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December 7, 2021 / Irene2468

Registration begins on January 19, 2022 for Newberry Seminar Polemics on Nihilism: Dostoevsky’s The Devils and J. M. Coetzee’s The Master of Petersburg

Fall 2021 illustration

Victor Pivovarov, 1969

For our first Newberry seminar of 2022, we will read and discuss Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Devils (1872) in conjunction with J. M. Coetzee’s novel The Master of Petersburg (1994), which is strongly based on “At Tikhon’s,” a chapter written by Dostoevsky for The Devils but suppressed by his editor Katkov.

The Devils is the most openly political of Dostoevsky’s four major novels. As we learn about the revolutionary movement in Russia from the 1840s to 1870s, we will discuss Dostoevsky’s biting indictment of socialism and the revolutionary movement as a manifestation of the moral cynicism of secular culture.

In his complex novel The Master of Petersburg, Nobel Prize winner J. M. Coetzee draws on the life of Dostoevsky, the same revolutionary movement, and the death of his own son at 23. Exploring Dostoevsky’s identity as a writer and the sinister atmosphere in Petersburg in 1870s, Coetzee links language and power, producing a dense and courageous meditation on authority and rebellion, and art and imagination.

Nine weekly, two-hour sessions are planned, starting on Saturday, February 26, 2022 and ending on Saturday, May 7, 2022. All sessions will take place on Zoom.

Registration begins on January 19, 2022 at 9:00 am CT on the Newberry’s website using Learning Stream. The Newberry offers a 10% discount to members, seniors, and students. Members at the Literati level and above will have access to early registration beginning January 12, 2022 at 10:00 am CT. Learn more about becoming a Newberry Associate here. For more information on the Newberry’s registration process, click here.

Please click here for the full course description, required texts, and reading assignments. Click here for the Newberry’s course description.