The Making of a Counter-Culture Icon: Henry MIller's Dostoevsky
Published: December 2007© 2007
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 240 Pages
Dimensions: 6.28 x 9.33
240 Pages, 6.28 x 9.33 x 0.90 in
At first glance, the works of Fedor Dostoevsky (1821-1881) do not appear to have much in common with those of the controversial American writer Henry Miller (1891-1980). However, the influencer of Dostoevsky on Miller was, in fact, enormous and shaped the latter's view of the world, of literature, and of his own writing. The Making of a Counter-Culture Icon examines the obsession that Miller and his contemporaries, the so-called Villa Seurat circle, had with Dostoevsky, and the impact that this obsession had on their own work.
Renowned for his psychological treatment of characters, Dostoevsky became a model for Miller, Lawrence Durrell, and Anais Nin, interested as they were in developing a new kind of writing that would move beyond staid literary conventions. Maria Bloshteyn argues that, as Dostoevsky was concerned with representing the individual's perception of the self and the world, he became an archetype for Miller and the other members of the Villa Seurat circle, writers who were interested in precise psychological characterizations as well as intriguing narratives. Tracing the cross-cultural appropriation and (mis)interpretation of Dostoevsky's methods and philosophies by Miller, Durrell, and Nin, The Making of a Counter-Culture Icon gives invaluable insight into the early careers of the Villa Seurat writers and testifies to Dostoevsky's influence on twentieth-century literature.
‘Bloshteyn provides a deep contextual understanding of the distinctively American reception of Dostoevsky’s works and, in doing so, updates and surpasses all previous studies of the Russian writer’s impact on modern British and American letters, most of which focus on the English “cult of Dostoevsky” that abruptly terminated in the 1920s.’ Dale E. Peterson, Slavic & East European Journal: vol54:04:2010
‘Bloshteyn’s book is a lively and erudite investigation of a little known aspect of how Dostoevsky’s life and works were accepted and assimilated outside Russia.’ Joseph Frank, Common Knowledge; vol 18:02:2012
‘Making of a Counter-Culture Icon by Maria Bloshteyn is an important achievement in the field of comparative literature. It requires courage to take an author as marginalized by the American establishment as Miller and examine his relationship to a novelist who is arguable the greatest of the nineteenth century. Bloshteyn explores how Miller, Durrell and Nin were inspired and influenced by the Russian writer’s ideas and style.’ Karl Orend, Times Literary Supplement, August 22, 2008