LIFE, SELF AND GOD in Fedor Dostoevsky’s fiction

Dostoevsky’s THE IDIOT (1869)

This course will be devoted to a close reading of Fedor Dostoevsky’s world-famous masterpiece “The Idiot,” in which he ventured to "depict a completely beautiful human being." The novel’s protagonist, Prince Myshkin, comes to Russia from abroad as a pauper and a former patient of a mental institution yet he soon finds himself in the midst of a busy and troublesome life of St. Petersburg’s high society, which at times scorns him for his alleged idiocy and at times is in awe of his honesty, generosity and innocence. The novel follows Prince Myshkin’s sojourn in St. Petersburg with a pace and passion of a thriller, at the same time it confronts the reader with a number of philosophical, religious and ethical questions. What does it mean to be Christian? Is it possible for a person to be saintly and lead a worldly life? What is love? What is happiness? In our course discussions we will ponder these and other questions, which this novel raises. Luckily for us, Dostoevsky’s “The Idiot” is available in Richard Peaver and Larisa Volokhonsky’s translation, which is highly recommended. The first reading assignment is Part 1, Further reading assignments and discussion questions will be posted on this course web page.

READINGS

Dostoevsky, Fedor. The Idiot (novel) trans./annotated/introduction by Richard Pevear and Larisa Volokhonsky

LECTURE/DISCUSSION SCHEDULE

OCTOBER 7 – PART 1

OCTOBER 14 – PART 1, PART 2

OCTOBER 21 – PART 2, PART 3

OCTOBER 28 – PART 3, PART 4

NOVEBER 4 – PART 4, CONCLUSION

 
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