Louis Allain. Dostoïevski et Dieu. La morsure du divin. Lille: Presses Universitaires de Lille, 1981. 114 pp. , Bibliographie, couverture illustrée. Papier, 45 FF.
L. Allain a choisi d'entrer dans une des grandes controverses qui se poursuivent depuis la mort de Dostoïevski: sa foi, sa conception du Christ et de Dieu, sa relation au divin. Dostoïevski est-il porté par la tradition du christianisme oriental (O. Clément), est-il l'expression d'un athéisme nationaliste actif (F. Gorenstein), est-il le croyant ayant pleinement adhéré au Christ mais non parvenu au transcendantal (P. Pascal)? Le lecteur sortira de ce livre mince mais dense avec l'étrange impression d'avoir pénétré l'univers religieux de l'écrivain sans avoir reçu de réponse définitive. L. Allain n'a pas voulu trancher mais exposer et ce, avec raison. Il fait parler Dostoïevski d'abondance (carnets, lettres, articles, nouvelles, romans) et, mimant le romancier, maître à interroger, il se borne à apporter ses propres conclusions sans leur apposer le sceau de l'absolu. Voilà l'un des mérites de l'entreprise. Si L. Allain propose une bibliographie critique succincte, sans grand rapport avec les notes, il ne tient en fait guère compte des acquis de ses prédécesseurs: il préfère refaire en solitaire les chemins par eux parcourus. Encore faudrait-il, ce choix admis, éviter de se référer aux "Antimémoires" d'A. Malraux, peu crédible depuis qu'il a décrit les potences dressées pour les Petrachevtsy et qui rapporte que Dostoïevski aurait griffonné dans sa Bible: "Boga net". . . On peut aussi contester la méthode-choisie: a-t-on le droit de mettre sur le même plan le discours d'un personnage romanesque et celui de l'auteur? Personnellement nous en doutons bien que parfois, lorsque les romans reflètent mot pour mot les écrits intimes, par exemple les formules sur le Christ, l'identification de l'un à l'autre apparaisse légitime. Au demeurant, l'auteur est conscient de la difficulté et le dit à plusieurs reprises (pp. 91, 97). Quoi qu'il en soit, L. Allain s'est engagé avec prudence sur le terrain miné de la non-dissociation du créateur et de ses créatures, dessinant ainsi une image globale de la religion de Dostoïevski.
Les premiers chapitres abordent la foi, à dimension personnelle, sociale et historique de l'écrivain russe. L. Allain en décrit les fluctuations et variations, disant avec bonheur que "les doses homéopathiques sont parfois les plus fortes", et souligne que si l'écrivain recherchait avec ardeur les preuves il acceptait difficilement la conviction. Pour la raison qu'il est malaisé de croire sans voir ni imaginer (ici, références à Hippolyte et au père Karamazov). Le chapitre "Dieu ou la nécessité des nécessités" est l'un des plus justes: c'est à partir de l'existence de l'âme, de l'immortalité nécessaire que Dieu est "commis d'office" par Dostoïevski que révèle ainsi bien plus son besoin, sa soif de transcendance que son acceptation. Le chapitre suivant "Le Christ est-il Dieu?" constitue une excellente mise au
point sur Dieu et le Christ, le premier "synthèse universelle de tout l'être" et le second "synthèse de l'humanité" . S'appuyant sur l'imparfaite superposition des deux axiomes que confirme une note des carnets de 1876-1877 ("NB. Le Christ est Dieu pour autant que la Terre ait pu révéler Dieu" .), L. Allain conclut: "Fidèle au Christ toute sa vie, Dostoïevski a connu des éclipses de foi en Dieu" . Les chapitres suivants consacrés à l'immortalité abordent le versant du doute: l'auteur y démontre que l'immortalité dessinée par l'écrivain est vécue comme décevante, que l'auteur des "Frères Karamazov" est plus intéressé par "la démonstration de l'immortalité que par l'immortalité elle-même" et que son scepticisme porte moins sur la réalité de celle-ci que sur sa qualité et sa nature. Le chapitre "La Création est-elle achevée? " , avec une longue étude du bestiaire de Dostoïevski, convainc moins pour la raison déjà dite que L. Allain est contraint de se référer exclusivement aux assertions des héros romanesques, qu'ils soient athées ou chrétiens. Le dernier chapitre "Les espèces du divin, anthropomorphisme ou égomorphisme" est plus audacieux: l'auteur décèle derrière "la structure politico-mystique" de la religion de Dostoïevski une "tendance à l'identification de soi au divin" (phénomène frappant même chez les héros athées) et affirme que le Christ est perçu par Fiodor Mikhaïlovitch comme "consubstantiel à lui-même" . Non qu'il s'agisse d'une divinisation de soi mais d'une "délégation" au peuple russe et au romancier lui-même des qualités christiques: "Vous qui entrez ici, devenez moi-même". Telle est la conclusion de cet essai, ramassé, nerveux, aux formules paradoxales, et lapidaires, fortes, parfois précieuses, où la pensée s'applique souvent avec succès à démêler le réseau compliqué et rebelle à toute schématisation des hypostases et des reflets dans l'univers Dostoïevskien. L. Allain a décrit le jeu cérébral de la problématique de la foi chez Dostoïevski. Reste la puissance du cri et de l'élan que toute systématisation - et il le dit à sa manière - ne peut étouffer.
Jacques Catteau -- Université de Paris-Sorbonne
G. Fridlender. Dostoevskij i mirovaja literatura. Moscow, Khudozhestvennaja literatura, 1979. 424 pp. Cloth, 1r. 30k.
Contrary to the impression that the title might give, this book is not a monograph on the place of Dostoevsky in world literature but is rather a collection of seven independent articles. No direct statement is made about previous publication, but I have found slightly altered versions of four of these article in other books published between 1971 and 1978.
The book opens with a 55-page essay entitled "V bor'be idej (Dostoevskij v sovremennom mire), " the first 23 pages of which were published in almost identical form in "Dostoevskij: materialy i issledovanija, " I (Leningrad, 1974). Its strident polemical tone, aimed chiefly at "contemporary bourgeois scholars in the West, " illustrates the problems that Dostoevsky's protean genius continues to pose for the scholars of his homeland. Two
quotations will suffice as examples: "His significance cannot be made to fit the Procrustean bed of any of the artistic and philosophical doctrines that are influential at present in the West," (p. 9) and "Dostoevsky's ideals - as was well understood by both Saltykov-Shchedrin and Konstantin Leont'ev, who condemned Dostoevsky for it - coincided to the end of his life, despite all the historical peculiarity of the writer's views, with the ideals of the socialists and revolutionaries of his and our epoch, and not with the views represented by the reactionaries of that time and the present,"(pp. 13-14)
"Estetika Dostoevskogo," the second chapter in the book, has been reprinted almost unchanged from "Dostoevskij - khudozhnik i myslitel' : sbornik statej." (Moscow, 1972) A regrettable omission is the first two pages of the original version, in which the author reviewed earlier Russian and foreign studies of Dostoevsky's esthetics and singled out Robert L. Jackson's book on "Dostoevsky's Quest for Form" and Sven Linnér's "Dostoevsky on Realism" as commendable exceptions to his statement that most present-day foreign studies of Dostoevsky's esthetics "serve not so much to capture the real essence of his ideas as to reinforce .the researchers' own esthetic systems." Along with omitting these two pages the author has added an eight-page section on Dostoevsky's Pushkin Speech to this reprinted version.
The other two reprinted chapters are "Dostoevski) i Tolstoj," which first appeared in a shorter form in "Dostoevski) i ego vremja" (Leningrad, 1971); and "Dostoevski) i nemeckij roman XX veka," which was first published as "Dostoevski), nemeckaja i avstrijskaja proza XX v.," in "Dostoevski) v zarubezhnykh literaturakh." (Leningrad, 1978) While taking note of the numerous differences between Dostoevsky and Tolstoj, Fridlender emphasizes here the parallels between the two writers, such as their aversion to Western European society on their first visits to the West, their cult of the Russian common people, and their portrayal of society in crisis and dissolution. Understandably, the greatest weakness in his discussion of parallels lies precisely in the area that both writers considered most important: their lifelong search for spiritual truth, and their common conviction that the whole universe was an absurdity if there was no God and no spiritual reality beyond death.
Fridlender's chapter about responses to Dostoevsky among German-language writers is one of the most rewarding in the whole book. In it he deals in some detail with Gerhard Hauptmann, Jakob Wassermann, Rilke, Hesse, Kafka, Werfel, Freud, Stefan and Arnold Zweig, Alfred Döblin, Hans Fallada, and Thomas Mann, as well as more cursorily with a number of other writers. Here again, however, one is tempted to quote Fridlender to Fridlender and say of Dostoevsky that "his significance cannot be made to fit the Procrustean bed of any of the artistic and philosophical doctrines that are influential at present in the West" - or anywhere else. To cite just one example, in nearly eight pages devoted to Wassermann, Fridlender discusses "Caspar Hauser," "Das Gänsemädchen," and "Der Aufruhr um den Junker Ernst"; but he says not a word about the novel
that is generally considered to be both the greatest and the most Dostoevskian of all his works, "Christian Wahnschaffe," which
Wassermann himself called "a novel with religion as its basic idea, with a modern St. Francis of Assisi as its subject." Fridlender also asserts that "Dostoevsky's 'political-religious tendency', according to Wassermann's confession, remained forever alien to him." (p. 302) Wassermann's actual statement, which referred to Dostoevsky's literary creation, reads as follows: "(I)ts particular national and political-religious impact will make it always appear alien, or at least not really familiar, to European man; and only the unparalleled genius of his creative power has made it possible to remove the barriers that separate him and his world from us and our world."
Of the three new articles in this book, the longest one deals with Dostoevsky and Nietzsche. Though much of it is devoted to a running polemic against unnamed "contemporary bourgeois scholars in the West," the last nine pages of this 41-page article do present some new material: in them Fridlender discusses five excerpts copied by Nietzsche from a French translation of Dostoevsky's "Besy." The excerpts were published in 1970 in the critical German edition of Nietzsche's complete works, and Fridlender says they have hitherto gone undiscussed by any scholar. Another of the new articles is devoted to a discussion of Victor Hugo's impact on Dostoevsky. The third and most substantial of the three is entitled "Ot Dostoevskogo k Kamju." Calling attention at the outset to the remarkable number of what he describes as "sputnik" novels, which have arisen in various Western literatures to orbit around one or another of Dostoevsky's works, Fridlender devotes this essay to a discussion of three French novels that he sees as satellites of "Prestuplenie i
nakazanie": Paul Bourget's "Le Disciple," André Gide's "Les Caves du Vatican," and Albert Camus' "L'Etranger." While readers may differ on the extent to which the author actually proves the existence of specific Dostoevskian influences in each of these three works, his detailed analyses of them are interesting and thought-provoking. At the same time, they illustrate the weakness that not only runs throughout this otherwise noteworthy book but is also well-nigh endemic in Soviet scholarship on Dostoevsky - a certain narrowness of vision such as we find in the following statement about Bourget's "Le Disciple": "(I)n the years when positivism and the general faith in bourgeois science and its possibilities enjoyed their greatest popularity and influence, he clearly and convincingly showed that in the bourgeois world science can serve not only as an instrument for the free development of the human spirit and the uplift of humanity but also as an instrument of self-deception and even of crime." This is true as far as it goes, of course, but it does not go far enough. Its truth is not limited to the
bourgeois world, as Solzhenicyn most effectively demonstrated in "V kruge pervom," where the whole story revolves around highly trained prisoner-scientists who are offered a lighter sentence in return for using their science to provide the authorities with the means of tightening their dictatorial control over the population. Even more than in the case of Bourget, Dostoevsky's works deal with problems that transcend
all forms of human society. whether bourgeois, socialist, or whatever future
generations may devise. Any interpretation of Dostoevsky's "critical realism" that makes it apply only to bourgeois -society demeans and distorts Dostoevsky's genius just as seriously as attempts to make it apply only to present-day conditions in the Soviet Union. The power of Dostoevsky's incomparable artistic vision can open our eyes to the truth that the problems we have in common are even greater than our difference.
William B. Edgerton -- Indiana University
G. M. Fridlender, ed. Dostoevskij: Materialy i issledovanija, no. 2.
Leningrad: Nauka, 1976, 332 pp. Cloth, 1r. 69k.
G. M. Fridlender, ed. Dostoevskij: Materialy i issledovanija, no. 3.
Leningrad: Nauka, 1978, 293 pp. Cloth, 1r. 60k.
Uneven as they are in the importance of issues raised and in the scholarly skills with which issues are resolved, such collections of essays as those under review are usually most useful for individual studies that might shed a particular light. on some one topic rather than for the sum of their individual parts. Nevertheless, Professor Fridlender has done his best to give us a representative sample of modern scholarship, and although the two books in question are not among the most recent publications, they provide an opportunity for some generalizations about the state of Dostoevsky studies.
One such general observation - applicable to the collected edition as well - is that Russian critical work on Dostoevsky continues to carry on past traditions and, indeed, to break some new ground. One misses a Dolinin or a Grossman in these texts, but Likhachev, Chicherin, and Fridlender himself are close behind and supported by a solid cast of industrious scholars. The contributions to our knowledge of Dostoevsky range from research pieces which provide clarity or nuance for some aspect of the writer's life and work, to explorations which suggest new theoretical perspectives. Of particular interest in the first instance is G. A. Fedorov's map to Dostoevsky's rich merchant relatives, the Kumanin's, and the hint that it might lead us to "The Little Hero." In separate essays I. D. Jakubovich and V. D. Rak add to our knowledge of the Russian judicial conditions which went into Dmitrij's trial; M. A. Al'tman continues his life-long study of names in Dostoevsky's fiction; V. A. Tunimanov sheds considerable light on a minor journalist, L. K. Panjutin, who inspired parts of "Bobok"; A. L. Ospovat notes a coincidence of political-historical views between the young Dostoevsky and the early Slavophiles, and T. I.
Ornatskaja publishes letters from Baron Wrangel that aid our understanding of the relationship between the two old friends. The essays emphasizing a theoretical concern are dominated by the study of cultural cross-pollination. Dostoevsky's influence on or debt to Pushkin, Dickens,
Herzen, Goncharov, Belyj, Thomas Mann, Cervantes, Sluchevskij, Shmelev, and Polish, Belgian, Slovak, Swedish, and Czech writers is explored by
different critics, with particularly notable contributions made by Rudolf Neuhäuser and Professor Tunimanov who divide up the responsibility of clarifying, in respective order, the intricate links of the young Dostoevsky and the mature Dostoevsky with Saltykov-Shchedrin.
A second generalization that strikes one is that Soviet scholarship, strangely enough, is lacking in innovative Marxist perspectives. There is no Georg Lukacs, Lucien Goldmann, Terry Eagleton, or Frederic Jameson publishing in the USSR today and the most interesting works in these books that can be said to extend Marxian principles to new perspectives are from scholars such as A. Kovacs (Bucharest) and K. Staedtke (Berlin). That is not to say that social-political concepts we have come to expect from Soviet literary studies are absent. Other essays connect Dostoevsky to the
narod or the oppressed - but in anachronistic modalities, since they are limited in empathy and concern for the native religious values Dostoevsky himself discovered in the lower classes. Notwithstanding the work of scholars like Professor Vetlovskaja (unfortunately not represented here), and although much progress has been made from those days when Merezhkovskij or Rozanov could not be cited with impunity, an evident weakness of Soviet scholarship is in the failure to follow Dostoevsky into the intricate moral and psychological realms of Russian religious tradition. The first collection commits this particular sin of omission by including a strictly edited version of an essay by Robert Louis Jackson that does indeed attempt to demonstrate a new religious-aesthetic depth in Dostoevsky's notions of
bezobrazie. The second collection redeems the first by including the essay in an uncut version, and one hopes that this restoration of an American scholar's work is a harbinger of larger restorations of a sense of historical proportion.
A more positive feature of the two collections is the inclusion of translations of essays by Western scholars such as Jackson, Neuhäuser, Malcolm Jones, D. Arban, and Jacques Catteau. On the basis of works published in the original, Western readers, it is true, can anticipate that Professor Jackson's essay will deal with
blagoobrazie, that Professor Jones might warm-over Mikhailovskij, and that Catteau will be concerned with temporal and spatial aspects of Dostoevsky's fiction. The studies, however, are a vital source for the exchange of ideas and provide seeds for thought that should bear fruit in the future. The potential benefit of such contacts is demonstrated, by a type of reverse process, in the essay on Hegel by V. A. Bachinin. Much critical profit would have been gained if not only Soviet scholarship, as stated by the author, was at issue, but if the works of Dmitrij Chizhevsky and Philip Rahv (the last, it is true, approached with some attention to factual errors) had been consulted. Professors Catteau and R. Ja. Klejman, on the other hand, interact nicely in demonstrating fundamental processes of literary creation. Using Bakhtin for a point of departure their essays show that Dostoevsky's approaches to fiction incorporate both a concern for spatial and temporal properties and historically-based literary perceptions reminiscent of Renaissance aesthetics. One would enjoy hearing these two
scholars, and a number of other contributors from East and West, engage in open dialogue, dare we hope at the Dostoevsky congress in Normandie?
Nicholas Rzhevsky -- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
G. M. Fridlender, ed. Dostoevskij: Materialy i issledovanija, No. 4. Leningrad: Nauka, 1980. 288 pp. Cloth, 1r. 90k.
In its overall plan the fourth volume in this series is very like its three predecessors. It opens with a previously unpublished letter from Dostoevsky to Strakhov, then there is an introductory article by G. M. Fridlender followed by nine others of similar length by scholars from various parts of the Soviet Union or, in one case, the GDR. Seven shorter pieces which might best be (and in some cases are) described as additional items of commentary to the Collected Works come next, then a long review (or more accurately a summary) of Vjacheslav Ivanov's "Freedom and the Tragic Life" and finally a variety of previously unpublished primary materials.
In his introductory article Fridlender defines the aim of all the volumes in the series as that of "augmenting knowledge with new ideas and hypotheses, new facts and observations, which, in our view, may to a greater or lesser degree assist a further, deepened understanding of Dostoevsky's life and work." One of the areas he selects as worthy of further research, and has of course broached before, is that of Dostoevsky's "demokratizm" (for which, I think, there is no single English word). It is fair to say that the next five articles are devoted to aspects of this theme: V. I. Kajgorodov ("Ob istorizme Dostoevskogo"); V. P. Popov ("Problema naroda u Dostoevskogo"); G. K. Shchennikov ("Ob esteticheskikh idealakh Dostoevskogo"); E. P. Chervinskene ("Svoboda lichnosti v mire idei Dostoevskogo"); R. Opitts ("Chelovechnost’ Dostoevskogo"). A. P. Chudakov's article on "Predmetnyj mir Dostoevskogo" contains no surprises. The last three articles are devoted to themes in comparative literature.
E. I. Kijko's article on Dostoevsky and Renan and the last article in the section, by Ju. I. Sokhrjakov, on the Dostoevsky tradition as perceived by Wolfe, Faulkner and Steinbeck are likely to be of equal interest in the Soviet Union and the West. T. G. Morozova's interest in Korolenko and Dostoevsky is echoed in a later, shorter piece by F. I. Evnin, in a discussion of Dostoevsky and Russian literature at the turn of the last century; Morozova discusses "At-davan" and Evnin "Son Makara." R. G. Nazirov's discussion of Godwin and Dostoevsky is the other main comparative contribution; although the parallels are striking, the link between the two writers is less well established than in the other cases mentioned and the basic thesis therefore suspect. I. L. Volgin's discussion of the Tsarist censorship and Dostoevsky's works, based on new materials, is, however, of considerable interest.
Among ;the newly published primary materials contained in this volume, pride of place is taken by Desjatkina's and Fridlender's contribution on Dostoevsky's library, supplementing by some 172 titles the list published by Grossman in 1923. The new list derives from a second handwritten notebook compiled by the novelist's widow, and discovered in the Manuscripts Department of
Pushkinskij dom by Fridlender in 1958.
These, and other contributions not listed in this review, make this new volume a worthy companion of its predecessors. Although few of the contributions are (or would claim to be) of spectacular importance, they ably continue the work of commentary and interpretation whose foundations have been so solidly laid in the Collected Works themselves.
Malcolm V. Jones -- University of Nottingham
David I. Goldstein. Dostoevsky and the Jews. (University of Texas Slavic Series, No. 3.) Foreword by Joseph Frank. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981. xv, 231 pp. Cloth, $ 17.50.
Goldstein's book is the first full-length study of Dostoevsky's anti-Semitism. It is exhaustive and thoroughly documented, and a fine piece of work. It asks all the relevant questions. How could a writer subtle and profound as Dostoevsky, so passionately committed to Christian humility and brotherhood, become the most anti-Semitic of nineteenth-century Russian writers? What effect did this obsession - this "visceral anti-Semitism" as Goldstein calls it - have upon his creative work?
Apparently Dostoevsky never met any Jews until his exile to Siberia -almost all Jews had been evicted from St. Petersburg in 1826, and most of them lived in the borderlands of the Empire until 1859. Goldstein offers no evidence of anti-Semitism in Dostoevsky's upbringing nor does he examine anti-Semitic elements in the Russian culture of that time, i. e., before the 1860s. Goldstein infers an anti-Semitic bias in the title of a play written by Dostoevsky at the same time as "Poor Folk": "The Jew
(zhid) Jankel" - obviously inspired by Gogol's Jankel in "Taras Bulba." The play has not come down to us. Goldstein thinks it significant that a minor character in Gogol's story should become the central character in Dostoevsky's play.
When Dostoevsky did come to portray a Jew for the first time, in "The House of the Dead" - one Isaj Fomich Bumshtejn, who is said to be based on a Jewish convict at the
katorga - Isaj seems to be little more than another Jankel, a literary stereotype and funny caricature of a Jew, included in the book only to lighten its somber pages on prison life. One does not sense in the portrayal of Isaj Fomich any personal involvement by Dostoevsky himself, except for the psychological study of resentful buffoonery, which Dostoevsky was to perfect in later works. If Dostoevsky is anti-Semitic before the 1860s, he is not personally committed to it and carries it lightly.
His anti-Semitism became virulent in the 1860s and especially in the 1870s. On his trips to Europe his mania for gambling drove him to make the rounds of Jewish pawnbrokers in Germany - which may not be the best way to gain insight into the inner life of the Jew. His hatred of Jews was intensified by the ideology of
pochvennichestvo which he expounded in his magazine "Vremja" in the 1860s. He preached the gospel of reconciliation of Russia's social classes, extolling everything Russian at the expense of what was non-Russian; the Jews of course were regarded as a foreign body, living apart from the Russians and having different values. Most important was the competition of the Jewish faith: the Jews were historically the chosen people, beloved of God, with a Messianic destiny and this clashed with Dostoevsky's vision of the Orthodox Russians as the new god-bearing people destined to regenerate the world. Hence he had to debunk the Jews as degenerate, materialistic, power-hungry, and unworthy of their historic destiny.
In the 1870s Dostoevsky moved closer to the right wing of the Slavophiles, adopting their militant pan-Slavism. If Russia's foreign policy failed, he attributed it to the hatred of that Jew Disraeli and to Jewish bankers in Europe. And the Jews, he said, controlled the Russian press and even the Russian socialist movement, with the aim of demoralizing Russia and Western civilization so that only the Jews would remain in power. Dostoevsky had standard anti-Semitic literature in his library. "The Diary of a Writer," in which much of this ranting appeared, was often criticized by Jewish readers as anti-Semitic - a charge that Dostoevsky always rejected.
It is this which leads Joseph Frank in his introduction to argue that while Dostoevsky was undoubtedly anti-Semitic, a case could be made for a certain complexity and ambivalence in his anti-Semitism which Goldstein does not admit. Frank notes instances in which Dostoevsky's newspaper came out again and again in support of the extension of legal rights to Jews with university degrees (Goldstein had dismissed this as merely tactical, designed to attract liberal readers to Dostoevsky's new
magazine). And in an issue of "The Diary of a Writer" entitled "The Jewish Question," (March 1877) in which Dostoevsky tried to refute the charge of anti-Semitism, he came out for full extension of rights to Jews (Goldstein caustically notes all the qualifications - that the Jews should give up their isolation and respect the Russians, etc.). Frank notes that Dostoevsky entered into a long and sympathetic correspondence with two young Jews - Kovner, a Jewish journalist imprisoned for embezzling bank funds, and an eighteen-year old girl named Sof'ja Lur'e, for whom Dostoevsky was a kind of Ann Landers. And Dostoevsky seized upon an anecdote related by Sof'ja to show how Christians and Jews could truly come to love each other, without the coercion of legal rights. (Geoffrey Kabat makes the same point in Chapter 6 of his "Ideology and Imagination.") Frank also points out that Dostoevsky hated not only Jews but a foreigners; indeed, Poles come out much worse than Jews in the novels. In brief, says Frank, if Dostoevsky was anti-Semitic, he was a
"guilty anti-Semite," aware that his hatred was in violation of Christ's gospel of loving humility.
Frank does not make clear why Dostoevsky felt guilty only about his hatred of Jews, and not about his hatred of French, Germans and Poles. I would explain this difference by the fact that he admired the Jews for the same reason that he hated them: unlike the degenerate Europeans, the dews were not atheists. In his essay on "The Jewish Question" Dostoevsky wrote: "It is impossible to conceive a Jew without God. I do not believe in the existence of atheists even among educated Jews." And he added: the fact that the Jewish people have existed "in such a close and indestructible unity for forty centuries, virtually the entire historical period of mankind" (proves that they are) "a people of such vitality, of such unusual strength and energy that they are without precedent among nations."
I think it is this love-hate for the Jewish people that accounts not only for his ambivalent views but also for the fact that Dostoevsky somehow could not express his anti-Semitism in his characters. Despite his preoccupation in journalistic works with the Yids, the Yids as usurers and moneylenders, none of his usurers and moneylenders are Jews. Alena Ivanovna in "Crime and Punishment," who is murdered by Raskolnikov, is said to be "rich as a Jew" but she is an Orthodox and pious Christian; there is Pticyn in "The Idiot" and Perkhotin, Grushen'ka, and Fedor Karamazov in "The Brothers Karamazov." Ljamshin in "The Possessed" is a Jew and in one instance is a moneylender (to Shatov), but neither in appearance, speech, nor even in his name is he Jewish. Goldstein claims that Ljamshin was identified as a Jew since Dostoevsky could not bear to think that a Russian would become an informer on a socialist circle. Yet Ljamshin's Jewishness is so underplayed that the reader does not even think of him as Jewish. There are many pejorative references to the Yid
(zhid) in the novels but not a single character stands out in one's memory as a Jew. It seems to me that Dostoevsky's undeniable anti-Semitism is not so repulsive when viewed in this context; his great creative talent found no inspiration in his anti-Semitism.
There is one terrible moment in "The Brothers Karamazov" where Dostoevsky's anti-Semitism breaks through in a vicious way. The half-crazed Liza Khokhlakova asks Alesha Karamazov: "Is it true at Passover the Yids
(zhidy) steal and slaughter children? " "I don't know, " replies Alesha, that saintly disciple of Zosima and symbol of mankind's future. This "I don't know" is more vicious than Goldstein assumes it to be since Goldstein is evidently unaware of one important fact. Liza's question was connected with the Kutaisi affair, the first trial for ritual murder in Russia. Nine Georgian Jews were charged on March 5, 1879, in the court at Kutaisi in the death of a young peasant girl. On March 13 the court found the Jews not guilty of the crime. The state prosecutor's appeal was dismissed in April 1880. Meshcherskij's reactionary magazine "Grazhdanin" ran a series of inflammatory articles during 1879-1880, and Dostoevsky is known to have read them. The first article in the series was entitled "Information on the Killing of Christians by Jews for the Purpose of Procuring Blood."
My point is that the court dismissed the case on March 13, 1879.
Dostoevsky sent the printer the chapter dealing with Liza's question on July 6, 1880 ("Polnoe sob.," 15:440), that is to say, 16
months after he knew that the Jews had been acquitted; yet he still has Alesha say "I don't know" ! My own opinion is that in writing "I don't know" Dostoevsky was fantasizing his hope that ritual murder by Jews
could be true even if it wasn't.
The only positive aspect of this grim story is that Dostoevsky gave the words "I don't know" to Alesha, whose saintly character makes such a statement utterly implausible. It could have been uttered more plausibly by Fedor Karamazov. In having Alesha speak these words Dostoevsky violated plausibility and the integrity of his art, unconsciously punishing himself for his anti-Semitism.
Frank is right that Dostoevsky's anti-Semitism is more complicated and ambivalent than Goldstein thinks it is. But Frank's own notion of a "guilty anti-Semite" needs to be developed differently: Dostoevsky hates the Jews for the same reason that he admires them: they believe in God. And despite the anti-Semitic obsession raging through his journalistic works, Dostoevsky the creative artist was not inspired by it in any of his great novels. He has given us Raskol'nikov, Myshkin, Stavrogin, the Karamazovs, but no Shylock; and even his moneylenders and usurers are not Jews. That is a cheerful thought on which to end this review.
Nathan Rosen -- University of Rochester
Robert Louis Jackson. The Art of Dostoevsky: Deliriums and Nocturnes.
Princeton, N. J. : Princeton University Press, 1981, xiv, 380. Cloth, $ 25.00.
F. M. Dostoevski 1881 - 100 - 1981. (Essays by) Sergei Askol'dov, Sergei Bulgakov, Jurij Ivask, Fedor Stepun, Boris Filippov. (In Russian.) London: Overseas Publications Interchange Limited, 1981. 188 pp.
R. L. Jackson is one of the top Dostoevsky scholars today. His analysis of Dostoevsky's aesthetic in "Dostoevsky's Quest for Form" (1966) was a milestone in Dostoevsky studies. The present work will advance the understanding of Dostoevsky's art for all who will study it carefully and follow Jackson's example of scrupulous background research, careful consideration of literary connections and antecedents, and close reading of Dostoevsky's texts. "No detail is without significance in Dostoevsky's art, " says Jackson (p. 253), and it is precisely this deep respect - not to be mistaken for uncritical enthusiasm - for the artist Dostoevsky that accounts for much of Jackson's success.
Jackson has found ways to say much that is new and interesting about an author on whom entirely too many redundant books have been recently published. One way is through an intelligent comparative approach, one
area in which a lot remains to be done. Jackson's notes contain many intriguing leads and some of his observations in the text are illuminating, see his comments on Svidrigajlov and the Marquis de Sade (pp. 193-194) or on Goethe's "Faust" and "Krotkaja. " (pp. 251 ff.) Another way, successfully pursued by Jackson, is the identification of Dostoevsky's moral and philosophical thoughts in the concrete material of his fiction. Thus, Jackson is able to find enough instances in which Dostoevsky applies to his fictional characters his "law" of human nature, which says that "man strives on earth for an ideal that is
contrary to his nature. " (pp. 156-159) A third way, to which Jackson devotes most of his book, is a careful analysis of works which have generally remained in the shadow of Dostoevsky's great novels. This goes particularly for "Notes from the House of the Dead, " to which work Jackson devotes half of his book, demonstrating how it serves in many ways as a paradigm to the great novels. He shows convincingly that all the main themes and "accursed questions, " including even the aesthetic ones, are present in "The House of the Dead. " "The experience of the Russian convict in prison became for Dostoevsky a metaphor expressing the moral and spiritual tragedy of man in a fate-ruled universe, " Jackson observes (p. 13). In "The House of the Dead, " the existential experiments of the great novels, performed there in imaginary setups
(in vitro, as it were), unfold in "real life" situations.
Jackson observes that Dostoevsky's anthropology in "The House of the Dead" is both deep and riddled by contradictions. The Russian peasant convict emerges "as a rich personality with enormous strength and creative potential" (p. 113) and freedom as his greatest psychological necessity (p. 149), yet he is also, seemingly by nature, inclined "toward fatalism, toward justifying crime as misfortune and the criminal as an unfortunate." (p. 142) It would seem that Dostoevsky meets these antinomies more directly and honestly here than in his great novels, where he works them out dialectically and aesthetically, but moving away from the real and toward the ideal in the process. Jackson observes that, while Dostoevsky's own religious faith is apparent "both in the overall symbolic design of "The House of the Dead' and in many observations made by the narrator," the peasant-convicts, as seen by him, seem to respond mostly to the ritual of their religion, with little understanding of its ethical content (pp. 105-106), rather like Chekhov's
muzhiki in the story of that title. Jackson's observations on "The House of the Dead" include many well-taken points on the structure of that work, for example, some astute observations on the relation of the introduction of the body of "The House of the Dead, " (pp. 34-35) or penetrating analysis of "Akul'ka's Husband, " to which Jackson properly devotes a great deal of attention. If anything, I would attach an even higher value to it than Jackson does. The "disfiguration" of the "iconic Akulka" (p. 89) by her tragic wretch of a husband is, I believe, a purer and nobler version of the more artful and embellished tragedy of Nastas'ja Filippovna and Rogozhin.
Jackson's book contains valuable insights into several other works of Dostoevsky's, usually on the basis of their relationship to "The House of
the Dead. " This goes without saying in the case of "Muzhik Marej." But Jackson makes this connection plausible even for "Notes from Underground" (whose antihero places himself into a limiting situation - in front of "the wall" - of his own volition, while the convicts were put there by Life) and for "The Gambler" (on Dostoevsky's own authority, incidentally).
Jackson's analysis of "Krotkaja" is one of the highlights of his book. He comes as close as anybody I am aware of to explain what Dostoevsky meant by "the Underground." (pp. 248-249) There are also some valuable pages on the great novels. A brief essay on "Crime and Punishment" effectively operates with the concept of Christian tragedy (p. 187) and makes the profound observation that while Raskolnikov, like all of Dostoevsky's rationalists, considers himself a victim of Fate (as though he were the hero of a Greek tragedy!), he has been merely following "the iron logic of his own, inner fatality" all along (p. 205). Jackson's analysis of Fedor Karamazov's guilt and retribution is astute and surely correct, as far as it goes. But an even broader scheme may be discerned here, and one that is even closer to the "Oresteia" than Jackson implies, if we let the plot begin with the rape of Lizaveta the holy fool, a ward of the community (so Marcel Proust). I am inclined to follow V. V. Zen'kovskij and Ju. P. Ivask in seeing Fedor
Pavlovich as a character worthier of true tragedy than Jackson will allow. The power of Eros is strong in Fedor Pavlovich, though it appears in an all too crude form. He dies fittingly, a victim of a carnal, yet true and powerful passion. In conclusion I would like to say that Jackson's book, in my opinion reflects a deeper understanding of Dostoevsky than is found in most recent works on the author. It may very well inaugurate a new stage in our appreciation of Dostoevsky.
The articles gathered in the second volume under review here have
appeared over a period of seventy years. Sergei Bulgakov's essay "Ivan
Karamazov kak filosfskij tip" first appeared in 1903. Sergei Askol'dov's
essays "Religiozno-eticheskoe znachenie Dostoevskogo" and "Psikhologija
kharakterov u Dostoevskogo" appeared in 1922 and 1924, respectively.
Boris Vysheslavcev's book "Russkaja stikhija u Dostoevskogo" came out in
1923. Fedor Stepun's essay "Besy i bol'shevistskaja revoljucija" is from his
book "Vstrechi." (1962) Only the essays by Boris Filippov, "Ne mir, no
mech'," (1973) and Jurij Ivask, "Upoenie Dostoevskogo," (1972) are
recent. It is truly instructive to reread these excellent essays, especially
in context with Jackson's book. I believe that Jackson and a few other
scholars of our age have advanced beyond the best that a fine critic like
Askol'dov could offer sixty years ago. But then, these Russian critics have
something which is now irretrievably lost, in the West as well as in the
Soviet Union: they were, and Filippov and Ivask, who are still with us and
are in a sense contemporaries of Dostoevsky. They
react to him as one reacts to a living writer who is personally relevant to
his readers. We, who read Dostoevsky as a classic of world literature,
should listen to them very carefully.
Victor Terras -- Brown University
William J. Leatherbarrow. Fedor Dostoevsky. Boston: Twayne Publishers (A Division of G. K. Hall & Co.), 1981. 185 pp Cloth, $ 10.95.
In his preface, the British scholar William Leatherbarrow states, "In the present study my chief aim has been a modest one: to provide detailed readings of the four great novels which Dostoevsky wrote in the last two decades of his life - 'Crime and Punishment, ' 'The Idiot, ' 'The Devils,' and 'The Brothers Karamazov'." (page 7) The primary function of his book, he goes on to explain, is to serve the general reader as an introduction to the study of Dostoevsky's masterpieces. At the same time, though, Leatherbarrow expresses the hope "... that many details of ... (the) interpretations. . . might also be of interest to the Dostoevsky specialist." (page 7)
The book falls into eight chapters. The first sketches in biographical information. The second and third, devoted, respectively, to works of the 1840's and to "Notes from Underground," provide background material for the later discussions of the major novels. "Crime and Punishment" serves as the focal point of Chapter Four; "The Idiot," of Five; "The Possessed" and "A Raw Youth," of Six; and "The Brothers Karamazov," of Seven. A brief conclusion constitutes the last chapter.
Much of the material examined here offers no surprises to the Dostoevsky expert, nor does the book purport to do so. Leatherbarrow guides his readers through familiar territory: Dostoevsky's early years, his reaction to his father's murder, his friendship with Shidlovskij, the fateful contacts with the Petrashevskij circle, the period of exile in Siberia, his marriages, journalistic activities of the 1860's and 1870's, travels to Europe, and so forth.
After surveying the writers's life, Leatherbarrow turns to an analysis of the works. His tendency is to place Dostoevsky's oeuvre in the context of European culture as a whole. Thus, according to Leatherbarrow, one of Dostoevsky's overarching themes is his depiction of post-Enlightenment man, disillusioned with a faith in reason and rationality.
But the English scholar's "Fedor Dostoevsky" is far from being a one-theme book. Although he often colors his discussions of the novels with general remarks on the "fall" from Enlightenment of the characters, he also manages to particularize his readings of Dostoevsky's supreme masterpieces. Examining "Poor Folk," Leatherbarrow emphasizes the attention that Dostoevsky lavishes on Devushkin's psychology - that particular psychology generated by the protagonist's straitened circumstances. The "Crime and Punishment" section revolves around point of view. Leatherbarrow illustrates the interplay between objective and subjective narration. He explains, for example, that two Porfirijs exist for the reader - one, an "objectively" drawn protagonist and a second, a Porfirij who takes shape through Raskolnikov's consciousness. Leatherbarrow ties his comments to Bakhtin's concept of polyphony within
A chapter on "The Idiot" becomes the occasion for bringing up the subject of Biblical imagery. Leatherbarrow expands upon the idea of the central role of apocalyptic imagery in "The Idiot" so cogently argued in Robert Hollander's article, "The Apocalyptic Framework of Dostoevsky's 'The Idiot' , " "Mosaic" 7 (1974).
An examination of "Fedor Dostoevsky" discloses that there are a few minor instances where the record might be set straight. When Leather-barrow maps out the history of Dostoevsky's journalism of the 1860's, he asserts that Dostoevsky's reactionary views stem from the Siberian experience. He implies that the opinions expressed on the pages of "Vremja" and "Epokha" were all of a piece. My own research (first stated in my PhD dissertation on "pochvennichestvo" in "Vremja" and "Epokha" in 1972 , and in a series of articles in 1974 and 1975) and that of the Soviet scholar V. Nechaeva in a book on "Vremja" (1972) and one on "Epokha" (1975) counter that argument. In the first year of publication of "Vremja, " Dostoevsky was much closer to the radicals Chernyshevskij and Dobroljubov than to those farther to the right. Furthermore, he and his fellow "pochvenniki," Mikhail Dostoevsky, Apollon Grigor'ev, and Nikolaj Strakhov, advocated
political reforms. It was only during 1862 that the "pochvenniki" began to reject political solutions to Russia's problems and to adopt religious ones. And it was only at this time, therefore, that the thick journal "Vremja" (and its later descendant "Epokha") began to shift toward a more politically reactionary position.
Another minor flaw is Leatherbarrow's repeated references to Belinskij's disappointment in "The Double. " One remark seems legitimate. Two -perhaps even three - would also make sense. But after the fifth repetition, I felt that the point had been made too often.
To sum up, the book under review was conceived as an introductory survey of the Russian writer's fictional world. Leatherbarrow certainly achieves his aim. The general reader will also profit from the up-to-date bibliography of recent relevant secondary material.
Ellen Chances -- Princeton University
Loralee MacPike. Dostoevsky's Dickens. A Study of Literary Influence.
London: George Prior, Cloth, $ 7.50; Totowa, New Jersey: Barnes and Noble Books, 1981, Cloth, $ 19,50. x, 223 pp. (The criticisms expressed in the following note are more fully developed in a forthcoming review in "Victorian Studies.")
The author of this book returns to a question extensively discussed in the critical literature in English and Russian, and considers at great length two topics: the influence of Little Nell from "The Old Curiosity Shop" on Nelli Valkovskaja in "The Insulted and Injured," and that of Steerforth from David Copperfield on Stavrogin in "The Devils." MacPike has one
new piece of evidence to offer: the possibility that Little Nell is so horrified at her grandfather's gambling that, in running away with him, she is trying to punish him and to kill herself. This may be what Dostoevsky saw in Little Nell; it is the sort of complexity of characterization he was sensitive to. This view of Little Nell is not, however, a sufficient pin on which to hang a 100-page argument trying to restore "The Old Curiosity Shop" to "the canon of Dickens' masterpieces." Moreover what MacPike has to add to the critical discussion concerning Steerforth and Stavrogin is unclear to the reader (and possibly to herself). In her 75 pages on the subject she needed to distinguish between places where she was perhaps seeking to add to the critical discussion and places where she was repeating (in often convoluted jargon) arguments developed elsewhere. Her assertion that Katkov's article "Steerforth and Stavrogin" ("Slavonic and East European review," 1949) has "never been followed up" is false. A cavalier approach to scholarship and an erratic critical judgement confuse this attempt at a comparative study.
N.M. Lary -- York University, Toronto
Gary Saul Morson. The Boundaries of Genre: Dostoevsky's "Diary of a Writer" and the Traditions of Literary Utopia. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981. XI, 219 pp. Cloth. $ 25.00.
The blurbs on the dustjacket of Gary Morson's "The Boundaries of Genre: Dostoevsky's 'Diary of a Writer' and the Traditions of Literary Utopia" make substantial, unusually broad claims for the importance of this book for the subjects of genre-theory, hermeneutics, Dostoevsky studies, and even political history. Morson's subsequent readers will not be disappointed: his book displays a remarkable range. Passages of provocative literary theory are interspersed, enriched, and firmly buttressed by acute critical observations about specific works - More's "Utopia," Cervantes' "Don Quixote, " Erasmus' "Praise of Folly, " Wells' "A Modern Utopia, " Shklovskij's "Zoo, " to name just a few, and of course, Dostoevsky's "Diary of a Writer. "
It is especially satisfying to read a theoretical work which conscientiously musters so much hard data to support its hypotheses and which condescends to support those hypotheses with good, oldfashioned close readings. Morson is a theorist who is a careful reader, a searcher after first principles who is not a dogmatist or a predictable ideologue. Moreover, Morson frequently uses literary theory as a kind of literary criticism: for example, theories about metautopias help him understand Dostoevsky's "Diary." Conversely, Dostoevsky's "Diary" (and certain other works, such as his early journalism) has provided Morson with a springboard against which he can test the validity of his theory. Thus Morson's book itself becomes what may be thought of as a kind of literary meta-analysis, for within its pages general literary theory and literary criticism centered around particular texts engage in a cross-referential give-and-take. Mor-
son's term for this endeavor is "metareading." In general, metaliterary works are those which are reflexive, self-conscious, and which, in Shklovskij's words (quoted by Morson), seek to increase "the difficulty and length of perception" (p. 53). Metaliterature thereby defamiliarizes the conventions of literature itself, and metareadings take account of this whole process. (1 myself find all these uses of "meta" somewhat confusing - meta sometimes designates self-reflexiveness, at other times it connotes a dialogic, inconclusive quality. Some kind of easily accessible appendix of usages might have been helpful.)
Morson asserts that a search for the semantic import of a text intimately involves an act of classification or determination of genre on the part of the reader. In Morson's view, the genre in which we ultimately decide to place a work (the semiotic value with which we chose to endow it) will bear crucially upon how we understand that work. His primary interest is in boundary works (works that can be doubly or multiply classified, with regard to genre) - the "Alsace-Lorraines of fiction" (p. 49). In the course of his initial discussion of boundary works, Morson has culled some fascinating quotations from Belinskij that serve to make Morson's subsequent theoretical observations somehow endemic to Russian literature. "To the extent," wrote Belinskij, "that art approaches one or another of its boundaries, to that extent it gradually loses something of its essence and assimilates the essence of that which it borders upon - so that instead of defining features, there exists a realm that reconciles both sides." (p. 15)
But focusing on boundary genres can be tricky, for there is a sense in which all great works of literature - to the extent that they redefine, challenge, and expand the limits of the traditional genre within which they were originally conceived - may be classified as boundary art. Thus could Tolstoj observe in a preface to "War and Peace" that all major artistic prose works in Russian since Pushkin represented deviations from European form. In Europe too, of course, major works of literature were also "deviating" from their previous forms and stretching their formal generic boundaries (e. g. "Tristram Shandy," "The Prelude," Confessions of an English Opium Eater"). Thus definitions of boundary and threshold works must themselves, I think, always be seen against a generalized backdrop in which all established generic canons are also constantly in flux.
Within that category of boundary genres, Morson is particularly concerned with what he defines as "threshold art," that is, works that are deliberately "designed to be interpreted according to contradictory sets of conventions" (p. x). He defines three kinds of threshold art: 1) that art in which the author exploits the resonance between two kinds of reading so that the reader experiences a kind of "hermeneutic perplexity"; 2) that art in which the author juxtaposes radically heterogeneous material so that the reader becomes aware of extreme generic incompatibility existing within the work; and 3) that art which engages in
deceitful double or multiple encoding, usually for a didactic purpose. (Dostoevsky's
work, it seems to me, is capable of exploiting the possibilities of these three categories simultaneously.)
Morson reads "The Diary of a Writer" as threshold art, more specifically as a meta-utopia, that is, as a work in which the conflicting genres of Utopia and its parody, the anti-utopia, enter into an inconclusive dialogue with each other. Morson has incorporated into his theory some of Bakhtin's observations about Lucian's writings and about "Form and Chronotope in the Novel." Bakhtin's thesis that Dostoevsky's work consists of polyphonic dialogues of voices has likewise, it seems, been extended by Morson to embrace genre theory, with the resultant product of meta-genres, most specifically here, the meta-utopia.
Moreover, Morson, like Bakhtin, tends to stress, and stress eloquently, the dialogic, inclusive aspects of Dostoevsky's writing. Early on in his book, Morson writes, "To 'define and express the laws of decomposition' - that is the goal of the Dostoevskian novel..." (p. 9). Toward the end, after his analysis of the "Diary" as a meta-utopia, Morson carefully avoids suggesting that a resolution in the dialogue of genres occurs. Instead, he calls the "Diary" a "dialogue of the mind with itself. ... In it as in More's 'Utopia,' utopianism predominates, but that predominance is precarious; and "serious and entire belief is even threatened by an uncertain shadow of irony." Morson discovers in the "Diary" a "dialectic, "but definitely "not a synthesis." (p. 172)
Morson's theory of genre has created a model for describing the nature of the "Diary," as well as for certain other of Dostoevsky's works. I would hesitate, however, to apply it as a blanket theory for all of Dostoevsky's works. Nor, do I think would Morson attempt to do this. For example, in such novels as "Crime and Punishment" or "The Brothers Karamazov" (with its quintessential "paradoxicalist" Ivan whom Morson astutely analyzes), it can be argued that dialectic and dialogue do modulate, ultimately, into synthesis, and though various genres collide in the pages of these novels, they eventually constitute, as a whole, an intricately woven fabric. Thus while the Dostoevskian novel may "define and express the laws of decomposition," it may also effect an equally important recompo-sition or reconstitution.
Morson analyzes at length Dostoevsky's early feuilletons - which are narrated by Dostoevsky in the guise of a loquacious flaneur - and offers a most concise and useful generic description of the "sketch" : "a work that takes the form of a plan for future work, but also is an outline that invites and rewards interpretation as complete" (p. 15). Morson's comparison of Dostoevsky's sketches with Montaigne's exquisite, painstakingly formed essays, to my mind, brings to bear their differences more than their similarities. Although Montaigne called his essays "trials," and although Morson cites a wonderful passage from Montaigne in which he characterizes the way he pieces together "grotesque and monstrous bodies" in his essays, his essays do not truly exude the same aura of freshly captured raw data and cheerful haphazardness the way the typical Russian sketches
and feuilletons do. Nevertheless, Morson's treatment of this genre is first-rate; he convincingly describes the tendency of the' feuilletonist to relate not the event or story at hand, but its process.
When Morson turns his attention to the "Diary" he properly highlights and restores to its place Dostoevsky's very real streak of "apocalyptic mania and messianic anti-semitism." Morson acknowledges these to be powerful beliefs of Dostoevsky, but beliefs "entertained in the face of doubt." (p. 38) It is the presence of this doubt which initially allows Morson to read the "Diary" as a dialogue between Utopia and its parodic form, the anti-utopia. He contends that the "Diary" is a "literary work in the form of a writer's notebook - a distinction no less hermeneutically significant than that between non-literary and literary familiar letters." (p. 60) As such, the "Diary" creates and expresses the illusion of spontaneity.
Throughout Morson's discussion of Utopian works, I kept being haunted by what seems to me to be a crucial distinction W. H. Auden once made (in "The Dyer's Hand") between Utopia and paradise. Utopia exists in the future or in some distant place; men seek to build and attain it. Paradise is a state of man's pure harmony in nature and with other men that has been irrevocably lost. Works such as Oblomov's "Dream" or "The Dream of a Ridiculous Man" (the latter Morson analyzes in both its Utopian and anti-utopian contexts) have always struck me as works about a lost paradise. Perhaps one could expand the categories of Utopian, anti-utopian, meta-utopian literature to include this special brand of lost Utopia - paradise.
Morson's discussion of parody is particularly provocative. He asserts that parody must evoke another utterance and must be somehow antithetical to its target, while the author intends his parody to have a higher semantic authority than the work or genre it is parodying. But Morson is also careful to limit the range of successful parody; he acknowledges that longer narrative forms like the novel (e. g. "Don Quixote") rarely lend themselves to successful parody. Instead novels often tend toward "meta-parody," for their texts exploit the "dialogue between parody and counter-parody." (p. 142) Or, as another critic has put it, in a discussion of "Don Quixote," "Joseph Andrews," and "Northanger Abbey," novels cannot exclusively remain parodies. "The impulse of parody is
too mechanical to
be sustained, either the parody will cease to govern the live of the novel, as in 'Joseph Andrews,' or the convention being parodied will reassert its genuine life, as in 'Don Quixote,' or, as in 'Northanger Abbey' (and perhaps in the 'Diary?') both sides of the opposition implicit in parody remain viable, and whichever gets the upper hand depends on the particular moment of literary history" (Judith Wilt, "Ghosts of the Gothic," p. 124). Although Henry James never explicitly called Dostoevsky's novels "loose and baggy monsters" (he used this phrase for Tolstoj's work, although both Tolstoj and Dostoevsky's works were, he felt, "fluid puddings though not tasteless"), nevertheless, Morson's observation that "one man's loose and baggy monster' may be another man's systematic generic parody," (p. 176) is well-placed.
Morson has charted much valuable new territory in his book; he has drawn a map full of provinces and major cities, and, most important, he has indicated many crucial boundary lines and buffer zones. Within the physical limitations of a single volume, he has attempted to offer a rare mix of the general and the specific, and his success is impressive. I could not help wishing, however, that Morson could have spent more time in giving his readers a sustained close reading of the "Diary" so that we could trace for ourselves, yet in Morson's fine company, the shadings and modulations of that intricate dialogue between Utopia and anti-utopia. Morson's endeavor could have easily spanned two volumes. The roughly sixty-five pages he has devoted specifically to discussing the "Diary" left me longing for at least sixty-five more. But perhaps that is the way a successful critical work should leave its readers: armed with a tantalizing theory and wishing to be served up immediately with more and more particular instances of its validity.
Robin Feuer Miller -- Harvard Russian Research Center
Vladimir Nabokov. Lectures on Russian Literature, edited by Fredson Bowers. New York: Harcourt, Brace,
Jovanovich, 1981. 325 pp. Cloth, $ 19.95.
In his lectures on six Russian writers of the nineteenth century - Gogol, Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Tolstoj, Chekhov, and Gorkij - Vladimir Nabokov devotes approximately forty pages to Dostoevsky; the bulk of the remainder of his lectures center on Gogol and, of course, Tolstoj, whom he considered "the greatest Russian writer of prose fiction." (p. 137) Concerning Dostoevsky's talent, Nabokov is less enthusiastic: "Dostoevsky is not a great writer, but a rather mediocre one." His reasons for such a debunking are varied and often obscure. After stating that "The Double" (1846) is "the best thing Dostoevsky ever wrote," Nabokov attempts to account for what he believes to be the author's mediocrity as an artist.
Centering the source of Dostoevsky's failure on a pathology developed during his four years of penal servitude, Nabokov asserts that Dostoevsky sought escape from madness "in a neurotic Christianism which he developed during those years." (p. 101) All that he wrote (and his writing was always rushed and uncontrolled), sought support, according to Nabokov, in three beliefs: "the Greek-Catholic Church, absolute monarchy, and the cult of Russian nationalism.
Nabokov continues to interrrogate the weaknesses in Dostoevsky's artistic thought by suggesting that the sentimental European mystery novel, which gave form to his conflicts in the major novels, was an influence continually guiding his themes. Coupled with his sentimental outlook on human" actions were the ideas of salvation achieved "through transgression," the ethical supremacy of suffering and submission over struggle and resistance, and the "struggle between egoism-antichrist" on the one
hand, and "brotherhood-Christ-Russia on the other." (p. 103)
Ideas, Nabokov believes, so overshadowed Dostoevsky's effectiveness in creating images, that he failed as a writer. For example, he suggests that "weather" does not exist in Dostoevsky's works, so it does not matter how people dress. Moral climate replaces rain, sunshine, and fog. From his observations on settings in the novels, Nabokov claims Dostoevsky missed his true calling; instead of developing into "Russia's greatest playwright," Dostoevsky became one of her least successful novelists.
Certainly Nabokov's practical criticism of Dostoevsky has its roots in theory, and he turns to philosophical-aesthetic reasoning to justify his criticism. First, a good writer begins his work by setting out an artistic problem he wishes to solve. All that he selects - characters, time, place -must point toward the solution of this problem: "There is one absolute demand we are entitled to make," he continues. "This world in itself, and as long as it lasts, must be plausible to the reader or to the spectator." (p. 105) Second, Nabokov suggests, "art is a divine game." The artist comes nearest to God when he creates, but he must remember always that what he creates is make-believe. According to these two criteria, Dostoevsky fails to fulfill his role as a fiction writer. Now to the individual works.
Nabokov begins by cataloguing all of Dostoevsky's major fiction according to pathologies - "epilepsy, " "senile-dementia, " "hysteria, " "psychopaths" - and then writes about the novels with these categories as one set of guides. He observes that "Crime and Punishment" also contains literary tricks to seduce the reader. Nabokov singles out the scene in which Sonja and Raskol'nikov together read the story of Lazarus and Christ. He condemns such a fictional scene on the ground -that "there is no rhetorical link between a filthy murderer and this unfortunate girl." (p. 110)
"Memories from a Mousehole" (wrongly translated as "Notes from the Underground," Nabokov observes), fails as fiction because Dostoevsky obscures the reasons why the narrator is so depraved. Choosing this word to illuminate what he believes is a fundamental failing in Dostoevsky's art, Nabokov observes that "the writer's art lags behind the writer's purpose," a shortcoming which is reflected in Dostoevsky's lack of concrete details. Further, Dostoevsky's style is substandard in other ways he repeats himself too often; his vocabulary is banal; he is vulgar when wishing to be eloquent. (p. 118)
Dostoevsky's flawed style is complicated further by the number of prejudices which invade his works, especially his dislike of "Germans, Poles, and Jews, " according to Nabokov. These biases mar Dostoevsky's ability to create believable fictional worlds. His most positive fictional character, however, is Prince Myshkin, a soul both pure and forgiving, Nabokov asserts. The weakness of "The Idiot" lies less with character than with plot. Comparing the light artistic touch of Tolstoj's plots to Dostoevsky's, Nabokov claims the latter creates "with the blows of club. " (p. 128)
In "The Possessed" Dostoevsky creates a farce without humor; the novel comprises little more than a series of pummellings on human dignity. Nabokov believes Dostoevsky wrote in order to shock the reader rather than to create a world of subtlety and nuance. He judges all of the central creations to be faulty in that what they lack as novels would be strengths were they plays instead - the "succession of scenes, of dialogues, of scenes where all the people are brought together." (p. 131)
Finally, Nabokov dismisses "The Brothers Karamazov" as "a curious detective story," too long and too full of tricks to be an effective novel. He believes, for example, that "the whole lengthy limp story of the monk Zosima could have been deleted without impairing it." (p. 135) The work's movement is too slow and laborious for Nabokov; he ends with a lament that the world of "The Brothers Karamazov" is too laden with "cold reasoning abandoned by the spirit of art. " (p. 135)
The reader will want to study Nabokov's theory of art and to examine its practical application to the fiction cited here. A consideration of what Nabokov fails to include of Dostoevsky's writing would certainly prove fruitful.
Dennis Patrick Slattery -- Southern Methodist University
Charles E. Passage. Character Names in Dostoevsky's Fiction. Ann Arbor: Ardis, 1982. 140 pp. Paper, $ 6.50.
The aim of Mr. Passage's latest contribution to Dostoevsky scholarship is "to enhance the pleasure of English language readers" by illuminating the creative art of "name-contriving." Defined as a "dictionary of all the proper names of characters in Dostoevsky's works, complete with etymologies and definitions," this source is useful not only to the English speaking reader of Dostoevsky who is outside the tradition of "speaking names," but helpful as well to the Russian-speaking reader as an extensive listing (513 entries) of character names in Dostoevsky's fiction.
Mr. Passage has divided his study into three sections: Part I, in which the discussion is organized in terms of separate works; Part II, which is categorized according to types of names; and a third section which consists of tables of given and family names. A brief introduction provides a survey of the history of nomenclature, from its earliest uses in classical literature to the particularly Russian treatment of the tradition in the 18th and 19th centuries, emanating from Fonvizin and developed by Pushkin, Gogol and Dostoevsky.
Part I, which comprises the major portion of the text, is a brief summary of individual works with a discussion of etymology, derivation and meaning of names of more prominent characters (e. g., Raskol'nikov, which is discussed not only in terms of duality and schism, but as a play on
the ax-murder imagery - kolot' - "to split, cleave," and the prefix ras/raz - "asunder"; and Karamazov, here interpreted as "black smear"). In the case of
diminutives and nicknames, English equivalents are offered (Van'ka Otpetyj - "Jackie Hopeless"), and some literary sources are cited (for example, the allusion to "Manon Lescaut" implied in the name de Grieu in "The Gambler"). The works treated in this section are divided into four chronological categories: 1) Early stories of 1846-1849; 2) works of various kinds, 1857-1865; 3) short novels and short stories, 1866-1881; and 4) the long novels.
In the second part of his study Mr. Passage examines "types of family names" and their meanings according to characteristics, peculiarities, animal names and as a reflection of social classes. Special groups of characters, such as doctors, various nationalities, animals,' narrators, etc. , are also treated individually in this section.
The third and final section of the work consists of a master list divided into three separate sub-sections. The first comprises given names with an English equivalent "most likely familiar to English-languages readers and their etymologies from Russian Orthodox church calendars (e. g., Zosima-Zosimus-vigorous, full of life)." To this list is appended a separate table of non-Russian given names categorized by nationality. Thirdly, there is a comprehensive list of family names of Dostoevsky's characters written in Latin and Cyrillic with their meanings (e. g., Stavrogin - cross-born). In most tables the work in which the name appears is cited as well.
The organization of this handbook is such that it requires considerable time to adequately acquaint oneself with its format; in order to arrive at a full explanation of the complete name of a given character one must examine all three sections carefully. Yet the advantage of this mode of presentation is that it allows more discussion and analysis than the conventional dictionary or name-list. It must be pointed out, however, that this is not a critical study and that there is no attempt to discuss the ideological implications of each name within the greater philosophical context of the work. Instead, this is intended as a key to deciphering the intricacies of nomenclature for the beginning reader of Dostoevsky, with the ultimate goal of the "illumination of (his) genius, " and as a starting point from which the more advanced scholar may explore the higher meaning of Dostoevsky's use of "speaking names. "
Suzette Adler -- Yale University
Victor Terras. A Karamazov Companion. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1981. 482 pp, Cloth, $ 30.00; paper, $ 9.95.
The title aptly describes the book's objective: a page-by-page companion to the text, in this case Norton's 1976 Matlaw-Garnett translation, cross referenced with "Polnoe sobranie sochinenij. " The textual explication is
preceded by a lengthy "Introduction, " (120 pages) which outlines and critiques the accumulated scholarship on "The Brothers Karamazov. " Terras writes primarily for the English-language reader who is too distant from the social, philosophical, and cultural atmosphere of 1860-1880 Russia to catch the many nuances alluding to that environment. Thus, the comments on the main themes, literary sources, genesis, and narrative structure represent not new perspectives, but a well-organized package of traditional research, supplemented by Terras' perceptive elucidations. He brings out how closely some events and statements in the novel link up with Dostoevsky's public activity. Autobiographical details chart both well-known and important items (the death of Dostoevsky's son Aleksej, the pilgrimage to Optina Pustyn'), and lesser known facts, such as Dostoevsky's summer house in Staraja Russa, which is faithfully reproduced in Fedor Pavlovich's house. The tracing of literary sources reveals the influence of Shakespeare, Voltaire, Hugo, Schiller, Goethe, and a multitude of Russian writers, Pushkin dominant among them. While studying these diverse allusions, one is struck once again by the non-Russian reader's disadvantage. For example, Dmitrij departs for Mokroe with the words "Eshche poslednee skazan'e. " The translation's "A few more last words" misses the reference both to Pushkin and to the murder of little Dmitrij in "Boris Godunov. " Those unfamiliar with Nekrasov's "Why is the babe weeping?" do not perceive Dmitrij's quote, uttered during his rebirth, as a confrontation between Dostoevsky's and Nekrasov's view of the world.
Terras' outlines of earlier versions and the account of the novel's genesis contain not only primary information, but explanations of seemingly random points. Grushen'ka's Pole calls her Agrippina instead of Agrafena because Dostoevsky had prototypes for both names. Possible sources and meanings for other character's names are similarly researched. Some influences arouse the reader's curiosity. Why would Dostoevsky model Dmitrij's trial after that of Vera Zasulich, the acquitted would-be assassin of a Petersburg official, since in Dmitrij a legally innocent person is convicted? Possibly, the author was attracted by the theatrical atmosphere surrounding the Zasulich affair. The "Introduction" further deals with Dostoevsky's seeming challenges to and support of Christianity, the polyphonic character presentation, the many literary devices employed in surface and subtext, and the psychological implications of the novel. Terras emphasizes that Dostoevsky rejected psychology as the primary determinant of human behavior on the basis that psychological analysis is ambiguous and unable to reveal the truth (81), but one could argue with equal plausibility that the author makes innovative use of psychology by demonstrating how the brothers are motivated by forces of which they are but vaguely aware. In discussing Dostoevsky's attitude to art, Terras posits that the author favored the artistic Fetjukovich over the plodding prosecutor as an endorsement of "the cognitive power of the creative imagination. " (109) If this is true, one wonders why Fetjukovich believes the innocent Dmitrij guilty, and in fact defends him as a humane killer.
The book also has sections on the individual characters and their moral
shortcomings. Terras' view of Ivan is heavily negative. He depicts Ivan as arrogantly lying to others and to himself, calling even Ivan's desperate attempt to exonerate Dmitrij an involuntary deceit (91). According to Terras, Dostoevsky firmly programs Ivan's bodily and philosophical destruction as a well-deserved punishment. This stance comes across as too definite. The ambiguities of the text support a regenerative view of Ivan as well, albeit after many episodes of psychological inability to face the truth about himself. In general, Terras conceives of Dostoevsky as fulfilling his own Christian commission with this novel. As a result, the commentary tends toward text material supporting this assumption. In most cases, this point is well taken and rigorously documented. However, Dostoevsky's paradoxial manner of presenting his arguments does not easily lend itself to definitive statements, and Terras must occasionally skip important references to avoid contradiction, as, for instance, Zosima's and Snegirev's remarks against Job. (Matlaw-Garnett, 271, 531)
The second, larger part of the book contains both factual and analytical material on the text itself, which, for the most part, does not duplicate information already available in the Matlaw-Garnett footnotes. While Terras logs a fair number of mistranslations, the most interesting entries deal with inexact rendering, in which quaint, substandard, diminutive, or otherwise nuanced phrases have been modified by using more neutral English terms. Qualifiers such as
kak-to that are meant to make statements indefinite, are often omitted. Terras offers the following: "This news was received with almost unexpected curiosity by his listeners. And they all began to talk about it, not laughing, but somehow with a strange gravity. They even stopped playing," (295) to replace Matlaw-Garnett's "This news aroused singular interest in his listeners. They all spoke of it, not laughing, but with a strange gravity. They stopped playing. " (385) Perkhotin's
Djad'ka ja im chtoli? comes across rather smoothly in Matlaw-Garnett as "Is it my business to look after them?" (386), while Terras hits the mark better with "Am I their nurse, or what?" (292). Sometimes the translation destroys the contradictions inherent in the very combinations chosen by Dostoevsky. The "probable certainty" of
naverno pologaju is too definitely rendered by "I feel certain. " (Matlaw-Garnett, 249) Terras also draws attention time and again to how much is lost by untranslatable terms:
ablakat, a popular distortion of
advokat simply reads "lawyer" (Matlaw-Garnett, 222), and double diminuitives like
matochka angelochek yield "an hour" and "my angel. " (Matlaw-Garnett, 342, 370)
Terras' "Commentary" section strongly encourages anyone with some Russian to try the original. The casual American reader may not have the patience to interrupt each page for information about linguistic phrasing and obscure historical points. But those interested in a sophisticated reading, including teachers and students who already know the novel, will be delighted with this work.
Margot K. Frank -- Randolph-Macon Woman's College
F. M. Dostoevsky, A. G. Dostoevskaja. Perepiska. Edited by S. V. Belov and V. A. Tunimanov. Moskva: Nauka, 1979. 484 pp. Cloth, 4r. 80k.
V. S. Nechaeva. Zhurnal M. M. i F. M. Dostoevskikh "Epokha" 1864 - 1865. Moskva: Nauka, 1975. 304 pp. Cloth,
S. M. Solov'ev. Izobrazitel'nye sredstva v tvorchestve F. M. Dostoevskogo. Moskva: Sovetskij pisatel, ' 1979. 355 pp. Cloth,
The correspondence between Dostoevsky and his second wife Anna
Grigor'evna, nee Snitkina, covers the year 1866 - 1880. It essentially deals with strictly family matters, financial affairs, and the loving relationship of the couple. This narrow focus offers little to the literary scholar seeking to analyze Dostoevsky's work. However, there is much here for the literary biographer and student of Dostoevsky's personality. As to the quality of the letters, one may quote the editors' comments: "Dostoevsky's letters . . . are quite often formless, chaotic and careless. " (p. 368)
Dostoevsky's emotional need for his wife is everywhere evident in the letters. That he had little need for her intellectual companionship is equally clear. Although at times passing reference is made to work in progress - to Dostoevsky's struggle with the character of Zosima, for example, - the emotions, frustrations and joys of everyday life predominate. Both Dostoevskys fill their letters with cliché endearments, especially Anna Grigor'evna, whose letters are positively embroidered with "eternal husband, " and "priceless and infinite friend. " The romantic Dostoevsky, in spite of his wife's later erasings, does make an appearance: "I adore every atom of your body and soul and I kiss all of you, all, because you are mine, mine! " (p. 227, no. 148)
Dostoevsky's last letters to Anna Grigor'evna are among the best for they treat of his reception in Moscow before his Pushkin speech. Dostoevsky, however, must rank very low, far below Pushkin, Turgenev or Chekhov, as a writer of letters. He had a distaste for letter writing and wrote a friend in the 1870's: "And if I land in hell, then of course I'll be sentenced for my sins to write no less than ten letters per day! " (p. 368)
* * *
Nechaeva's new book is a continuation of her excellent descriptive survey of the Dostoevsky brothers' first literary-political journal "Vremja. " It provides a detailed account of "Epokha" in terms of the following topics: the place of "Epokha" in Russian literary journalism of the 1860's; its social-political tendency; Dostoevsky's work as the journal's chief editor; a chronological listing of all articles in "Vremja" and "Epokha" ; and an alphabetical listing of contributors to both journals.
Numerous difficulties plagued "Epokha" from the start. Mikhail Dostoevsky had an uneasy time defining the tendency of the proposed journal to the authorities. He wrote of a "Russian tendency. . . that would clarify for readers. . . the great strengths that lie hidden in Russian life. " (p. 11) The first two proposed names for the journal, "Pravda" and "Pochva, " ("Soil") were rejected, the latter because Mikhail thought the name might lead prospective readers to believe an agricultural journal was in the offing. F. M. Dostoevsky was himself unable to participate fully in the initial steps of "Epokha, " attending his dying wife at home.
In content and direction "Epokha" both contrasted with and continued the established direction of "Vremja. " The new journal's literary section combined elements - the novel, criticism and biography, learned essays -that had been separated in "Vremja. " The political section was muted, tending to a generally conservative position and a lessening of current political reportage. The supplement tended less to humor, letters and lightweight articles and more to historical writing, novels and stories (in the original and translated). A new and interesting section concerned law and dealt not only with new legislation but also reported current cases and trials.
Of the approximately fifty contributors to "Epokha, " twenty had also written for "Vremja. " Dostoevsky, Strakhov and Grigor'ev continued to be the mainstays. Dostoevsky's contributions were relatively modest, but they do include the first two parts of "Notes From Underground. " Grigor'ev continued "My Literary and Moral Wanderings, " begun in "Vremja. " Turgenev chipped in with his well-known story "Phantoms. " Other important contributors included Polonskij, Pleshcheev, Majkov, Sokolovskij and Gorskij. The brothers Filippov contributed five articles acquainting readers with Russian judicial theory and practice. Their focus in these articles covered such topics as civil procedure, legislation, criminal law, commercial law, and concepts of punishment. In addition, Sokolovskij's "Prison and Life: From the Notebooks of a Criminal Investigator" appeared in the pages of "Epokha. "
Nechaeva does a thorough job of sifting all this material, including Dostoevsky's correspondence and all matters relating to the content and structure of the journal. Dostoevsky's editorial practice, his exploration of new areas of interest such as Russian jurisprudence, his promotion of female writers (A. P. Suslova among them), and other topics explored in Nechaeva's study, help to fill in the picture of Dostoevsky's life during the difficult yet creative period that leads from "Notes From Underground" to the great mature novels. As to the journal itself and Dostoevsky's contribution to it, perhaps Strakhov should be allowed a final word: . . ." Fedor Mikhajlovich could not allow (in 'Epokha') something completely unsuitable; and, yet, there really wasn't anything outstanding ..." (p. 221)
* * *
Solov'ev's well-written book concentrates on Dostoevsky's aesthetics, specifically on his handling of major thematic and descriptive categories: character, setting, color, and sound. He acknowledges at the outset his primary debt to the interpretation of Dostoevsky as artist found in Bakhtin's "Dostoevsky's Poetics. " The central aim of this study is to work out a typology of Dostoevsky's aesthetic depictive means. To this end Solov'ev uses many literary as well as painterly analogies to illustrate aesthetic strategies and devices in the works. A weakness surfaces here in Solov'ev's frequent use of generalizing and out-of-context comparisons. A typical generalization conjoining the work of Dostoevsky and Goya may be cited: "It is as if Dostoevsky and Goya saw the world through glasses that laid bare all that is terrible, unfortunate, unjust and deformed in life as well as in man himself. " (p. 131)
An attempt is made to demonstrate that all aesthetic structure in Dostoevsky is subordinated to the portrayal of the deeply inner,
multifaceted and polyvalent human personality. Thus, in discussing the role of setting, Solov'ev shows that Dostoevsky uses ordinary settings that do not interfere with the psychological preoccupations of his protagonists; setting serves as a stimulus to memories, memories of intense feeling and confrontation with others and with nature itself. In Dostoevsky's world nature is within man, not without. States of being are described in terms of natural phenomena such as Raskol'nikov's "before-the-storm languor. " Architectural setting also, especially in cityscapes, does not stand for itself but is identified as a manifestation of the psyches of those who inhabit it. Rogozhin's house and Raskol'nikov's garret come readily to mind.
In Dostoevsky's use of color, Solov'ev finds a transition from the earlier more romantic works featuring bright colors to a more somber though nuanced usage in the mature novels. The inner man is darker, more complex and resistant to our easy understanding. Thus as we move from the outer world of surface brightness color fades into a richly inner psychological chiaroscuro. Yellow, chez Dostoevsky, is the color of extreme states. Solov'ev shows that Dostoevsky was the first Russian author to make extensive use of yellow and related shades such as lemon with more than 10% of all color references to yellow. As Dostoevsky's career progressed and matured with ever deeper psychological portrayal, the use of yellow and reddish tints expanded.
Solov'ev also demonstrates that Dostoevsky's use of sound description is emphasized and psychologically complex. The sounds of the human voice, of which Dostoevsky presents a great spectrum in his works, are employed to express states of tension and anxiety. Laughter, snickering, squeals, shouts, wailing mumbling, whispers, whining, grunting and even barking in anguish (rjavkat'), among others, are found. Like setting, character depiction and color, sounds are used to get at the inner essence of man, an
essence best depicted, judging from Dostoevsky's work, by showing man in the extremes of conflict, doubt, and desperate search for meaning.
Solov'ev's book is to an extent polemical in that he calls for more studies concerning Dostoevsky's aesthetics as opposed to those dealing with the philosophical content of the works. It does not, however, offer essentially new insights, and it is often repetitive and verbose. It reemphasizes the synthetic nature of Dostoevsky's poetics and provides copious examples to illustrate the categories with which it deals.
Jerome H. Katsell -- State University of New York at Stony Brook
Alexander P. Obolensky and Nadine Natov, eds. Transaction of the Association of Russian-American Scholars in the U. S. A. , vol. 14, Dostoevsky Commemorative Volume. New York Association of Russian-American Scholars in the U. S. A. , 1981. 369 pp. Paper, $ 12.00. Distributed by the Association, 85-20 114th St. , Richmond Hill, N. Y. 11418. Include $ 1.00 for shipping and handling.
The year 1981 has seen an enormous number of studies devoted to the life and works of Dostoevsky. The volume under review here is an important contribution to this body of literature, and the Association of Russian-American Scholars in the U. S. A. should be commended for making it available. The scope of the volume is large, as may be seen from the table of contents which includes the following studies (R=Russian, G=German, F=French, E=English): Alexander Obolensky, "One Hundred Years Later. . . (In Place of an Introduction)" (R); Rostislav Pletnev, "Reminiscences about the First International Society for the Study of F. M. D. " (R); Dominique Arban, "The State of Madness in Dostoevsky's early stories" (F); Nadja Jernakoff, " 'Crime and Punishment' : Svidrigailov - A Character in His Own Right" (E); Victor Terras, "Dissonance in Dostoevsky's Novel The Idiot' " (R); Nadine Natov, "The Philosophical Subtext of the Novel 'The Possessed' " (R); Gleb Zhekulin, "The Question of 'Fathers and Sons' in Dostoevsky's Novel 'The Possessed' " (R); S. Gessen, "The Tragedy of Evil" (R, reprint, on 'The Possessed'); Helen Muchnic, "Ivan Karamazov: The Tragedy of Reason" (E); Nicholas Pervushin, "Epilogues in Dostoevsky's Works (R); Lev Zander, "Monasticism in Dostoevsky's Works" (R, reprint); Ettore Lo Gatto, "Vyacheslav Ivanov on Dostoevsky and Pushkin" (R); Reinhard Lauth, "Woman's Guilt and Innocence in Dostoevsky's Works" (G); Alexis Guedroitz, "Dream and Delirium in Dostoevsky's Works" (R); Richard Peace, "Dostoevsky and Tolstoj as Novelists of Ideas" (E); Abp. John Shahovskoy, "Can One Consider Dostoevsky a 'Humanist' ? " (R); Sergei Levitzky, "The Idea of Immortality in Dostoevsky's Works" (R); Evgeniy Vaghin, "Dostoevsky: From Christian Socialism to Social-Christianity" (R); Gleb Struve, "Remarks on Dostoevsky's Language" (R); Dmitry Grigorieff, "Dostoevsky's Death and Funeral" (R); Anatol Ivanov, "L. F. Dostoevsky's Reminiscences about Her Father" (R); Eugene
Klimoff, "Illustrations for Dostoevsky's Works by Russian Painters" (R);
Rostislav Polchaninov, "Postcards Devoted to Dostoevsky." (R)
There is not sufficient space here to discuss all the studies in the collection, however, remarks on a few of them are in order. Nadja Jernakoff's study of Svidrigajlov, a character who has been called Dostoevsky's "white elephant" elsewhere, is an informative examination of one of the author's most mysterious characters. I am not sure that 1 agree with her when she says that "Svidrigajlov, both from a philosophical and stylistical point of view, comes very close to being equally important (as Raskol'nikov)" (p. 59); however, her observations about self-will as evidenced in Svidrigajlov's character and compared to Raskol'nikov's and Kirilov's acts of self-will are very interesting. Equally informative are her discussions of suicide, intellectual perversity versus sensual perversity, and the nature of love in Dostoevsky.
Victor Terras has once again provided us with a masterful study of one of Dostoevsky's stylists devices, this time dissonance. In his article, "dissonance" and "false notes" are "treated in a dual sense - as a 'polyphonic' device (in the meaning given to 'polyphonic' by M. M. Bakhtin) and as a leitmotif or even a fundamental theme of the entire work ('The Idiot'). " (p. 61) In his discussion of dissonance as a polyphonic device, Professor Terras makes the distinction between dissonance in travesty and dissonance in parody and develops this in his study of the device in "The Idiot. " Why dissonance is so important in the novel is summed up by Terras when he states that "Prince Myshkin overcomes his inner chaos, enters life, and seeks harmony in it. But instead of harmony he encounters - and summons forth - a series of dissonances, and finally returns to the chaos from which he had come. " (p. 65) And it is the nature of these dissonances and their importance as evidenced in the novel's main characters that makes up the chief part of this article.
Nadine Natov's analysis of philosophical subtexts in "The Possessed" explains many of the subtle forces at play in this complex novel. Of particular interest and importance are her explanations of the presence of Feuerbach's ideas throughout the novel and their importance for understanding Kirilov's seemingly confused logic.
Of particular interest, I believe, is Professor Struve's work on Dostoevsky's language. As Struve points out, we have no dictionary of Dostoevsky's language (as we have no dictionaries of the language of any other of the great nineteenth-century Russian authors, with the exception of Pushkin). Consequently our stylistic studies are limited to "feelings" we have about peculiarities in the author's language. Over the years Professor Struve has counted the instances of many of Dostoevsky's favorite words and has studied the contexts in which they are used, and although he qualifies his remarks as preliminary, he presents us in this study with many fascinating facts about Dostoevsky's (often peculiar) use of the word
slishkom and about the repetition of certain other words and sentences in the author's works. In an appendix, he gives characteristic cases of the use of
slishkom in "The Idiot, " "The Possessed, " "A Raw Youth, " and
"The Brothers Karamazov, " while in a second appendix he presents a supplemental list of repetitions of words and sentences in "The Double, " "Mr. Prokharchin, " "The Landlady, " and many other works. The interesting and important insights made by Struve about Dostoevsky's style on the basis of his studies proves, I believe, that scholars are badly in need of a dictionary of Dostoevsky's language. I hope that Struve's lead will soon be followed by other scholars.
It should not be understood that the many other articles in this collection that I have not mentioned are in any way less deserving of discussion. As I have already implied, the entire collection
is of importance and interest and belongs in the personal libraries of all Dostoevsky scholars.
Martin P. Rice -- University of Tennessee