Course B. Exploring the Human Condition through Russian Stories
Tuesdays, 1:00-2:30 p.m. (CDT)
Instructor: Gary Saul Morson, Lawrence B. Dumas Professor of the Arts and Humanities; Professor, Slavic Languages and Literatures
This course meets on Tuesday afternoons beginning on June 22.
Russian literature is famous for addressing ultimate philosophical questions, like: the meaning of life, the significance of death, the basis of ethics and responsibility, the essence of the human, and the nature of choice and intentions. Russian stories often show people struggling with such questions or allow the reader to do so. The extreme conditions of the Soviet period sharpened these questions. The stories (and a few story-like essays) below are organized both by author and by questions.
June 22 Death Reveals Life
Leo Tolstoy, “The Death of Ivan Ilych”
Jun. 29 Anton Chekhov Answers Tolstoy, “A Dreary Story,” and Fyodor Dostoevsky, Choice and Responsibility
Extracts from A Writer’s Diary (abridged edition)
“Environment,” pp. 10-24
“Spiritualism,” pp. 115-122
Articles on the Kairova case, pp. 165-172
“A Lie Is Saved By a Lie,” pp. 448-51
Jul. 6 Chekhov: Stories about Empathy
Jul. 13 Chekhov: Stories about Ideas
“On the Road”
Jul. 20 Extreme Conditions Reveal the Irreducibly Human
Isaac Babel, stories from Red Cavalry
“Crossing Into Poland”
“The Road to Brody”
“The Death of Dolgushov”
“The Life and Adventures of Matthew Pavlichenko”
“After the Battle”
Varlam Shalamov, from Kolyma Tales
“In the Night”
“A Day Off”
“My First Tooth”
Jul. 27 Mystery and Meaning
Chekhov, “The Lady with the Dog”
Chekhov’s trilogy: “The Man in a Case,” “Gooseberries,” “About Love”
Tolstoy, “God Sees the Truth, But Waits to Tell”
“What Men Live By”
Recommended Books: Please be sure to use the translations listed below.
Babel: The Collected Stories of Isaac Babel, translated by Walter Morison (https://tinyurl.com/isaac-babel-stories). If unavailable, Isaac Babel, The Essential Fictions, translated by Val Vinokur
Chekhov: Chekhov’s stories may be found in volumes from the 13-volume set of Chekhov’s stories translated by Constance Garnett (https://tinyurl.com/hfutnptd). These volumes are available separately either in paperback or free on Kindle:
“The Bishop” in volume 8, “The Bishop and Other Stories”
“Dreary Story” in volume 5, “The Wife and Other Stories”
“Enemies” in volume 11, “The Schoolmaster and Other Stories.”
“Happiness” in volume 6, “The Witch and Other Stories”
“In Exile” in volume 9, “The Schoolmistress and Other Stories”
“The Lady with the Dog,” volume 3, “The Lady with the Dog and Other Stories”
“Lights” in volume 13, “Love and Other Stories”
“Misery” in volume 9, “The Schoolmistress and Other Stories”
“Nervous Breakdown” in volume 8, “The Chorus Girl and Other Stories”
“On the Road” in volume 8, “The Bishop and Other Stories”
“The Student” in volume 6, “The Witch and Other Stories”
“Vanka” in volume 12, “The Cook’s Wedding and Other Stories”
Trilogy stories in volume 5, “The Wife and Other Stories”
Dostoevsky: A Writer’s Diary, abridged edition (https://tinyurl.com/writers-diary)
Shalamov: Kolyma Tales, translated by John Glad (https://tinyurl.com/kolyma-tales-glad)
Tolstoy: For “The Death of Ivan Ilych” – use the Maude translation, which can be found in Leo Tolstoy, Great Short Works (https://tinyurl.com/leo-tolstoy-maude)
For “God Sees the Truth” and “What Men Live By” – use the Maude translation, available in The Portable Tolstoy or Collected Shorter Fiction, volume 1 (https://tinyurl.com/tolstoy-maude)
Information is subject to change. Full course and policy descriptions are available at www.nualumnae.org
• Each 6-week online course is $100.00. Registration pays for access to a live webinar and limited-time access to a recording of each week’s 90-minute session.
• There are no multi-course discounts.
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