English 125C

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

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2015 Paperno, Irina
TTh 3:30-5 88 Dwinelle

Book List

Austen, Jane: Pride and Prejudice; Dostoevsky, Fyodor: The Idiot; Tolstoy, Leo: Anna Karenina; Woolf, Virginia: Mrs. Dalloway


A close reading of selected works of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy in conjunction with English novels. We will focus on how the Russian and English novels resemble one another, differ from one another, and respond to one another, especially in their treatment of love, family, community and society, and in the workings 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. Is Woolf right? The course begins with Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (1813), proceeds to Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Idiot (1869), in the Peaver and Volokhonsky translation, and Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, in the Maude translation  (1877), and concludes with Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway (1925).

Workload: Close reading of assigned texts (up to 200 pages per week), regular attendance, midterm, one paper, final exam.

Prerequisites:  None. (All readings are done in English.)

This course is cross-listed with Slavic 132.


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