English class

We see Rory in her English Literature class at Chilton, and the teacher discusses Russian literature, and how it was influenced by both English and French culture.

The teacher mentions Russian author Count Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time. He is best known for his novels War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877), both seen as eminent examples of realist fiction.

The English novelist Charles Dickens (1812-1870) is said by the teacher to be Tolstoy’s favourite author. The perennially popular Dickens is regarded as one of the greatest writers of his era, and Tolstoy did indeed see him as an enormous influence on his own work. His novel David Copperfield (1850) was Tolstoy’s favourite, and in fact Dicken’s favourite of his own novels, being heavily based on Charles Dickens’ life. Other Dickens novels that the teacher mentions as influential on Tolstoy are Great Expectations (1861), A Tale of Two Cities (1859), and Little Dorrit (1857).

We learn that the week before the class studied Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881), whose best-known works include Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1869), and The Brothers Karamazov (1880).

The French author George Sand (the pen name of Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin, 1804-1876) is mentioned as one of Dostoevsky’s favourites. She wrote numerous novels and short stories, with Consuelo (1850) considered her greatest work.

Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) is another French author whose works were beloved by Dostoevsky. One of the founders of literary realism in Europe, Balzac is most famous for La Comédie humaine (“The Human Comedy”), a series of more than 90 interlinked novels, stories, and essays depicting French society in the 19th century.

The classroom scene shows what a huge step up in academic standards Rory has taken at her new school: a complete contrast to studying Huckleberry Finn at Stars Hollow High, with the other girls more interested in nail polish than the text. Paris may be obnoxious, but at least she is giving Rory something to aspire to as a student.

We can see that a whole new world of literature will open up to Rory at Chilton, feeding and validating her love of books.

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