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“The Language and Literary Works of F.M. Dostoevsky”: A lecture by Professor Igor Ruzhitsky (in English)

Friday 18 February, 2022, 19:00 - 20:30

Professor Ruzhitsky will devote his lecture to a discussion of the distinctive lexical system of Dostoevsky’s idiolect as well as a number of philosophical questions which run through his body of works. Through the prism of the great writer’s use of language, Professor Ruzhitsky will explore a series of key concepts in Dostoevsky’s writings: life, death, love, suffering, fear and laughter.

“Man is a mystery. This mystery must be unravelled, and if you spend your whole life trying to unravel it, don’t say that your time has been wasted. I am at work on this mystery, for I want to be a human being…”
(F.M. Dostoevsky, 1839)

WHEN: Friday 18 February 2022, 19:00-20:30 (GMT)



FEE: Voluntary donation*

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About Professor Igor Ruzhitsky

Igor Vasilievich Ruzhitsky holds the post-doctoral degree of Doctor of Sciences in Philology. He is a Professor of the Department of Russian as a Foreign Language in the Faculty of Philology at Lomonosov Moscow State University and a Professor of the Department of Russian as a Foreign Language at Moscow Region State University (formerly Moscow Region Pedagogical Institute). He supervises the research project “A Dictionary of Dostoevsky’s Language” and is the author of numerous articles and books linked to the study of Dostoevsky’s literary works.

Brad Evans: Was Dostoevsky a nihilist in the same way as, for instance, Charles Bukowski – who found Dostoevsky an influence on his own writing?

Prof. Igor Ruzhitsky: 1. Undoubtedly, we can find quite a lot of parallels between the works of Charles Bukowski and the books of Dostoevsky. And this is quite natural: Bukowski took a lot, for example, from Nietzsche, and Nietzsche, as everybody knows, from Dostoevsky. First of all, probably, Kirillov’s “philosophy” from “Demons” (the same nihilism). Or suffering, psychological and spiritual, as one of the central themes of creativity. Sometimes it seems that Bukowski identified himself with Dostoevsky’s heroes, with many of them, even with Marmeladov. Although there are a lot of differences between Bukowski and Dostoevsky.

2. I categorically disagree with Charles Bukowski’s opinion about how Dostoevsky came to Christ. Bukowski rather writes about the path that is close to himself – through dirt, failures, roulette, rape of a young girl, etc. All this is more than controversial. Although, of course, there was enough dirt in Dostoevsky’s life. Bukowski sees in Dostoevsky what he wants to see, what is close to him, and this is quite natural. And he believes in what is close to him.

3. There is no doubt that Dostoevsky’s path to Christ was influenced primarily by the imitation of the death penalty. Here faith and doubt were united, and the struggle of faith and doubt remained throughout Dostoevsky’s life. The same key year I talked about, 1864, Dostoevsky’s thoughts at the body of his deceased wife: “Masha is lying on the table. Will I see Masha?”. I don’t find this – the struggle of faith and doubt – in Charles Bukowski’s books, at least, this theme is far from the main one. And when Bukowski writes that Dostoevsky found his Christ, then… I don’t know, many researchers will agree with this, but I can’t. In my opinion, Dostoevsky lived with this struggle of the devil and God in his heart. I know that many will disagree with me, but I think so. If this is considered as Dostoevsky’s nihilism, then Bukowski’s nihilism hardly has anything in common with it.

4. And I can’t agree that the word “nihilism” is generally applicable to Dostoevsky, at least if by nihilism we mean what the writer himself put into the meaning of this word. This word, of course, is included in the “Dictionary of Dostoevsky’s Language”. And this is primarily an expletive, invective word.

Of course, this is very brief… I want to say that all this is a rather amateurish view. Perhaps, when I start working on the dictionary entries “Christ” and “Christian”, some new facts of a linguistic nature will appear, on the basis of which it will be possible to draw more reasoned conclusions.

* While there is no charge for our online events, CamRuSS would welcome any donations towards the support of our volunteers’ efforts during this time.

Suggested donation £5-10.
All money raised by CamRuSS from membership fees & donations goes towards organising events, supporting community projects, and essential technical and administrative costs.

You can send your donations via:
– a direct bank transfer (BACS) to the following account:
The Cambridge Russian-Speaking Society
NatWest Bank, Sort Code: 60-11-30, Account: 25395637

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Friday 18 February, 2022
19:00 - 20:30
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