BASEES Annual Conference 2022

Fyodor Dostoevksy, Grand Polyphonic Novels and Compelling Short Fiction: A Comparative Study

Fri8  Apr04:40pm(20 mins)
Games Room
Dr Jacqueline Carr-Phillips


Jacqueline Carr-Phillips


Fyodor Dostoevsky, Grand Polyphonic Novels and Compelling Short Fiction: A Comparative Study

Dostoevsky is generally better known for his weighty, polyphonic novels that foreground intense psychological and philosophical themes, but he also wrote well-crafted short stories that are in complete contrast to his voluminous and detailed novels. This paper attempts to compare Dostoevsky’s writing of the two genres in terms of addressing the question of whether, in content and narrative structure, his short stories are minor works under the shadow of his monumental novels and possibly written as a prelude to the ‘explosive power’ of his novels, as James Joyce put it. In parallel to this question I explore the possibility of what his short stories can do that his novels cannot, what can they better convey? In his stories Dostoevsky gives the reader an opportunity to explore deeper configurations of meaning that are not explicitly revealed. This offers a pared down clarity that allows an even deeper insight into a single idea, without digression into other avenues. His novels on the other hand are highly complex, soul-searching narratives that travel along many avenues and depict multifaceted characters and situations. The comparative study in this paper will attempt to address the question of whether the place of the short story in Dostoevsky’s writing, is a lesser, greater, or equal genre, or possibly offering a unique reading that goes beyond comparison of novel versus short story.