A Bohemian Raskol’nikov: Dostoevskij and Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Czech Literature

Craig Cravens, University of Texas, Austin

F. M. Dostoevskij was the single most influential author among twentieth-century Czech prose writers, but his reception in the Czech lands was much different than in France, Germany, or England. The paper focuses on the way Dostoevskij was initially received in Bohemia in the nineteenth century and how his particular morbid genius was transformed in the hands of the more down-to-earth and less god-intoxicated Czechs. For the most part, the Czechs rejected the more hysterical aspects of the Russian author, aspects most often associated with Dostoevskij in the West, and they concentrated on his “humanism” (Otakar Hostinský), his “critique of Romanticism” (F. X. Šalda), and his proto-Expressionism. For the Czechs, Dostoevskij was Realistic in the highest degree, and a study of his Czech reception can help illuminate aspects of the Russian author often overlooked.