Lecture, Lindsay Ceballos, Lafayette College: “Generation Dostoevsky: Making a National Writer for the 20th Century, 1881-1913”


Location: O'Shaughnessy Hall 206

Abstract: Russia's early modernists, active in the Russian religious revival spurred by thinkers like Vladimir Soloviev, were the first to read Dostoevsky in a posthumous critical vein, reading his novels as an ethical system, and elevating him to a position of national significance that had been hitherto overshadowed only by the national bard himself, Alexander Pushkin. My book project contends that these first poet-philosopher critics, whom I call “generation Dostoevsky” initiated a critical and readerly tradition that to this day struggles to reconcile Dostoevsky’s nationalistic, political conservatism, with his universal moral philosophy of personal and collective liberation. My book is situated in intellectual history and cultural studies, looking at primary sources from a wide range of cultural sites in late pre-revolutionary Russia. I consider fictional and critical literatures, but go beyond such elite cultural production to examine how popular theatrical adaptations of Dostoevsky’s novels participated in the ‘modernizing’ of Dostoevsky in the liberal cultural climate of the fin de siècle.