Review Comment

Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, Russian 19th. C. drama

December 31, 1999

Belknap, Robert Silver_nugget
Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, Russian 19th. C. drama

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I think Belknap is one of the most erudite yet one of the nicest professors on campus. It's the first time I've been able to admire someone for knowing almost everything about all of literature and also for being a genuinely good person. He sings his colleague's praises without ever even mentioning his own books on Dostoevsky, although I understand he is quite famous in his field. (The lifelong learners, who flock to his Tolstoy and Dostoevsky course, are always a good indicator of reputation.) He allows rewrites (at least for smaller classes) because he wants everyone to do the best work they can. Because he knows something about everything, and because he is willing to let the class raise whatever questions it feels important (he's remarkably patient) the lectures can get off track, but then you realize that literature is about absorbing and reflecting. And naturally, he's very accessible outside of class. It's a joy to pick his brain on just about anything. No knowledge of Russian required. He teaches in English and is happy to fill you in on any cultural or historical background.


Russian writers never exactly kept anything short, but the readings for the above mentioned courses involve only primary literary sources. There is usually one medium (10 pages) but fun paper, and a midterm and final or just a final. All of the work is so enjoyable you'll barely realize how much of Russian literature you've absorbed.

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