Russian Novel

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    Dostoevsky's Devils
    (2004-03-05T00:00:00-08:00) Cowan, Louise
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    Igor Lecture 2000
    (2000-01-01T00:00:00-08:00) Cowan, Louise
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    Igor Lecture 1992
    (1992-01-01T00:00:00-08:00) Cowan, Louise
    The first question that I want us to begin with this evening is: What is literature (poetry)? What has its function always been? What kind of truth does it convey? It is not simply the expression of an emotion, nor is it mere entertainment, nor autobiographical confession, nor therapy. Nor is it information, of the sort that we consider historical studies to give us. We do not gain "information" from the Beowulf, for instance, though it is based on physical details from its own time But it surmounts those details to speak of human hopes and fears. It is a formed vision of life, seeing in the life of the hero Beowulf a model not of our outward actions but of an inward one: a force, an urge, a thrust within our psyches in a region to which we do not ordinarily have access: a region of that primordial oneness which was the origin of the human race, so that differences of sex or age or race fall away from our consciousness when we reach this place--and we reach it only through prayer, love, and poetry. And though prayer and love enable us to grow in grace, poetry enables us to grow into culture--into that harmonious and virtuous sense of community that shapes all good societies.
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    Dostoevsky's Iconic Method
    (2021-01-18T13:55:22-08:00) Cowan, Louise
    In addressing this topicâ Dostoevskyâ s iconic methodâ I am pursuing a an approach that I have long thought aboutâ one that I have suggested to several of my students and from whom I have then benefited. Dr. Dennis Slattery, who now teaches at Pacifica University in Santa Barbara, has published an essay on The Icon and the Spirit of Comedy in Dostoevskyâ s Possessed; Several of my students wrote papers on the ikon for a conference a conference we held a few years back, when we had an icon show at UD, at which the work of traditional ikon painters was presented, Lyle Novinski spoke, and my entire Russian novel class took part. So, though, the topic is one that I have not really gone into deeply enough, it is one that I have long consideredâ that I have discussed with colleagues and students in that shared mode of thought that we have been espousing at UD.
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    Dostoevsky lecture for IPS
    (2021-01-18T13:55:19-08:00) Cowan, Louise
    Dostoevsky was the first writer to discover that the novel could be an instrument of discoveryâ even a kind of prophecy. This is to say that he discovered the novel as a mode of poetryâ and in a poem, form and content cannot be separated: the way in which something is said is as much constitutive of the meaning as is the content. Dostoevsky once wrote that for the novelist, the germ, the insight, came firstâ and one might call that the poem. Then there was the work of constructing the work of art itself, which one might call the novel. Yet the novelist who is also a poet views his potential work with the eyes of his entire culture; there is no way for a writer to write like Homer, say, or Dante in our timeâ or in Dostoevskyâ s.
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    Dostoevsky and Notes from the Underground
    (2021-01-18T13:55:16-08:00) Cowan, Louise
    Second Portion of Notes from Underground. The second portion begins with a memory of himself 16 years before, when he was 24. He is certain of his unattractiveness and so to compensate, prides himself on his intelligence. He is quick to take affront; and one day, an officer in a tavern picks him up and sets him aside without a word. For a long time he studies how to be revenged for such an insult. Frequents the place where officers walk, but finds himself giving way on the sidewalk whenever he encounters this particular officer. One day, however, he braces himself to hold his ground and in fact shoulders the other fellow off the sidewalk. The man does not seem to notice, but our hero believed that he was simply covering up and considers that he has had a great victory.
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    Crime and Punishment Lecture
    (2021-01-18T13:55:14-08:00) Cowan, Louise
    The three scenes I want us to look at during the course of my talk this morning are: Raskolnikovâ s confession to Sonya; Svidrigailovâ s last night alive; and the Epilogueâ Raskolnikov in Siberia.
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    Brothers Karamazov Lecture
    (2021-01-18T13:55:11-08:00) Cowan, Louise
    The Brothers Karamazov represents Dostoevskyâ s solution to the search that his entire life represents. As an educated man, an intellectual, even in a backward Russia, he was preoccupied with the question of Godâ s existenceâ and even more, with the question of Christâ s redemption of the human. He had tried to depict what the follower of Christ must be like throughout his writings, beginning with the negative Notes from Underground, going on to locate Christian faith in Sonya, a prostitute, who reads to the murderer Raskolnikov the story of Lazarus. He tried the image of a perfectly good man in The Idiot, only to find that goodness as we can conceive of it is not only insufficient but turns rapidly to something negative and destructive.
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    The Idiot lecture 2
    (2021-01-18T13:55:09-08:00) Cowan, Louise
    We take up this evening our second chance at under-standingâ not simply Dostoevskyâ s enigmatic princeâ but his intention in the novel The Idiot. For to ascertain the inner purpose of the work is oneâ s first task in doing any serious readingâ and we have to remind ourselves over and over again that comprehending the â actionâ of the work is of primary importance. Shakespeare did not write Hamlet just to give us a portrait of the much-discussed prince of Denmark. He wrote it because it embodied an action: as C. S. Lewis wrote, Hamlet finds himself in a situation that analogically we all face at different times in our livesâ and that is what gives power to the playâ and itâ s what we mean at UD when we defend the â universalâ aspect of literature. It shows us by analogy something about ourselves and the world we live in. In the serious literary works we confront something in ourselves that we hadnâ t seen before.
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    The Idiot
    (2021-01-18T13:55:07-08:00) Cowan, Louise
    Many people can, and do, of course, get through their entire lives without feeling that they must confront and try to understand Dostoevsky's novel â The Idiot.â ¢ But when one does confront it, one must perforce attempt to understand it or be a harmed a great deal by the refusal. (Dante lets us know in our reading of â The Divine Comedyâ ¢ that we are likely to be made much the worse for embarking on the journey unless we keep on once we have begun. "Pensa lettor," he warns; the Medusa, that hardening of heart that shuts us up in our own confines, can turn us to stone if we do not engage ourselves with the spiritual meaning of his allegory and not remain content with the letter.
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    Dostoevsky and the Disease of Rationalism
    (1989-01-01T00:00:00-08:00) Cowan, Louise