Tolstoy Vs. Dostoevsky

Lev Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky produced texts that raised “eternal” questions even as they reflected the specific political and social conditions that preoccupied Russians in the second half of the nineteenth century. But in many ways Tolstoy’s and Dostoevsky’s works seem to embody opposing views of the narrative art, and particularly the nature of the novel as a genre. Both Tolstoy and Dostoevsky have repeatedly been taken to stand for much more than a way of writing: At different times each has been hailed as the paradigm of the novelist as artist, the essential voice of morality in a fallen world, or even the representative “Russian soul.” In an effort to make sense of such extravagant claims, this class will explore Tolstoy’s and Dostoevsky’s major novels as well as a number of their shorter works and non-fictional writings. We will also read selectively in the critical tradition that has grown up around both writers in order to consider each author’s role in the Russian canon and world literature, as well as in the West’s perception of “Russianness.”

Course Information



4 Points

Term Section Instructor Schedule Location

Fall 2017

Ilya Kliger
TR: 3:30 PM - 4:45 PM 7E12 LL27