Dostoevsky and the Riddle of the Self

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ISBN 978-0-8101-3571-0

Cloth Text – $120.00

ISBN 978-0-8101-3570-3

Paper Text – $39.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3569-7
Publication Date
October 2017
Page Count
248 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

Dostoevsky and the Riddle of the Self

Yuri Corrigan

Dostoevsky was hostile to the notion of individual autonomy, and yet, throughout his life and work, he vigorously advocated the freedom and inviolability of the self. This ambivalence has animated his diverse and often self-contradictory legacy: as precursor of psychoanalysis, forefather of existentialism, postmodernist avant la lettre, religious traditionalist, and Romantic mystic. 

Dostoevsky and the Riddle of the Self charts a unifying path through Dostoevsky's artistic journey to solve the “mystery” of the human being. Starting from the unusual forms of intimacy shown by characters seeking to lose themselves within larger collective selves, Yuri Corrigan approaches the fictional works as a continuous experimental canvas on which Dostoevsky explored the problem of selfhood through recurring symbolic and narrative paradigms. Presenting new readings of such works as The IdiotDemons, and The Brothers Karamazov, Corrigan tells the story of Dostoevsky’s career-long journey to overcome the pathology of collectivism by discovering a passage into the wounded, embattled, forbidding, revelatory landscape of the psyche. 

Corrigan’s argument offers a fundamental shift in theories about Dostoevsky's work and will be of great interest to scholars of Russian literature, as well as to readers interested in the prehistory of psychoanalysis and trauma studies and in theories of selfhood and their cultural sources.
About the Author

YURI CORRIGAN is an assistant professor of Russian and comparative literature at Boston University.

"Strikingly original and marvelously written, Dostoevsky and the Riddle of the Self  not only solves the riddle of Dostoevsky’s conception of the self, but also provides a wealth of new insights into his works. Corrigan’s study is likely to become an event in the field. What is more, it has the potential to be read beyond the circle of Dostoevsky scholars: students and general readers will find the book accessible, provoking, and inspiring. This is a major achievement in Dostoevsky scholarship." —Irina Paperno, author of Suicide as a Cultural Institution in Dostoevsky's Russia and “Who, What Am I?”: Tolstoy Struggles to Narrate the Self

"Yuri Corrigan has written a stunning companion to one of the great literary edifices… Dostoevsky and the Riddle of the Self is eloquent testimony to the flourishing of North American scholarship on Russian nineteenth-century literature over the past several decades, and proof that the tradition has been successfully passed on to the youngest generation represented by Corrigan and his peers, many of them published in this same series from Northwestern University Press. For some years now, budding academics in Britain and elsewhere have been encouraged to look 'beyond the text'; books such as this show just how much remains to be discovered within it." —Times Literary Supplement

"This highly original book examines Dostoevsky’s complex, multifaceted, and self-contradictory representations of selfhood as he tried to strike a balance between a fully autonomous, isolated self, and a self that is wholly dependent upon others."—Kate Holland, author of The Novel in the Age of Disintegration: Dostoevsky and the Problem of Genre after the Great Reform

"Recommended." —CHOICE Reviews