Monday, October 11, 2021
Anna Barker

Anna Barker, Iowa City Press-Citizen

I love Dostoevsky. Deeply, profoundly, and crushingly.

It was not a love at first sight. In my teens and 20s, I was infatuated with Pushkin and Lermontov and Turgenev and Tolstoy and Dumas and Stendhal and Hugo and Goethe. Dostoevsky came later, in my 30s, when the heart learned grief and the mind became weary of doubt.

If I could sum up Dostoevsky in one statement, it would be through the words of one of my favorite Dostoevsky characters, Grushenka, in Brothers Karamazov: “The world is a good place. We may be bad, but the world is a good place. We are bad and good, both bad and good…”

Needless to say, Grushenka makes these weighty pronouncements in a state of profound intoxication in a chapter entitled “Delirium.” So Dostoevsky!!!

I am deeply honored to be the curator of “From Revolutionary Outcast to a Man of God: Dostoevsky at 200.” The exhibition, housed in the UI Main Library Gallery, is the product of more than a decade of teaching Russian literature and culture at the University of Iowa, numerous trips to Dostoevsky museums and research centers in Russia, and two years of work with staff of the University of Iowa Libraries and Special Collections.