Wednesday, January 9, 2008


One of the professors I contacted at Princeton awhile back sent me a very nice reply to an email, with apologies for tardiness and lots of warm sentiments about the research we apparently both undertake. So I guess that's a bit of good news (and much-welcomed feedback) in the midst of this radio silence, which I expect, based on last year's posts in various online fora, to last until the beginning of next month. I wonder how people did this before the Internet.

Classes for the quarter started on Monday. I'm taking Second-Year Russian, part two, along with a Dostoevsky single-author class. I've never been able to parse exactly how I feel about single-author classes, because I'm something of a New Critic at heart and it seems like exactly the sort of warm and ripe petri dish where you expect the intentional fallacy to grow and mutate. On the other hand, I'm ravenous for literary biography (have even considered writing a novel in the form of one, a la Sebastian Knight, taken to a greater extreme) and Dostoevsky's is, so far, not disappointing. I knew he'd been sent to Siberia, of course, but what I didn't realize is that they actually led him and his comrades out to the public square, lined them up, aimed their weapons, and were only interrupted when a messenger from the czar came riding up with a reprieve.

The kicker? The whole thing was staged, for the purposes of making the political prisoners believe that their lives were a gift from the czar. I'm having trouble imagining any example--literary or otherwise--of greater, more heinous psychological manipulation.

My own problems keep me from writing more today, but upcoming: Genette.

Posted by Shannon Chamberlain @ 10:39 AM