Gary Cox. Tyrant and Victim in Dostoevsky. Columbus: Slavica Publishers, Inc., 1984. 119 pp. Paper, $ 9.95.
The author of this short, ambitious book claims that it is the first comprehensive study of power relationships in Dostoevsky's works. He wishes to offer a fresh perspective by making use of anthropological research on primitive societies and animal groups. Fortunately he doesn't go too far in this direction, speaking of "bonding hierarchies" and "dominance hierarchies."
After tracing the literary tradition of power-driven characters (in Pushkin, Gogol, Lermontov, Balzac, the Byronic hero), Cox concludes that Dostoevsky differed from other Russian writers by concentrating on this theme.
The Underground Man is the classical example of a power relationship (masochism in relation to those above, sadism to those below). "This is Dostoevsky's concept of original sin." The great novels that follow, says Cox, are "attempts to work out the fundamental problems of personal dominance."
The underground man's insecurity as to his own identity leads not only to his creation of doubles (there is a good chapter on that) but also to aggression against a submissive female victim, such as Liza, or the girl in "The Meek One." The only way out of the underground man's solipsism and aggressiveness is to feel for his victim's pain, her moral superiority, and his own guilt. Cox finds that this moral transformation of the aggressor is "the central paradigm of Dostoevsky's literary works."
This conversion pattern works for Notes from Underground and Crime and Punishment, but I have doubts about its validity for either
The Idiot or The Devils. Since Myshkin is the hero of The Idiot, and definitely a victim-type, who is the aggressor? Cox thinks it is Rogozhin. But Rogozhin is not transformed by either Myshkin or the other victim, Nastasia Filippovna.
Cox gets around this problem by offering a new classification: the hero-aggressor-criminal as victim. (He quotes from
The House of the Dead and Freud's reference to the criminal as Redeemer.) Stavrogin is such a type; as a victim he seeks his own humiliation by biting the governor's ear or pulling Gaganov's nose. Such actions have nothing to do with the moral superiority of earlier victims like Sonia Marmeladova. We are also told that the detective Porfirii Petrovich and Petr Verkhovenski in The Devils are "apparent victims": Porfirii because he looks weak and womanish, and Petr because he plays the role of a fool.
The reader's confusion as to what a victim is must be attributed to Cox's refusal to deal with Dostoevsky's religious ideas. Only once, at the end of the book, is it mentioned
that "Christian imagery in Dostoevsky often overlaps with the tyrant-victim system, since the inversion of the dominance hierarchy is a version of the Christian drama of salvation." Ideas are omitted except in connection with Dostoevsky's journalism; the result is curious—a kind of hazy abstractness settles heavily on this book.
The analysis of The Brothers Karamazov is more satisfying because more
detailed than the brief excursions into classifications found in the earlier
novels. Cox finds a radical change between this and earlier novels; there is a
mature resolution of the tyrant-victim paradigm. Two conditions are met: the
aggressor, in shame and guilt, surrenders his power to the vulnerable victim;
and he accepts personal guilt for his aggression against her. This brings about
an acceptance of mature social responsibility (Dmitrii Karamazov and his dream of the babe). Cox believes that Freud's
Totem and Taboo is "crucial" for understanding this novel : the "sacramental deaths" of Fedor Karamazov an Iliusha Snegirev result in "rites of passage" for the Karamazov brothers and the gang of boys, based on accepting responsibility for these deaths. It is possible, I think, to reach these conclusions without Freud, and indeed Freud leads Cox astray. According to Cox, Alesha's speech at the stone to his disciples establishes "a social superego, based on mutual guilt for the killing of Iliusha." Wrong: not guilt but love is stressed by Alesha. As Mochulskii says, "the personal love for [Iliusha] becomes the common love of all."
One other point, which I find distressing. Cox is addicted to calling Dostoevsky's heroes
psychopathic. The Underground Man and Raskolnikov are "pathological characters." "Psychopathology lies at the core of Dostoevsky's works." The implication seems to be that a competent psychiatrist could have cleared up for good the antisocial behavior of Raskolnikov, Stavrogin, and Dmitrii Karamazov.
Tyrant and Victim in Dostoevsky has many good points and some misreadings which I have no time to discuss. Cox emphasizes "situation rhyme" in scenes of public humiliation (slaps, cowardice in duel), dramatic bows, climbing fences, kisses. I wish he had done more on these. He would like to view all of Dostoevsky's novels as one "meta-novel," with duplication of characters, relationships, scenes and details—but arranged in new ways, in each novel. It's odd that he did not include Dostoevsky's obsessive themes and their development. Cox's book is a useful pioneer study of an important psychological theme, but it is too short and a bit too disorganized to do it justice; it is also flawed by the refusal to deal with Dostoevsky's ideas. Later studies of the tyrant-victim theme will find this book a good place to start from.
Nathan Rosen University of Rochester
F.M. Dostoevsky. The Double: Two Versions. Translated by Evelyn Harden. Ann Arbor: Ardis Publishers, 1985. 294 pp. Cloth, $ 19.50; paper, $ 6.50.
F.M. Dostoevsky. The Crocodile. Translated by S.D. Cioran. Ann Arbor: Ardis Publishers, 1985. 94 pp. Cloth, $ 15.00; paper, $ 3.50.
Evelyn Harden's translation of two redactions of The Double,
the first finished in early 1846 and the second twenty years
later in the summer or fall of 1866, is a problematic one.
The format is unique in that, in Harden's words, the "beginning of each redaction is given on facing pages, 1846 on the
left, 1866 on the right, so that Dostoevsky's use of subheading
in the 1846 version would be clear. After this the 1866 redaction continues as the basic text, and where the 1846 version
differs from it these differences are given in italics in
brackets". Thus one obtains in one text both redactions, as
shown in the following example:
Our hero did not yet completely understand his new situation. He had not yet come to his senses. He had felt
the blow, but he thought that there was no particular purpose in it. [Delete:. Add:, and meanwhile whispered to
himself: "Right away, Andrei Filippovich, I'll be right
there. I'm just about ready..." However, in an instant
he understood rather vaguely and even though he continued to think that there was no particular purpose in
it, that it was nothing...]
While this structure facilitates comparison of the two redactions, the result is that the translation is not as readable
as it otherwise would be. I agree with Harden's decision not
to reproduce the two redactions separately in their entirety,
as the end result would have been counter-productive. Perhaps,
however, the revisions should have been given in the form of
footnotes or an appendix. As it is, this is not the most
practical edition available for a survey course in Russian
literature in translation; it might be more useful to the non
Russian speaking student of comparative literature.
The translation itself is accurate, although at times stilted. For example, the phrase "tot kostium, v kotorom imel obyknoven otkhodit' ko snu" is rendered "the outfit in which he was wont to go to sleep" and "no, vprochem, delaja razvjaznogo i molodt ponevole" becomes "but, nevertheless, against his will putting on a show of familiarity and hale fellow well met." Yet at times, Harden succeeds where others have failed. Chapter 8 contains an encounter between the Golyadkins Sr. and Jr. in which the latter tweaks the cheek of the former in a vulgar display of undue familiarity and utters the phrase "dushka moi!". Jessie Coulson and George Bird have translated this respectively as "My dear, dear friend!" and "There, my dear chap!", while Harden captures the moment's grotesqueness in one word: "Duckie!!".
Harden attempts to preserve, for the most part, Dostoevsky's
punctuation and to make Golyadkin's speech appear consistent
(although there is at least one instance where the repetition
and uniformity of his speech was overlooked). Yet there is no
consistency in the overall style of the translation—the above quoted phrase "as was his wont" occurs in the same paragraph as a rendering of
drjan' as "junk" (instead of "rubbish" or "debris" if an elevated tone was the intent). What emerges is an accurate but somewhat awkward translation, one that is not as readable as the others available.
The genesis of the two redactions is discussed by the translator in a 25-page introduction. Dostoevsky's own commentary, excerpted from his notebooks, is given in an appendix. The introduction consists of a brief history of the work, an essay drawing parallels between
The Double and Don Quixote, and a summary of the structural differences between the 1846 and 1866 versions. For instance, Harden points out that features indicating the literary tradition to which the work belonged were deleted and that it was assigned to another literary tradition. While the structural changes become obvious through examination of the text, Harden leaves the thematic questions unexplored. Why did Dostoevsky make these changes? What, precisely, are the literary traditions of which Harden speaks, and, more to the point, what do these changes mean in terms of the general metamorphosis of the work? These questions are not answered, although their import to Dostoevsky is reflected in a quotation in the introduction: "I failed absolutely with that tale, but the idea was quite clear, and I never adhered to anything in literature more serious than this idea.
But I failed utterly with the form of this tale. I then revised it, for the then 'Complete Collection' of my works; but even then I again became convinced that the thing was a total failure, and
if I were to take up the idea now and state it anew, I would choose a completely different form; but in '46 I hadn't found this form and couldn't cope with the tale." (Emphasis added.)
The question as to what, exactly, is the philosophical nature of the idea Dostoevsky considered to be his most serious contribution to literature, and how it gradually came to be manifested structurally, would not only have been appropriate in a translation of two redactions of
The Double, but perhaps should have formed the core of the introductory essay.
The second translation under consideration is S.D. Cioran's lucid and stylish translation of Dostoevsky's 1865 story,
The Crocodile. Usually interpreted as a diatribe against the Chernyshevsky generation, it is a work that is often referred to, but rarely read. Cioran's translation, however, is not only readable, but is evocative of the wit and satire of the original; it is both accurate and fluid. Cioran's ability to convey Dostoevsky's stylization and use of dialect is demonstrated in the following excerpt from Chapter I:
"Vat! You vant that my crocodile should be dead!" The owner who had come back started to wail. "No, first let your husband be dead, and then the crocodile!"...
"It's useless to disembowel it," I added calmly, wishing to divert Yelena Ivanovna homeward as quickly as possible. "In all probability our dear Ivan Matveich is now soaring somewhere in the empyrean."
"My friend," at that moment, quite unexpectedly, we heard
Ivan Matveich's voice which utterly dumbfounded us, "my
friend, I am of the opinion that we must act directly
through the bureau of the chief inspector, for this
German will not comprehend the truth without the aid of
The work is prefaced by a nine-page introduction outlining the issues and controversies long associated with
The Crocodile and followed by annotations to the text and a short excerpt from the
Diary of a Writer a propos of the story. The end note are adequate, if at times sketchy, in their explanation of the Russian puns, which are well-translated, however. For example, the confusion over Yelena Ivanovna's use of the term
vsporot' is explained: "Dostoevsky intended a pun with ironic political overtones here. The word in Russian is
vsporot ' which can mean either 'to whip' or 'to rip open'". Just what these ironic overtones are may not be readily apparent to some readers. In addition, Cioran does not identify the exact text he used for his translation. Yet these are minor flaws in an otherwise pleasant addition to the small number of available English translations of the story.
Suzette Adler Lemson Yale University
Anatolij Ivanov-Natov. Ikonografija F.M. Dostoevskogo. Bayville N.N.: Tovarishchestvo Zarubezhnykh pisatelej, 1981. 143 pp. Paper, $ 5.50.
This excellent and informative book should have been reviewed in Dostoevsky Studies long ago, but it was overlooked. In it Ivanov-Natov summarizes in chronological format virtually all that is presently known about the photographs, drawings and paintings that were made of Dostoevsky during his life and shortly following his death. In the matter of nonphotographic portraits, Ivanov-Natov deals only with those done from life, excepting a lithograph by P.F. Borel' in 1861 from a photo by M.B. Tulinov and an engraving by V.A. Bobrov in 1880 from a photo by M.M. Panov. The portraits that form the basis for Dostoevsky's "iconography" are all reproduced by Ivanov-Natov, some in the form of lithographs based on them, all inevitably from secondary sources. The quality of the reproductions is not very good, but that is incidental. The point of the book is not to present definitive visual detail, but to offer definitive information. This includes naming the museum or archive where each picture is held.
Ikonografija contains 34 illustrations altogether, only 22 of which make up the portrait "canon", so to speak. Furthermore, a number of photographs, taken at one sitting, are near duplicates. In all his years Dostoevsky sat for only one oil painting that by Perov. There were also two pencil drawings (the first only from memory) by classmate T. Trutovskij in 1842 and 1847, a drawing in pencil and ink by L.E. Dmitriev-Kazanskij in 1880, and a careful pencil drawing by I.N. Kramskoj of Dostoevsky
on his funeral couch, about 24 hours after death. (Kramskoj
did another drawing a year later from a photograph made in
1880). Finally, there was a death mask executed by Leopol'd Bernshtam.
Of the non-photographic items, only the portrait by Perov is of real interest—and it is a great painting. As for the photographs, allowing for near duplication, only 11 offer distinctively different portraits. This seems an incredibly small-number. It reflects the fact, furthermore, that no photos are known prior to 1858, none from 1864 or so through 1871. Certainly more photographs were taken, but it does not seem likely, after this long a time, that they will turn up. In any case, from a scant dozen originals, all the many hundreds of different pictures of Dostoevsky have followed.
Ivanov-Natov finds no evidence of serious scholarly effort to collect and describe the original portraits of such classical figures as Pushkin, Gogol, Lermontov, Turgenev or Tolstoy. As for Dostoevsky, only one important investigation was made prior to Ivanov-Natov's work - and it was published by M.G. Fleer as an obscure "odnodnevnaja gazeta" in 1921, without illustrations I Fleer seems to list one or two items that Ivanov-Natov has been unable to find. In addition, there are strange discrepancies between certain published photos of Dostoevsky: the checks on a pair of trousers disappear, as does the background scenery in a studio; and a necktie goes from light to dark. And of course there are numerous errors and omissions in the labeling of published photographs, including those appearing in the current
Polnoe sobranie sochinenij. Ivanov-Natov provides an appendix listing the illustrations in that work and correcting errors made in identifying them.
Ikonografija offers much interesting information about 19th-century Russian portrait photography. Also, as it proceeds from one portrait sitting to the next, it briefly summarizes the chief events and writings in Dostoevsky's life in the interim, reminding the reader of the emotional and spiritual dimension that one might hope to find in the all too rare portraits. The author offers in addition long quotations and excerpts from contemporary writings describing Dostoevsky's physical appearance. We are reminded that Dostoevsky seemed "pale" and "nervous" to almost everyone—though interesting discrepancies in the impressions of eye-witnesses continually show up. We are reminded that Dostoevsky spoke in a kind of whispery voice, following an illness early in life. Such physical details genuinely help to supplement the photos in this iconography.
Ivanov-Natov's work would be of interest to any Dostoevsky scholar. It is an indispensable guide to any publication containing portraits of Dostoevsky.
Donald M. Fiene University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Attila Faj. I Karamazov tra Poe e Vico, Genere poliziesco e
concezione ciclica della storia nell'ultimo Dostoevskij. Guida editori, Napoli 1984, pp. 253, Lit. 26.000.
Книга Аттила Фай, научного исследователя
по вопросам философии - еще одна попытка подвергнуть научному анализу творчество
Достоевского с точки зрения применения к художественному тексту философских
теорий, возвышенных до ранга аксиологической модели. В центре внимания
исследователя, в ту пору, философско-исторические взгляды Достоевского и их
совпадение с теорией о ходе исторического развития итальянского философа
Джанбаттиста Вико (1668-1744).
По мнению исследователя последний период
творчества Достоевского и, в особенности, роман Братья Карамазовы
"насыщен идеями Вико" (стр. 6). Достоевский, являясь "великим экспериментатором
идей Вико" (стр. 59), как-будто осуществил в романе свое "последнее философское
слово" (стр. 10), которое состоит в полном и эмоциональном "согласии с
метафизикой Вико" (стр. 37). В самом деле, в творчестве Достоевского Вико
упоминается вместе с рядом других мыслителей (см.: Письма, т.1, Ленинград
1928, стр. 138-139), в том числе и Кант и Гегель и Гизо и коран и др., но он,
как доказывает Фай, мог прямо ознакомиться с идеями Вико по неполному
французскому переводу Мишле (1827) и по работам Стасюлевича (Достоевский о нем:
"Наш русский за границей /или цивилизатор, Стасюлевич/ только и смотрит, кому бы
поскорее вычистить сапоги. Они родились лакеями.", ПСС, 11, 169), Михайловского,
Лаврова, Чичерина и Соловьева. По мнению Фай именно Михайловский "подсказал"
Достоевскому персонажей Карамазовых, уговаривая его отступить от таких героев,
как Ставрогина и остальных "бесов" (развратников, ищущих собственное спасение) и
предлагая ему таких типичных современных героев, которых, по мнению
Михайловского, можно найти в "фанатиках мысли для мысли" (Иван), фанатиках
"свободы для свободы" (Дмитрий) и фанатиках "богатства для богатства" (Федор).
По меннию Фай осуществление в БК
современных типов (в том числе и Смердякова) подлежит не только художественному
замыслу, а также четко определенному историческому взгляду Достоевского, по
которому герои романа синтезируют все исторические циклы (круговороты),
теорию которых развил Вико в своей работе Основания новой науки об общей
природе наций (1725). Таким образом Федор Карамазов - типичный представитель
"доисторического варварства", в котором царствует "похоть" , Алеша воплощает
"период богов", когда человек "чувствует не сознавая", Дмитрий олицетворяет
"период героев", жестоких, но сознающих "взволнованной и растроганной душой", а
Иван полностью принадлежит "человеческому периоду", характерная черта которого-
тщеславие, вытекающее из сознания собственной способности "размышлять чистым
умом" (с этой точки зрения и отцеубийство - лишь бунт против власти). Смердяков,
наконец - типичный продукт "варварства размышлений", т.е. последнего периода
круговорота Вико, когда ценности теряют свою иерархическую роль; этот последний
период предшествует возвращению, жестокому и необходимому, к доисторическому
варварству. По Достоевскому "варварство размышлений" анархизм и нигилизм,
которые у Ивана, как представителя последнего рационального уровня, доходят
только до теоретической постанов-
ки вопроса и которые "не сделаны или
созданы" (единственная "познаваемая" категория для Вико), в то время как у
Смердякова они превратились в "насильственные действия" и поэтому они видимы и
"познаваемы", т.е. приемлемы или избегаемы. Само по себе разумеется, что здесь
возникает вопрос о том, что понятиями Вико можно определить "исходом" или
"возвращением" к круговороту. "Исход" из цикла как будто в руках Алеши, а именно
в его теократическо-человеческом представлении будущего ("свободной теократии"
по Соловьеву). Дело в том, что эта идея в романе не осуществилась (и поэтому мне
кажется ошибочно утверждение Фай, согласно которому Алеша "главный герой"
романа /стр. 113/; несомненно он в центре внимания Достоевского, но такое
определение выходит за рамки романа, т.е. лежит, как говорится, "вне текста"). С
философской точки зрения Достоевский ближе Тациту, который смотрит на человека
"каким он есть", чем Платону, который смотрит на человека "каким он должен быть"
. Но такую дихотомию знал уже Гоголь и она вообще характерна для
Как доказательство сходности между
идеями Вико и художественно реализованным историческим взглядом Достоевского в
БК, Фай подвергает анализу так называемый "пятый аксиом" Вико, сравнивая его с
Легендой о Великом Инквизиторе и с философией Зосимы. Вико твердит, что
"философия, чтобы помочь человечеству , должна облегчить и поддержать падшего и
слабого человека, не форсируя его нрава и не оставляя его в совращении". Аксиом
этот решается: 1) (эвклидовой) прагматической теорией Великого Инквизитора, по
которому "облегчить и поддержать падшего и слабого человека" - должность и долг
привилегированной касты инквизиторов, именно по тому, что человек "слаб" и
неспособен "облегчения"; 2) философией любви как милосердия старца Зосимы, по
которому "облегчить и поддержать падшего и слабого человека" значит прежде всего
любить ближнего как самого себя (не-эвклидов сдвиг пятого аксиома). К этому
последнему решению склоняется и Алеша, хотя, надо подчеркнуть, в ненаписанном
На самом деле книга Фай - исследование
по философии Вико и по современной ценности его теоретических положений.
Нахождение "сходных" положений в БК не может поразить тех, кто хорошо знает
изумительную разность интерпретаций, которым подвергалось творчество
Достоевского, особенно в области так называемых "вечных" вопросов (именно
"вечных", поскольку до сих пор ответ неизвестен). Вопрос о решении выдвинутых
художником вопросов нельзя смотреть с точки зрения "отсутствия ответа" у
писателя, а просто с точки зрения самой логиги двух категорий мышления
(философской и литературной), совершенно далеких между собой: по своей натуре
философия должна разработать замкнутую и законченную систему, в которой все
вопросы должны получить и свой ответ; литература, наоборот, именно в силу своего
основания на поэтическом и не нехудожественном слове (которое, если не хочет
терять свою цену, всегда должно убедить адресата своим сходством между
действительностью и языком; см. Томашевский,
Краткий курс поэтики, М. 1930, стр.
19), является незаконченной и "открытой" системой.
Поэтому кажется мне не совсем
оправданной полемика Фай на счет Бахтина (стр. 116 и 170), которой исследователь
опровергает известные тезисы о так называемом равноправии Достоевского по
отношению к своим персонажам. Фай довольно четко от-
рицает идею о согласии Достоевского с
теорией Ивана: это справедливо (по крайней мере Достоевский "согласен" с
Алешей), но дело в том, что такое утверждение исследователя ни в коей мере не
касается основных теоретических положений Бахтина, который совершенно далек от
таких поверхностных интерпретаций: оставить "чужому" возможность выразить себя
до "последнего слова" (т.е. смотреть на чужого как на субъекта) ни издалека не
значит "быть с ним согласен". Такое ошибочное истолкование Бахтина вытекает
именно из двух совершенно разных уровней анализа: по Бахтину осуществление героя
как субъекта полностью зависит от способности писателя сознать смысл и ценность
"необъективирующего" языка, в то время как философия - "объективирующая" сама по
себе категория мышления и, следовательно, словесного выражения. Впрочем, Вико
очень четко выделял философа от поэта: "Во всех известных языках никогда не было
выдающегося человека, который был бы в то же время и большим метафизиком и
большим поэтом" (Новая наука, стр. 821). Словом: смотреть на Достоевского, как
на "большого метафизика" кажется мне произвольным принуждением. Исходя из
тезиса, по которому философия Вико художественно воплощена в БК, исследователю
кажется даже "удивительным" (стр. 175) факт, что Достоевский посвятил "релятивно
небольшое" количество страниц Смердякову, то есть "варварству размышлений" в его
фазе превращения в "насильственные действия", точно так, как будто Достоевский
тот, который должен был бы до конца подвергнуться теориям Вико.
Последнее замечание по поводу заглавия
самой книги Фай: концепт о "Карамазовых между По и Вико" довольно слаб по
отношению к По (этому вопросу Фай посвятил всего 12 страниц). По мнению
исследователя применение Достоевского к детективному жанру
("детективно-философскому роману", говорит Фай /стр. 5/, повторяя Гроссмана)
оправдывается существенным совпадением между "действием на пороге варварства
размышлений" и уголовным миром. Опираясь только на известный рассказ Эдгар Аллан
По "Убийство на улице Морг" (1841) и на сходство между обезьяной-убийцей и
Смердяковым (Иванова обезьяна), исследователь сливает концепт По (по которому
рациональное расследование индиктов вряд ли позволяет найти виноватого - таким
"шахматным" методом пользуется, несколько позже, Шерлок Холмс - и поэтому
необходимо вести себя как картежник, смотрящий на игроков "со стороны") со
способностью интроспекции Достоевского, который как будто раздваивает эти два
способа расследования в известном диалоге Ивана с чертом. Такому концепту
исследователя можно возражать прежде всего из-за неубедительности сходства между
двумя совершенно разными категориями: уголовным сюжетом и периодом "варварства
размышлений". Если принять такое сходство, то довольно трудно объяснимым
является крупное возникновение детективного жанра (творчество Артур Конан Дойл)
в так называемый викторианский период (1837 -1901), который можно определить чем
угодно, но не зеркалом анархического или нигилистического общества (термин,
эквивалентен у Достоевского понятиям Вико о последнем периоде круговорота) .
Такой же неоправданной кажется мне абсолютизация влияния "школы По" на
способность Достоевского описать "страсти и мысли предшествующие убийству и даже
с ним совпадающие" (стр. 17). По-моему "школ" здесь много, начиная с Гюго и с
его "лекции" о "Последнем дне приговоренного к смерти" (1829).
Университет в Триесте
Geir Kjetsaa. Dostoevsky and His New Testament (Slavica Norvegica III). Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1984. 82 pp. Cloth, $ 15.00. (Published simultaneously in Norway by Solum Forlag, A.S., Oslo.)
The "New Testament" in Kjetsaa's title refers precisely to the leather-bound book actually owned and cherished by Dostoevsky— from January 1850 through January 1881. It is one of the very few of Dostoevsky's library books preserved after his death, and only one of three bearing marginal notes. Professor Kjetsaa was invited by the Gor'kii Institute of World Literature to study this volume kept in the Manuscript Division of the Lenin Library, in the summer of 1982.
What he has done in this book (that is to say, in the main, second part of it) is to quote in Russian, using modern spelling, and following the order of the New Testament, all of the passages marked or commented on by Dostoevsky in his Bible. Following each quote is an English translation of it (using
The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ Translated from the Greek, Oxford, 1881) and a description in English of the markings made by Dostoevsky.
As Kjetsaa mentions in his introduction (actually Part 1), one is struck as much by what Dostoevsky failed to mark as by what he did. For instance, he underscores nothing in the Sermon on the Mount except Matthew 5:27-9 ("whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her," etc.); he omits to mark such passages as Matthew 9:21 ("If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor," etc.), and he likewise passes by Matthew 25:35-46 ("Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these," etc.) One suddenly realizes these are just the verses Tolstoy would mark—while ignoring many of the passages dear to Dostoevsky's heart. The latter include many found in the Gospel, Epistles and Revelation of John (believed in Orthodoxy, so far as I can determine, to be all the same person).
Kjetsaa points out in his introduction that Dostoevsky's Johannine Christianity reflects the emphasis expressed in Orthodoxy, just as Catholicism prefers Peter and Protestantism, Paul. While the West emphasized good
deeds, Dostoevsky, observes Kjetsaa, "places the main stress on man's compassionate
attitude, or to put it in words from the Epistle to the Romans which the writer marked in his New Testament: 'In love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned one to another; in honour preferring one another!'" (XII, 10)
Kjetsaa goes on to interpret, making use of Dostoevsky's marked passages, the actions and personalities of Myshkin and Stavrogin. He shows convincingly that his compilation has real use for the literary critic, especially one of theological bent. It should be mentioned that Kjetsaa's introduction was published separately in
Dostoevsky Studies, 4 (1983), in slightly different form. In the earlier version, quotations were left in Russian. Also, the earlier English text was later revised (in style only) for publication in book form.
Donald M. Fiene University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Nina Perlina. Varieties of Poetic Utterance: Quotation in "The Brothers Karamazov". New York: University Press of America, 1985. viii, 228 pp. Cloth, $ 23.50; paper, $ 11.
A revision of Perlina's 1977 doctoral dissertation at Brown University, Variety of Poetic Utterance contains many of the predictable strengths and weaknesses inherent in any wholesale application of Bakhtin's speech-utterance theory to a novel. The brief but information-packed study examines the sources, uses, and effects of quotations in Dostoevsky's last novel, or, to cite the particularly unfortunate passage of throttled prose that defines the book's intent: "from the outside and the inside, using extrinsic and intrinsic approaches, one can discuss
The Brothers Karamazov as a collocation of quotations and as a compound poetic statement which functions as a quotation whose accessibility in the ongoing dialogue in literature will inspire rejoinders in the nonfinalized future" (p. 5). Despite such graceless style and a proclivity to start with, rather than arrive at, conclusions, the ensuing discussion displays an impressive grasp of the subject and makes some valuable if not entirely original, points.
Part One, which treats theory, erects a scaffolding for the remainder of the study. These fifty-odd pages synthesize Bakhtin's and Erich Auerbach's concepts of literary representation of reality with Bakhtin's and Taranovsky's ideas about quotation. If this section is the least successful part of the volume, it is because Perlina relies too heavily on Bakhtin's own terminology and wording in general when invoking his authority. To cite nonstop, as Perlina does, more than a full page from
Problemy poetiki Dostoevskogo (pp. 14-16) renders a disservice to the reader, who would benefit more from a synoptic explication than the extensive verbatim quotation of Bakhtin's far from crystalline prose.
Part Two, which sifts through the sources quoted in The Brothers Karamazov, documents with self-assurance the novel's 'dialogue with the Bible, Russian hagiography and apocrypha, Herzen, Pushkin, Nekrasov, Vladimir Pecherin, Faust, and a score of others. On the basis of the origin and the contextual associations attaching to each 'voice' in the novel's heteroglossia Perlina locates that voice in the complex hierarchy that structures the text. At the highest, unassailable, level in that stratification resides the 'authoritative word' of Holy Writ, which reigns supreme in the religious sphere and to which Pushkin's poetic word, which carries comparable weight in the aesthetic realm, must nevertheless be subordinated because for Dostoevsky, religious morality takes precedence over aesthetics
(p. 25). To analyze how these and other sources are paraphrased reaccented, misquoted, parodied, etc., Perlina assembles a wealth of cultural reference points, many of them familiar to the readers of the Academy edition of Dostoevsky's works
(a project in which Perlina participated). Perhaps the sheer
quantity of data, which are not always sufficiently channelled by adequate emphases, makes it difficult to digest portions of the discussion, though the effort does not go unrewarded.
By and large Perlina makes transitions from broad interpretive statements to specifics (usually of an "evidence-producing" nature) quite smoothly. On occasion, however, she forces her point without regard for logic or continuity. For instance, noting that Ivan Karamazov's Devil "reminds one (sic) of a mediocre reporter from a provincial newspaper," in the next sentence she asserts: "The theme (sic) of shallow public sentiments and superficial journalism alludes to Rakitin" (p. 139). The link is specious, the leap too broad. Elsewhere Perlina lapses into self-contradiction (e.g., pp. 20, 73, 87, 183), oversimplification (the introductory remarks on Tolstoi), and puzzling omissions. For example, she touches on the eloquent relationship between
Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov, yet makes no reference to
The Possessed at precisely those stages where to do so would be singularly appropriate, as in the sections dealing with the question of fathers and sons (p. 61) and with Ivan's struggle with the Devil, which echoes Stavrogin's battles with his evil spirit. Likewise, during her commentary on Dostoevsky's quirky preoccupation with lameness, Perlina never notes that Russian folklore ascribes lameness to the devil, surely a pertinent detail in light of Dostoevsky's metaphysics?
Finally, the format of this book is a mess: Chapter V is mis-numbered as Chapter VI (p. 172); chaos makes mockery of punctuation rules as periods appear in mid-sentence (p. 152), commas are dropped and inserted seemingly at random (e.g., p. 143), as are quotation marks; the right margin, which tends to be distractingly uneven throughout, becomes transferred on the last line of p. 162 to the
left side of the page; typographical errors abound and presumably account for a couple of nonsensical sentences (pp. 150, 180); elsewhere it is impossible to distinguish typographical from grammatical mistakes (p. 47). French words lack all diacritical marks and Russian transliteration follows the zigzags of chance (e.g.,
chërt, but besenok): though Perlina claims to use the Library of Congress System (Shaw's II), she inexplicably borrows the 'j' of System III for rendering
и, ю, and я. Translations do not always tally with the original (e.g., pp. 50, 179). A responsible editor could have eliminated much of this carelessness and, moreover, purged the jargon-riddled language that results in unwieldy formulation of this kind: "In the open nonfinalized cultural context of the epoch, it [a question] gains new polemic overtones through Dostoevsky's contributing his opinions to the ramified and multifaceted problem of the Russian Faust" (pp. 138-39). The unwary reader feels "sentenced to death"—through Bakhtinalia. Yet the Slavist whose tolerance can withstand such writing will find the volume much better than the cited extract implies.
University of Pittsburgh
T.M. Rodina. Dostoevskij: Povestvovanie i drama. Moskva: Nauka, 1984. 228 pp. Paper, 1r. 10 k.
The import of Rodina's in many ways admirable study is that the theatre and drama were important to the development of Dostoevsky's artistic thought and artistic execution. Several categories relating to the theatre and to drama are rather loosely employed in her work. They often, unfortunately, overlap each other somewhat indiscriminately. "Drama" as used by Rodina refers to dramatic literature, and "theatre" to theatrical performance and acting — the acting of Mochalov in the first instance—which Dostoevsky is said to have creatively incorporated into his prose fiction. These categories are set beside "theatricalness," a quality Rodina asserts arose organically in Dostoevsky's works as an expression of one aspect of his worldview and creative experience. The popular staging of his novels, beginning with the 1910 M.A.T. production of
The Brothers Karamazov, is brought forward additionally as if to prove the deep dramatic qualities that later generations have found so compelling in Dostoevsky's works.
In a series of chapters with such headings as "Romantic Theatre, "Satire and Drama," "Action," "Space," "Time," Rodina attempts to demonstrate that the vivid contrasts, confrontations, dialogues, coincidences and ensemble scenes in Dostoevsky's work give it a special dramatic quality lacking in the work of other novelists. Supposedly Dostoevsky brought these qualities to his novels by means of his creative experience with theatre, Mochalov's acting as a living example of the complexity of human experience, and his reading, especially his reading of Gogol', Schiller and Shakespeare. Rodina claims that the dramatic qualities and theatrical devices in Dostoevsky's work are not simply to be attributed to external influences, but are rather embedded in the very structure of his artistic thought. Nowhere, however, does she demonstrate specifically how drama as such enters Dostoevsky's work. That Dostoevsky was a passionate devotee of the works of Schiller (whose work was, in Leonard Schapiro's word, part of the "staple intellectual pabulum" of the times), that he followed Mochalov's career, that he was devoted to contemporary theatre, all this in my opinion does not distinguish him sufficiently from other literary figures of his generation.
Rodina quotes Bakhtin on the essential differences between drama and the novel as written by Dostoevsky: "drama by its nature is foreign to true polyphony; drama may be on many planes but it cannot be many worlds; it provides for only one and not several systems of reckoning." (pp. 9-10) Dostoevsky himself seems to have realized something along these lines when he abandoned a comedy in progress and developed the plot lines subsequently as two novellas,
The Village of Stepanchikovo and Its Inhabitants and Uncle's Dream: "I abandoned the comedy form, even though the work was going quite well." (p. 89) Rodina theorizes that Dostoevsky failed in this serious attempt to turn to dramatic form because he wanted to create a work of epic scope capable of including a wide variety of life. Dostoevsky was also interested in following his hero's adventures through space and time and did not believe drama as a genre could support the task. All this is another way of
saying that while Dostoevsky was certainly influenced by the drama and may have, especially in his shorter works, incorporated structural features common to romantic theatre, he is essentially a novelist. Rodina's study does not deny this underlying fact. She attempts, however, in good structuralist fashion, to speak of the confluence (styk) of Dostoevsky's prose with other contemporary art forms such as the drama and of the effect this had on the style and structure of his prose fiction. But the theatricalness of Dostoevsky's heroes and the. dramatic structure of his larger works is inseparable from the overall tapestry of the novels he created. Rodina acknowledges as much when she declares: "To excise the drama from the whole, to isolate it would mean to destroy the results of Dostoevsky's gigantic labor, to nullify his greatest artistic discoveries." (p. 237)
While it is true that within Dostoevsky's work one finds the great tensions associated with tragedy and the exaggerated incongruities of comedy, such features are still within the confines of the novel in which the growth and arc of individual consciousness told in manifold detail is at the center of artistic attention. Though few would wholeheartedly subscribe to Nabokov's remark in his
Lectures on Russian Literature p. 104) that Dostoevsky "seems to have been chosen by the destiny of Russian letters to become Russia's greatest playwright, but he took the wrong turning and wrote novels," there is no doubt that Dostoevsky, wrong or not, took that turning.
Jerome H. Katsell Del Mar
N. Vil'mont. Dostoevskij i Shiller. Moskva: Sovetskij pisatel', 1984. 278 pp. Cloth, 1 r. 40 k.
Scholars interested in the complexities of Dostoevsky's intellectual and artistic relationship to Schiller will be disappointed by this book. What would appear to be a new contribution to the literature, providing the insights of a Soviet comparatist, is in fact a re-issue of the major portion of a study published some twenty years ago. Subtitled "Notes of a Russian Germanist," the volume is a somewhat meandering commentary on Dostoevsky's work which sporadically concerns itself with the specifics of aesthetic and philosophical influences. Substantial portions, however, are devoted to a general analysis of the Russian novelist within the confines of his national culture. The comparative component has been superseded by other, more comprehensive studies while the discussion of literary developments in Russia, sprinkled with verbal obeisances to Marx and Engels, is unexceptional.
Pierre R. Hart Louisiana State University