Professor of Russian Language and Literature
Sabbatical Spring 2013
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It seems that I was destined to become a comparatist from the moment when I first discovered that literature had the power to create multiple worlds in the mind. I was then a refugee from Prague at a convent school in the South of France and I had just made the transition from my native Czech into French. That experience helped me to understand that each language has a distinctive way of shaping the reality it unveils.
As professor of Russian at Smith College, I teach a variety of classes that span the course of Russian literary history.
In the course of writing Terminal Paradox, my book on Milan Kundera, I lived for a time in Paris and had the unique opportunity to talk with him in person, in depth, and on a regular basis. It was Kundera who insisted that my book should be translated from English into French, a task in which I participated by reviewing the final draft, paragraph by paragraph, with my able translator, Madame Nadia Akrouf.
My work in Czech literature has always run parallel with my Russian research. I have an abiding fascination for Dostoevsky, the preeminent philosophical novelist of the nineteenth century. I am happy to report that my long nurtured book, The Scandal of Reason: A Dostoevskian Diptych, is now completed.