Organic Worldview of Nikolai Leskov

Cloth Text – $89.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-1754-9
Publication Date
March 2002
Page Count
288 pages
Trim Size
6 1/8 x 9 1/4

Organic Worldview of Nikolai Leskov

Irmhild Christina Sperrle

Although little studied in the West, Nikolai Semenovich Leskov (1831-95) is accorded a place among major nineteenth-century writers in his native Russia. Irmhild Christina Sperrle's The Organic Worldview of Nikolai Leskov draws on previously unavailable archival and primary sources to offer English-speaking readers the opportunity to appreciate the work of this neglected author.

Leskov remarked to his contemporary Anatolii Faresov, "People talk about my 'language,' about its colorfulness and its national traits; about the richness of my plots, about my condensed way of writing, about 'similarity' and so on, but they do not notice the most important thing." It is this "most important thing," Leskov's consistent thematic adherence to an "organic" philosophical model, that Sperrle traces and elaborates here. Focusing on movement and transformation in "an organic manner"-a manner in which death and rebirth alternate and condition each other-Sperrle develops Leskov's notion of organicity and explores his relationship to the organic tradition in philosophy and literature. Her reading of key texts among his more than five hundred works entails a close look at Leskov's ideas about the Divine as freedom of belief, about truth as a continual renewal of previously held theories, and about death in both a physical and a spiritual sense. She examines Leskov's vexed relation to Tolstoyan ideas and shows how the notion of heresy-as a questioning rather than rejection of authority-is a crucial element in his worldview and his work.

About the Author

Irmhild Christina Sperrle teaches in the modern language department at Pace University. She co-authored a bibliography of Nikolai Leskov's literature that was published in Russia and is also the editor of the Pocket Russian-English, English-Russian Dictionary (Random House, 2000).


"Once in a while a book comes along that inspires you to get to know the unfamiliar, or to revisit the familiar with a fresh outlook. The Organic Worldview of Nikolai Leskov is, in my view, just such a book." —The Slavonic and East European Review