My friend Matt Bennardo tweeted a link today to a lengthy article about a fairly obscure corner of literary scholarship that nonetheless completely riveted me. Whenever I worry that my attention span is becoming depleted by the constant noise-barrage of the internet, I remember that certain pieces of reading still have the power to make the world recede for a bit.
I hope I’m not overselling this piece too much. It’s (nominally) about how, in 1862, Charles Dickens may or may not have met Fyodor Dostoevsky.
Although Dostoevsky is known to have visited London for a week in 1862, neither his published letters nor any of the numerous biographies contain any hint of such a meeting. Dostoevsky would have been a virtual unknown to Dickens. It isn’t clear why Dickens would have opened up to his Russian colleague in this manner, and even if he had wanted to, in what language would the two men have conversed?…
“When Dickens Met Dostoevsky”, by Eric Naiman, The Times Literary Supplement. Read the whole thing here. Take my word for it.