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When you have read Part I and the first part of Frank’s article, then familiarize yourselves with Existentialism (Wikipedia believe it or not is good place to start). So armed re-read the footnote in Frank drawing on Hirsch’s definition of “meaning” and “significance.” Since Frank attempts to provide the meaning of the text, let your own response be to its significance for you. The Underground man desires a debate-give it to him. You can accept or refute his assertions on “two times two,” “The Crystal Palace,” “the toothache,” “the anthill,” “free will,” or whatever other topic might strike your fancy.  (300 words is plenty-we do want to discuss the text!)


There are winners and losers in the novel. What factors seem to influence the happiness or satisfaction of the key characters? Are Bazarov and his ideals the real victims?

The Russian writer, Mikhail Morgulis ,remarked to me that children will not listen to their parents, but they will watch. It is not our words, but our actions that determine how we will be judged. Examine the words and actions of Bazarov, Arkady, Pavel and Arkady’s father and determine if their actions are consistent with their words.


Our author ran out of time and could not describe Selifan. Using the standard Gogolian ability to create something out of nothing, create a 250-300 word background story of Selifan using your best Gogolian grotesque.

Do you think Dead Souls has a plot? Does a novel need a plot to have a greater significance or meaning? If so, what is it about a cohesive story line that allows for readers to extract meaning from it? If not, what are the elements of a story (specifically Dead Souls) that make it meaningful? And please consider the concept of the “picaresque novel” as you wonder aloud: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picaresque.

For more on Gogol’s laughter through tears check out Charlie Chaplin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiyPgtYiGxI&feature=related

Project updates

One member of each group should summarize that project-with a detailed time line going forward and a list of responsibilities attached to the name of each group member. We will need to approve these on next Tuesday.

Which is the true Gogol? The humane critic of the social condition hoping to evoke our outrage and sympathy for the downtrodden, or the comical humorist laughing with us and at us and our human vanity? How does one reconcile the author of both of these stories?

Just for a change of pace -limit yourself to a MAXIMUM of 250 words!!!   Please!!!

Pechorin says so many things, some clever, some true, some troubling, but is he honest with himself? Choose one of your favorite lines from his diary and comment on it as reflected in Pechorin and its relevance to today.

There is a youthful energy to this text that is really a series of five stories bundled together into a whole that some call a marvelous psychological novel. What do we learn about Pechorin in each section as we see him through three sets of eyes (Maksim’s, the narrator’s, and his own)? Is he heroic, extraordinary, self-absorbed, attractive or repulsive?

Be sure to watch some of the youtube videos for a sense of the Time and Place. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwy9PPE4Z_I&feature=related

This is a complex tale that has spawned a Chaikovsky opera (sometimes know even in English under the French title Pique Dame] and several films. The inclusion of the card game (faro) opens a whole new world of associations. You will find several useful and entertaining  links below, but at the end of the day you must read the story and comment on it. Watch carefully the role of numbers, the city, time, the physical framing of characters (windows, chairs, coffins), coincidence. Is this romanticism or realism (but be sure to define those terms for yourself and your fellow readers)?

Saint Germain

Deck of Cards Song (Text)

The Game of Faro (History) Be sure to play a few hands.

The Opera (Listen)

The Film

The Russian  Пиковая дама.

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