By Maria Bloshteyn
At first look, the works of Fedor Dostoevsky (1821-1881) don't seem to have a lot in universal with these of the arguable American author Henry Miller (1891-1980). even though, the influencer of Dostoevsky on Miller was once, actually, huge, immense and formed the latter's view of the area, of literature, and of his personal 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 influence that this obsession had all alone work.
Renowned for his mental therapy of characters, Dostoevsky turned a version for Miller, Lawrence Durrell, and Anais Nin, as they have been in constructing a brand new type of writing that might circulation past staid literary conventions. Maria Bloshteyn argues that, as Dostoevsky was once involved in representing the individual's notion of the self and the realm, he turned an archetype for Miller and the opposite participants of the Villa Seurat circle, writers who have been attracted to distinct mental characterizations in addition to interesting narratives. Tracing the cross-cultural appropriation and (mis)interpretation of Dostoevsky's tools and philosophies by way of Miller, Durrell, and Nin, The Making of a Counter-Culture Icon supplies worthy perception into the early careers of the Villa Seurat writers and testifies to Dostoevsky's impact on twentieth-century literature.
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Extra resources for The Making of a Counter-Culture Icon: Henry MIller’s Dostoevsky
It also provides us Intercultural Readings 23 with an overview of the structure and dynamics of the Villa Seurat group, an important but still largely unexamined literary and cultural nexus in Paris between the wars. Further, by carefully reconstructing Miller’s reading of Dostoevsky in situ, as it were, first within the American context of his early encounters with Dostoevsky and then within his Parisian milieu, we can gain an understanding not only of Miller’s – and, subsequently, Villa Seurat’s – Dostoevsky, but of how this seemingly idiosyncratic understanding was actually a development of a well-established American tradition of interpreting Dostoevsky and his novels.
46 In subsequent years, countless writers and poets would speak about their admiration for Miller and about his impact on their work and the work of their colleagues. In 2005 Miller scholar James Decker attempted to summarize Miller’s influence on American writers and came up with an impressive list that illustrates the extensiveness and pervasiveness of Miller’s influence: Beyond his indirect impact on such novelists as Nicholson Baker, Kathy Acker, and Bret Easton Ellis, Miller … inspired members of the Beat movement … Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, among others, admired Miller greatly … Other American writers – such as Roth, Mailer, Terry Southern, and John Updike – saw in Miller a continuation of the realist project, now combined with psychoanalysis and sexual frankness, while authors such as Pynchon, Acker, Robert Duncan, Erica Jong, and Jim Harrison reacted to Miller’s violent rejection of modernity.
Perov’s portrait, which came to represent the writer at the moment of literary creation, brilliantly articulates and combines a number of classic topoi associated with Dostoevsky. The shabby ‘overcoat’ invokes Dostoevsky’s years of penury and exile but also acts as a Dostoevsky as American Icon 25 visual reference to Nikolai Gogol (1809–52), Dostoevsky’s literary godfather, whose short story ‘The Overcoat’ [‘Shinel’] (1842) heralded a triumphant new epoch in Russian literature. The primal swirling colours of the cravat evoke the intense passions of Dostoevsky’s characters and his own life.