Tag Archives: Dostoevsky

Dostoevsky’s Characters Speak for Themselves

What makes Dostoevsky’s characters so real? They aren’t just mouthpieces for the author’s voice.  Peter Leithart describes it.

Dostoevsky’s polyphonic world is full of free subjects, not objects. We don’t know what they might say or do next, and we suspect that the author doesn’t know either. They speak in their own voices, and Dostoevsky doesn’t drown them out. His voice is only one among many.

But Dostoevsky is also concerned with the suppression and source of true human freedom. “True freedom is love, the capacity to sacrifice one’s Ego for the good of others.” And the only way to sacrifice one’s Ego is to surrender to Christ. (via Prufrock News)

Crime and Punishment, 150 Years Old

During the year 1866 only Crime and Punishment was being read, only it was being spoken about by fans of literature, who often complained about the stifling power of the novel and the painful impression it left which caused people with strong nerves to risk illness and forced those with weak nerves to give up reading it altogether.

A great novel is 150 years old this year, and readers are talking about it. Prufrock News has collected several links, and the curator, Micah Mattix writes about it for the WSJ. If you don’t have access to the WSJ, here’s a post he wrote on why every Christian should consider reading Dostoevsky’s classic.

Is There Beauty in Sodom?

What appears shameful to the mind, is sheer beauty to the heart. Is there beauty in Sodom? Believe me, for the great majority of people it is in Sodom and nowhere else.” — Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Dmitri Karamazov, in the “Confessions of an Ardent Heart in Verse,” rants with great feeling about the two ideals of beauty that haunt the heart of man: the Ideal of Sodom, and the Ideal of Madonna. Dostoevsky expanded on this idea in one of his journals, calling the Ideal of Sodom the “Second Beauty” — the beauty which sin has in the eyes of those who are tempted to commit it.

Dostoevsky was criticized, of course, by those who felt that his works sank too far into the darkness without offering any “real” solutions to the problem of human sinfulness. D. H. Lawrence wrote that, “He is like the rat, slithering along in hate, in the shadows, and in order to belong to the light, professing love, all love,” while Freud lamented that “Dostoevsky threw away the chance of becoming a teacher and liberator of humanity; instead he appointed himself as jailer.” Such criticisms are typical of a certain critical tenor that sees literature, and art more generally, as a force for reworking the social order and rewriting the heart of man. It is a critical pose that leads to a kind of puritanism, and it is found just as commonly amongst atheistic reformers as amongst Christians.

Melinda Selmys writes about this second beauty and where the incarnation comes in.