THE RUSSIAN NOVEL by F.D. Reeve

THE RUSSIAN NOVEL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Professor Reeve is a youngish scholar who hit the headlines when he accompanied the late Robert Frost to the Soviet Union. He produced a slight, if somewhat charming, account of the trip a few years ago. His essays concerning the Russian novel may thus be considered his first major effort. They present him in an impressive light and cover all the significant writers from Pushkin to Pasternak. Unfortunately, Professor Reeve's style is hardly felicitous, and his penchant for cross-references (along with the usual English and continental citations, there's a plethora of quotes from virtually unknown Soviet critics) have a tendency to clutter up analyses, often hindering some of the points the professor is interested in making. In any case, romanticism, realism and symbolism appear to be the dominant modes, and character, usually in a socio-philosophical context, the primary agent for fictional construction. That is to say we view a succession of heroic types: the quasi-Byronic Onegin and Pechorin of Pushkin and Lermontov, then Gogol's and Concharov's forerunners of the absurdist sensibility, followed by Turgenev's nihilist in Fathers and Sons. Dostoevsky's rebel in Crime and Punishment, and Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, in which a woman enacts ""the tragedy of love."" The work of four minor writers (Leskov, Sologub, Bely, Olesha), and Chekhov's modest novella, Three Years, are also examined, while the concluding, short chapter places Doctor Zhivago within the tradition. Soaked in his subject, Reeve is always explorative, eager, penetrating.

Publisher: McGraw-Hill