A Study in Dostoevsky

By Elsa Buehler

During the last few weeks of my internship, I’ve been working on a research guide of my own. Topic: Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevesky.

My preliminary research involved brushing up on his most famous works, themes in his writing, the historical context that framed his life, and the correct spelling of his name. (Dostoyevsky? Dostoevsky? Dostoyevski, Dostoyevskij, Dostoyevskii? Scholars disagree so I still don’t know for sure, but I’ve settled on the Library of Congress’ preference.)

From there I began to search for the necessary materials needed to build a substantial research guide. I used Gale eBooks to find introductory resources that researchers might use to gain a basic biographical knowledge about Dostoevsky. I accumulated reference books that deal with his work or Russian literature in general. I undertook the arduous process of running catalog searches for a host of topics that might be helpful someone studying Dostoevsky, including concepts found in his work, criticisms of specific texts, and related thinkers. I provided links to journals that publish on Russian literature and philology and created a list of the ideal databases that a Dostoevsky student should use. I came up with a couple of related research guides to point to, as well as linking to some interesting web pages and media. Finally, I chose a portrait of Dostoevsky: an apparently famous one by Vasily Perov that I think captures his brooding intellectual style quite well.

Today I finished the guide, and it’s now officially live and available for use through the Gumberg Library website. As I don’t claim to be an expert on the life and works of Fyodor Dostoevsky, I will continue to add resources to the guide as I discover them. Though the work that goes into these guides is tedious, I am developing a strong appreciation for them. These guides and other similar resources are designed to help students make the most of services available to them through the university (services that they are ultimately paying for, regardless of their use or misuse of them. I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn this lesson firsthand and encourage my peers to engage with these kinds of resources being cultivated for our benefit!

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