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SC Talk: Donna Orwin, Slavic Languages and Literatures, U of T, “Politics in Dostoevsky and Tolstoy”
October 6, 2021 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Speaker: Donna Orwin, Slavic Languages and Literatures, U of T
Title: “Politics in Dostoevsky and Tolstoy”
Introducer: Linda Corman;
Host: David Milne
Abstract: I turn to this topic as post-Soviet Russia remains in a transitional state, without clear principles defining its politics. Arguably, Russia is back to reinventing itself as a modern state, as it has been doing from time to time since Peter the Great. In such a situation, it is useful to look to the past, and especially to other such periods to see what they might teach us about today. Tolstoy and Dostoevsky lived through the emancipation of the serfs in 1861 and they each developed a politics in response to the political turmoil that preceded and followed it. Their political programs – theocracy for Dostoevsky and anarchism for Tolstoy – seem diametrically opposed, but they in fact have certain very important factors in common. In my talk I will examine their politics in order to bring out these commonalities and possible reasons for them.
Bio: Donna Tussing Orwin is a Professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Toronto and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. A specialist on Leo Tolstoy and Russian psychological prose, she has published three monographs, four edited volumes, and many articles. She was editor of Tolstoy Studies Journal, 1997-2005. She also works on intellectual history and war and Russian culture. Right now she is completing an anthology of primary sources on the latter subject for Columbia University Press. She is a 2008 recipient of the Pushkin Medal for her contribution “to the study and popularisation of Russian language and culture.”
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