Dostoevsky Studies     Volume 3, 1982


University of Nottingham

Introductory Note

The following papers were read at a short Conference held at the University of Nottingham, England, 30-31 October 1981, to mark the Centenary of Dostoevsky's death. It was organised jointly by the Nineteenth Century Russian Literature Study Group (affiliated to the British Universities' Association of Slavists) and by the Department of Slavonic Studies of Nottingham University. The University was celebrating its own hundredth anniversary in 1981 and incorporated the conference in its programme of centenary events. Financial support was gratefully received from the British Academy, the Ford Foundation and the University of Nottingham. The papers have been edited for publication by W. J. Leatherbarrow, with some slight assistance from myself.

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Sergei Hackel's paper was delivered as an illustrated public lecture attended by a general audience of nearly 200 on the eve of the conference proper and therefore performed the dual function of opening the Conference and introducing Dostoevsky to a wider audience. It was not aimed primarily at specialists, but nevertheless it proved an admirable introduction to the specialist sessions, and raised a number of important issues which were to be echoed in the papers read and discussed by some 60 participants on the following day. Questions relating to the creative process and problems of composition were taken up by Jacques Catteau; aesthetics and Dostoevsky's attitude to the press by Charles Moser; the role of Christian and especially of apocalyptic imagery came under discussion in the papers of W. J. Leatherbarrow, Jacques Catteau and Richard Peace; the concept of the "binding idea" was brought out again by W. J. Leatherbarrow. Most striking of all, however, was the way in which the theme of the Golden Age, with repeated reference to the painting by Claude Lorrain "Coastal scene with Acis and Galatea, " became a leit-motiv in some of the papers, and most of the discussions, reaching a climax in Richard Peace's detailed treatment of the theme. The discussions themselves are, unfortunately, not available for publication, but it is nevertheless hoped that the papers will generate comparable interest among readers not present at the conference. The organisers, Gareth Jones (Bangor), W. 3. Leatherbarrow (Sheffield) and I are glad of the opportunity to present them here.

Malcolm Jones, University of Nottingham

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