Beyond Literary Landscapes—Fyodor Dostoevsky

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.  Do you have a topic that you would like covered in this column?  Feel free to contact me for an interview and a feature in an upcoming column.

Who

This column serves as an introduction to the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky, a reminder of some of the author’s classics, and as an inspiration for further reading.

What

Although, this column recently covered 18th and 19th century Russian Literature in general, it is also possible to narrow this large topic down into one of the cannon’s most well-known authors.

Significant works include Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, The Idiot,  The Devils (or The Demons), and Notes from Underground.

Other notable works include The House of the Dead, The Gambler, Humiliated and Insulted, The Eternal Husband, Poor Folk, and The Double.

Fans of Dostoevsky can also look into the works of Ivan Turgenev, including Fathers and Sons, as well as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, author of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and Gulag Archipelago.

Where

Many of these works take place in the Russian Empire (Imperial Russia), including St. Petersburg.

When

These works mainly take place in the 19th century.

Why

These texts introduce readers to a variety of themes, including nihilism, faith, poverty, morality, psychology, and philosophy.

In addition, many of Dostoevsky’s novels can be seen as an example of polyphonic novel, “a feature of narrative, which includes a diversity of simultaneous points of view and voices,” a term developed by literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin.

How

AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to Dostoevsky are available in a variety of disciplines, including one’s that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with a counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in learning more about this topic may consider choosing to analyze the works of Dostoevsky as their major project in ENGL 492: Research and Writing Projects in Literature, a senior-level, three-credit course where learners will “complete an extended research and writing project under the direction of a professor.  The topic for the project will be determined by consultation between the student and the professor.”  (Note that ENGL 211 and ENGL 212 or equivalents are required prerequisites, plus two senior-level English courses, and permission of the professor.)  ENGL 316: Approaches to Literary Theory and Criticism, a senior-level, three-credit course, “designed to familiarize you with a variety of critical perspectives and help you understand literary works more profoundly by integrating literary theory in your response to these works,” may also be of interest.   Happy reading!

 

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