The University of Wisconsin Press

Russian Literature / Literary Criticism

Reading Dostoevsky
Victor Terras

"I know of no other book that approaches the art of Dostoevsky in the manner Terras does. And few if any that bring the artistic world of Dostoevsky in such a fine focus."—Robert Louis Jackson, Yale University

"A substantial contribution both to Dostoevsky scholarship and to scholarship on the novel. . . . The first book in quite a while to address itself to all of Dostoevsky's opus, certainly a bold move that only someone of Terras's stature could pull off."—Gary Rosenshield, University of Madison–Wisconsin

Admirers have praised Fedor Dostoevsky as the Russian Shakespeare, while his critics have slighted his novels as merely cheap amusements. In this stimulating critical introduction to Dostoevsky's fiction, literary scholar Victor Terras asks readers to draw their own conclusions about the nineteenth-century Russian writer. Discussing psychological, political, mythical, and philosophical approaches, Terras deftly guides readers through the range of diverse and even contradictory interpretations of Dostoevsky's rich novels.

Moving through the novelist's career, Terras presents a general analysis of the novel at issue, each chapter focusing on a particular aspect of Dostoevsky's art. He probes the form and style of Crime and Punishment, and explores the ambiguity of The Brothers Karamazov. Terras emphasizes the "markedness," of Dostoevsky's novels, their wealth of literary devices such as irony, literary allusions, scenic effects, puns, and witticisms.

Terras conveys the vital contradictions and ambiguities of the novels. In this informative, engaging literary study, Terras brings Dostoevsky and his art to life.

Victor Terras is Henry L. Goddard University Professor of Slavic Languages and Comparative Literature emeritus at Brown University. He is the author of several books, most recently Mayakovsky; The Idiot: An Interpretation; and A History of Russian Literature. A Karamazov Companion is also published by the University of Wisconsin Press. Terras has translated three volumes of Dostoevsky's writing and edited seven volumes of Slavic scholarly texts.

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Black and White Portrait of Dostoevsky

January 1998
LC: 98-023342 PG
184 pp.   6 x 9

The cloth edition, ISBN 978-0-299-16050-0, is out of print, however, the paperback is still available.

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ISBN 978-0-299-16054-8
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