English 125C

The European Novel: Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and the English Novel

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2012 Paperno, Irina
Paperno, Irina
TTh 3:30-5 new room: 9 Lewis

Book List

Austen, Jane: Pride and Prejudice; Dostoevsky, Fyodor: The Idiot, trans. Constance Garnett; Tolstoy, Leo: Anna Karenina, the Maude translation; Woolf, Virginia: Mrs. Dalloway


A close reading of works by Dostoevsky and Tolstoy in conjunction with two English novels. We will focus on how the Russian and English novels respond to one another, resemble one another, and differ from one another, especially in their treatment of love and family, community and society, the representation of consciousness, and the conventions of the novel as a genre. In her famous essay “The Russian Point of View,” Virginia Woolf suggests that whereas the English novelist feels a “constant pressure” to recognize “barriers” and “boundaries,” both ideological and formal, the Russian novelist “cannot restrain himself.” The English novelist is “inclined to satire,” the Russian to “compassion;” the English to “scrutiny of society,” and the Russian to “understanding of individuals themselves.” Is she right? The course begins with Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (1813), proceeds to Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Idiot (1869) and Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina (1877), and concludes with Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway (1925).

This course is cross-listed with Slavic 132.

Workload: Close reading of assigned texts (up to 200 pages per week), regular attendance, short assignments, midterm, one paper, final exam.  No knowledge of Russian required.  All readings are done in English. Students who know Russian are encouraged to do at least some reading in Russian.

A note one editions and translations: Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice  (in the Norton Critical Edition); Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot (in the  Constance Garnett translation); LeoTolstoy, Anna Karenina (in the Maude translation and the Norton Critical Edition); Virginia Woolf,  Mrs. Dalloway, (best use A Harvest Book ed. by MarkHussey). 

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