On Tuesday, the last of the seminar series talks will take place. Rosamund Bartlett will come and speak on "Tolstoy, Chekhov, and the Music of Russian Prose." As usual, the talk will be held at 5pm in the Latimer Room of Clare College. All are welcome. Tea, coffee and biscuits will be served from 4:45pm.

Here is Dr. Bartlett's abstract:

‘Tolstoy, Chekhov and the Music of Russian Prose’,

Although Tolstoy and Chekhov have traditionally, and with justification, been associated with the Russian realist movement, certain narrative techniques evident in their prose, such as stream of consciousness, repetition, rhythmical phrasing and counterpoint, seem to point to a closer affinity with literary modernism.  With reference to recent research into the musical affinities of works by Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield, this paper will compare and contrast the different ways in which narrative construction in Tolstoy and Chekhov bears comparison with musical composition. 

The Cambridge University Library's Slavonic specialist Mel Bach has done bibliographic notes for Dr. Doak's talk on Dostoevsky's Demons on Oct 29th.

They are available here: Of Men and their Demons.

They feature: a cover page from an 1890 edition of Besy as well as Dr. Doak's informative handout, which he kindly gave us permission to reproduce. 

The next talk in the series is taking place tomorrow, at 5pm in the Latimer Room, Clare College. Robin Feuer Miller will give a talk on 'Tolstoy's 'On Mushrooms'.'


On Mushrooms


The third speaker in our series is coming on Tuesday, Nov 12th! Dr. Robin Feuer Miller of Brandeis University will give a talk called "Tolstoy's 'On Mushrooms'." As usual, the talk will take place in the Latimer Room, Clare College at 5pm. Tea and biscuits will be served from 4:45. All are welcome!

Here's the abstract:

Two secondary characters, Sergei Koznyshev and Varenka (whose last name we never learn, and know only that she was the daughter of a hotel chef, and raised, as a kind of changeling, by Mme Stahl)  contribute in multiple and important ways to the matrix of interconnections and doublings of theme in Anna Karenina.  At the same time, however, their brief foray to the edge of the woods to pick mushrooms reflects a sensibility on Tolstoy’s part that seems more akin to Chekhov’s aesthetic vision than to what we tend typically to think of as Tolstoyan.  Chekhov’s profound response to Tolstoy and especially to Anna Karenina is visible in a number of his stories such as “Anna on the Neck,” “The Lady with a Dog,” “At Home,” “About Love,” “Ariadne” and “The Nameday Party.” Tolstoy’s later deep admiration for Chekhov’s stories was, likewise, significant, as is the dialogue that developed between them both in their friendship and through subsequent stories they each wrote.  But the episode of the mushroom hunt and the ensuing conversation between Koznyshev and Varenka embodies an artistic departure of sorts for Tolstoy and a surprising excursion into a pre-Chekhovian realm.

This is the first of two talks about Tolstoy and Chekhov in our series.