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Tolstoy or Dostoevsky - Steiner, George - Yale University Press

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Tolstoy or Dostoevsky

An Essay in the Old Criticism, Second Edition

  • George Steiner
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George Steiner's Tolstoy or Dostoevsky has become a classic among scholars of Russian literature. An essay in poetic and philosophic criticism that bears mainly on the Russian masters, Tolstoy or Dostoevsky deals also with larger themes: the epic tradition extending from Homer to Tolstoy; the continuity of a "tragic world view" from Oedipus Rex to King Lear and The Brothers Karamazov; the contrasts between the epic and dramatic modes, between irreconcilably opposed views of God and of history.

"A must for the teacher, student, and intellectually serious reader."—Kirkus Reviews



"This is a book that provides new and stimulating insight into the literary masterpieces and thought of the great Russian novelists. Moreover, in this work Steiner shows a great depth and breadth of literary knowledge and criticism that is not limited alone to the Russian writers under discussion but to writers of all genres and all literary periods."—Journal of Religion

"His is a work of personal criticism, often ingenious, always deeply felt."—The New York Times



"Brilliant, provocative, full of insights, this classic study still stands alone and unchallenged in modern criticism as a lucid and erudite study of the contrasting genius of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. Steiner's book is a must for the student, scholar, or general reader who wishes to approach the Russian giants in their full literary and philosophical ambience."—Robert L. Jackson

George Steiner was recently Lord Weidenfeld Visiting Professor of Comparative Literature at Oxford University. He is a well-known reviewer for the New Yorker, the Times Literary Supplement, and other American and European journals, and he is the author of numerous books that have been translated into a dozen languages. His latest book is No Passion Spent, published by Yale University Press.

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