Fyodor We Hardly Knew Ya

, Malcolm A. Kline, 1 Comment

The Modern Language Association (MLA) gave new meaning to the term “in-depth study” at the annual MLA convention in Austin, Texas in January. “What Crime and Punishment is really about is aberrant male sexuality and matricide,” Northwestern University professor Susan McReynolds claimed in an MLA panel on “Reading Dostoyevsky, Dostoyevsky Reading.”

dostoyevsky photoGee, Amazon only tells us that “Drawing upon experiences from his own prison days, the author recounts in feverish, compelling tones the story of Raskolnikov, an impoverished student tormented by his own nihilism, and the struggle between good and evil. Believing that he is above the law, and convinced that humanitarian ends justify vile means, he brutally murders an old woman — a pawnbroker whom he regards as ‘stupid, ailing, greedy…good for nothing.’ Overwhelmed afterwards by feelings of guilt and terror, Raskolnikov confesses to the crime and goes to prison. There he realizes that happiness and redemption can only be achieved through suffering.”

Before McReynolds gave this insight, one of her co-panelists, Alexander Burry of Ohio State University, examined the similarities between Pushkin’s poem about sticky leaves and Dostoyevsky’s reference to same in The Brothers Karamazov. “The stickiness could relate to semen or moisture,” Burry observed. Both McReynolds and Burry are professors in their universities’ Slavic Languages Department.

Photo by lungstruck