Raffaella Vassena, Reawakening National Identity. Dostoevskii's Diary of a Writer and its Impact on Russian Society, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2007
Book synopsis
The second edition of the Diary of a Writer (1876-1877) marked a crucial point in Dostoevskii's literary career. In spite of critics' attacks, many ordinary readers were overwhelmed by Dostoevskii's charisma and began writing to him from different parts of Russia, expressing their views of the moral, social and political issues dealt with in the Diary. Such success was guaranteed also by the original rhetorical style of the Diary of a Writer, which aimed to involve readers and persuade them to share Dostoevskii's beliefs. By concentrating on new material, consisting of correspondence between Dostoevskii and his readers, and applying a new methodology, reader-response criticism and genre studies, the author investigates how Dostoevskii's rhetoric in the Diary of a Writer affected the Russian reading public, transformed Dostoevskii's image in Russian society, and reawakened national identity.

The Role of the Reader in Dostoevskii's Creation - The Diary of a Writer: Author, genre, and ideal reader - The Reactions of Russian Society: The press debate, readers asking for help, women readers, young students, nationalist readers, Jewish readers.

The Author
Raffaella Vassena holds a doctorate in Russian literature from the Università degli Studi of Milan. From the same university she received a grant (2004-2006) for research in the United States, at Harvard University. She has taught courses of Russian language at the Università degli Studi and the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore of Milan. She has published several articles in Italy, Russia, and the United States on 19th-century Russian literature as well as on Soviet studies of poetic declamation.

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