Louisa May Alcott, American author, dies

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March 6, 1888

Boris Pasternak, Russian author of Doctor Zhivago, born

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February 10, 1890

Chinese New Year: Year of the Sheep

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John Steinbeck, American writer, is born

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February 27, 1902
  • Launchpad: “The Grand Inquisitor” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    Created January 14, 2015

    Launchpad: “The Grand Inquisitor” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    By Ed Marks and Dan Cummings, revised by Joe Phelan

    About the Author

    In the spring of 1849, Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821–1881) faced a Russian firing squad. He had been accused of the political crime of promoting utopian socialism, a popular ideology that threatened the deeply conservative government of Czar Nicholas I. Just as the order was being given to the firing squad to shoot, a messenger appeared with an edict from the Czar commuting the sentence to four years of hard labor in Siberia.

  • Launchpad: Dostoevsky’s “Notes from the Underground”

    Created January 14, 2015

    “Shakespeare Uncovered” Returns!

    WNET’s series 2 of Shakespeare Uncovered tells the story behind the stories of six Shakespeare’s greatest plays. Each episode combines history, biography, performance and insights and personal passion of each host as they conduct interviews with actors, scholars and directors from key locations and include video of performances.

  • Lesson 2: Man and Superman

    Created January 12, 2015
    Portrait of the Writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1972, Vasily Perov

    Students examine the theory Man vs. Superman as it is revealed in several scenes within the novel and tackle the larger questions it bring up: Are humans really divided into two distinct categories, the ordinary and the extraordinary? Is this division a figment created by an overactive intellect? What did Dostoevsky think? Then they learn the theory differs radically from Dostoyevsky’s fictional reality—and reader’s—uncover yet another split in the world of the novel, one between intellect and emotion/instinct.

  • Lesson 3: Societal Schisms and Divisions

    Created January 12, 2015
    Portrait of the Writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1972, Vasily Perov

    Students examine the novel’s societal setting, which is also fraught with division. Crime and Punishment is more than just a demonstration of the idea that crime does not pay, it is a vivid depiction of societal injustice. For example, Dostoyevsky’s mid-nineteenth century Russia offered women narrowly circumscribed roles, most often resulting in their dependence on men and/or a life of poverty. The negative effects of several other societal divisions raise additional questions.