Event—Adult Education

Dostoevsky’s Short Fiction


“Against our wills we are drawn in, whirled round, blinded, suffocated, and at the same time filled with a giddy rapture.”

Portrait of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Vasily Perov, 1872. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Class Description

Virginia Woolf wrote about Dostoevsky in The Russian Point of View (1925), “Against our wills we are drawn in, whirled round, blinded, suffocated, and at the same time filled with a giddy rapture.” This is true not only for Dostoevsky’s long novels, but for his striking short works, which are considered masterpieces in their own right.

We will start with the highly entertaining The Village of Stepanchikovo and Its Inhabitants followed by The Double, White Nights, A Disgraceful Affair, Bobok, Notes from the Underground, The Eternal Husband, A Gentle Creature, and The Dream of a Ridiculous Man. We will address important questions: Why do we still read Dostoevsky, and why should we continue to read him if his novels are so ambiguous? How does Dostoevsky capture fluidity, instability, and inner complexity of the human nature?

Dostoevsky’s ambiguities and controversial themes and characters have attracted filmmakers, such as Bernardo Bertolucci, Richard Ayoade, Luchino Visconti, Gary Walkow, Robert Bresson, and Alexander Petrov, who generated radically innovative and successful adaptations, which in turn raise new insights and questions for us to answer.

Julia Kriventsova Denne studied literature at St. Petersburg University, Russia, and teaches Russian literature and culture in the Chicago area.

Materials List

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  • Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Village of Stepanchikovo and Its Inhabitants. Alma Classics, 2024. ISBN: 978-1847499080
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky, Great Short Works of Fyodor Dostoevsky. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2004. ISBN: 978-0060726461
  • Other Instructor-Distributed Materials

First Reading

  • Please read The Village of Stepanchikovo and Its Inhabitants for the first class.

Cost and Registration

7 Sessions, $280 ($252 for Newberry members, seniors, and students). Learn about becoming a member.

We now offer our classes at three different price options: Regular ($280), Community Supported ($265), and Sponsor ($295). Following the models of other institutions, we want to ensure that our classes are accessible to a wider audience while continuing to support our instructors. You may choose the price that best fits your situation when registering through Learning Stream.

To register multiple people for this class, please go through the course calendar in Learning Stream, our registration platform. When you select the course and register, you’ll be prompted to add another registrant.


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