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The Making of a Counter-Culture Icon

The Making of a Counter-Culture Icon: Henry MIller's Dostoevsky

Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 240
  • Book Info
    The Making of a Counter-Culture Icon
    Book Description:

    The Making of a Counter-Culture Icongives invaluable insight into the early careers of the Villa Seurat writers and testifies to Dostoevsky?s influence on twentieth-century literature.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8497-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. 1 Intercultural Readings, Dostoevskyʹs Twentieth Century, and Henry Millerʹs Literary Ambitions
    (pp. 3-23)

    Fedor Dostoevskyʹs twentieth-century reception is a topic of keen interest not only to the scholar of Russian or comparative literature and intercultural studies but to virtually anyone interested in the history of ideas. Some of the most important social and cultural movements in the twentieth century defined themselves by reacting to Dostoevsky, placing themselves in opposition to him, or appropriating him as a fellow-traveller or ancestor. Commentaries on his work, epigrammatically brief or expanded into lengthy essays, were composed by such key twentieth-century figures as Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, and Jean-Paul Sartre. Dostoevskyʹs novels have been celebrated, banned, plagiarized, scrutinized...

  5. 2 Dostoevsky as American Icon
    (pp. 24-44)

    In 1872, the famous Muscovite art collector Pavel Tretiakov commissioned a fashionable Russian artist, Vasily Perov, to paint a portrait of Fedor Dostoevsky. Dostoevskyʹs portrait was pronounced a masterpiece and exhibited in St Petersburg later that year, in Moscow in 1874, and in Paris in 1878 as part of the International Artists Exhibition. It became the most celebrated portrait of Dostoevsky, reproduced around the world as the truest image of the Russian novelist.¹

    Perov sat Dostoevsky in three-quarter profile, his cheekbones sharply defined, his face sickly and gaunt. The novelist is depicted wearing a grey jacket, bulkier and more formless...

  6. 3 Henry Millerʹs Road to Dostoevsky
    (pp. 45-66)

    Millerʹs dates (1891–1980) ideally positioned him to participate in the American discovery of Dostoevsky. He first heard of Dostoevsky when he was just coming out of his late teens: a man on the street offered to sell him a Dostoevsky novel. Both the place and time when Miller first heard Dostoevskyʹs name would gain a mystical significance in his eyes, invoked again and again in his texts as a life- and consciousness-altering event fully appreciated only in retrospect. InTropic of CapricornMillerʹs narrator explains that the ʹnight I sat down to read Dostoevsky for the first time was...

  7. 4 Henry Millerʹs Villa Seurat Circle and Dostoevsky
    (pp. 67-86)

    Henry Millerʹs new studio at Villa Seurat quickly became a hub of creative activity, a kind of an iconoclast salon, attracting intellectual nonconformists from Paris and beyond. But where Gertrude Steinʹs famous salon at 27 rue de Fleuris has been studied and exhaustively documented as a locus of tremendous intellectual ferment, a place where international writers, artists, and poets gathered, argued, and exchanged ideas, 18 Villa Seurat remains a tantalizingly blank spot on the literary and cultural map. The street where Miller finally found a home after years of peripatetic sojourns (he complained to Nin thatTropic of Cancerwas...

  8. 5 Post-Dostoevskian Prose and the Villa Seurat Circle
    (pp. 87-114)

    During Dostoevskyʹs lifetime fellow writers, newspaper columnists, and critics frequently attacked his novels for their flawed diction, prolixity, and cumbersome form. His prose style and novelistic form were judged by his Russian contemporaries (even by those who admired his novels) to be inferior to those of Turgenev, Tolstoy, and the other prominent Russian novelists of the time. One nineteenth-century Russian reader, who had actually met Dostoevsky and considered herself a devotee of his work, explained that for her ʹhe stood incomparably higher than other writers,ʹ adding, as a matter of course, ʹnaturally not when it came to style or artistry.ʹ¹...

  9. 6 Understanding Dostoevskyʹs ʹPhilosophyʹ at Villa Seurat
    (pp. 115-138)

    A recent phenomenon in the field of Dostoevsky publishing in post-Soviet Russia is the emergence of book-length compilations of quotations culled from Dostoevskyʹs novels, essays, letters, and notebooks and organized into a variety of subjects, from immortality to education.¹ There are many reasons for the popularity of these books, some of the chief ones being the frustration experienced by Russian readers after being force-fed a censored and distorted account of Dostoevskyʹs belief system for many decades and their desire to know what he really thought about various topics. Their frustration is easily understood by readers outside of Russia, who were...

  10. 7 Writing the Underground
    (pp. 139-176)

    Scholars, critics, writers, and cultural mavens all concur thatNotes from Underground, written by Dostoevsky in the early 1860s and virtually ignored upon publication, has become one of the most important and influential literary texts of the twentieth century. Joseph Frank writes, ʹFew works in modern literature are more widely read than DostoevskyʹsNotes from Undergroundor so often cited as a key text revelatory of the hidden depths of the sensibility of our time. The term ʺunderground manʺ has become part of the vocabulary of contemporary culture, and this character has now achieved – like Hamlet, Don Quixote, and...

  11. 8 Pragmatics of Influence, the Dostoevsky Brand, and Dostoevsky Codes
    (pp. 177-186)

    On the fiftieth anniversary of Dostoevskyʹs death in 1931, an exiled Russian religious philosopher living in Paris observed in an article written for an émigré newspaper that Dostoevsky was ʹwithout doubt the most popular, beloved, and esteemed Russian writer in the Westʹ and that he was ʹthe only Russian writer who became a factor in the development of ideas in the western world.ʹ He then asked the perennial question: why is it that Dostoevsky acquired this significance outside Russia? In response, he argued that the world was undergoing a crisis of humanism and that it was Dostoevskyʹs revelation of ʹChristian...

  12. Appendix A Dostoevsky and America: A Brief Bibliographic Overview
    (pp. 187-191)
  13. Appendix B Miller and the Villa Seurat Circle: A Brief Bibliographic Overview
    (pp. 192-196)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 197-232)
  15. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 233-252)
  16. Index
    (pp. 253-261)