The path to modernity was late in Russia, and as the country, absorbing western thought and art at a gallop, hurried to catch up in the nineteenth century, it produced cultural content about the modern individual unmatched in any other society. While in the process of creating Russian psychological prose in its mature form, Turgenev, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy converse through their texts. Behind the scenes, they criticize each other, but also grow their own prose in response to each other. Through close readings and other means, this book lays bare conversations about childhood, evil, and other themes. All three writers explore how self-examination changes us and has negative as well as positive effects.
Donna Tussing Orwin teaches at the University of Toronto and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. A specialist on Russian psychological prose, and editor of Tolstoy Studies Journal, 1997-2005, she received the Pushkin Medal in 2008 for her contribution “to the study and popularisation of Russian language and culture.”