on Dostoevsky. She examined the use of pronouns in Notes from Underground (specifically ‘I’), but also giving a broader perspective […]

More news from Naples

Naples is hot and tiring, but there have been some really great papers and discussions today. Probably the best presentation was by Liza Knapp, on the idea of motherhood and intercession for their sinful sons in House of the Dead – a wonderful, thought-provoking conception which opens up that text in all sorts of interesting […]

Live from Naples

I’m currently at the 14th International Dostoevsky Symposium in Naples, which started this morning. I missed the opening sessions so don’t have a great deal to report yet except to say that the surroundings in the Palazzo Du Mesnil are really rather sumptuous, and they provided us with a very fine lunch, for which I […]