HUMS 653
Murder And Adultery: The French and Russian Novel

Priscilla Meyer

Come to the first class having already read:

            Plato, The Republic, Book 7, The Allegory of the Cave*

            Chateaubriand, Atala/Rene


September 11

In Class:


The Allegory of the Cave

        Atala/Rene: Idealism, Romanticism

For next class:

         Read: Alfred de Vigny, "Laurette, or the Red Seal"*

                   In Lermontov, A Hero of Our Time:

                                       Chapters 1 and 2: "Bela" and "Maksim Maksimych"

         Write:   Outline points of contact and differences between de Vigny's

                       and Lermontov's tales, and write a paragraph interpreting your

                       findings (1-2 pages)


September 18    

In Class:

                What does Lermontov do with Vigny’s story?

     Plagiarism? Discussion of Lermontov's appropriations. Who is his narrator?

For next class:

                Read: "L'Orco" and Hero, Chapter 3, "Taman" together

                          The last two chapters of Hero: "Princess Mary," "The Fatalist"

                           Hartman, "Romanticism and Anti-Selfconsciousness"*

              Write:  Outline points of contact and differences between Sand's and

               Lermontov's tales, and write a paragraph interpreting your findings that

               adresses Lermontov's purposes/achievements in writing Hero

               (2 pages)


September 25

In Class:

                  Lermontov and French Romanticism

            From Venice to the Caucasus: angles of deformation

 For next class:

                   Read: Père Goriot (1/2)

       motifs: pick one to trace orally in class; bring a handout of its instances


October 2   

In Class:

       Père Goriot

       Realism: La Maison Vauquer

                   Your motifs

                   Materialism: medicine and phrenology; the psychology of poverty

For next class:

      Read: Père Goriot  (finish)


October 9

In Class:

      Père Goriot

      Supermen and the Mandarin: Napoleon, Vautrin, Rastignac

For next class:

                  Read: Crime and Punishment, Parts I-III  (note throughout: bells, yellow,



October  16

In Class:

     Raskolnikov's duality: trace the opposing internal voices

For next class:

                 Read: Crime and Punishment (finish)

                 Watch video: The Crystal Palace, Enlightened Self-Interest; Calculation

Go to: ->online materials->Russian->video for 206

->pulldown menu->crystal palace

                 Write: what parallel characters can you find in Balzac's and

                            Dostoevsky's novels? (outline). Write a short paragraph about what

                            your parallels suggest for Dostoevsky’s reading of Balzac.


October 23

In Class:

                 Why the Crystal Palace?

                 The Epilogue. Sonya. How does Dostoevsky recast Balzac's material?

For next class:

                 WRITE: PAPER #1:  Pére Goriot as source for Crime and Punishment:

                           Select ONE aspect/character/motif/scene

                           Use guidelines for subtext papers, on course web site

          Read: Madame Bovary, 1/2  (note blue, green, palm trees, ships)


October 30

In Class:     

           Emma's reading; the wedding cake

           PAPER #1 DUE IN CLASS

For next class:

           Read: Madame Bovary, 1/2

            Compare the wedding cake to the description of Yonville (Part II, chapter 3)

Prepare to discuss: Why does the novel end with Monsieur Homais?


November 6

In Class:

The scene at the Golden Lion; the scene at the fairground


For next class:

           Read Anna Karenina, Parts I-III


November 13

In Class:

          Stiva Oblonsky, Levin and the oysters; the French

For next class:

           Read: Anna, Parts IV-VII

           Write: one pairing of chapters: how? Why?  (1 page)


November 20

In Class:

The labyrinth of linkages: the sequence of chapters

           Three marriages; two estates; your findings

Railroads vs. horses; Moscow vs. Petersburg; city vs. country

For next class:

         Read: Part VIII

          WRITE: PAPER #2: Madame Bovary as source for Anna Karenina:

                        Select one aspect/character/motif/scene

                        Use guidelines for motif study and subtext papers




December 4 

In class:


  What does the epigraph mean? Who is to blame?

        Anna and Emma: discuss your findings about the dialogue between

                        Tolstoy and Flaubert

        The Russians and the French



December 11 

        TERM PAPERS DUE IN MY MAILBOX in the Russian department


* In the course packet, buy in Russian Department office, 212 Fisk Hall

   Plato’s Allegory can be found on line at

If using that version, read up to

      “Yes, very natural.

And is there anything surprising in one who passes from divine contemplations to the evil state of man, misbehaving himself in a ridiculous manner; if, while his eyes are blinking and before he has become accustomed to the surrounding darkness, he is compelled to fight in courts of law, or in other places, about the images or the shadows of images of justice, and is endeavouring to meet the conceptions of those who have never yet seen absolute justice?”