Spring 2023

The Brothers Karamazov: a Multidimensional Approach

Listed in: Russian, as RUSS-327


Stanley J. Rabinowitz (Section 01.)


The contemporary Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk claimed in 1999 that “the book of the millennium is Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. I know of no other book which dramatizes with such beautiful intensity, and on almost encyclopedic scale, the problems of living in this world, of being with other people, and dreaming of a next world.” Through a careful reading of Dostoevsky’s final work of fiction (1880) and universally regarded supreme artistic masterpiece, we shall investigate the applicability of Pamuk’s claim, availing ourselves of additional works that shed light on the novel’s socio-political, psychological, religious/spiritual, philosophical and aesthetic dimensions. Other texts to be considered include: 1) Dostoevsky’s early travelogue “Winter Notes on Summer Impressions” (1862); 2) excerpts from Nikolai Chernyshevsky’s utopian novel What is to be Done? (1863); 3) a medieval saint’s life, “The Life of St. Theodosius”; and 4) two critical studies by American Dostoevsky specialists James Rice (Dostoevsky and the Healing Art, 1985) and Liza Knapp (The Annihilation of Inertia: Dostoevsky and Metaphysics, 1996). Our semester-long examination of The Brothers Karamazov will conclude with a discussion of Jose Ortega y Gasset’s “Why Dostoevsky Lives in the Twentieth Century,” from his 1925 essay “Dostoevsky and Proust,” and Leonid Tsypkin’s short novel Summer in Baden Baden (1980), which will help us to articulate further the attractions, the challenges and the ambiguities we encounter when reading a writer as profound, and as controversial, as Dostoevsky.

Limited to 20 students; open to first-year students with instructor's permission. Omitted 2021-22. Professor emeritus Rabinowitz.

How to handle overenrollment: Roster will be cut randomly. Instructor will keep a waiting list, if over-enrolled.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: emphasis on written work, readings, aural analysis.

RUSS 327 - LEC

Section 01.
Tu 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM CONV 207


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023