Tag Archives: Dostoevsky

Dostoevsky’s The Gambler: Modern and loosely based

In the 1974 film The Gambler, James Caan plays a Jewish college professor in New York named Axel Freed with an addiction to risk that causes him to fall into major gambling debt to some heavy-handed loan sharks. In the first classroom scene we see him in Freed waxes poetic about the issues in Dostoevsky’s […]

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Births and deaths in Russian literature

February 10 was the date of possibly the worst of the tragic and premature deaths that have haunted Russian literary greats over the past two centuries. This was the day in 1837 that Alexander Sergeievich Pushkin died from the wounds he had received in a duel fought two days earlier with his brother-in-law and suspected […]

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Dostoevsky’s The Gambler

The number of films based on the writings of Fyodor Dostoevsky is approaching the 200 mark, which is not quite Dickens territory (324 according to IMDB) but places him above virtually every other 19th century novelist and ahead of all the Russian masters (Tolstoy, who has a big Hollywood adaptation coming to the screen this […]

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Mythical meeting of literary titans

The story of Dickens baring his soul Russian-style to a visiting Dostoevsky looks to be as invented as any of their respective novels The influence of Charles Dickens on the novels of Dostoevsky seems fairly evident. In his study of the Russian writer’s work Joseph Frank recounts the impression made on Dostoevsky by reading Dickens’ […]

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Russian autocrat + Russian novelist = ?

The story begins with a vain, preening, autocratic ruler of Russia willing to manipulate the forces of law and order to strike out against even the slightest traces of disloyalty. For him no charade of justice is too cruel or too absurd if it helps prevent dissension. Just such a sinister farce took place on […]

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Banville in Prague

The day after the ceremony in which he was awarded the Franz Kafka Prize in Prague, Irish novelist John Banville came to the Kafka Society’s basement haunts and, against the backdrop of Kafka’s old library, spoke about his work, murderers (and looking like a murderer), Nabokov, and a number of other things. Below is the […]

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Textbook of life – The New Moscow Philosophy

An old relic of the Tsarist regime – Alexandra Sergeyevna Pumpianskaya – disappears from a Moscow communal apartment in what turn out to be the dying days of the Soviet Union, while her neighbors scheme over who gets the newly available square meters. A detective appears on the scene, as does an acquisitive, chess-playing locksmith […]

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Filming the other Russian classics

When Russian novels make it to the big screen it is usually because they either already have enough melodrama to turn them into marketable films (Doctor Zhivago) or because screenwriting assassins can be found to cut out the wordy parts and stick to the scenes of carriage rides, furtive kisses and duels. Recently though, a […]

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Reading literary nihilists in Tehran

One might be tempted to think that literature commonly characterized as absurdist or nihilist would not get much official attention in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Still less would anyone think that it could serve as a springboard to reaching the rarefied heights of literary prizes. Yet, as absurd and potentially nihilistic as it sounds, […]

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Raskolnikov of Finland

In The New Republic Ruth Franklin has an interesting and damning survey of American novels dealing with terrorists. And though I was gently chided for being too hard on Franklin for her attempt to deny the differences between European and American writing, I just can’t help myself taking issue with some of the premises of […]

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