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Liberty And Equality: Individual versus Society in the Works of Herman Melville and Feodor Dostoyevsky.

Akroyd, Olga Maria May (2020) Liberty And Equality: Individual versus Society in the Works of Herman Melville and Feodor Dostoyevsky. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:82404)

Language: English

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In the field of comparative literary studies, a number of scholars have previously pointed out the lack of substantial side-by-side analyses of Herman Melville and Feodor Dostoyevsky's major novels. This is a significant gap for those studying nineteenth century literature from a comparative viewpoint - especially as these two writers have been noted to hold a number of similarities in the themes they address and the manner in which they present those themes.

This academic thesis seeks to address the previously little-explored connection between Melville and Dostoyevsky's works, following an interdisciplinary approach where I focus on contextualizing a selected number of landmark texts in relation to the broader philosophical and political debates going on at the same time that these texts were published. My argument deals with the notion that by the middle of the nineteenth century, as the Romanticist moods gradually ceded to make way for the new Realist perspectives, the figure of the writer could not remain detached from the major social and political debates and reforms. The writer was expected to act as an involved societal observer, recording and presenting potentially problematic themes for a broader audience, so that their response would eventually effect genuine societal change.

As the first half of the nineteenth century was a time permeated with societal upheaval and revolutionary thought, in this thesis I am looking at Dostoyevsky and Melville through this prism, dealing with the question of how each addresses the balance between individual liberty and the obligations that an individual holds towards society founded upon quasi-nationalistic, "exceptionalist" ideals. I connect my analysis with figures such as Alexis de Tocqueville, Thomas Hobbes, Thomas Carlyle and Johann-Gottfried Herder, seeking to comprehend the existing intellectual background at the time that Melville and Dostoyevsky wrote, reconciling straightforward literary analysis with broader philosophical and intellectual context.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Collins, Michael
Thesis advisor: Norman, Will
Uncontrolled keywords: American, Russian, Comparative, 19thC, Melville, Dostoevsky, Literature
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2020 10:10 UTC
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2022 23:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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