I am writing to you with the extremely sad news of the passing of our colleague, Robert Louis Jackson, one of the co-founders of NADS and IDS, and B. E. Bensinger Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Emeritus, at Yale University. Robert died on Monday, May 3, at the age of 98, with his daughter Kathy present.
The author and editor of dozens of books, including such foundational works in our field as Dostoevsky’s Underground Man in Russian Literature (1958), Dostoevsky’s Quest for Form: A Study of His Philosophy of Art (1966), The Art of Dostoevsky: Deliriums and Nocturnes (1981), Dialogues with Dostoevsky: The Overwhelming Questions (1996), Close Encounters: Essays on Russian Literature (2013), Robert was also an inspirational teacher for many generations of Slavists, and Dostoevsky scholars in particular. His intellectual brilliance went hand in hand with his generosity of spirit, warmth, collegiality, humanism and conscience. His leadership of NADS and IDS brought people together from all over the continent and the world. The world view that emanated through his scholarship, in which the aesthetic and the ethical were inextricably linked, was always powerfully present in his teaching, his service to the field, and his devoted friendship to so many. Many of us remember his presence at the many international symposia of the IDS, most recently in Boston, where he was able to meet up with colleagues and friends who had been there since the early days of the IDS and NADS. His loss to our field and to those of us who knew him is incalculable.
We plan to organize an event in Robert’s memory in the medium term. In the short term we are collecting memories and photographs to put up a tribute on the NADS site, bloggerskaramazov.com, and the IDS site, dostoevsky.org. If you would like to share a memory or photo, you can submit it via this Google Form or via our website (this option is for members only; to submit via the website, you will need to log in). If you have suggestions of what kind of event we could organize on Zoom in Robert’s honor, please reach out to the Board; at any rate we will be in touch in the coming weeks.
Of course, on behalf of NADS we send our heartfelt condolences to Robert’s family.
President, North American Dostoevsky Society