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Thread: Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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    Default Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    - from The Untouched Key: Tracing Childhood Trauma in Creativity and Destructiveness by Alice Miller; pp. 59-62: It is easier to search for a way out in mysticism, whereby the person can close his eyes and conceal the truth in eloquent symbolic images. Yet sometimes this approach becomes virtually intolerable too because the power of the quite prosaic truth, the truth of the “little self” so disdained by the mystics, can be inexorable. Particularly for people who at some point in their childhood experienced loving care, this truth won’t allow itself to be silenced completely, even with the help of poetry, philosophy, or mystical experiences. It insists on being heard, like every child whose voice has not been completely destroyed.

    The absence or presence of a helping witness in childhood determines whether a mistreated child will become a despot who turns his repressed feelings of helplessness against others or an artist who can tell about his or her suffering. I could cite an abundance of further examples, but I will mention only a few. I must leave it to the reader to verify my statements, to supplement my evidence with new material, or to refute my arguments, as the case may be.

    It’s a fact that Dostoyevsky’s father forced his children to read the Bible and tormented them with his greed. I don’t know whether he mistreated them physically, and I must base my assumptions on my knowledge of his son’s novels. But we do know that after his wife’s death, he “led the life of a wastrel, drunkard, and tyrant. He treated his serfs with such cruelty that in 1839 they murdered him most brutally.”

    In mid-nineteenth-century Russia, cruelty toward serfs was almost the rule. The elder Dostoyevsky must therefore have treated his serfs especially brutally or perfidiously to drive them to such a dangerous act of revenge. How was this father likely to have treated his own sons? Perhaps a good deal could be gleaned from The Brothers Karamazov. But this novel also shows how difficult it is for sons to acknowledge a father’s wickedness without feeling guilty and without punishing themselves. The serfs were able to free themselves from the domination of their master, but the children were not. Fyodor Dostoyevsky suffered from epilepsy; he searched for God, Whom he could not find. Why didn’t he become a criminal filled with hatred? Because he found a loving person in his mother. Because of her he experienced love, and this was crucial for his later life. Can the explanation be that simple? Yes. But the way his life turned out hung by a thread; it could easily have been completely different.


    - from The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky;pp. xxxii-xxxiii (Introduction by William Mills Todd III): Problems of understanding, truth and falsehood dominate Part Four, and the reader must face them with even less help from the chronicler-narrator than in Parts Two and Three. The sequence of events becomes more difficult to follow, their significance even harder to comprehend. The narrator gives up, devoting his attention to secondary characters and allowing that ‘sometimes it is best for the narrator to confine himself to a simple exposition of events’ (Part Four, chapter I). By chapter 9 he has abdicated the authority to explain the prince’s failure with Aglaya to Radomsky, whose understanding is, by this time, more limited than the reader’s and grounded in a series of inadequate determinist propositions (nerves, epilepsy, the St Petersburg weather, etc.). Aglaya, too, has failed to understand him, grounding her sense of his extraordinary nature in a series of conventionally heroic poses: knight, duelist, judge.

    Aglaya’s treatment of the prince in Part Four is one of the most salient of a series of misunderstandings and rejections, rejections which call to mind Nastasya Filippovna’s insightful comment in a letter to Aglaya that Christ should be painted alone, with a child. The plot has not made it easy for these other characters, as the prince is generally presented in terms of negatives or symbols. He is not moralistic or judgemental and does not make conscious choices, acting, instead, compassionately and intuitively. Nor is he formal or ritualistic. He is not conscious of institutions but is vaguely communitarian in his desire to reconcile the characters, uniting them in brotherhood. This makes him particularly vulnerable to the rituals of politeness at the Yepanchin’s party; he can read the faces of children and of characters, such as Rogozhin and Nastasya Filippovna, who are marginal to society, but he cannot read the faces of those who are trained to dissemble. The prince’s values, if we may use so formal a term, centre on beauty, broadly understood to comprise physical and spiritual beauty, natural beauty, the innocence of children and brotherly (not egotistical) love. These are values that the others will not try to grasp and that he cannot express in a logically coherent fashion, only through parable-like narratives. Aglaya specifically forbids him to speak of beauty at her family’s party.

    The ending brings together Nastasya Filippovna, Rogozhin and the prince in tragic symmetry. Lying near her, they represent the two aspects of her potential that the prince recognized at first glance, destructively passionate and compassionately gentle. The ending, in turn, leaves the reader with two vexing questions. What has been the prince’s effect on the world of the novel? What has been the world’s effect on the prince? The novel gives many answers to these questions. Ultimately the prince is seen to have ‘fallen’ (the Russian term for epilepsy is the ‘falling sickness’) into a world which expects no Messiah, which cannot understand him and which mistrusts the gifts he brings it, gifts which may themselves become tarnished in this corrosive atmosphere. His passionately ideological speech at the Yepanchins’ party may be just such a tarnished gift.

    Whatever Dostoyevsky’s intentions to create a ‘completely beautiful human being’, he did not make the world of The Idiot the world of the Gospels. The corrupt, fearful officials and lawyers of the Gospels seem rather tame beside the characters of this novel. And Christ never had to deal simultaneously with the likes of Aglaya and Nastasya Filippovna. The Christ of the Gospels performed miracles, but always in connection with the faith of those around Him. The world of this novel is very different: a world of cynicism, greed and rampant egocentricity. Its sense of beauty is superficial, not spiritual, and, in the final analysis, it extends the prince no understanding. And he can bring it no miracles.


    - pp. xi-xiii [Introduction]: The most reckless diagnosis no doubt belongs to Emile Hennequin:

    Dostoyevksy’s ultimate originality, the feature which distinguished and characterized him, is his enormous imbalance between feeling and reason. This man sees things and beings with the vividness and surprise of someone half insane. And since anticipation neither prepares him for their movement nor the need for reasoning impels him to sort out causes and effects, he looks wildly upon a spectacle which assaults his senses in disconnected shocks. Likewise, an intellect little developed, to which the senses ceaselessly bear disconnected impressions, would be at a loss to imagine the idea of development, be it in a narrative or in a characterization, and would conceive instead uncertainty in a story and instability in a soul...Hence, once these aptitudes are amplified to the level of genius, the marvellous design of Dostoyevsky’s characters; hence, above all, their carnal, wild, violent, brutal, unintelligent nature, which Dostoyevsky must have discovered latent in his own unpolished character, more animal than spiritual.

    As a description of Dostoyevsky’s characters in their most desperate moments, this has some plausibility; and the narrator of The Idiot--by no means equal in intelligence and understanding to its author--seems often at a loss when dealing with the development of plot and character. And to be sure Dostoyevsky himself could be irascible, unreasonable and, in polite society, notoriously ‘unpolished’. Recent novels by John Coetzee (The Master of St Petersburg) and Leonid Tsypkin (Summer in Baden-Baden) have imagined these aspects of the author’s personality more successfully than the scholars and psychologists. Dostoyevsky’s was, indeed, a life lived on the edge of physical breakdown, financial ruin and mental depression. By his own estimate he endured, beginning at the age of twenty-six, an epileptic seizure every three weeks.

    All of these sensational details of his life and work are, however, subject to qualification. James Rice, in a thorough and insightful study of Dostoyevsky’s illness, notes that unlike the hero of The Idiot, Dostoyevsky could generally anticipate his seizures and rarely suffered them in public. He was able, ultimately, to control and terminate his obsession with gambling, and to write his way out of debt. The madness, violence and irrationality of his characters--denigrated by his contemporary Russian critics and celebrated by his first foreign ones--were more often than not creative transformations of his childhood reading of early nineteenth-century European literature. In ways unrecognized by his first European readers, he was returning them the themes, plots and characters of their own Romantic fiction, drama and poetry.


    - from The Body Never Lies: The Lingering Effects of Cruel Parenting by Alice Miller [Translated by Andrew Jenkins]; pp. 43-45: The works of the Russian writers Dostoevsky and Chekhov meant a great deal to me in my youth. My later studies of these authors have shown me how faultlessly the disassociative mechanism functions, not only today but also over a century ago. When I finally succeeded in giving up the illusions I had entertained about my parents and recognized the effects of their deeds on my life as a whole, this also opened my eyes to facts I had formerly not attributed any importance to. Janko Lavrin’s biography of Dostoevsky informed me that in later life his father, initially an army doctor, inherited an estate with more than a hundred serfs. His treatment of these people was so brutal that they eventually summoned up the courage to murder him. The conclusion I drew from this was that his brutality must have far exceeded the norm, for what other explanation could there be for the fact that these cowed vassals elected to run the risk of banishment for their crime, rather than suffering any longer under this reign of terror? It thus seemed more than plausible that his eldest son would also have been subjected to some kind of cruelty. Accordingly, I resolved to investigate how the author of so many world-famous novels had managed to come to terms with his own personal history. I was of course familiar with his portrayal of a merciless father in The Brothers Karamazov, but I wanted to find out what his relationship with his real father was like. First I looked for relevant passages in his letters. I read them all but found not one single instance of a letter to his father. The one and only mention of him was obviously designed to testify to the son’s consummate respect and unconditional love for him. On the other hand, almost all his letters to other people contained complaints about his financial situation and requests for financial support. To my mind, all these letters clearly express a child’s fear of the constant threat to his very existence, coupled with the desperate hope that the addressee will understand his distress and be kindly disposed to him.

    It is a well-known fact that Dostoevsky’s health was extremely poor. He suffered from chronic insomnia and complained of dreadful nightmares, in which we may assume that his childhood traumas found a way of expressing themselves without his becoming consciously aware of the fact. We also know that for decades Dostoevsky suffered epileptic fits. But his biographers make little or no indication of any connection between these attacks and his traumatic childhood. They have been equally blind to the yearning for a merciful destiny that is clearly recognizable in his addiction to roulette. Though his wife helped him to overcome this addiction, she was unable to function as an enlightened witness because at the time it was thought to be even more reprehensible to level accusations at one’s own father than it is now.



    - from The Best Short Stories of Dostoevsky; [(NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND) pp. 135-136 [Chapter VII]: Oh, tell me who was it first said, who was it first proclaimed that the only reason man behaves dishonourably is because he does not know his own interests, and that if he were enlightened, if his eyes were opened to his real normal interests, he would at once cease behaving dishonourably and would at once become good and honourable because, being enlightened and knowing what is good for him, he would see that his advantage lay in doing good, and of course it is well known that no man ever knowingly acts against his own interests and therefore he would, as it were, willy-nilly start doing good. Oh, the babe! Oh, the pure innocent child! When, to begin with, in the course of all these thousands of years has man ever acted in accordance with his own interests? What is one to do with the millions of facts that bear witness that man knowingly, that is, fully understanding his own interests, has left them in the background and rushed along a different path to take a risk, to try his luck, without being in any way compelled to do it by anyone or anything, but just as though he deliberately refused to follow the appointed path, and obstinately, wilfully, opened up a new, a difficult, and an utterly preposterous path, groping for it almost in the dark. Well, what does it mean but that to man this obstinacy and wilfulness is pleasanter than any advantage....Advantage! What is advantage? Can you possibly give an exact definition of the nature of human advantage? And what if sometimes a man’s ultimate advantage not only may, but even must, in certain cases consist in his desiring something that is immediately harmful and not advantageous to himself? If that is so, if such a case can arise, then the whole rule becomes utterly worthless. What do you think? Are there cases where it is so? You are laughing? Well, laugh away, gentlemen, only tell me this: have men’s advantages ever been calculated with absolute precision? Are there not some which have not only fitted in, but cannot possibly be fitted in any classification? You, gentlemen, have, so far as I know, drawn up your entire list of positive human values by taking the averages of statistical figures and relying on scientific and economic formulae. What are your values? They are peace, freedom, prosperity, wealth, and so on and so forth. So that any man who should, for instance, openly and knowingly act contrary to the whole of that list would, in your opinion, and in mine, too, for that matter, be an obscurantist or a plain madman, wouldn’t he? But the remarkable thing surely is this: why does it always happen that when all these statisticians, sages, and lovers of the human race reckon up human values they always overlook one value? They don’t even take it into account in the form in which it should be taken into account, and the whole calculation depends on that. What harm would there be if they did take it, that value, I mean, and add it to their list? But the trouble, you see, is that this peculiar good does not fall under any classification and cannot be included in any list.


    - pp. 137-138: What is important is that this good is so remarkable just because it sets at naught all our classifications and shatters all the systems set up by the lovers of the human race for the happiness of the human race. In fact, it plays havoc with everything. But before I tell you what this good is, I should like to compromise myself personally and I therefore bluntly declare that all these theories which try to explain to man all his normal interests so that, in attempting to obtain them by every possible means, he should at once become good and honourable, are in my opinion nothing but mere exercises in logic. Yes, exercises in logic. For to assert that you believed this theory of the regeneration of the whole human race by means of the system of its own advantages is, in my opinion, almost the same as--well, asserting, for instance, with Buckle, that civilisation softens man, who consequently becomes less bloodthirsty and less liable to engage in wars. I believe he argues it very logically indeed. But man is so obsessed by systems and abstract deductions that he is ready to distort the truth deliberately, he is ready to deny the evidence of his senses, so long as he justifies his logic.


    - pp. 142-143 [Chapter VIII]: For when one day desire comes completely to terms with reason we shall of course reason and not desire, for it is obviously quite impossible to desire nonsense while retaining our reason and in that way knowingly go against our reason and wish to harm ourselves. And when all desires and reasons can be actually calculated (for one day the laws of our so-called free will are bound to be discovered) something in the nature of a mathematical table may in good earnest be compiled so that all our desires will in effect arise in accordance with this table. For if it is one day calculated and proved to me, for instance, that if I thumb my nose at a certain person it is because I cannot help thumbing my nose at him, and that I have to thumb my nose at him with that particular thumb, what freedom will there be left to me, especially if I happen to be a scholar and have taken my degree at a university? In that case, of course, I should be able to calculate my life for thirty years ahead. In short, if this were really to take place, there would be nothing left for us to do: we should have to understand everything whether we wanted to or not. And, generally speaking, we must go on repeating to ourselves incessantly that at a certain moment and in certain circumstances nature on no account asks us for our permission to do anything; that we have got to take her as she is, and not as we imagine her to be; and that if we are really tending towards mathematical tables and rules of thumb and--well--even towards test tubes, then what else is there left for us to do but to accept everything, test tube and all. Or else the test tube will come by itself and will be accepted whether you like it or not....



    The Dostoevsky Archive: Firsthand Accounts of the Novelist from Contemporaries’ Memoirs and Rare Periodicals by Peter Sekirin; pp. 135-136: Students from the Moscow University went to St. Petersburg to see Dostoevsky, and to ask for his advice. Here is what Dostoevsky told them:

    In the most terrible periods of my life, when everybody left me, there was only one Being which supported me all the time. This Being was God. He never rejected me in His support. I feel from my own experience that there is nothing worse than atheism or the lack of faith. To all people who want to make sure that this is true, I suggest to them to go to prison. If they do not commit suicide there, then they become real believers.

    You can create any ideas, you can destroy any theories created by humans, but do not touch the notion of God. He came to Earth before you, and He cannot be destroyed by you. Those who live without Him feel emptiness and darkness in their hearts, and they have nothing inside. You feel desperate and lonely, if you do not have faith....Look around yourself--you are alone. And Jesus Christ was supported by all the heavenly forces. And what is behind you?...If you do not believe, try to behave as I suggest, start to believe without any doubts and hesitations, without any pre-conditions, and then you will understand that it will help to support any enterprise, any business you do, and any failure of yours will not seem terrible to you, and then everything will become possible for you in this life....At present I want to express my views on faith in a novel.


    Selected Letters of Fyodor Dostoyevsky [Edited by Joseph Frank and David I. Goldstein/Translated by Andrew R. MacAndrew]; p. 23: Those Muscovites are unspeakably vain, stupid, and quarrelsome. In his last letter, Karepin for some unearthly reason advised me not to get too enthusiastic about Shakespeare! He says that Shakespeare is just like a soap bubble. I wanted you to know about this idiotic resentment of Shakespeare. How in the world does Shakespeare come into the picture? You should have seen the letter I wrote him! In one word, it was a model piece of polemics. I really gave it to him. My letters are a chef d’oeuvre of lettristics.


    The Brothers Karamazov: A Novel in Four Parts with Epilogue (Translated and Annotated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky); pp. 18-19: He was then only twenty years old (his brother Ivan was in his twenty-fourth year, and their elder brother, Dmitri, was going on twenty-eight). First of all I announce that this young man, Alyosha, was not at all a fanatic, and, in my view at least, even not at all a mystic. I will give my full opinion beforehand: he was simply an early lover of mankind, and if he threw himself into the monastery path, it was only because it alone struck him at the time and presented him, so to speak, with an ideal way out for his soul struggling from the darkness of worldly wickedness towards the light of love. And this path struck him only because on it at that time he met a remarkable being, in his opinion, our famous monastery elder Zosima, to whom he became attached with all the ardent first love of his unquenchable heart. However, I do not deny that he was, at that time, already very strange, having been so even from the cradle. Incidentally, I have already mentioned that although he lost his mother in his fourth year, he remembered her afterwards all his life, her face, her caresses, “as if she were standing alive before me.” Such memories can be remembered (everyone knows this) even from an earlier age, even from the age of two, but they only emerge throughout one’s life as specks of light, as it were, against the darkness, as a corner torn from a huge picture, which has all faded and disappeared except for that little corner. That is exactly how it was with him: he remembered a quiet summer evening, an open window, the slanting rays of the setting sun (these slanting rays he remembered most of all), an icon in the corner of the room, a lighted oil-lamp in front of it, and before the icon, on her knees, his mother, sobbing as if in hysterics, with shrieks and cries, seizing him in her arms, hugging him so tightly that it hurt, and pleading for him to the Mother of God, holding him out from her embrace with both arms towards the icon, as if under the protection of the Mother of God...and suddenly a nurse rushes in and snatches him from her in fear. What a picture! Alyosha remembered his mother’s face, too, at that moment: he used to say that it was frenzied, but beautiful, as far as he could remember. But he rarely cared to confide this memory to anyone. In his childhood and youth he was not very effusive, not even very talkative, not from mistrust, not from shyness or sullen unsociability, but even quite the contrary, from something different, from some inner preoccupation, as it were, strictly personal, of no concern to others, but so important for him that because of it he would, as it were, forget others. But he did love people; he lived all his life, it seemed, with complete faith in people, and yet no one ever considered him either naive or a simpleton. There was something in him that told one, that convinced one (and it was so all his life afterwards) that he did not want to be a judge of men, that he would not take judgment upon himself and would not condemn anyone for anything. It seemed, even, that he accepted everything without the least condemnation, though often with deep sadness. Moreover, in this sense he even went so far that no one could either surprise or frighten him, and this even in his very early youth.


    - The Brothers Karamazov; book jacket: Dostoevsky’s last, towering novel summed up his life and work. THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV has long been recognized as a zenith of Western art; seminal modern thinkers such as Freud and Einstein have acknowledged it as an encapsulation of philosophy, psychology, and humanity’s struggle for faith and salvation.

    pp. 7-8: Precisely how it happened that a girl with a dowry, a beautiful girl, too, and moreover one of those pert, intelligent girls not uncommon in this generation but sometimes also to be found in the last, could have married such a worthless “runt,” as everyone used to call him, I cannot begin to explain. But then, I once knew a young lady still of the last “romantic” generation who, after several years of enigmatic love for a certain gentleman, whom, by the way, she could have married quite easily at any moment, ended up, after inventing all sorts of insurmountable obstacles, by throwing herself on a stormy night into a rather deep and swift river from a high bank somewhat resembling a cliff, and perished there decidedly by her own caprice, only because she wanted to be like Shakespeare’s Ophelia. Even then, if the cliff, chosen and cherished from long ago, had not been so picturesque, if it had been merely a flat, prosaic bank, the suicide might not have taken place at all.

    p. 9: In the intermissions, he drove over most of the province, tearfully complaining to all and sundry that Adelaida had abandoned him, going into details that any husband ought to have been too ashamed to reveal about his married life. The thing was that he seemed to enjoy and even feel flattered by playing the ludicrous role of the offended husband, embroidering on and embellishing the details of the offense. “One would think you had been promoted, Fyodor Pavlovich,” the scoffers used to say, “you’re so pleased despite all your woes!” Many even added that he was glad to brush up his old role of buffoon, and that, to make things funnier still, he pretended not to notice his ridiculous position. But who knows, perhaps he was simply naive.


    p. 3 (From the Author): But suppose they read the novel and do not see, do not agree with the note-worthiness of my Alexei Fyodorovich? I say this because, to my sorrow, I foresee it. To me he is noteworthy, but I decidedly doubt that I shall succeed in proving it to the reader. The thing is that he does, perhaps, make a figure, but a figure of an indefinite, indeterminate sort. Though it would be strange to demand clarity from people in a time like ours. One thing, perhaps, is rather doubtless: he is a strange man, even an odd one. But strangeness and oddity will sooner harm than justify any claim to attention, especially when everyone is striving to unite particulars and find at least some general sense in the general senselessness. Whereas an odd man is most often a particular and isolated case. Is that not so?

    Now if you do not agree with this last point and reply: “Not so” or “Not always,” then perhaps I shall take heart concerning the significance of my hero, Alexie Fyodorovich. For not only is an odd man “not always” a particular and isolated case, but, on the contrary, it sometimes happens that it is precisely he, perhaps, who bears within himself the heart of the whole, while the other people of his epoch have all for some reason been torn away from it for a time by some kind of flooding wind.

    I would not, in fact, venture into these rather vague and uninteresting explanations but would simply begin without any introduction...


    pp. 19-20: Thus he possessed in himself, in his very nature, so to speak, artlessly and directly, the gift of awakening a special love for himself. It was the same with him at school, too, and yet it would seem that he was exactly the kind of child who awakens mistrust, sometimes mockery, and perhaps also hatred, in his schoolmates. He used, for instance, to lapse into revery and, as it were, set himself apart. Even as a child, he liked to go into a corner and read books, and yet his schoolmates, too, loved him so much that he could decidedly be called everyone’s favorite all the while he was at school. He was seldom playful, seldom even merry, but anyone could see at once, at a glance, that this was not from any kind of sullenness, that, on the contrary, he was serene and even-tempered. He never wanted to show off in front of his peers. Maybe for that very reason he was never afraid of anyone, and yet the boys realized at once that he was not at all proud of his fearlessness, but looked as if he did not realize that he was brave and fearless. He never remembered an offense. Sometimes an hour after the offense he would speak to the offender or answer some question with as trustful and serene an expression as though nothing had happened between them at all. And he did not look as if he had accidentally forgotten or intentionally forgiven the offense; he simply did not consider it an offense, and this decidedly captivated the boys and conquered them. There was only one trait in him that in all the grades of his school from the lowest even to the highest awakened in his schoolmates a constant desire to tease him, not out of malicious mockery but simply because they found it funny. This trait was a wild, frantic modesty and chastity. He could not bear to hear certain words and certain conversations about women. These “certain” words and conversations, unfortunately, are ineradicable in schools. Boys, while still almost children, pure in mind and heart, very often like to talk in classes among themselves and even aloud about such things, pictures and images, as even soldiers would not speak of; moreover, many things that soldiers themselves do not know or understand are already familiar to still quite young children of our educated and higher society. There is, perhaps, no moral depravity yet, and no cynicism either of a real, depraved, inner sort, but there is external cynicism, and this is not infrequently regarded among them as something refined, subtle, daring, and worthy of emulation. Seeing that “Alyoshka Karamazov” quickly put his fingers in his ears when they talked “about that,” they would sometimes purposely crowd around him, pull his hands away by force, and shout foul things into both his ears, while he struggled, slipped to the floor, lay down, covered his head, all without saying a word to them, without any abuse, silently enduring the offense. In the end, however, they left him alone and no longer teased him with being “a little girl”; moreover, they looked upon him, in this respect, with compassion. Incidentally, he was always among the best of his class in his studies, but was never the first.



    The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Translated with Notes by David McDuff); pp. 631-638 [PART FOUR, CHAPTER 7]: ‘Wasn’t it this Pavlishchev that there was some episode about...a strange one...with an abbe...an abbe...I’ve forgotten which abbe it was, but everyone was talking about it at the time,’ the ‘dignitary’ said, as if recollecting.

    ‘It was Abbe Goureau, the Jesuit,’ Ivan Petrovich reminded him, ‘yes, sir, there are most excellent and most worthy men, sir! Because say what you like, he was a man of good family, with a fortune, a chamberlain and if he had...continued to serve...And then he suddenly gave up the service, and everything, in order to go over to Catholicism, and became a Jesuit, and more or less openly, too, with a kind of delight. Truly, he died at the right time...yes; everyone said it at the time...’

    The prince was beside himself.

    ‘Pavlishchev...Pavlishchev went over to Catholicism? That cannot be!’ he exclaimed in horror.

    ‘Well, “that cannot be”,’ Ivan Petrovich mumbled sedately, ‘is putting it a little strongly, you must admit, my dear Prince...However, you have such a high opinion of the deceased...indeed, he was the kindest of men, to which I ascribe, in the main, that wily old fox Goureau’s success. But really, speaking personally, don’t ask me how much fuss and bother I later experienced on account of that matter...and precisely with that selfsame Goureau! Imagine,’ he suddenly addressed the elderly gentleman, ‘they even wanted to advance claims in connection with the will, and at the time I even had to resort to the most, er, energetic measures...because they were masters of the craft! Extraordinary! But, thank God, it happened in Moscow, I at once went to see the count, and we...put some sense into them...’

    ‘You can’t imagine how you have upset and shocked me!’ the prince exclaimed again.

    ‘I am sorry; but it really is all nonsense and would have ended in nonsense, as usual; I’m convinced of it. Last summer,’ he turned again to the elderly gentleman, ‘Countess K. also entered some Catholic convent abroad; our people don’t seem to be able to hold out, once they submit to those...sly-boots...especially abroad...’

    ‘I think it’s all caused, I think, by our...weariness,’ the elderly gentleman mumbled authoritatively. ‘Well, and their manner of preaching...it’s elegant, unique...and they know how to frighten people. They also frightened me in Vienna, in thirty-two, I assure you; only I didn’t submit, and ran away from them, ha-ha!’

    ‘I heard, my dear, that you ran away from Vienna to Paris with the society beauty Countess Levitskaya, leaving your post, and it wasn’t the Jesuit you ran away from,’ Belokonskaya suddenly retorted.

    ‘Well, but I mean, it was from the Jesuit, that’s how it turned out, it was the Jesuit I was running away from!’ the elderly gentleman interjected, bursting into laughter at the pleasant recollection. ‘You seem very religious, and that is so rarely encountered in a young man nowadays,’ he turned affectionately to Prince Lev Nikolayevich, who was listening with his mouth open and was still shocked; the elderly gentleman apparently wanted to find out more about the prince; for several reasons he had been begun to interest him greatly.

    ‘Pavlishchev was a brilliant intellect and, a Christian, a true Christian,’ the prince declared suddenly. ‘How could he have submitted to a faith that is...unchristian? Catholicism is the same thing as an unchristian faith!’ he added suddenly, his eyes beginning to flash, and he stared ahead of him, somehow taking them all in with his eyes.

    ‘Well, that is too much,’ muttered the elderly gentleman, giving Ivan Fyodorovich a look of surprise.

    ‘How is that, Catholicism an unchristian faith?’ Ivan Petrovich turned round on his chair. ‘What sort of faith is it, then?’

    ‘It’s an unchristian faith, that is number one!’ the prince began to speak again, in extreme excitement and with excessive sharpness. ‘That is number one, and number two is that Roman Catholicism is even worse than atheism itself, that is my opinion! Yes! That’s my opinion! Atheism merely preaches zero, but Catholicism goes further: it preaches a distorted Christ, slandered and desecrated by it, the opposite of Christ! It preaches the Antichrist, I swear to you, I assure you! That is my personal and long-established conviction, and it has been a source of torment to me...Roman Catholicism believes that without universal state power the Church will not endure upon earth, and cries: ‘Non possumus!’ In my view, Roman Catholicism is not even a faith, but is decidedly a continuation of the Western Roman Empire, and in it everything, beginning with faith, is subordinated to that idea. The Pope seized the earth, an earthly throne, and took up the sword; ever since then it has all gone like that, except that to the sword they’ve added lies, slyness, deception, fanaticism, superstition and evil-doing, and played with the people’s most sacred, truthful, simple, fiery emotions, exchanging everything, everything for money, for base, earthly power. And isn’t that the teaching of the Antichrist? How could atheism have failed to originate from them? Atheism originated from them, from Roman Catholicism itself! First of all, atheism took its origin in them: could they believe in themselves? It gained strength from the revulsion that was felt for them; it is the result of their lies and spiritual impotence! Atheism! So far, in our land it’s only the upper classes who do not believe, as Yevgeny Pavlovich put it so splendidly the other day, having lost their roots; but there, in Europe, now, enormous masses of the ordinary people are starting not to believe – it used to be because of darkness and lies, but now it’s because of fanaticism, hatred of the Church and Christianity!’

    The prince stopped to draw breath. He had been talking terribly fast. He was pale and gasping. They all exchanged glances; but at last the elderly gentleman openly burst into laughter. Prince N. took out his lorgnette and examined the prince steadily. The little German poet crept out of the corner and moved closer to the table, smiling an ominous smile.

    ‘You very much exaggerate,’ Ivan Petrovich drawled with a certain degree of boredom, and even as if he had something on his conscience. ‘In the Church over there, there are also representatives who are worthy of all respect and are virtuous...’

    ‘I wasn’t talking about individual representatives of the Church. I was talking about the essence of Roman Catholicism, it is Rome of which I speak. Can a Church completely disappear? I never said that!’

    ‘Agreed, but that is all well known and even--superfluous, and...belongs to theology...’

    ‘Oh no, oh no! Not just to theology, I assure you, it doesn’t! It concerns us far more closely than you suppose. That is the whole of our error, that we cannot yet see that this matter is not just a purely theological one! I mean, socialism is also a result of Catholicism and the essence of Catholicism! It also, like its brother atheism, originated in despair, opposed to Catholicism in a moral sense, in order to replace the last moral power of religion, in order to assuage the thirst of a spiritually thirsting humanity and to save it not by Christ, but by coercion! It is also freedom by coercion, it’s unification by the sword and by blood! “Do not dare to believe in God, do not dare to have property, do not dare to have individuality, fraternite ou la mort, two million heads!”* By their works ye shall know them--it is written! And do not suppose that all this has been so innocent and innocuous for us; oh, we need to rebuff it, and soon, soon! Our Christ must shine out as a rebuff to the West, the Christ we have preserved and whom they have not known! Not slavishly swallowing the Jesuits’ hook, but carrying our Russian civilization to them, we must now stand before them, and let no one among us say that their preaching is elegant, as someone said just now...’

    ‘But permit me, permit me,’ Ivan Petrovich began to grow dreadfully perturbed, looking round him, and even starting to lose his nerve. ‘All your ideas are, of course, praiseworthy and full of patriotism, but it is all in the highest degree exaggerated, and...we had even better drop the subject...’

    ‘No, it isn’t exaggerated, it’s rather understated; understated indeed, because I’m not able to express myself properly, but...’

    ‘But permit me!’

    The prince fell silent. He sat straight up in his chair and, motionless, looked at Ivan Petrovich with a fiery stare.

    ‘I think the incident with your benefactor has shaken you too much,’ the elderly gentleman observed, kindly and not losing his calm. ‘You are ignited...perhaps because of your seclusion. If you lived with people more, and you would, I hope, be gladly accepted in society as a remarkable young man, then you would, of course, calm your animation and see that all this is far more simple...and moreover such rare instances...occur, in my view, partly because of our satiety and partly because of...boredom.’

    ‘Precisely, precisely so!’ exclaimed the prince. ‘A most magnificent idea! Precisely “because of boredom, because of our boredom”, not because of satiety, on the contrary, because of thirst...not satiety, you are wrong there! Not only thirst, but even inflammation, a feverish thirst! And...and do not suppose that this is on such a small scale that it may merely be laughed at; excuse me, but one must be able to have prescience! No sooner do our people reach a shore, no sooner do they come to believe that it is a shore, than they rejoice in it so much that they at once go to the last extreme; why is that? I mean, here you are being astonished at Pavlishchev, you ascribe it all to his insanity or kindness, but that is wrong! And it is not us alone, but the whole of Europe that is astonished by our passionate Russian temperament: in our country, if a man goes over to Catholicism, he unfailingly becomes a Jesuit, and one of the most clandestine sort, at that; if he becomes an atheist, he will at once begin to demand the eradication of belief in God by coercion, that is, by the sword! Why is that, why such instant frenzy? Do you really not know? It’s because he has found the fatherland he failed to espy here, and is filled with joy; he has found a shore, a soil, and has rushed to kiss it! You see, it is not from vanity alone, not from mere sordid vain emotions that Russian atheists and Russian Jesuits proceed, but from a spiritual pain, a spiritual thirst, a yearning for something more exalted, for a firm shore, a motherland in which they have ceased to believe, because they have never known it! It is so easy for a Russian to become an atheist, easier than for anyone else in the whole world! And our people do not simply become atheists, they unfailingly believe in atheism, as in a new creed, never noticing that they have come to believe in a zero. That is what our thirst is like! “He who has no soil beneath him has no God either.” That expression is not my own. It’s the expression of a merchant, an Old Believer, whom I met when I was travelling. He, it’s true, didn’t express it like that, he said: “He who has renounced his native land has renounced his God as well.” I mean, just think, highly educated people in our country have even taken up flagellantism . . . Though, as a matter of fact, in that case is flagellantism any worse than nihilism, Jesuitism or atheism? It is even, perhaps, a bit deeper than them! But that is the length to which their yearning has gone!...Reveal the shore of the New World to Columbus’s thirsting and inflamed fellow-travellers, reveal the Russian World to a Russian, let him find that gold, that treasure hidden from him in the earth! Show him in the future the renewal of all mankind and its resurrection, perhaps by Russian thought alone, by the Russian God and Christ, and you will see what a mighty and truthful, wise and meek giant will grow before an amazed world, amazed and frightened, because they expect from us only the sword, the sword and coercion, because they cannot imagine us, judging by their own standards, without barbarism. And that is how it has been hitherto, and that is how it will increasingly continue! And...’

    But here a certain event took place, and the orator’s speech was cut short in the most unexpected manner.

    All this feverish tirade, all this flow of impassioned and agitated words and rhapsodic ideas, jostling, as it were, in a kind of turmoil and skipping from one to the other, all this foretold something dangerous, something peculiar in the mood of the young man who had so suddenly boiled over, apparently for no reason. Of those who were present in the drawing room, all who knew the prince marvelled fearfully (and some with embarrassment) at his outburst, which was so little in harmony with his customary and even timid reserve, his rare and peculiar tact on certain occasions, and his instinctive sense of the higher proprieties. They could not understand what had caused it: it was surely not the news of Pavlishchev’s death. In the ladies’ corner he was being viewed as a madman, and Belokonskaya confessed later that ‘one more minute and she would have wanted to run away’. The ‘elderly gentlemen’ were almost dumbfounded at first; the general-superior looked with stern displeasure from his chair. The engineer-colonel sat completely immobile. The little German even turned pale, but went on smiling his false smile, casting glances at the others: how would the others respond? However, all this and the ‘whole scandal’ might have been resolved in the most ordinary and natural way, perhaps, even within a minute; Ivan Fyodorovich, who was extremely surprised, but had recovered himself earlier than the rest, also began to try to stop the prince several times; not having achieved success, he was now making his way towards him, with firm and decisive ends in view.


    * An allusion to a passage in Chapter 37 of Alexander Herzen's My Past and Thoughts, where Herzen reflects on the view of the nineteenth-century German republican publicist Karl Heinzen that in order to create world revolution it would be sufficient 'to kill two million people'.



    p. xiii: By countering the initial response to Dostoyevsky as an untutored savage, such detailed studies of his texts and writing process enable us to understand him as a gambler in a new and different sense. While he is famous for his compulsive gambling sprees at a game of chance, roulette, his greatest gamble was one that he indulged not for six years, but for nearly four decades: that he could support himself exclusively by his writing, by becoming one of Russia’s first truly professional writers.

    pp. xvi-xvii: Nabokov, mocking Dostoyevsky’s Russian nationalism, could not resist the temptation to call him ‘the most European of the Russian writers’, and Dostoyevsky’s early letters and late journalistic essays, to say nothing of his fiction, show an intense, enduring fascination with several interrelated genres imported into Russia by translators and the literary journals. The German writer Friedrich Schiller gave him a sense of life as festival, an ecstatic sense that humanity could be perfected and that people could become brothers through achieving a harmonious balance between mental, emotional and sensual activities. Such visions extend from Dostoyevsky’s early teens through Prince Myshkin’s visions in The Idiot to Dmitri Karamazov’s confessions in verse and Alyosha Karamazov’s final speech. Gothic fiction, another youthful fascination, transects all of Dostoyevsky’s fiction with mysterious settings, characters beset by mental dysfunction and plots set in motion by violations of the divine order. If we could use the term ‘Gothic’ in its historical sense and not in its present pejorative one, we would find much of it in Dostoyevsky, whose mature fiction centres around daring challenges to moral and divine authority. French social Romanticism (Georges Sand, Victor Hugo, Honore de Balzac, the Utopian Socialists) figures no less prominently in his early reading, and it gave him lessons in criticizing contemporary society and dreaming of a potentially harmonious social order. Dostoyevsky would begin his literary career with a translation of Balzac’s Eugenie Grandet (1833). Canonical works sanctified by Romanticism, such as Shakespeare’s, would lend Dostoyevsky citations and plot structures for the rest of his career.


    The Best Short Stories of Dostoevsky (Translated with an Introduction by David Magarshack); pp. 148-150 [(NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND) PART I–UNDERGROUND)/(Chapter) IX]: I agree that man is above all a creative animal, condemned consciously to strive towards a goal and to occupy himself with the art of engineering, that is, always and incessantly clear with a path for himself wherever it may lead. And I should not be at all surprised if that were not the reason why he sometimes cannot help wishing to turn aside from the path just because he is condemned to clear it, and perhaps, too, because, however stupid the plain man of action may be as a rule, the thought will sometimes occur to him that the path almost always seems to lead nowhere in particular, and that the important point is not where it leads but that it should lead somewhere, and that a well-behaved child, disdaining the art of engineering, should not indulge in the fatal idleness which, as we all know, is the mother of all vices. Man likes to create and to clear paths--that is undeniable. But why is he also so passionately fond of destruction and chaos? Tell me that. But, if you don’t mind, I’d like to say a few words about that myself. Is he not perhaps so fond of destruction and chaos (and it cannot be denied that he is sometimes very fond of it--that is a fact) because he is instinctively afraid of reaching the goal and completing the building he is erecting? How do you know, perhaps he only loved the building from a distance and not by any means at close quarters; perhaps he only loved building it and not living in it, preferring to leave it later aux animaux domestiques, such as ants, sheep, etc., etc. Now, ants are quite a different matter. They have one marvellous building of this kind, a building that is for ever indestructible--the ant-hill.

    The excellent ants began with the ant-hill and with the ant-hill they will most certainly end, which does great credit to their steadfastness and perseverance. But man is a frivolous and unaccountable creature, and perhaps, like a chess-player, he is only fond of the process of achieving his aim, but not of the aim itself. And who knows (it is impossible to be absolutely sure about it), perhaps the whole aim mankind is striving to achieve on earth merely lies in this incessant process of achievement, or (to put it differently) in life itself, and not really in the attainment of any goal, which, needless to say, can be nothing else but twice-two-makes-four, that is to say, a formula; but twice-two-makes-four is not life, gentlemen. It is the beginning of death. At least, man seems always to have been afraid of this twice-two-makes-four, and I am afraid of it now. Let us assume that man does nothing but search for this twice-two-makes-four, sails across oceans and sacrifices his life in this search; but to succeed in his quest, really to find what he is looking for, he is afraid--yes, he really seems to be afraid of it. For he feels that when he has found it there will be nothing more for him to look for. When workmen have finished their work they at least receive their wages, and they go to a pub and later find themselves in a police cell--well, there’s an occupation for a week. But where can man go? At all events, one observes a certain awkwardness about him every time he achieves one of these aims. He loves the process of achievement but not achievement itself, which, I’m sure you will agree, is very absurd. In a word, man is a comical creature; I expect there must be some sort of jest hidden in it all. But twice-two-makes-four is for all that a most insupportable thing. Twice-two-makes-four is, in my humble opinion, nothing but a piece of impudence. Twice-two-makes-four is a farcical, dressed-up fellow who stands across your path with arms akimbo and spits at you. Mind you, I quite agree that twice-two-makes-four is a most excellent thing; but if we are to give everything its due, then twice-two-makes-five is sometimes a most charming little thing, too.


    pp. 120-121 (CHAPTER II): Tell me this: why did it invariably happen that just at those moments--yes, at those very moments--when I was acutely conscious of “the sublime and beautiful,” as we used to call it in those days, I was not only conscious but also guilty of the most contemptible actions which--well, which, in fact, everybody is guilty of, but which, as though on purpose, I only happened to commit when I was most conscious that they ought not to be committed? The more conscious I became of goodness and all that was “sublime and beautiful,” the more deeply did I sink into the mire and the more ready I was to sink into it altogether. And the trouble was that all this did not seem to happen to me by accident, but as though it couldn’t possibly have happened otherwise. As though it were my normal condition, and not in the least a disease or a vice, so that at last I no longer even attempted to fight against this vice. It ended by my almost believing (and perhaps I did actually believe) that this was probably my normal condition. At first, at the very outset, I mean, what horrible agonies I used to suffer in that struggle! I did not think others had the same experience, and afterwards I kept it to myself as though it were a secret. I was ashamed (and quite possibly I still am ashamed); it got so far that I felt a sort of secret, abnormal, contemptible delight when, on coming home on one of the foulest nights in Petersburg, I used to realise intensely that again I had been guilty of some particularly dastardly action that day, and that once more it was no earthly use crying over spilt milk; and inwardly, secretly, I used to go on nagging myself, worrying myself, accusing myself, till at last the bitterness I felt turned into a sort of shameful, damnable sweetness, and finally, into real, positive delight! Yes, into delight. Into delight! I’m certain of it. As a matter of fact, I’ve mentioned this because I should like to know for certain whether other people feel the same sort of delight. Let me explain it to you. The feeling of delight was there just because I was so intensely aware of my own degradation; because I felt myself that I had come up against a blank wall; that no doubt, it was bad, but that it couldn’t be helped; that there was no escape, and that I should never become a different man; that even if there still was any time or faith left to make myself into something different, I should most likely have refused to do so; and even if I wanted to I should still have done nothing, because as a matter of fact there was nothing I could change into. And above all – and this is the final point I want to make – whatever happened, happened in accordance with the normal and fundamental laws of intensified consciousness and by a sort of inertia which is a direct consequence of those laws, and that therefore you not only could not change yourself, but you simply couldn’t make any attempt to.


    p. 125 [Chapter III]: For forty years it will continuously remember its injury to the last and most shameful detail, and will, besides add to it still more shameful details, worrying and exciting itself spitefully with the aid of its own imagination. It will be ashamed of its own fancies, but it will nevertheless remember everything, go over everything with the utmost care, think up all sorts of imaginary wrongs on the pretext that they, too, might have happened, and will forgive nothing. Quite likely it will start avenging itself, but, as it were, by fits and starts, in all sorts of trivial ways, from behind the stove, incognito, without believing in its right to avenge itself, nor in the success of its vengeance, and knowing beforehand that it will suffer a hundred times more itself from all its attempts at revenge than the person on whom it is revenging itself, who will most probably not care a hang about it. Even on its deathbed it will remember everything with the interest accumulated during all that time, and....And it is just in that cold and loathsome half-despair and half-belief--in that conscious burying oneself alive for grief for forty years--in that intensely perceived, but to some extent uncertain, helplessness of one’s position--in all that poison of unsatisfied desires that have turned inwards--in that fever of hesitations, firmly taken decisions, and regrets that follow almost instantaneously upon them--that the essence of that delight I have spoken of lies.


    pp. 130-131 [Chapter V]: I used to get into awful trouble on such occasions though I was not even remotely to be blamed for anything. That was the most horrible part of it. But every time that happened, I used to be touched to the very depth of my soul, I kept on repeating how sorry I was, shedding rivers of tears, and of course deceiving myself, though I was not pretending at all. It was my heart that somehow was responsible for all that nastiness....Here one could not blame even the laws of nature, though the laws of nature have, in fact, always and more than anything else caused me infinite worry and trouble all through my life. It is disgusting to call to mind all this, and as a matter of fact it was a disgusting business even then. For after a minute or so I used to realise bitterly that it was all a lie, a horrible lie, a hypocritical lie, I mean, all those repentances, all those emotional outbursts, all those promises to turn over a new leaf. And if you ask why I tormented myself like that, the answer is because I was awfully bored sitting about and doing nothing, and that is why I started on that sort of song and dance. I assure you it is true. You’d better start watching yourselves more closely, gentlemen, and you will understand that it is so. I used to invent my own adventures, I used to devise my own life for myself, so as to be able to carry on somehow. How many times, for instance, used I to take offence without rhyme or reason, deliberately; and of course I realised very well that I had taken offence at nothing, that the whole thing was just a piece of play-acting, but in the end I would work myself up into such a state that I would be offended in good earnest. All my life I felt drawn to play such tricks, so that in the end I simply lost control of myself. Another time I tried hard to fall in love. This happened to me twice, as a matter of fact. And I can assure you, gentlemen, I suffered terribly. In my heart of hearts, of course, I did not believe that I was suffering, I’d even sneer at myself in a vague sort of way, but I suffered agonies none the less, suffered in the most genuine manner imaginable, as though I were really in love. I was jealous. I made scenes. And all because I was so confoundedly bored, gentlemen, all because I was so horribly bored. Crushed by doing nothing. For the direct, the inevitable, and the legitimate result of consciousness is to make all action impossible, or--to put it differently--consciousness leads to thumb-twiddling.


    DOSTOYEVSKY: An Examination of the Major Novels by Richard Peace; pp. 165-167 [6-The Pamphlet Novel: ‘The Devils’]: But at the literary fete, even though elements of comedy are still strongly present, Stepan Trofimovich proclaims the same idea with the urgency and stridency of a man explaining a fundamental article of faith; the primacy of the aesthetic is now to be taken seriously:

    ‘But I declare that Shakespeare and Raphael are higher than the Emancipation of the Serfs; higher than the concept of nationality; higher than socialism; higher than the younger generation; higher than chemistry; higher, almost, than the whole of mankind; for they are indeed the fruit, the real fruit of the whole of mankind, perhaps, the highest fruit that ever can be. Beauty’s form already achieved, without the achievement of which, I would perhaps not even agree to live...Good Lord!’ he cried throwing up his arms. ‘Ten years ago I shouted exactly the same from a stage in St Petersburg, exactly the same thing, in the very same words, and just like you, they did not understand anything, but laughed and hissed as you are doing now. Dull-witted people, what do you need to enable you to comprehend? Do you know, do you know that humanity could get along without Englishmen, could get along without Germany, and, of course, without the Russians. It could get along without science, without bread, but only one thing, and one thing alone, it could not get on without, and that is beauty; for there would be nothing to do on earth. All mystery is here; all history is here. Science itself could not last a moment without beauty. Do you know this, you who laugh? It would turn into clumsy philistinism. You would not be able to invent a nail!...I shall not yield!’ He yelled absurdly by way of conclusion, and banged his fist on the table with all his might.
    (Pt III, Ch. I, 4)
    Last edited by HERO; 12-06-2015 at 10:12 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ananke View Post
    I actually really enjoy reading Dostoyevsky, even if he's INFj.
    I don't. I tried reading "Crime and Punishment" and it was so depressing I couldn't even finish it--got something like 3/4 of the way through. I was reading it on my busride to work one summer in college, and the plot was just ruining my whole day. Never picked up another Dostoyevsky book for that reason.

    Would an INFj author really be so dark???? I know he's the EII archetype per the Russians... maybe not type related.
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    Quote Originally Posted by WorkaholicsAnon View Post
    I don't. I tried reading "Crime and Punishment" and it was so depressing I couldn't even finish it
    same! it was suffocating and i couldn't stand it anymore. i haven't gotten around to trying any of his other work.

    as for his type, idk...i don't have any complaints about him being typed EII but it would be interesting to hear arguments for a different type.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WorkaholicsAnon View Post
    Would an INFj author really be so dark???
    From reading about his life, I'd say yes. His father was a violent drunk and he was raised in a dismal area full of crime, poverty, orphanages and a lunatic asylum. I think from being in that kind of environment where there is so much pain, loneliness and essential lack of hope it would likely take its toll on a persons psyche.
    He generally writes a central hero in the form of an innocent, vulnerable being and has them placed in similar dispiriting situations, which was probably a direct reflection of his own life and character
    EII INFj
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    I know an ENFp friend of mine really liked Crime and Punishment.

    I myself haven't read anything by him but I really want to read Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marie84 View Post
    From reading about his life, I'd say yes. His father was a violent drunk and he was raised in a dismal area full of crime, poverty, orphanages and a lunatic asylum. I think from being in that kind of environment where there is so much pain, loneliness and essential lack of hope it would likely take its toll on a persons psyche.
    He generally writes a central hero in the form of an innocent, vulnerable being and has them placed in similar dispiriting situations, which was probably a direct reflection of his own life and character
    Quote Originally Posted by ananke View Post
    I really like crime and punishment. One of the novels that has had the biggest impact on me. To me it has a message - that what you do in your life, will matter internally, and then what the external world knows, is almost irrelevant. We have to live with ourselves no matter what we achieve in the real world. Not sure what you think of as "dark" in that. The plot is kind of not all that interesting, just there to illustrate the message.

    I can easily see the message as Fi, and D as EII.
    oh well when you guys put it that way-- it does make the book more readable actually...



    And yeah he does sound EII from this.
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    this inspires a poem of sorts

    I saw a shy fag being picked on this morning in the mist
    timid little thing, so weak and helpless and weird
    no self-confidence, a lamb to the slaughter
    They would punish and abuse him

    this caused mix feelings in me
    It makes me want to write a book, rant about the evils of society
    But is that *really* helping him? The bullies wouldn't care
    And I also hate the fag for being so weak for being picked on
    If he was like them, they wouldn't do it

    The only way to fight the big scary world, is to be in it
    It's not to write about it, or idealize it
    It's to *live* in it, and stand up to bullies
    Don't write blogs about the people that piss you off in the real world
    Confront them like men!

    They aren't moved by our little stories
    They aren't captivated by our books
    THEY'RE MOVED BY MOVING!
    They don't think "Aw the fag just wants to be treated equally how cute" when we stop and smell the roses.
    Instead they murder us viciously.
    They laugh at our romance, and they will laugh at us if we die
    The only way to beat them is through raw physical effort
    Is through 'Se'
    It's through pushing against them until they cave in
    And start treating us the way that we deserve to be treated
    With real humanity, dignity and respect
    Instead of fake tears and condescension

    Yes, you see
    The only way to beat the bad guys is through real reality beyond ideal fag writing
    Use ideal fag writing to boost up the 'Potentials', the mages
    That just need the self-confidence boost to kick ass
    But you gotta do something in the 'real world'
    It doesn't mean you have to get a fake job
    But you have to get out there and fight, and mark your physical presence

    You have to be a man and be tough and assertively *confront* your real enemies.

    Gay men wouldn't have gotten the little respect that we have if it wasn't for Larry Kramer's anger, fire and fighting combative tactics.

    Don't be a shy helpless fag. A deer.
    Me and Dolphin know you can fight, so fight! Even if you are bad at it at first. You'll get better and better. You'll be able to take on more challenges , more physical things. You will be able to play on *their turf* and take out all the demons from the inside out.

    And *then* you can write your book. Not your sad story about how you are the world's eternal victim, but how you are heroic and strong and worthy of respect. We're tired of relating with your pain, we want to relate with your strength!

    We can only do it together, though. A sad sacrifice of just putting a few of them together wouldn't work. We all need to be in this as One, an elite fighting force of pure ideal romantic writers that aren't afraid to be realistic, that are man enough to get their hands dirty and to stay grounded in all those tangly roots that you can't ideally put a pretty ribbon on.

    Writing is too isolating. It's trapping yourself in your own inner fag insecurities. Nobody will care but you. You have to go out there, make some noise, be just as annoying as a sociopathic straight boy that lights cats on fire and slaps people randomly in the face just because he can and then says 'hey dude look what i did.' You have to be THERE in the physical raw presence with those boys and smack them in the face until they learn. You don't go off in the distance and complain about it to counselors like weak little faggots. you own their sorry asses! You smack their face with raw brute STRENGTH until they change up their stupid ways.

    Don't you feel motivated by this? Because I do. I feel strong. I feel fiery. I feel like I can take care of myself, and I can take care of others. I feel like if anybody was to fuck with me right now, I would be able to wipe the floor with them. I won't cry. I won't give them the satisfaction. I won't think that other people can relate to my pain and my victimhood. I know that they can only *really* relate to my strength and power. I know that I'm 'the one' and that I'm not going to let weakness or self-doubt stand in my way. I won't carry myself as a victim any longer, and I have all this power in me, raw mage-like upliftment and I know I can buff the whole world!

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    Trevor's Avatar
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    I wonder who voted for INFp. That's wrong. INFps don't have Fi as their most prominent function. INFjs do. Dostoyevski did.

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    Haikus Beautiful sky's Avatar
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    INFj's often use artistic mediums to convey the depths of emotions, some are very dark. Some INFj's choose to paint, like Van Gogh, others write and some photograph.

    My medium of expressing my emotions and feelings, which often have a hard time expressing, is often creating characters with varried depth of individual shades of feelings, some dark, mean and manipulative, others docile, kind and nice...it's creative

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    WE'RE ALL GOING HOME HERO's Avatar
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    Once again, I just read all the responses now. For what it's worth, I didn't vote for INFp (IEI). After several months I ultimately decided to vote for INFj (EII), even though it was just because... INFj seems to be the most likely type, yet my secondary/alternative typing would be (a dark and intellectual) ISFp (SEI) [negativist and emotivist]: Si-ISFp (H-SEI) [ISFp-INTp]. Balzac is typed Si-ISFp in the Socionix database, so why can't Dostoyesky be Si-ISFp (SEI-ILI)? I think some of these quotations sort of support Dostoyevsky (along with his protagonists) being SEI, Alpha, and Democratic:

    - “He is not conscious of institutions but is vaguely communitarian in his desire to reconcile the characters, uniting them in brotherhood. This makes him particularly vulnerable to the rituals of politeness at the Yepanchin’s party; he can read the faces of children and of characters, such as Rogozhin and Nastasya Filippovna, who are marginal to society, but he cannot read the faces of those who are trained to dissemble. The prince’s values, if we may use so formal a term, centre on beauty, broadly understood to comprise physical and spiritual beauty, natural beauty, the innocence of children and brotherly (not egotistical) love. These are values that the others will not try to grasp and that he cannot express in a logically coherent fashion…”

    - pp. 165-167 [(Chapter) 6 - The Pamphlet Novel: ‘The Devils’]: Of all the ideas associated with ‘the men of the forties’, there is one which Dostoyevsky cannot ridicule for long: the cult of beauty. Earlier in the novel Stepan Trofimovich expressed the difference between the ethical preoccupation of the younger generation and his own cult of the aesthetic in such hyperbolical utterances as: ‘I would give the whole of the Russian peasantry in exchange for one Rachel.’ Here outré westernism fuses with veneration for the art of a great actress, and the utterance itself is grotesquely comic . . . Earlier in his speech Stepan Trofimovich had spoken of the need for mutual forgiveness [vseproshchcheniye] between the generations, interpreting the gulf between them as the difference between two ideals of beauty; but his audience is in no mood for forgiveness, nor is their ideal an aesthetic one as Stepan Trofimovich supposes; it is, rather, ethical.

    - “Incidentally, he was always among the best of his class in his studies, but was never the first.”

    - "Gogol’s impact is particularly noticeable throughout Dostoyevsky’s career in the uncanny relationships between his characters, in his often fantastic treatment of St Petersburg, and in his use of multiple narrative positions within a single fiction."

    SEI is a dynamic type: http://www.wikisocion.org/en/index.p...#Dynamic_types

    'The stories of dynamics usually involve multiple main characters.'

    - Einstein (ENTp) and Freud (maybe ENTp/Alpha) both liked Dostoevsky's work, and you're more likely to like your dual's art/writing as opposed to your supervisor's (who's supposed to be like the "devil incarnate").

    - I'm not entirely convinced that Dostoyevsky was Se-PoLR, or a rational type for that matter.


    I'd also like to add this, although it's largely irrelevant:
    'There are no roles/No labels/Just the inscrutable truth that is too difficult for the frail human heart to comprehend'


    - from The Best Short Stories of Dostoevsky (NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND); pp. 139-141: ...but today, too, we live in barbarous times because (again relatively speaking) today, too, we stick pins into people; today, too, though man has learnt to see things more clearly than in barbarous times, he is still very far from having learnt to act in accordance with the dictates of reason and science. But I daresay you are firmly convinced that he will most certainly learn to do so as soon as his so-called bad old habits completely disappear and as soon as common sense and science have completely re-educated human nature and directed it along the road of normal behaviour. You are convinced that, when this happens, man will stop making deliberate mistakes and perforce refuse to allow his will to act contrary to his normal interests. And that is not all. You say that science itself will then teach man (though in my opinion it is an unnecessary luxury) that as a matter of fact he possesses neither will nor uncontrollable desires, and never has done, and that he himself is nothing more than a sort of piano-key or organ-stop, and that, in addition, there are the laws of nature in the world; so that whatever he does is not done of his own will at all, but of itself, according to the laws of nature. Consequently, as soon as these laws of nature are discovered, man will no longer have to answer for his actions and will find life exceedingly easy. All human actions will then, no doubt, be computed according to these laws, mathematically, something like the tables of logarithms, up to 108,000, and indexed accordingly. Or, better still, certain well-intentioned words will be published, something like our present encyclopaedic dictionaries, in which everything will be calculated and specified with such an exactness that there will be no more independent actions or adventures in the world.

    Then – it is still you who are saying this – new economic relations will be established, relations all ready for use and calculated with mathematic exactitude, so that all sorts of problems will vanish in a twinkling simply because ready-made solutions will be provided for all of them. It is then that the Crystal Palace will be built. Then – why, in fact, the Golden Age will have dawned again. Of course, it is quite impossible to guarantee (it is I who am speaking now) that even the people will not be bored to tears (for what will they have to do when everything is calculated and tabulated), though, on the other hand, everything will be so splendidly rational. Of course, when you are bored, you are liable to get all sorts of ideas into your head. Golden pins, too, are after all stuck into people out of boredom. But all that would not matter. What is bad (and it is again I who am saying this) is that I’m afraid they will be glad even of golden pins then. For man is stupid, phenomenally stupid; I mean, he may not be really stupid, but on the other hand he is so ungrateful that you won’t find anything like him in the whole world. I would not be at all surprised, for instance, if suddenly and without the slightest possible reason a gentleman of an ignoble or rather a reactionary and sardonic countenance were to arise amid all that future reign of universal common sense and, gripping his sides firmly with his hands, were to say to us all, “Well, gentlemen, what about giving all this common sense a mighty kick and letting it scatter in the dust before our feet simply to send all these logarithms to the devil so that we can again live according to our foolish will?” That wouldn’t matter, either, but for the regrettable fact that he would certainly find followers: for man is made like that. And all, mind you, for the most stupid of reasons which seems hardly worth mentioning, namely, because man has always and everywhere – whoever he may be – preferred to do as he chose, and not in the least as his reason or advantage dictated; and one may choose to do something even if it is against one’s own advantage, and sometimes one positively should (that is my idea). One’s own free and unfettered choice, one’s own whims, however wild, one’s own fancy, over-wrought though it sometimes may be to the point of madness – that is that same most desirable good which we overlooked and which does not fit into any classification, and against which all theories and systems are continually wrecked. And why on earth do all those sages assume that man must needs strive after some normal, after some rationally desirable good? All man wants is an absolutely free choice, however dear that freedom may cost him and wherever it may lead him to. Well, of course, if it is a matter of choice, then the devil only knows . . .


    - from Dostoevsky and The Age of Intensity by Alex de Jonge; pp. 46-48 [(Part One - Baudelaire and the Romantic Heritage)/Chapter Three – Baudelaire]: The quasi-impersonal style, the analytic approach, explores aspects of perverse psychologies including his own, which Baudelaire felt to be characteristic of his age. It is this analytic attitude, focused upon contemporary distortions of the psyche, which links Baudelaire to Dostoevsky.

    Crudely, our reading of Baudelaire is based upon the following analysis: factors such as the rise of the pecuniary ethic, the industrial revolution, positivism, the decline of religion, had shaped a world without whole meanings, a world which could no longer satisfy the full spectrum of human needs. Man was faced with two alternatives: to live in a state of perpetual discontent, or to distort and destroy his consciousness, the seat of that discontent, by means of intoxicants, illusions and the cultivation of an existential vertigo which did not come cheaply. Intensity of experience becomes the supreme good, because it denies reality. This is the view that forms the basis of the poet’s moral indictment of his age.

    If ever a writer were concerned with intensity of experience, it is Dostoevsky. Seen through the focus of Baudelaire’s schemata, his obsession with every kind of intensity, from stylistics to theology, becomes something more than the ravings of an epileptic Slav. Whatever the reasons for his personal involvement in intensity, its central role in his works renders these perhaps the greatest and most comprehensive articulations of the stress-patterns of his age.

    Looking at Dostoevsky through Baudelaire does more than point up the importance of the intensity drive. Baudelaire’s explicit associations between what otherwise might appear unrelated areas of experience, ennui and the city, intensity and the ambiguity of beauty, are not nearly so clearly made by Dostoevsky, although the individual elements are all present in his work. However, they seem to exist independently of one another. Baudelaire’s tighter analysis, which makes certain associations more specifically, provides us with a framework which structures the loose and baggy monsters of Dostoevsky, showing that they have a much greater degree of inner coherence, stemming from a unified creative vision, than has hitherto been suspected.

    On the surface it would be hard to imagine two artists with less in common than Baudelaire and Dostoevsky. Baudelaire was the most delicate of writers, one of the greatest stylists of his language. His poetic output is slight, but every word is the product of immensely careful calculation. Dostoevsky, on the other hand, was the prolific master of a kind of literary overkill. Technically, he wields a steam hammer that cracks everything from nuts to mountains. However, his work perpetually transcends its forms. He relies on instincts and intuition more than on calculation, and as an artist who believes the ends to justify the means, he is sublimely indifferent to the technical details of execution.

    Baudelaire analyses his world in a way that both defines and explains its craving for intensity. Dostoevsky grasps the importance of the intensity drive instinctively, and is instinctively aware of its causes. Baudelaire’s analysis clarifies Dostoevsky’s statements, in the sense that it teaches us how to look at them. But the authors are much too different for anything to be gained from a conventional ‘comparative’ approach.


    - from Dostoevsky and The Age of Intensity by Alex de Jonge; p. 221 [(Part Four – The Age of Intensity: In Conclusion) / Chapter Seventeen – The Living Life]: Dostoevsky’s advocacy of authentic living, as opposed to living in the alienated state of culture is, of course, close to the position of Nietzsche. His affinities to Nietzsche’s thought notably in his conception of the new man, have been described in detail elsewhere. [8. Philip Rahv, ‘Dostoevsky in Crime and Punishment’ in Dostoevsky: A Collection of Critical Essays, 1962.] Less apparent, perhaps, is their common rejection of the falsifying culture-pattern in favour of an intense and authentic experience of nature, ecstasy, and joy. The message of The Anti-Christian and Thus Spake Zarathustra is that man must free himself of the constrictions of his culture-pattern, shake off his past, and only then will he find joy.

    - p. iii: The novel is the form of absolute sinfulness
    J. G. Fichte


    - from The Dostoevsky Archive: Firsthand Accounts from Contemporaries’ Memoirs and Rare Periodicals by Peter Sekirin; p. v: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”
    John 12:24

    Dostoevsky selected this verse as the epigraph for The Brothers
    Karamazov. It also appears on his tombstone in St. Petersburg.


    - from The Brothers Karamazov: A Novel in Four Parts with Epilogue (Translated and Annotated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky); book jacket: Dostoevsky’s last, towering novel summed up his life and work. THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV has long been recognized as a zenith of Western art; seminal modern thinkers such as Freud and Einstein have acknowledged it as an encapsulation of philosophy, psychology, and humanity’s struggle for faith and salvation. Yet as sheer story, the novel has inexorable power and timeless appeal – the intrigue and passion of a mysterious murder, two love triangles leading to parricide, suicide, and madness, and a sensational trial. . . . The high and low of life is in constant, dazzling flux, portraying the depraved and dissolute father at odds with his milieu and his three sons, each driven by his own compulsion: Dmitri by passion, Ivan by intellect, and Alyosha by religious fervor. . . . Through the greatness of his artistic gifts, Dostoevsky raises this conflict to the level of universal humanity.

    Fittingly for the greatest family novel in literature, THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV is a novel constructed of voices, speech that Dostoevsky renders with exuberance and humor, as well as pathos. The grand themes are expounded as the characters struggle valiantly, eloquently, and sometimes stupidly with the tensions between suffering and salvation, guilt and freedom, Christ and the Devil, and ultimately good and evil. To accurately register such polyphony of ideas as well as voices, Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky have stripped away the prettifying stylistic varnishes of earlier translations and presented a Dostoevsky never more in command of tragicomedy than here. “Life is full of the comic and is only majestic in its inner sense,” Dostoevsky wrote in a letter while working on the novel, and now, this translation – like the restoration of an old master painting – gives us a book that could encompass (mostly in the gorgeous babble of its indelible characters) every imaginable human behavior – ghastly, funny, murderous, saintly – and every corresponding transcendence.


    - p. 4 (From the Author): Being at a loss to resolve these questions, I am resolved to leave them without any resolution. To be sure, the keen-sighted reader will already have guessed long ago that that is what I’ve been getting at from the very beginning and will only be annoyed with me for wasting fruitless words and precious time. To this I have a ready answer: I have been wasting fruitless words and precious time, first, out of politeness, and, second, out of cunning. At least I have given some warning beforehand. In fact, I am even glad that my novel broke itself into two stories “while preserving the essential unity of the whole”: having acquainted himself with the first story, the reader can decide for himself whether it is worth his while to begin the second. Of course, no one is bound by anything; he can also drop the book after two pages of the first story and never pick it up again. But still there are readers of such delicacy that they will certainly want to read to the very end so as to make no mistake in their impartial judgment. Such, for instance, are all Russian critics. Faced with these people, I feel easier in my heart: for, in spite of their care and conscientiousness, I am nonetheless providing them with the most valid pretext for dropping the story at the first episode of the novel. Well, that is the end of my introduction. I quite agree that it is superfluous, but since it is already written, let it stand.

    And now to business.


    - p. 11 [(PART I – Book One: A Nice Little Family) / Chapter 2 – The First Son Sent Packing]: He told him straight off that he wanted to take responsibility for the child’s upbringing. Years later he used to recall, as typical of the man, that when he first began speaking about Mitya with Fyodor Pavlovich, the latter looked for a while as if he had no idea what child it was all about, and was even surprised, as it were, to learn that he had a little son somewhere in the house. Though Pyotr Alexandrovich may have exaggerated, still there must have been some semblance of truth in his story. But all his life, as a matter of fact, Fyodor Pavlovich was fond of play-acting, of suddenly taking up some unexpected role right in front of you, often when there was no need for it, and even to his own real disadvantage, as, for instance, in the present case. This trait, however, is characteristic of a great many people, even rather intelligent ones, and not only of Fyodor Pavlovich. Pyotr Alexandrovich hotly pursued the business and even got himself appointed the child’s guardian (jointly with Fyodor Pavlovich), since there was, after all, a small property, a house and estate, left by his mother. Mitya did, in fact, go to live with his mother’s cousin, but the latter, having no family of his own, and being in a hurry to return to Paris for a long stay as soon as he had arranged and secured the income from his estates, entrusted the child to one of his mother’s cousins, a Moscow lady. In the event, having settled himself in Paris, he, too, forgot about the child, especially after the outbreak of the abovementioned February revolution, which so struck his imagination that he was unable to forget it for the rest of his life. The Moscow lady died and Mitya was passed on to one of her married daughters. It seems he later changed homes a fourth time. I won’t go into that now, particularly as I shall have much to say later on about this first-born son of Fyodor Pavlovich, and must confine myself here to the most essential facts, without which I could not even begin my novel.

    First of all, this Dmitri Fyodorovich was the only one of Fyodor Pavlovich’s tree sons who grew up in the conviction that he, at any rate, had some property and would be independent when he came of age. He spent a disorderly adolescence and youth: he never finished high school; later he landed in some military school, then turned up in the Caucasus, was promoted, fought a duel, was broken to the ranks, promoted again, led a wild life, and spent, comparatively, a great deal of money. He received nothing from Fyodor Pavlovich before his coming of age, and until then ran into debt.


    - p. 21: It was characteristic, even highly characteristic of him, that he never worried about who was supporting him. In this he was the complete opposite of his older brother, Ivan Fyodorovich, who lived in poverty for his first two years at the university, supporting himself by his own labor, and who even as a child was bitterly aware that he was eating his benefactor’s bread. But it was not possible, it seems to judge this strange trait in Alexei’s character very harshly, for anyone who got to know him a little would immediately be convinced, if the question arose, that Alexei must be one of those youths, like holy fools, as it were, who, if they were to chance upon even a large fortune, would have no trouble giving it away for a good deed to the first asker, or maybe even to some clever swindler who approached them. Generally speaking, he seemed not to know the value of money at all – not, of course, in the literal sense. When he was given pocket money, which he himself never asked for, he either did not know what to do with it for weeks on end, or was so terribly careless with it that it disappeared in a moment.


    - from The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Translated with Notes by David McDuff); pp. xv-xvi (Introduction): In these early years at home, at school and in St Petersburg he pored over and passionately discussed the books of the Bible; Job, Revelation and the Gospels, especially John, shaped his view of the world. The Dostoyevsky family, far socially from the Francophone elite, taught him to revere the best of Russian literature, and his texts – including The Idiot – reverberate with quotations from the works of Pushkin, Gogol and Karamzin. Gogol’s impact is particularly noticeable throughout Dostoyevsky’s career in the uncanny relationships between his characters, in his often fantastic treatment of St Petersburg, and in his use of multiple narrative positions within a single fiction. Pushkin and Gogol had helped foster a vision of St Petersburg as a city of extremes, of inhumane destructiveness, of sudden transformations. Dostoyevsky’s very notion of reality, ‘fantastic’ as he called it shortly after completing The Idiot, derived in large part from the experience of these two predecessors in thematizing the capital of the Russian bureaucracy, ‘the most abstract and intentional city on the entire globe’, as one of his characters, the Underground Man, would put it.


    - from The Best Short Stories of Dostoevsky (Translated with an Introduction by David Magarshack); pp. 115-116 [(NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND) PART I – UNDERGROUND / Chapter I]: . . . I am extremely superstitious, at least sufficiently so to respect medicine. (I am well educated enough not to be superstitious, but I am superstitious for all that.) The truth is, I refuse medical treatment out of spite. I don’t suppose you will understand that. Well, I do. I don’t expect I shall be able to explain to you who it is I am actually trying to annoy in this case by my spite; I realise full well that I can’t “hurt” the doctors by refusing to be treated by them; I realise better than any one that by all this I am only hurting myself and no one else. Still, the fact remains that if I refuse to be medically treated, it is only out of spite. My liver hurts me – well, let it damn well hurt – the more it hurts the better.


    - p. 116: I used to be in the Civil Service, but I am no longer there now. I was a spiteful civil servant. I was rude and took pleasure in being rude. Mind you, I never accepted any bribes, so that I had at least to find something to compensate myself for that. (A silly joke, but I shan’t cross it out. I wrote it thinking it would sound very witty, but now that I have seen myself that I merely wanted to indulge in a bit of contemptible bragging, I shall let it stand on purpose!)

    Whenever people used to come to my office on some business, I snarled at them and felt as pleased as punch when I succeeded in making one of them really unhappy. I nearly always did succeed.


    - p. 117: Incidentally, I was rather exaggerating just now when I said that I was a spiteful civil servant. All I did, as a matter of fact, was to indulge in a little innocent fun at the expense of the officer and the people who came to my office on business, for actually I never could become a spiteful man. I was always conscious of innumerable elements in me which were absolutely contrary to that. I felt them simply swarming in me all my life and asking to be allowed to come out, but I wouldn’t let them. I would not let them! I would deliberately not let them. They tormented me to the point of making me ashamed of myself; they reduced me to a state of nervous exhaustion and, finally, I got fed up with them. Oh, how thoroughly I got fed up with them in the end! But doesn’t it seem to you, gentlemen, that I might possibly be apologizing to you for something? Asking you to forgive me for something? Yes, I’m sure it does.... Well, I assure you I don’t care a damn whether it does seem so to you or not....

    Not only did I not become spiteful, I did not even know how to become anything, either spiteful or good, either a blackguard or an honest man, either a hero or an insect.


    - p. 118: I am forty now and, mind you, forty years is a whole lifetime. It is extreme old age. It is positively immoral, indecent, and vulgar to live more than forty years. Who lives longer than forty? Answer me that – sincerely and honestly. I’ll tell you who – fools and blackguards – they do! I don’t mind telling that to all old men to their face – all those worthy old men, all those silver-haired and ambrosial old men! I’ll tell it to the whole world, damned if I won’t! I have a right to say so, for I shall live to the age of sixty myself. I’ll live to be seventy! I’ll live to be eighty! Wait a minute, let me take breath. . . .


    - pp. 121-122: Now, for instance, I’m very vain. I’m as suspicious and as quick to take offence as a hunchback or a dwarf, but as a matter of fact there were moments in my life when, if someone had slapped my face, I should perhaps have been glad even of that. I’m saying this seriously: I should quite certainly have found even there a sort of pleasure, the pleasure of despair, no doubt, but despair too has its moments of intense pleasure, intense delight, especially if you happen to be acutely conscious of the hopelessness of your position. And there, too, I mean, after you’d had your face slapped, you’d be overwhelmed by the consciousness of having been utterly humiliated and snubbed. The trouble is, of course, that however much I tried to find some excuse for what had happened, the conclusion I’d come to would always be that it was my own fault to begin with, and what hurt most of all was that though innocent I was guilty and, as it were, guilty according to the laws of nature. I was guilty, first of all, because I was cleverer than all the people round me. (I have always considered myself cleverer than any one else in the world, and sometimes, I assure you, I’ve been even ashamed of it. At least, all my life I looked away and I could never look people straight in the face.) I was, finally, guilty because even if I had had a grain of magnanimity in me, I should have suffered a thousand times more from the consciousness of its uselessness. For I should most certainly not have known what to do with my magnanimity – neither to forgive, since the man who would have slapped my face, would most probably have done it in obedience to the laws of nature; nor to forget, since though even if it is the law of nature, it hurts all the same. Finally, even if I had wanted to be utterly ungenerous and, on the contrary, had desired to avenge myself on the man who had offended me, I couldn’t have avenged myself on anyone for anything because I should never have had the courage to do anything even if I could.


    - from The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Translated with Notes by David McDuff); pp. xiii-xiv (Introduction by William Mills Todd III): Secular Russian literature was scarcely a century older than Dostoyevsky himself. And the first tentative steps toward a viable, prestigious literature that was not a matter of salon play or court patronage had been taken by writers but a generation or two older than Dostoyevsky: Nikolai Novikov (1744-1818), Nikolai Karamazin (1766-1826), Aleksandr Pushkin (1799-1837), Nikolai Gogol (1809-52) and Mikhail Lermontov (1814-41) among them. These writers contended with conditions far from conducive to the development of a literary marketplace. For a start, the autocracy was inconsistent in dealing with what the Emperor Alexander II would call ‘the ungovernability and excesses of the printed word’. During the period 1750-1854 private presses were permitted, banned and re-established; ambiguous passages in a text were held against the author, then discarded, and – de facto – held against him; the importation of foreign books was banned, permitted, then severely curtailed. And agencies with censorship powers proliferated, often contradicting one another. The imperial government had so little respect for the laws it promulgated that one of the censors would justly complain that ‘there is no legality in Russia’. With Russia’s defeat in the Crimean War and the accession of a new emperor in 1855, the situation became better, but still far from ideal. Dostoyevsky would feel the lash on his own back in 1863, when Vremya (Time), the very successful journal that he and his brother Mikhail had founded, was shut down over an innocuous article on the Polish Uprising of that year. That Dostoyevsky, an ardent Russian nationalist who sprinkled unsympathetic Polish characters across his novels, should have suffered this disaster indicated the continuing capriciousness of the government, which, even as it was banning Vremya, was allowing the publication of Nikolai Chernyshevsky’s utopian novel, What Is to Be Done?, which would become gospel for radical youth, including, later, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.


    - from The Best Short Stories of Dostoevsky [Translated with an Introduction by David Magarshack]; pp. 126-127 [(NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND) / PART I –UNDERGROUND / (Chapter) III]: When, for instance, it is proved to you that you are descended from a monkey, then it’s no use pulling a long face about it: you just have to accept it. When they prove to you that one drop of your own fat must, as a matter of course, be dearer to you than a hundred thousand of your fellow-men and that all the so-called virtues and duties and other vain fancies and prejudices are, as a result of that consideration, of no importance whatever, then you have to accept it whether you like it or not, because twice-two – mathematics. Just try to refute that.

    “Good Lord,” they’ll scream at you, “you can’t possibly deny that: twice two is four! Never does nature ask you for your opinion; she does not care a damn for your wishes, or whether you like her laws or not. You are obliged to accept her as she is and consequently, all her results. A stone wall, that is, is a stone wall . . . etc., etc.” But, goodness gracious me, what do I care for the laws of nature and arithmetic if for some reason or other I don’t like those laws of twice-two? No doubt I shall never be able to break through such a stone wall with my forehead, if I really do not possess the strength to do it, but I shall not reconcile myself to it just because I have to deal with a stone wall and haven’t the strength to knock it down.

    As though such a stone wall were really the same thing as peace of mind, and as though it really contained some word of comfort simply because a stone wall is merely the equivalent of twice-two-makes-four. Oh, what stuff and nonsense this is! Is it not much better to understand everything, to be aware of everything, to be conscious of all the impossibilities and stone walls? Not to be reconciled to any of those impossibilities or stone walls if you hate being reconciled to them? To reach by way of the most irrefutable logical combinations the most hideous conclusions on the eternal theme that it is somehow your own fault if there is a stone wall, though again it is abundantly clear that it is not your fault at all, and therefore to abandon yourself sensuously to doing nothing, silently and gnashing your teeth impotently, hugging the illusion that there isn’t really anyone you can be angry with; that there is really no object for your anger and that perhaps there never will be an object for it; that the whole thing is nothing but some imposition, some hocus-pocus, some card-sharping trick, or simply some frightful mess – no one knows what and no one knows who. But in spite of these uncertainties and this hocus-pocus, you have still got a headache, and the less you know the more splitting the headache!


    - p. 130 [(PART I – UNDERGROUND) / (Chapter IV]: I’m afraid, gentlemen, my jokes are in very bad taste, they are lame and a bit confused, and show a lack of self-confidence, too. That is because I have no self-respect. But can a man of acute sensibility respect himself at all?


    - pp. 132-133 [(PART I – UNDERGROUND) / (Chapter) V]: I argued that a man revenges himself because he finds justice in it. This of course means that he has found a primary cause, a basis, namely, justice. It follows therefore that now he is absolutely calm and, consequently, he revenges himself calmly and successfully, being convinced that what he does is both right and just. But I can’t for the life of me see any justice here, and therefore if I should start revenging myself, it would be merely out of spite. Now spite, of course, could get the better of anything, of all my doubts, and so could very well take the place of any primary cause just because it is not a cause. But what can I do if I have not even spite (I began with that just now). Besides, my feeling of bitterness, too, is subject to the process of disintegration as a result of those damned laws of consciousness. One look and the object disappears into thin air, your reasons evaporate, there is no guilty man, the injury is no longer an injury but just fate, something in the nature of toothache for which no one can be blamed, and consequently there is only one solution left, namely, knocking your head against the wall as hard as you can. Well, so you just give it up because you’ve failed to find the primary cause. But try letting yourself be carried away by your emotions blindly, without reasoning, without any primary cause, letting your consciousness go hang at least for a time; hate or love just for the sake of not having to twiddle your thumbs. What will happen, of course, is that the day after tomorrow (and that at the latest) you will begin despising yourself for having knowingly duped yourself. As a result – a soap bubble and doing nothing again. As a matter of fact, gentlemen, the reason why I consider myself a clever man is simply because I could never in my life finish anything I’d started. All right, I am a talker, a harmless, boring talker as we all are. But what can I do if the direct and sole purpose of every intelligent man is to talk, that is to say, to waste his time deliberately?


    - p. 142 [(PART I – UNDERGROUND) / (Chapter) VIII]: It is, of course, quite true that if one day they really discover some formula of all our desires and whims, that is to say, if they discover what they all depend on, by what laws they are governed, how they are disseminated, what they are aiming at in one case and another, and so on, that is, a real mathematical formula, man may perhaps at once stop feeling any desire and, I suppose, most certainly will. For who would want to desire according to a mathematical formula? And that is not all. He will at once be transformed from a man into an organ-stop, or something of the sort. For what is man without desires, without free will, and without the power of choice but a stop in an organ pipe? What do you think? Let us calculate the probabilities: is it or is it not likely to happen?


    - from DOSTOYEVSKY: An Examination of the Major Novels by Richard Peace; pp. 24-25 [(Chapter) 2 – The Ethical Reappraisal: ‘Crime and Punishment’]: It is indeed a reflection of ‘intellectual currents and morals’ that Crime and Punishment can lay most claim to the title 1865. Western critics have tended to examine Raskolnikov’s ideas on the division of humanity into ‘superman’ and ‘lice’ out of their contemporary setting, relating them retrospectively to Hegel or even prospectively to Nietzsche. Soviet critics, on the other hand have pointed to their relevance to the time of writing. It is significant that the concept of the ‘superman’ is identified in Raskolnikov’s mind with the figure of Napoleon; for in 1865 there appeared the translation of a book in which Napoleon’s actions were justified in much the same terms as Raskolnikov seeks to justify his. The History of Julius Caesar by Napoleon III caused quite a stir in St Petersburg. The author divided humanity into ‘ordinary people’ and ‘heroes’ and so sought to justify the right to absolute power of such figures as Caesar and Napoleon I; by extension he attributed the same right to himself. As this Napoleonic motive is absent from Dostoyevsky’s letter to Katkov outlining the plot of Crime and Punishment, it has been suggested that it entered into the novel at a later stage, under the influence of Louis Napoleon’s thesis.

    All this may well be true, but it should be noted that a polarisation of the human condition similar to the one formulated by Raskolnikov had already been expressed in Dostoyevsky’s work the year before. Thus the underground man reveals that he too has dreams of greatness:

    I almost believed that I would emerge into the world on a white horse, and wearing a laurel crown. I was not capable even of understanding a secondary role, and this is precisely why, in the real world, I quite meekly occupied the very least of roles. Either a hero or dirt; there was no middle way. (Pt I, Ch. 2)

    To this extent the Napoleonic aspirations of Raskolnikov are merely the other face of the underground man’s psychology: for him too there can be no middle way, but Raskolnikov presented with the alternative ‘either Napoleon or a louse’ insists that his choice is Napoleon.

    There is, however, another reason given for the murder – a motive of acquisition. Here, too, critics have seen a French source. The famous passage in La Pere Goriot where Rastignac quotes Rousseau’s idea on the possibility of getting rich by murdering a Chinese mandarin has been seen as a probable influence conditioning Raskolnikov’s attitude to the old woman. [8. See Georg Lukacs, ‘Der russische Realismus in der Weltliteratur’, Probleme des Realismus, Vol. II (Neuwiedand Berlin, 1964), pp. 164-5: also Rahv, ‘Dostoevsky in Crime and Punishment’, p. 29. The argument on the ‘Chinese mandarin’, however, is essentially different from the justifications given by Raskolnikov for his crime, in as much as it hinges upon the idea of a great distance separating the murderer and his victim and their complete dissociation. Dostoyevsky himself discusses the influence of distance on human concepts of morality when examining the motives of Levin in Anna Karenina (see Writer’s Diary, 1877, July/August, Ch. 3, sect. 4) (Dnevnik, 1877, p. 307).] This again is quite possible; Balzac meant much to Dostoyevsky. His first literary efforts had been directed towards translating Balzac’s novel Eugenie Grandet, and at the end of his life he had discussed the moral implications of the Chinese mandarin passage in a rough draft for the speech he delivered at the Pushkin Celebrations in 1880.


    - pp. 165-167 [(Chapter) 6 - The Pamphlet Novel: ‘The Devils’]: Of all the ideas associated with ‘the men of the forties’, there is one which Dostoyevsky cannot ridicule for long: the cult of beauty. Earlier in the novel Stepan Trofimovich expressed the difference between the ethical preoccupation of the younger generation and his own cult of the aesthetic in such hyperbolical utterances as: ‘I would give the whole of the Russian peasantry in exchange for one Rachel.’ Here outré westernism fuses with veneration for the art of a great actress, and the utterance itself is grotesquely comic . . . Earlier in his speech Stepan Trofimovich had spoken of the need for mutual forgiveness [vseproshchcheniye] between the generations, interpreting the gulf between them as the difference between two ideals of beauty; but his audience is in no mood for forgiveness, nor is their ideal an aesthetic one as Stepan Trofimovich supposes; it is, rather, ethical.


    - from Man for Himself: An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics by Erich Fromm; pp. 248-250 [Chapter V: The Moral Problem of Today]: Indeed, freedom is the necessary condition of happiness as well as virtue; freedom, not in the sense of the ability to make arbitrary choices and not freedom from necessity, but freedom to realize that which one potentially is, to fulfill the true nature of man according to the laws of his existence.

    If freedom, the ability to preserve one’s integrity against power, is the basic condition for morality, has man in the Western world not solved his moral problem? Is it not only a problem of people living under authoritarian dictatorships which deprive them of their personal and political freedom? Indeed, the freedom attained in modern democracy implies a promise for the development of man which is absent in any kind of dictatorship, regardless of their proclamations that they act in man’s interest. But it is a promise only, and not yet a fulfillment. We mask our own moral problem from ourselves if we focus our attention on comparing our culture with modes of life which are the negation of the best achievements of humanity, and thus we ignore the fact that we too bow down to power, not to that of a dictator and a political bureaucracy allied with him, but to the anonymous power of the market, of success, of public opinion, of “common sense” – or rather, of common nonsense – and of the machine whose servants we have become.

    Our moral problem is man’s indifference to himself. It lies in the fact that we have lost the sense of the significance and uniqueness of the individual, that we have made ourselves into instruments for purposes outside ourselves, that we experience and treat ourselves as commodities, and that our own powers have become alienated from ourselves. We have become things and our neighbors have become things. The result is that we feel powerless and despise ourselves for our impotence. Since we do not trust in our own power, we have no faith in man, no faith in ourselves or in what our own powers can create. We have no conscience in the humanistic sense, since we do not dare to trust our judgment. We are a herd believing that the road we follow must lead to a goal since we see everybody else on the same road. We are in the dark and keep up our courage because we hear everybody else whistle as we do.

    Dostoyevsky once said, “If God is dead, everything is allowed.” This is, indeed, what most people believe; they differ only in that some draw the conclusion that God and the church must remain alive in order to uphold the moral order, while others accept the idea that everything is allowed, that there is no valid moral principle, that expediency is the only regulative principle in life.

    In contrast, humanistic ethics takes the position that if man is alive he knows what is allowed; and to be alive means to be productive, to use one’s powers not for any purpose transcending man, but for oneself, to make sense of one’s existence, to be human. As long as anyone believes that his ideal and purpose is outside him, that it is above the clouds, in the past or in the future, he will go outside himself and seek fulfillment where it can not be found. He will look for solutions and answers at every point except the one where they can be found—in himself.
    Last edited by HERO; 12-06-2015 at 10:25 AM.

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    Perhaps EII is the most likely type for Dostoevksy after all.

    - from The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoevsky; pp. 143-144: Later I was about to take Mischa and Nadia for a walk when a summons reached me from the staircase that I must attend the General. He began by deigning to inquire of me where I was going to take the children; and as he did so I could see that he failed to look me in the eyes. He wanted to do so, but each time was met by me with such a fixed, disrespectful stare that he desisted in confusion. In pompous language, however, which jumbled one sentence into another, and at length grew disconnected, he gave me to understand that I was to lead the children altogether away from the Casino, and out into the park. Finally his anger exploded, and he added sharply:

    “I suppose you would like to take them to the Casino to play roulette? Well, excuse my speaking so plainly, but I know how addicted you are to gambling. Though I am not your mentor, nor wish to be, at least I have a right to require that you shall not actually compromise me.”

    “I have no money for gambling,” I quietly replied.

    “But you will soon be in receipt of some,” retorted the General, reddening a little as he dived into his writing desk and applied himself to a memorandum book. From it he saw that he had 120 roubles of mine in his keeping.

    “Let us calculate,” he went on. “We must translate these roubles into thalers. Here – take 100 thalers, as a round sum. The rest will be safe in my hands.”

    In silence I took the money.

    “You must not be offended at what I say,” he continued. “You are too touchy about these things. What I have said I have said merely as a warning. To do so is no more than my right.”


    - pp. 152-158: Something had seemed to strike my brain when she told me to go and play roulette. Strangely enough, that something had also seemed to make me hesitate, and to set me analysing my feelings with regard to her. In fact, during the two weeks of my absence I had felt far more at my ease than I did now, on the day of my return; although, while travelling, I had moped like an imbecile, rushed about like a man in a fever, and actually beheld her in my dreams. Indeed, on one occasion (this happened in Switzerland, when I was asleep in the train) I had spoken aloud to her, and set all my fellow-travellers laughing. Again, therefore, I put to myself the question: “Do I, or do I not, love her?” and again I could return myself no answer – or, rather, for the hundredth time I told myself that I detested her. Yes, I detested her; there were moments (more especially at the close of our talks together) when I would gladly have given half my life to have strangled her! I swear that, had there, at such moments, been a sharp knife ready to my hand, I would have seized that knife with pleasure, and plunged it into her breast. Yet I also swear that if, on the Schlangenberg, she had really said to me, “Leap into that abyss,” I should have leapt into it, and with equal pleasure. Yes, this I knew well. One way or the other, the thing must soon be ended. She, too, knew it in some curious way; the thought that I was fully conscious of her inaccessibility, and of the impossibility of my ever realising my dreams, afforded her, I am certain, the keenest possible pleasure. Otherwise, is it likely that she, the cautious and clever woman that she was, would have indulged in this familiarity and openness with me? Hitherto (I concluded) she had looked upon me in the same light that the old Empress did upon her servant – the Empress who hesitated not to unrobe herself before her slave, since she did not account a slave a man. Yes, often Polina must have taken me for something less than a man!”

    Still, she had charged me with a commission – to win what I could at roulette. Yet all the time I could not help wondering why it was so necessary for her to win something, and what new schemes could have sprung to birth in her ever-fertile brain. A host of new and unknown factors seemed to have arisen during the last two weeks. Well, it behoved me to divine them, and to probe them, and that as soon as possible. Yet not now: at the present moment I must repair to the roulette-table.

    II

    I confess I did not like it. Although I had made up my mind to play, I felt averse to doing so on behalf of some one else. In fact, it almost upset my balance, and I entered the gaming-rooms with an angry feeling at my heart. At first glance the scene irritated me. Never at any time have I been able to bear the flunkeyishness which one meets in the Press of the world at large, but more especially in that of Russia, where, almost every evening, journalists write on two subjects in particular – namely, on the splendour and luxury of the casinos to be found in the Rhenish towns, and on the heaps of gold which are daily to be seen lying on their tables. Those journalists are not paid for doing so: they write thus merely out of a spirit of disinterested complaisance. For there is nothing splendid about the establishments in question; and not only are there no heaps of gold to be seen lying on their tables, but also there is very little money to be seen at all. Of course, during the season, some madman or another may make his appearance – generally an Englishman, or an Asiatic, or a Turk – and (as had happened during the summer of which I write) win or lose a great deal; but, as regards the rest of the crowd, it plays only for petty gulden, and seldom does much wealth figure on the board. When, on the present occasion I entered the gaming-rooms (for the first time in my life), it was several moments before I could even make up my mind to play. For one thing, the crowd oppressed me. Had I been playing for myself, I think I should have left at once, and never have embarked upon gambling at all, for I could feel my heart beginning to beat, and my heart was anything but cold-blooded. Also, I knew, I had long ago made up my mind, that never should I depart from Roulettenberg until some radical, some final, change had taken place in my fortunes. Thus it must and would be. However ridiculous it may seem to you that I was expecting to win at roulette, I look upon the generally accepted opinion concerning the folly and the grossness of hoping to win at gambling as a thing even more absurd. For why is gambling a whit worse than any other method of acquiring money? How, for instance, is it worse than trade? True, out of a hundred persons, only one can win; yet what business is that of yours or of mine?

    At all events, I confined myself at first simply to looking on, and decided to attempt nothing serious. Indeed, I felt that, if I began to do anything at all, I should do it in an absent-minded, haphazard sort of way – of that I felt certain. Also, it behoved me to learn the game itself; since, despite a thousand descriptions of roulette which I had read with ceaseless avidity, I knew nothing of its rules, and had never even seen it played.

    In the first place, everything about it seemed to me so foul – so morally mean and foul. Yet I am not speaking of the hungry, restless folk who, by scores – nay, even hundreds – could be seen crowded around the gaming-tables. For in a desire to win quickly and to win much I can see nothing sordid; I have always applauded the opinion of a certain dead and gone, but cocksure, moralist who replied to the excuse that “one may always gamble moderately” by saying that to do so makes things worse, since, in that case, the profits too will always be moderate. Insignificant profits and sumptuous profits do not stand on the same footing. No, it is all a matter of proportion. What may seem a small sum to a Rothschild may seem a large sum to me, and it is not the fault of stakes or of winnings that everywhere men can be found winning, can be found depriving their fellows of something, just as they do at roulette. As to the question whether stakes and winnings are, in themselves, immoral is another question altogether, and I wish to express no opinion upon it. Yet the very fact that I was full of a strong desire to win caused this gambling for gain, in spite of its attendant squalor, to contain, if you will, something intimate, something sympathetic, to my eyes: for it is always pleasant to see men dispensing with ceremony, and acting naturally, and in an unbuttoned mood. . . . Yet why should I so deceive myself? I could see that the whole thing was a vain and unreasoning pursuit; and what, at the first glance, seemed to me the ugliest feature in this mob of roulette players was their respect for their occupation – the seriousness, and even the humility, with which they stood around the gaming-tables. Moreover, I had always drawn sharp distinctions between a game which is de mauvais genre and a game which is permissible to a decent man. In fact, there are two sorts of gaming – namely, the game of the gentlemen and the game of the plebs – the game for gain, and the game of the herd. Herein, as said, I draw sharp distinctions. Yet how essentially base are the distinctions! For instance, a gentleman may stake, say, five or ten louis d’or – seldom more, unless he is a very rich man, when he may stake, say, a thousand francs; but he must do this simply for the love of the game itself – simply for sport, simply in order to observe the process of winning or of losing, and, above all things, as a man who remains quite uninterested in the possibility of his issuing a winner. If he wins, he will be at liberty, perhaps, to give vent to a laugh, or to pass a remark on the circumstance to a bystander, or to stake again, or to double his stake; but even this he must do solely out of curiosity, and for the pleasure of watching the play of chances and of calculations, and not because of any vulgar desire to win. In a word, he must look upon the gaming-table, upon roulette, and upon trente et quarante, as mere relaxations which have been arranged solely for his amusement. Of the existence of the lures and gains upon which the bank is founded and maintained he must profess to have not an inkling. Best of all, he ought to imagine his fellow-gamblers and the rest of the mob which stands trembling over a coin to be equally rich and gentlemanly with himself, and playing solely for recreation and pleasure. This complete ignorance of the realities, this innocent view of mankind, is what, in my opinion, constitutes the truly aristocratic. For instance, I have seen even fond mothers so far indulge their guileless, elegant daughters – misses of fifteen or sixteen – as to give them a few gold coins and teach them how to play; and though the young ladies may have won or have lost, they have invariably laughed, and departed as though they were well pleased. In the same way, I saw our General once approach the table in a stolid, important manner. A lacquey darted to offer him a chair, but the General did not even notice him. Slowly he took out his money bags, and slowly extracted 300 francs in gold, which he staked on the black, and won. Yet he did not take up his winnings – he left them there on the table. Again the black turned up, and again he did not gather in what he had won; and when, in the third round, the red turned up he lost, at a stroke, 1200 francs. Yet even then he rose with a smile, and thus preserved his reputation; yet I knew that his money bags must be chafing his heart, as well as that, had the stake been twice or thrice as much again, he would still have restrained himself from venting his disappointment. On the other hand, I saw a Frenchman first win, and then lose, 30,000 francs – cheerfully, and without a murmur. Yes; even if a gentleman should lose his whole substance, he must never give way to annoyance. Money must be so subservient to gentility as never to be worth a thought. Of course, the supremely aristocratic thing is to be entirely oblivious of the mire of the rabble, with its setting; but sometimes a reverse course may be aristocratic – to remark, to scan, and even to gape at, the mob (for preference, through a lorgnette), even as though one were taking the crowd and its squalor for a sort of raree show which had been organised specially for a gentleman’s diversion. Though one may be squeezed by the crowd, one must look as though one were fully assured of being the observer – of having neither part nor lot with the observed. At the same time, to stare fixedly about one is unbecoming; for that, again, is ungentlemanly, seeing that no spectacle is worth an open stare – there are no spectacles in the world which merit from a gentleman too pronounced an inspection. However, to me personally the scene did seem to be worth undisguised contemplation – more especially in view of the fact that I had come there not only to look at, but also to number myself sincerely and wholeheartedly with, the mob. As for my secret moral views, I had no room for them amongst my actual, practical opinions. Let that stand as written: I am writing only to relieve my conscience. Yet let me say also this: that from the first I have been consistent in having an intense aversion to any trial of my acts and thoughts by a moral standard. Another standard altogether has directed my life. . . .

    As a matter of fact, the mob was playing in exceedingly foul fashion. Indeed, I have an idea that sheer robbery was going on around that gaming-table. The croupiers who sat at the two ends of it had not only to watch the stakes, but also to calculate the game – an immense amount of work for two men! As for the crowd itself – well, it consisted mostly of Frenchmen. Yet I was not then taking notes merely in order to be able to give you a description of roulette, but in order to get my bearings as to my behaviour when I myself should begin to play. For example, I noticed that nothing was more common than for another’s hand to stretch out and grab one’s winnings whenever one had won. Then there would arise a dispute, and frequently an uproar; and it would be a case of “I beg of you to prove, and to produce witnesses to the fact, that the stake is yours.”

    At first the proceedings were pure Greek to me. I could only divine and distinguish that stakes were hazarded on numbers, on “odd” or “even,” and on colours. Polina’s money I decided to risk, that evening, only to the amount of 100 gulden. The thought that I was not going to play for myself quite unnerved me. It was an unpleasant sensation, and I tried hard to banish it. I had a feeling that, once I had begun to play for Polina, I should wreck my own fortunes. Also, I wonder if any one has ever approached a gaming-table without falling an immediate prey to superstition? I began by pulling out fifty gulden, and staking them on “even.” The wheel spun and stopped at 13. I had lost! With a feeling like a sick qualm, as though I would like to make my way out of the crowd and go home, I staked another fifty gulden – this time on the red. The red turned up. Next time I staked the 100 gulden just where they lay – and again the red turned up. Again I staked the whole sum, and again the red turned up. Clutching my 400 gulden, I placed 200 of them on twelve figures, to see what would come of it. The result was that the croupier paid me out three times my total stake! Thus from 100 gulden my store had grown to 800! Upon that such a curious, such an inexplicable, unwonted feeling overcame me that I decided to depart. Always the thought kept recurring to me that if I had been playing for myself alone I should never have had such luck. Once more I staked the whole 800 gulden on the “even.” The wheel stopped at 4. I was paid out another 800 gulden, and, snatching up my pile of 1600, departed in search of Polina Alexandrovna.


    - pp. 164-167: . . . it surprised and amused me to observe what a passion for intrigue I was developing. But how I loathed it all! With what pleasure would I have given everybody and everything the go-by! Only – I could not leave Polina. How, then, could I show contempt for those who surrounded her? Espionage is a base thing, but – what have I to do with that?

    Mr. Astley, too, I found a curious person. I was only sure that he had fallen in love with Polina. A remarkable and diverting circumstance is the amount which may lie in the mien of a shy and painfully modest man who has been touched with the divine passion – especially when he would rather sink into the earth than betray himself by a single word or look. Though Mr. Astley frequently met us when we were out walking, he would merely take off his hat and pass us by, though I knew he was dying to join us. Even when invited to do so, he would refuse. Again, in places of amusement – in the Casino, at concerts, or near the fountain – he was never far from the spot where we were sitting. In fact, wherever we were – in the Park, in the forest, or on the Schlangenberg – one needed but to raise one’s eyes and glance around to catch sight of at least a portion of Mr. Astley’s frame sticking out – whether on an adjacent path or behind a bush. Yet never did he lose any chance of speaking to myself; and one morning when we had met, and exchanged a couple of words, he burst out in his usual abrupt way, without saying “Good-morning.”

    “That Mlle. Blanche,” he said. “Well, I have seen a good many women like her.”

    After that he was silent as he looked me meaningly in the face. What he meant I did not know, but to my glance of inquiry he returned only a dry nod, and a reiterated “It is so.” Presently, however, he resumed:

    “Does Mlle. Polina like flowers?”

    “I really cannot say,” was my reply.

    “What? You cannot say?” he cried in great astonishment.

    “No; I have never noticed whether she does so or not,” I repeated with a smile.

    “Hm! Then I have an idea in my mind,” he concluded. Lastly, with a nod, he walked away with a pleased expression on his face. The conversation had been carried on in execrable French.



    IV


    To-day has been a day of folly, stupidity, and ineptness. The time is now eleven o’clock in the evening, and I am sitting in my room and thinking. It all began, this morning, with my being forced to go and play roulette for Polina Alexandrovna. When she handed me over her store of six hundred gulden I exacted two conditions – namely, that I should not go halves with her in her winnings, if any (that is to say, I should not take anything for myself), and that she should explain to me, that same evening, why it was so necessary for her to win, and how much was the sum which she needed. For I could not suppose that she was doing all this merely for the sake of money. Yet clearly she did need some money, and that as soon as possible, and for a special purpose. Well, she promised to explain matters, and I departed. There was a tremendous crowd in the gaming-rooms. What an arrogant, greedy crowd it was! I pressed forward towards the middle of the room until I had secured a seat at a croupier’s elbow. Then I began to play in timid fashion; venturing only twenty or thirty gulden at a time. Meanwhile I observed and took notes. It seemed to me that calculation was superfluous, and by no means possessed of the importance which certain other players attached to it, even though they sat with ruled papers in their hands, whereon they sat down the coups, calculated the chances, reckoned, staked, and – lost exactly as we more simple mortals did who played without any reckoning at all. However, I deduced from the scene one conclusion which seemed to me reliable – namely, that in the flow of fortuitous chances there is, if not a system, at all events a sort of order. This, of course, is a very strange thing. For instance, after a dozen middle figures there would always occur a dozen or so outer ones. Suppose the ball stopped twice at a dozen outer figures; it would then pass to a dozen of the first ones, and then, again, to a dozen of the middle ciphers, and fall upon them three or four times, and then revert to a dozen outers; whence, after another couple of rounds, the ball would again pass to the first figures, strike upon them once, and then return thrice to the middle series – continuing thus for an hour and a half, or two hours. One, three, two: one, three, two. It was all very curious. Again, for the whole of a day or a morning the red would alternate with the black, but almost without any order, and from moment to moment, so that scarcely two consecutive rounds would end upon either the one or the other. Yet, next day, or, perhaps, the next evening, the red alone would turn up, and attain a run of over two score, and continue so for quite a length of time – say, for a whole day. Of these circumstances the majority were pointed out to me by Mr. Astley, who stood by the gaming-table the whole morning, yet never once staked in person. For myself, I lost all that I had on me, and with great speed. To begin with, I staked two hundred gulden on “even,” and won. Then I staked the same amount again, and won: and so on some two or three times. At one moment I must have had in my hands – gathered there within a space of five minutes – about 4000 gulden. That, of course, was the proper moment for me to have departed, but there arose in me a strange sensation as of a challenge to Fate – as of a wish to deal her a blow on the cheek, and to put out my tongue at her. Accordingly I set down the largest stake allowed by the rules – namely, 4000 gulden – and lost. Fired by this mishap, I pulled out all the money left to me, staked it all on the same venture, and – again lost! Then I rose from the table, feeling as though I were stupefied.


    - pp. 175-179: “ . . . You ought to stop and correct me more often when I am speaking to you, for I am too apt to say everything that is in my head. You see, I have lost my manners. I agree that I have none, nor yet any dignity. I will tell you why. I set no store upon such things. Everything in me has undergone a check. You know the reason. I have not a single human thought in my head. For a long while I have been ignorant of what is going on in the world – here or in Russia. I have been to Dresden, yet am completely in the dark as to what Dresden is like. You know the cause of my obsession. I have no hope now, and am a mere cipher in your eyes; wherefore I tell you outright that wherever I go I see only you – all the rest is a matter of indifference. Why or how I have come to love you I do not know. It may be that you are not altogether fair to look upon. Do you know, I am ignorant even as to what your face is like. In all probability, too, your heart is not comely, and it is possible that your mind is wholly ignoble.”

    “And because you do not believe in my nobility of soul you think to purchase me with money?” she said.

    “When have I thought to do so?” was my reply.

    “You are losing the thread of the argument. If you do not wish to purchase me, at all events you wish to purchase my respect.”

    “Not at all. I have told you that I find it difficult to explain myself. You are hard upon me. Do not be angry at my chattering. You know why you ought not to be angry with me – that I am simply an imbecile. However, I do not mind if you are angry. Sitting in my room, I need but to think of you, to imagine to myself the rustle of your dress, and at once I fall almost to biting my hands. Why should you be angry with me? Because I call myself your slave? Revel, I pray you, in my slavery – revel in it. Do you know that sometimes I could kill you? – not because I do not love, or am jealous of, you, but because I feel as though I could simply devour you. You are laughing!”

    “No, I am not,” she retorted. “But I order you, nevertheless, to be silent.”

    She stopped, well nigh breathless with anger. God knows, she may not have been a beautiful woman, yet I loved to see her come to a halt like this, and was therefore the more fond of arousing her temper. Perhaps she divined this, and for that very reason gave way to rage. I said as much to her.

    “What rubbish!” she cried with a shudder.

    “I do not care,” I continued. “Also, do you know that it is not safe for us to take walks together? Often I have a feeling that I should like to strike you, to disfigure you, to strangle you. Are you certain that it will never come to that? You are driving me to frenzy. Am I afraid of a scandal, or of your anger? Why should I fear your anger? I love without hope, and know that hereafter I shall love you a thousand times more. If ever I should kill you I should have to kill myself too. But I shall put off doing so as long as possible, for I wish to continue enjoying the unbearable pain which your coldness gives me. Do you know a very strange thing? It is that, with every day, my love for you increases – though that would seem to be almost an impossibility. Why should I not become a fatalist? Remember how, on the third day that we ascended the Schlangenberg, I was moved to whisper in your ear: ‘Say but the word, and I will leap into the abyss.’ Had you said it, I should have leapt. Do you not believe me?”

    “What stupid rubbish!” she cried.

    “I care not whether it be wise or stupid,” I cried in return. “I only know that in your presence I must speak, speak, speak. Therefore I am speaking. I lose all conceit when I am with you, and everything ceases to matter.”

    “Why should I have wanted you to leap from the Schlangenberg?” she said drily, and (I think) with wilful offensiveness. “That would have been of no use to me.”

    “Splendid!” I shouted. “I know well that you must have used the words ‘of no use’ in order to crush me. I can see through you. ‘Of no use,’ did you say? Why, to give pleasure is always of use; and as for barbarous, unlimited power – even if it be only over a fly – why, it is a kind of luxury. Man is a despot by nature, and loves to torture. You, in particular, love to do so.”

    I remember that at this moment she looked at me in a peculiar way. The fact is that my face must have been expressing all the maze of senseless, gross sensations which were seething within me. To this day I can remember, word for word, the conversation as I have written it down. My eyes were suffused with blood, and the foam had caked itself on my lips. Also, on my honour I swear that, had she bidden me cast myself from the summit of the Schlangenberg, I should have done it. Yes, had she bidden me in jest, or only in contempt and with a spit in my face, I should have cast myself down.

    “Oh no! Why so? I believe you,” she said, but in such a manner – in the manner of which, at times, she was mistress – and with such a note of disdain and viperish arrogance in her tone, that God knows I could have killed her.

    Yes, at that moment she stood in peril. I had not lied to her about that.

    “Surely you are not a coward?” suddenly she asked me.

    “I do not know,” I replied. “Perhaps I am, but I do not know. I have long given up thinking about such things.”

    “If I said to you, ‘Kill that man,’ would you kill him?”

    “Whom?”

    “Whomsoever I wish?”

    “The Frenchman?”

    “Do not ask me questions; return me answers. I repeat, whomsoever I wish? I desire to see if you were speaking seriously just now.”

    She awaited my reply with such gravity and impatience that I found the situation unpleasant.

    “Do you, rather, tell me,” I said, “what is going on here. Why do you seem half-afraid of me? I can see for myself what is wrong. You are the step-daughter of a ruined and insensate man who is smitten with love for this devil of a Blanche. And there is this Frenchman, too, with his mysterious influence over you. Yet you actually ask me such a question! If you do not tell me how things stand I shall have to put in my oar and do something. Are you ashamed to be frank with me? Are you shy of me?”

    “I am not going to talk to you on that subject. I have asked you a question, and am waiting for an answer.”

    “Well, then—I will kill whomsoever you wish,” I said. “But are you really going to bid me do such deeds?”

    “Why should you think that I am going to let you off? I shall bid you do it, or else renounce me. Could you ever do the latter? No, you know that you couldn’t. You would first kill whom I had bidden you, and then kill me for having dared to send you away.”

    Something seemed to strike upon my brain as I heard these words. Of course, at the time I took them half in jest and half as a challenge: yet she had spoken them with great seriousness. I felt thunderstruck that she should so express herself, that she should assert such a right over me, that she should assume such authority and say outright: “Either you kill whom I bid you, or I will have nothing more to do with you.” Indeed, in what she had said there was something so cynical and unveiled as to pass all bounds. For how could she ever regard me as the same after the killing was done? This was more than slavery and abasement; it was sufficient to bring a man back to his right senses. Yet, despite the outrageous improbability of our conversation, my heart shook within me.

    Suddenly she burst out laughing. We were seated on a bench near the spot where the children were playing – just opposite the point in the alley-way before the Casino where the carriages drew up in order to set down their occupants.

    “Do you see that fat Baroness?” she cried. “It is the Baroness Burmergelm. She arrived three days ago. Just look at her husband – that tall, wizened Prussian there, with the stick in his hand. Do you remember how he stared at us the other day? Well, go to the Baroness, take off your hat to her, and say something in French.”

    “Why?”

    “Because you have sworn that you would leap from the Schlangenberg for my sake, and that you would kill any one whom I might bid you kill. Well, instead of such murders and tragedies, I wish only for a good laugh. Go without answering me, and let me see the Baron give you a sound thrashing with his stick.”

    “Then you throw me out a challenge? – you think that I will not do it?”

    “Yes, I do challenge you. Go, for such is my will.”

    “Then I will go, however mad be your fancy. Only, look here: shall you not be doing the General a great disservice, as well as, through him, a great disservice to yourself? It is not about myself I am worrying; it is about you and the General. Why, for a mere fancy, should I go and insult a woman?”

    “Ah! Then I can see that you are only a trifler,” she said contemptuously. “Your eyes are swimming with blood—but only because you have drunk a little too much at luncheon. Do I not know that what I have asked you to do is foolish and wrong, and that the General will be angry about it? But I want to have a good laugh, all the same. I want that, and nothing else. Why should you insult a woman, indeed? Well, you will be given a sound thrashing for so doing.”

    I turned away, and went silently to do her bidding. Of course the thing was folly, but I could not get out of it. I remember that, as I approached the Baroness, I felt as excited as a schoolboy. I was in a frenzy, as though I were drunk.


    - pp. 187-188: Russians, when abroad, are over-apt to play the poltroon, and to watch all their words, and to wonder what people are thinking of their conduct, or whether such and such a thing is comme il faut. In short, they are over-apt to cosset themselves, and to lay claim to great importance. Always they prefer the form of behaviour which has once and for all become accepted and established. This they will follow slavishly—whether in hotels, on promenades, at meetings, or when on a journey. But the General had avowed to me that, over and above such considerations as these, there were circumstances which compelled him to “move with especial care at present”: and the fact had actually made him poor-spirited and a coward – had made him altogether change his tone towards me. This fact I took into my calculations, and duly noted it, for, of course, he might apply to the authorities to-morrow, and it behoved me to go carefully.

    Yet it was not the General but Polina that I wanted to anger. She had treated me with such cruelty, and had got me into such a hole, that I felt a longing to force her to beseech me to stop. Of course, my tomfoolery might compromise her; yet certain other feelings and desires had begun to form themselves in my brain. If I was never to rank in her eyes as anything but a nonentitiy, it would not greatly matter if I figured as a draggle-tailed cockerel, and the Baron were to give me a good thrashing; but the fact was that I desired to have the laugh of them all, and to come out myself unscathed. Let people see what they would see. Let Polina, for once have a good fright, and be forced to whistle me to heel again. But, however much she might whistle, she should see that I was at least no draggle-tailed cockerel!


    - pp. 194-195: “Once more I beg of you to let the matter drop,” he continued in a tone that was now entirely conciliatory. “One would think that it actually pleased you to have scenes! Indeed, it is a brawl rather than genuine satisfaction that you are seeking. I have said that the affair may prove to be diverting, and even clever, and that possibly you may attain something by it; yet none the less I tell you” (he said this only because he saw me rise and reach for my hat) “that I have come hither also to hand you these few words from a certain person. Read them, please, for I must take her back an answer.”

    So saying, he took from his pocket a small, compact, wafer-sealed note, and handed it to me. In Polina’s handwriting I read:

    “I hear that you are thinking of going on with this affair. You have lost your temper now, and are beginning to play the fool! Certain circumstances, however, I may explain to you later. Pray cease from your folly, and put a check upon yourself. For folly it all is. I have need of you, and, moreover, you have promised to obey me. Remember the Schlangenberg. I ask you to be obedient. If necessary, I shall even bid you be obedient.—Your own POLINA.

    P.S.—If so be that you still bear a grudge against me for what happened last night, pray forgive me.”

    Everything, to my eyes, seemed to change as I read these words. My lips grew pale, and I began to tremble. Meanwhile the cursed Frenchman was eyeing me discreetly and askance, as though he wished to avoid witnessing my confusion. It would have been better if he had laughed outright.

    “Very well,” I said, “you can tell Mlle. not to disturb herself. But,” I added sharply, “I would also ask you why you have been so long in handing me this note? Instead of chattering about trifles, you ought to have delivered me the missive at once—if you have really come commissioned as you say.”

    “Well, pardon some natural haste on my part, for the situation is so strange. I wished first to gain some personal knowledge of your intentions; and, moreover, I did not know the contents of the note, and thought that it could be given you at any time.”

    “I understand,” I replied. “So you were ordered to hand me the note only in the last resort, and if you could not otherwise appease me? Is it not so? Speak out, Monsieur de Griers.”

    “Perhaps,” said he, assuming a look of great forbearance, but gazing at me in a meaning way.

    I reached for my hat; whereupon he nodded, and went out. Yet on his lips I fancied that I could see a mocking smile. How could it have been otherwise?

    “You and I are to have a reckoning later, Master Frenchman,” I muttered as I descended the stairs. “Yes, we will measure our strength together.” Yet my thoughts were all in confusion, for again something seemed to have struck me dizzy. Presently the air revived me a little, and, a couple of minutes later, my brain had sufficiently cleared to enable two ideas in particular to stand out in it. Firstly, I asked myself, which of the absurd, boyish, and extravagant threats which I had uttered at random last night had made everybody so alarmed? Secondly, what was the influence which this Frenchman appeared to exercise over Polina? He had but to give the word, and at once she did as he desired—at once she wrote me a note to beg of me to forbear! Of course, the relations between the pair had, from the first, been a riddle to me—they had been so ever since I had first made their acquaintance, but of late I had remarked in her a strong aversion for—even a contempt for—him, while, for his part, he had scarcely even looked at her, but had behaved towards her always in the most churlish fashion. Yes, I had noted that. Also, Polina herself had mentioned to me her dislike for him, and delivered herself of some remarkable confessions on the subject. Hence he must have got her into his power somehow—somehow he must be holding her as in a vice.


    - pp. 200-204: “Also I may tell you that Mlle. Blanche has been in Roulettenberg before, for she was staying here three seasons ago. I myself was in the place at the time, and in those days Mlle. Blanche was not known as Mlle. de Cominges, nor was her mother, the Widow de Cominges, even in existence. In any case no one ever mentioned the latter. De Griers, too, had not materialised, and I am convinced that not only do the parties stand in no relation to one another, but also they have not long enjoyed one another’s acquaintance. Likewise the Marquisate de Griers is of recent creation. Of that I have reason to be sure, owing to a certain circumstance. Even the name De Griers itself may be taken to be a new invention, seeing that I have a friend who once met the said ‘Marquis’ under a different name altogether.”

    “Yet he possesses a good circle of friends?”

    “Possibly. Mlle. Blanche also may possess that. Yet it is not three years since she received from the local police, at the instance of the Baroness, an invitation to leave the town. And she left it.”

    “But why?”

    “Well, I must tell you that she first appeared here in company with an Italian—a prince of some sort, a man who bore an historic name (Barberini or something of the kind). The fellow was simply a mass of rings and diamonds – real diamonds, too – and the couple used to drive out in a marvelous carriage. At first Mlle. Blanche played trente et quarante with fair success, but, later, her luck took a marked change for the worse. I distinctly remember that in a single evening she lost an enormous sum. But worse was to ensue, for one fine morning her prince disappeared—horses, carriage, and all. Also, the hotel bill which he left unpaid was enormous. Upon this Mlle. Zelma (the name which she assumed after figuring as Madame Barberini) was in despair. She shrieked and howled all over the hotel, and even tore her clothes in her frenzy. In the hotel there was staying also a Polish count (you must know that all travelling Poles are counts!), and the spectacle of Mlle. Zelma tearing her clothes and, catlike, scratching her face with her beautiful, scented nails produced upon him a strong impression. So the pair had a talk together, and by luncheon time she was consoled. Indeed, that evening the couple entered the Casino arm in arm—Mlle. Zelma laughing loudly, according to her custom, and showing even more expansiveness in her manners than she had before shown. For instance, she thrust her way into the file of women roulette-players in the exact fashion of those ladies who, to clear a space for themselves at the tables, push their fellow-players roughly aside. Doubtless you have noticed them?”

    “Yes, certainly.”

    “Well, they are not worth noticing. To the annoyance of the decent public they are allowed to remain here—at all events such of them as daily change 4000 franc notes at the tables (though, as soon as ever these women cease to do so, they receive an invitation to depart). However, Mlle. Zelma continued to change notes of this kind, but her play grew more and more unsuccessful, despite the fact that such ladies’ luck is frequently good, for they have a surprising amount of cash at their disposal. Suddenly the Count too disappeared, even as the Prince had done, and that same evening Mlle. Zelma was forced to appear in the Casino alone. On this occasion no one offered her a greeting. Two days later she had come to the end of her resources; whereupon, after staking and losing her last louis d’or, she chanced to look around her, and saw standing by her side the Baron Burmergelm, who had been eyeing her with fixed disapproval. To his distaste, however, Mlle. paid no attention, but, turning to him with her well-known smile, requested him to stake, on her behalf, ten louis on the red. Later that evening a complaint from the Baroness led the authorities to request Mlle. not to re-enter the Casino. If you feel in any way surprised that I should know these petty and unedifying details, the reason is that I had them from a relative of mine who, later that evening, drove Mlle. Zelma in his carriage from Roulettenberg to Spa. Now, mark you, Mlle. wants to become Madame General, in order that, in future, she may be spared the receipt of such invitations from Casino authorities as she received three years ago. At present she is not playing; but that is only because, according to the signs, she is lending money to other players. Yes, that is a much more paying game. I even suspect that the unfortunate General is himself in her debt, as well as, perhaps, also De Griers. Or it may be that the latter has entered into a partnership with her. Consequently you yourself will see that, until the marriage shall have been consummated, Mlle. would scarcely like to have the attention of the Baron and the Baroness drawn to herself. In short, to any one in her position, a scandal would be most detrimental. You form a member of the ménage of these people; wherefore any act of yours might cause such a scandal—and the more so since daily she appears in public arm in arm with the General or with Mlle. Polina. Now do you understand?”

    “No, I do not!” I shouted as I banged my fist down upon the table—banged it with such violence that a frightened waiter came running towards us. “Tell me, Mr. Astley, why, if you knew this history all along, and, consequently, always knew who this Mlle. Blanche is, you never warned either myself or the General, nor, most of all, Mlle. Polina (who is accustomed to appear in the Casino—in public everywhere—with Mlle. Blanche)? How could you do it?”

    “It would have done no good to warn you,” he replied quietly, “for the reason that you could have effected nothing. Against what was I to warn you? As likely as not, the General knows more about Mlle. Blanche even than I do; yet the unhappy man still walks about with her and Mlle. Polina. Only yesterday I saw this Frenchwoman riding, splendidly mounted, with De Griers, while the General was careering in their wake on a roan horse. He had said, that morning, that his legs were hurting him, yet his riding-seat was easy enough. As he passed I looked at him, and the thought occurred to me that he was a man lost for ever. However, it is no affair of mine, for I have only recently had the happiness to make Mlle. Polina’s acquaintance. Also”—he added this as an afterthought—“I have already told you that I do not recognise your right to ask me certain questions, however sincere be my liking of you.”

    “Enough,” I said, rising. “To me it is as clear as day that Mlle. Polina knows all about this Mlle. Blanche, but cannot bring herself to part with her Frenchman; wherefore she consents also to be seen in public with Mlle. Blanche. You may be sure that nothing else would ever have induced her either to walk about with this Frenchwoman or to send me a note not to touch the Baron. Yes, it is there that the influence lies before which everything in the world must bow! Yet she herself it was who launched me at the Baron! The devil take it, but I was left no choice in the matter.”

    “You forget, in the first place, that this Mlle. de Cominges is the General’s inamorata, and, in the second place, that Mlle. Polina, the General’s step-daughter, has a younger brother and sister who, though they are the General’s own children, are completely neglected by this madman, and robbed as well.”

    “Yes, yes; that is so. For me to go and desert the children now would mean their total abandonment; whereas, if I remain, I should be able to defend their interests, and, perhaps, to save a moiety of their property. Yes, yes; that is quite true. And yet, and yet—Oh, I can well understand why they are all so interested in the General’s mother!”

    “In whom?” asked Mr. Astley.

    “In the old woman of Moscow who declines to die, yet concerning whom they are for ever expecting telegrams to notify the fact of her death.”

    “Ah, then of course their interests centre around her. It is a question of succession. Let that but be settled, and the General will marry, Mlle. Polina will be set free, and De Griers—“

    “Yes, and De Griers?”

    “Will be repaid his money, which is what he is now waiting for.”

    “What? You think that he is waiting for that?”

    “I know of nothing else,” asserted Mr. Astley doggedly.

    “But, I do, I do!” I shouted in my fury. “He is waiting also for the old woman’s will, for the reason that it awards Mlle. Polina a dowry. As soon as ever the money is received, she will throw herself upon the Frenchman’s neck. All women are like that. Even the proudest of them become abject slaves where marriage is concerned. What Polina is good for is to fall head over ears in love. That is my opinion. Look at her—especially when she is sitting alone, and plunged in thought. All this was pre-ordained and foretold, and is accursed. Polina could perpetrate any mad act. She—she—But who called me by name?” I broke off. “Who is shouting for me? I heard some one calling in Russian, ‘Alexis Ivanovitch!’ It was a woman’s voice. Listen!”

    At the moment we were approaching my hotel. We had left the cafe long ago, without even noticing that we had done so.

    “Yes, I did hear a woman’s voice calling, but whose I do not know. The some one was calling you in Russian. Ah! Now I can see whence the cries come. They come from that lady there—the one who is sitting on the settee, the one who has just been escorted to the verandah by a crowd of lacqueys. Behind her see that pile of luggage! She must have arrived by train.”

    “But why should she be calling me? Hear her calling again! See! She is beckoning to us!”

    “Yes, so she is,” assented Mr. Astley.

    “Alexis Ivanovitch, Alexis Ivanovitch! Good heavens, what a stupid fellow!” came in a despairing wail from the verandah.

    We had almost reached the portico, and I was just setting foot upon the space before it, when my hands fell to my sides in limp astonishment, and my feet glued themselves to the pavement!
    Last edited by HERO; 12-06-2015 at 10:31 AM.

  12. #12
    Haikus Beautiful sky's Avatar
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    All of those feelings that change with subtlety of the nuances from our relations and interactions with people.

    Maybe someday, I will write about my feelings in relation to my relations. We realize our own emotions, our own influences over others with our secret intrigue, we look wise, yet we are fools. We weigh all things; if we think one thing is good than it has bad against it. Nothing is concrete except that which happens and those things which we subject to reason; those things happen because we can think on them, understand them; come to maybe understand it from the others point of view, maybe try to ask those questions that bring the element of reaction to logic; more definitive boarders.

    We ask questions of reason, justifications for an action or events. We ask this within us and without us and we conclude to feel, to understand.

    “Do I, or do I not, love her?”

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    Ive read it, INFj without doubt. "Psychological novel" style, value analyzing, ect...
    I dont understand why you think INFj arent dark. They are often.
    Imo he was really gifted, and have find the be the less repressed possible, a things wich is common from INFj. If hes not from delta hes from gamma, but no way from beta or NT alpha.
    "The final delusion is the belief that one has lost all delusion."

    -- Maurice Chapelain

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    The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevksy; p. xi (Introduction by William Mills Todd III): One of Dostoyevsky’s favourite words, often used ironically, was ‘fact’ (fakt, a harsh-sounding foreign loan word in the Russian language), and it figures prominently in the characters’ rumour-mongering, through which readers must attempt to make sense of The Idiot. The novelist’s own life has entered public mythology with a dazzling series of such ‘facts’: the brutal father murdered by his serfs . . . the molestation of a young girl (a vicious rumour utterly without proof), temporal lobe epilepsy, extraordinary poverty, flight from creditors, arrest and near-execution for ‘seditious conspiracy’, penal servitude and Siberian exile, a six-year intoxication with gambling. These events have been the stuff of many biographies and psychoanalytic accounts, of which Freud’s is the most notorious and Joseph Frank’s the most judicious and comprehensive.



    The Brothers Karamazov, pp. 265-269: “Brother, what are you driving at?” asked Alyosha.

    “I think if the devil doesn’t exist, but man has created him, he has created him in his own image and likeness.”

    “Just as he did God, then?” observed Alyosha.

    “ ‘It’s wonderful how you can turn words,’ as Polonius says in Hamlet,” laughed Ivan. “You turn my words against me. Well, I am glad. Yours must be a fine God, if man created Him in His image and likeness. You asked me just now what I was driving at. You see, I am fond of collecting certain facts, and, would you believe, I even copy anecdotes of a certain sort from newspapers and books, and I’ve already got a fine collection. The Turks, of course, have gone into it, but they are foreigners. I have specimens from home that are even better than the Turks. You know we prefer beating—rods and scourges—that’s our national institution. Nailing ears is unthinkable for us, for we are, after all, Europeans. But the rod and the scourge we have always with us and they cannot be taken from us. Abroad now they scarcely do any beating. Manners are more humane, or laws have been passed, so that they don’t dare to flog men now. But they make up for it in another way just as national as ours. And so national that it would be practically impossible among us, though I believe we are being inoculated with it, since the religious movement began in our aristocracy. I have a charming pamphlet, translated from the French, describing how, quite recently, five years ago, a murderer, Richard, was executed—a young man, I believe, of three and twenty, who repented and was converted to the Christian faith at the very scaffold. This Richard was an illegitimate child who was given as a child of six by his parents to some shepherds on the Swiss mountains. They brought him up to work for them. He grew up like a little wild beast among them. The shepherds taught him nothing, and scarcely fed or clothed him, but sent him out at seven to herd the flock in cold and wet, and no one hesitated or scrupled to treat him so. Quite the contrary, they thought they had every right, for Richard had been given to them as a chattel, and they did not even see the necessity of feeding him. Richard himself describes how in those years, like the Prodigal Son in the Gospel, he longed to eat of the mash given to the pigs, which were fattened for sale. But they wouldn’t even give him that, and beat him when he stole from the pigs. And that was how he spent all his childhood and his youth, till he grew up and was strong enough to go away and be a thief. The savage began to earn his living as a day labourer in Geneva. He drank what he earned, he lived like a brute, and finished by killing and robbing an old man. He was caught, tried, and condemned to death. They are not sentimentalists there. And in prison he was immediately surrounded by pastors, members of Christian brotherhoods, philanthropic ladies, and the like. They taught him to read and write in prison, and expounded the Gospel to him. They exhorted him, worked upon him, drummed at him incessantly, till at last he solemnly confessed his crime. He was converted. He wrote to the court himself that he was a monster, but that in the end God had vouchsafed him light and shown grace. All Geneva was in excitement about him—all philanthropic and religious Geneva. All the aristocratic and well-bred society of the town rushed to the prison, kissed Richard and embraced him; ‘You are our brother, you have found grace.’ And Richard does nothing but weep with emotion, “Yes, I’ve found grace! All my youth and childhood I was glad of pigs’ food, but now even I have found grace. I am dying in the Lord.’ ‘Yes, Richard, die in the Lord; you have shed blood and must die. Though it’s not your fault that you knew not the Lord, when you coveted the pigs’ food and were beaten for stealing it (which was very wrong of you, for stealing is forbidden); but you’ve shed blood and you must die.’ And on the last day, Richard, perfectly limp, did nothing but cry and repeat every minute: ‘This is my happiest day. I am going to the Lord.’ ‘Yes,’ cry the pastors and the judges and philanthropic ladies. ‘This is the happiest day of your life, for you are going to the Lord!’ They all walk or drive to the scaffold in procession behind the prison van. At the scaffold they call to Richard: ‘Die, brother, die in the Lord, for even thou hast found grace!’ And so, covered with his brothers’ kisses, Richard is dragged on to the scaffold, and led to the guillotine. And they chopped off his head in brotherly fashion, because he had found grace. Yes, that’s characteristic. That pamphlet is translated into Russian by some Russian philanthropists of aristocratic rank and evangelical aspirations, and has been distributed gratis for the enlightenment of the people. The case of Richard is interesting because it’s national. Though to us it’s absurd to cut off a man’s head, because he has become our brother and has found grace, yet we have our own specialty, which is all but worse. Our historical pastime is the direct satisfaction of inflicting pain. There are lines in Nekrassov describing how a peasant lashes a horse on the eyes, ‘on its meek eyes,’ every one must have seen it. It’s peculiarly Russian. He describes how a feeble little nag had foundered under too heavy a load and cannot move. The peasant beats it, beats it savagely, beats it at last not knowing what he is doing in the intoxication of cruelty, thrashes it mercilessly over and over again. ‘However weak you are, you must pull, if you die for it.’ The nag strains, and then he begins lashing the poor defenceless creature on its weeping, on its ‘meek eyes.’ The frantic beast tugs and draws the load, trembling all over, gasping for breath, moving sideways, with a sort of unnatural spasmodic action—it’s awful in Nekrassov. But that’s only a horse, and God has given horses to be beaten. So the Tatars have taught us, and they left us the knout as a remembrance of it. But men, too, can be beaten. A well-educated, cultured gentleman and his wife beat their own child with a birch-rod, a girl of seven. I have an exact account of it. The papa was glad that the birch was covered with twigs. ‘It stings more,’ said he, and so he began stinging his daughter. I know for a fact there are people who at every blow are worked up to sensuality, to literal sensuality, which increases progressively at every blow they inflict. They beat for a minute, for five minutes, for ten minutes, more often and more savagely. The child screams. At last the child cannot scream, it gasps, ‘Daddy! daddy!’ By some diabolical unseemly chance the case was brought into court. A counsel is engaged. The Russian people have long called a barrister ‘a conscience for hire.’ The counsel protests in his client’s defence. ‘It’s such a simple thing,’ he says, ‘an every-day domestic event. A father corrects his child. To our shame be it said, it is brought into court.’ The jury, convinced by him, give a favourable verdict. The public roars with delight that the torturer is acquitted. Ah, pity I wasn’t there! I would have proposed to raise a subscription in his honour! . . . Charming pictures.

    “But I’ve still better things about children. I’ve collected a great, great deal about Russian children, Alyosha. There was a little girl of five who was hated by her father and mother, ‘most worthy and respectable people, of good education and breeding.’ You see, I must repeat again, it is a peculiar characteristic of many people, this love of torturing children, and children only. To all other types of humanity these torturers behave mildly and benevolently, like cultivated and humane Europeans; but they are very fond of tormenting children, even fond of children themselves in that sense. It’s just their defencelessness that tempts the tormentor, just the angelic confidence of the child who has no refuge and no appeal, that sets his vile blood on fire. In every man, of course, a demon lies hidden—the demon of rage, the demon of lustful heat at the screams of the tortured victim, the demon of lawlessness let off the chain, the demon of diseases that follow on vice, gout, kidney disease, and so on.

    “This poor child of five was subjected to every possible torture by those cultivated parents. They beat her, thrashed her, kicked her for no reason till her body was one bruise. Then, they went to greater refinements of cruelty—shut her up all night in the cold and frost in a privy, and because she didn’t ask to be taken up at night (as though a child of five sleeping its angelic, sound sleep could be trained to wake and ask), they smeared her face and filled her mouth with excrement, and it was her mother, her mother did this. And that mother could sleep, hearing the poor child’s groans! Can you understand why a little creature, who can’t even understand what’s done to her, should beat her little aching heart with her tiny fist in the dark and the cold, and weep her meek unresentful tears to dear, kind God to protect her? Do you understand that, friend and brother, you pious and humble novice? Do you understand why this infamy must be and is permitted? Without it, I am told, man could not have existed on earth, for he could not have known good and evil. Why should he know that diabolical good and evil when it costs so much? Why, the whole world of knowledge is not worth that child’s prayer to ‘dear, kind God’!



    The Idiot; p. xxii (Introduction): The future Prince Myshkin in early versions rapes his adopted sister (the future Nastasya Filippvona), sets fire to their house, is a figure of proud self-mastery, a figure based on Shakespeare’s Iago and a wife-murderer.


    http://www.celebritytypes.com/infj.php

    Ann Coulter: "Dostoevsky is my favourite author! He teaches us how to be Christians."

    http://www.salon.com/2003/07/25/bowman_3/

    Coulter: ‘From “The Brothers Karamazov” — one of the greatest lines, the drunken old angry father says of someone who hates him, “He did me a bad turn and I can forgive him, but he will always hate me because he did me a bad turn.” That is completely true. People can forgive you, but they can never forgive themselves. And they hate to be reminded if they’ve screwed you.’


    The Brothers Karamazov; p. 45: “ . . . You know it is sometimes very pleasant to take offence, isn’t it? A man may know that nobody has insulted him, but that he has invented the insult for himself, has lied and exaggerated to make it picturesque, has caught at a word and made a mountain out of a molehill—he knows that himself, yet he will be the first to take offence, and will revel in his resentment till he feels great pleasure in it, and so pass to genuine vindictiveness . . .”


    pp. 115-118: “ . . . Don’t be uneasy. I’m not spinning it out. I’m talking sense, and I’ll come to the point in a minute. I won’t keep you in suspense. Stay, how does it go?”

    He raised his head, thought a minute, and began with enthusiasm:

    “Wild and fearful in his cavern
    Hid the naked troglodyte,
    And the homeless nomad wandered
    Laying waste the fertile plain.
    Menacing with spear and arrow
    In the woods the hunter strayed. . . .
    Woe to all poor wretches stranded
    On those cruel and hostile shores!


    “From the peak of high Olympus
    Came the mother Ceres down,
    Seeking in those savage regions
    Her lost daughter Proserpine.
    But the Goddess found no refuge,
    Found no kindly welcome there,
    And no temple bearing witness
    To the worship of the gods.


    “From the fields and from the vineyards
    Came no fruits to deck the feats,
    Only flesh of blood-stained victims
    Smouldered on the altar-fires,
    And where’er the grieving goddess
    Turns her melancholy gaze,
    Sunk in vilest degradation
    Man his loathesomeness displays.”


    Mitya broke into sobs and seized Alyosha’s hand.

    “My dear, my dear, in degradation, in degradation now, too. There’s a terrible amount of suffering for man on earth, a terrible lot of trouble. Don’t think I’m only a brute in an officer’s uniform, wallowing in dirt and drink. I hardly think of anything but of that degraded man—if only I’m not lying. I pray God I’m not lying and showing off. I think about that man because I am that man myself.

    Would he purge his soul from vileness
    And attain to light and worth,
    He must turn and cling forever
    To his ancient Mother Earth.



    But the difficulty is how am I to cling for ever to Mother Earth. I don’t kiss her. I don’t cleave her bosom. Am I to become a peasant or a shepherd? I go on and I don’t know whether I’m going to shame or to light and joy. That’s the trouble, for everything in the world is a riddle! And whenever I’ve happened to sink into the vilest degradation (and it’s always been happening) I always read that poem about Ceres and man. Has it reformed me? Never! For I’m a Karamazov. For when I do leap into the pit, I go headlong with my heels up, and am pleased to be falling in that degrading attitude, and pride myself upon it. And in the very depths of that degradation I begin a hymn of praise. Let me be accursed. Let me be vile and base, only let me kiss the hem of the veil in which my God is shrouded. Though I may be following the devil, I am Thy son, O Lord, and I love Thee, and I feel the joy without which the world cannot stand.

    Joy everlasting fostereth
    The soul of all creation,
    It is her secret ferment fires
    The cup of life with flame.
    ‘Tis at her beck the grass hath turned
    Each blade towards the light
    And solar systems have evolved
    From chaos and dark night,
    Filling the realms of boundless space
    Beyond the sage’s sight.

    At bounteous nature’s kindly breast,
    All things that breathe drink Joy,
    And birds and beasts and creeping things
    All follow where She leads.
    Her gifts to man are friends in need,
    The wreath, the foaming must,
    To angels—vision of God’s throne,
    To insects—sensual lust.



    But enough poetry! I am in tears; let me cry. It may be foolishness that every one would laugh at. But you won’t laugh. Your eyes are shining, too. Enough poetry. I want to tell you now about the insects to whom God gave ‘sensual lust.’

    To insects—sensual lust.

    I am that insect, brother, and it is said of me especially. All we Karamazovs are such insects, and, angel as you are, that insect lives in you, too, and will stir up a tempest in your blood. Tempests, because sensual lust is a tempest—worse than a tempest! Beauty is a terrible and awful thing! It is terrible because it has not been fathomed and never can be fathomed, for God sets us nothing but riddles. Here the boundaries meet and all contradictions exist side by side. I am not a cultivated man, brother, but I’ve thought a lot about this. It’s terrible what mysteries there are! Too many riddles weigh men down on earth. We must solve them as we can, and try to keep a dry skin in the water. Beauty! I can’t endure the thought that a man of lofty mind and heart begins with the ideal of the Madonna and ends with the ideal of Sodom. What’s still more awful is that a man with the ideal of Sodom in his soul does not renounce the ideal of the Madonna, and his heart may be on fire with that ideal, genuinely on fire, just as in his days of youth and innocence. Yes, man is broad, too broad, indeed. I’d have him narrower. The devil only knows what to make of it! What to the mind is shameful is beauty and nothing else to the heart. Is there beauty in Sodom? Believe me, that for the immense mass of mankind beauty is found in Sodom. Did you know that secret? The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there and the battlefield is the heart of man. But a man always talks of his own ache . . .”


    pp. 273-288: Even this must have a preface—that is, a literary preface,” laughed Ivan, “and I am a poor hand at making one. You see, my action takes place in the sixteenth century, and at that time, as you probably learnt at school, it was customary in poetry to bring down heavenly powers on earth. Not to speak of Dante, in France, clerks, as well as the monks in the monasteries, used to give regular performances in which the Madonna, the saints, the angels, Christ, and God Himself were brought on the stage. In those days it was done in all simplicity. In Victor Hugo’s ‘Notre Dame de Paris’ an edifying and gratuitous spectacle was provided for the people in the Hotel de Ville of Paris in the reign of Louis XI. in honour of the birth of the dauphin. It was called Le bon jugement de la tres sainte et gracieuse Vierge Marie, and she appears herself on the stage and pronounces her bon jugement. Similar plays, chiefly from the Old Testament, were occasionally performed in Moscow too, up to the times of Peter the Great. But besides plays there were all sorts of legends and ballads scattered about the world, in which the saints and angels and all the powers of Heaven took part when required. In our monasteries the monks busied themselves in translating, copying, and even composing such poems—and even under the Tatars. There is, for instance, one such poem (of course, from the Greek), ‘The Wanderings of Our Lady through Hell,’ with descriptions as bold as Dante’s. Our Lady visits Hell, and the Archangel Michael leads her through the torments. She sees the sinners and their punishment. There she sees among others one noteworthy set of sinners in a burning lake; some of them sink to the bottom of the lake so that they can’t swim out, and ‘these God forgets’—an expression of extraordinary depth and force. And so Our Lady, shocked and weeping, falls before the throne of God and begs for mercy for all in Hell—for all she has seen there, and indiscriminately. Her conversation with God is immensely interesting. She beseeches Him, she will not desist, and when God points to the hands and feet of her Son, nailed to the Cross, and asks, ‘How can I forgive His tormentors?’ she bids all the saints, all the martyrs, all the angels and archangels to fall down with her and pray for mercy on all without distinction. It ends by her winning from God a respite of suffering every year from Good Friday till Trinity day, and the sinners at once raise a cry of thankfulness from Hell, chanting, ‘Thou art just, O Lord, in this judgment.’ Well, my poem would have been of that kind if it had appeared at that time. He comes on the scene in my poem, but He says nothing, only appears and passes on. Fifteen centuries have passed since He promised to come in His glory, fifteen centuries since His prophet wrote, ‘Behold, I come quickly’; ‘Of that day and that hour knoweth no man, neither the Son, but the Father,’ as He Himself predicted on earth. But humanity awaits him with the same faith and with the same love. Oh, with greater faith, for it is fifteen centuries since man has ceased to see signs from Heaven.

    No signs from Heaven come to-day
    To add to what the heart doth say.


    There was nothing left but faith in what the heart doth say. It is true there were many miracles in those days. There were saints who performed miraculous cures; some holy people, according to their biographies, were visited by the Queen of Heaven herself. But the devil did not slumber, and doubts were already arising among men of the truth of these miracles. And just then there appeared in the north of Germany a terrible new heresy. ‘A huge star like to a torch’ (that is, to a church) ‘fell on the sources of the waters and they became bitter.’ These heretics began blasphemously denying miracles. But those who remained faithful were all the more ardent in their faith. The tears of humanity rose up to Him as before, awaiting His coming, loved Him, hoped for Him, yearned to suffer and die for Him as before. And so many ages mankind had prayed with faith and fervour, ‘O Lord our God, hasten Thy coming,’ so many ages called upon Him, that in His infinite mercy He deigned to come down to His servants. Before that day He had come down, He had visited some holy men, martyrs and hermits, as is written in their ‘Lives.’ Among us, Tyutchev, with absolute faith in the truth of his words, bore witness that

    Bearing the Cross, in slavish dress
    Weary and worn, the Heavenly King
    Our mother, Russia, came to bless,
    And through our land went wandering.

    And that certainly was so, I assure you.

    “And behold, He deigned to appear for a moment to the people, to the tortured, suffering people, sunk in iniquity, but loving Him like children. My story is laid in Spain, in Seville, in the most terrible time of the Inquisition, when fires were lighted every day to the glory of God, and ‘in the splendid auto da fe the wicked heretics were burnt.’ Oh, of course, this was not the coming in which He will appear according to His promise at the end of time in all His heavenly glory, and which will be sudden ‘as lightning flashing from east to west.’ No, He visited His children only for a moment, and there where the flames were crackling round the heretics. In His infinite mercy He came once more among men in that human shape in which He walked among men for three years fifteen centuries ago. He came down to the ‘ho pavement’ of the southern town in which on the day before almost a hundred heretics had, ad majorem gloriam Dei, been burnt by the cardinal, the Grand Inquisitor, in a magnificent auto da fe, in the presence of the king, the court, the knights, the cardinals, the most charming ladies of the court, and the whole population of Seville.

    “He came softly, unobserved, and yet, strange to say, every one recognised Him. That might be one of the best passages in the poem. I mean, why they recognised Him. The people are irresistibly drawn to Him, they surround Him, they flock about Him, follow Him. He moves silently in their midst with a gentle smile of infinite compassion. The sun of love burns in His heart, light and power shine from His eyes, and their radiance, shed on the people, stirs their hearts with responsive love. He holds out His hands to them, blesses them, and a healing virtue comes from contact with Him, even with His garments. An old man in the crowd, blind from childhood, cries out, ‘O Lord, heal me and I shall see Thee!” and, as it were, scales fall from his eyes and the blind man sees Him. The crowd weeps and kisses the earth under His feet. Children throw flowers before Him, sing, and cry hosannah. ‘It is He—it is He!’ all repeat. ‘It must be He, it can be no one but Him!’ He stops at the steps of the Seville cathedral at the moment when the weeping mourners are bringing in a little open white coffin. In it lies a child of seven, the only daughter of a prominent citizen. The dead child lies hidden in flowers. ‘He will raise your child,’ the crowd shouts to the weeping mother. The priest, coming to meet the coffin, looks perplexed, and frowns, but the mother of the dead child throws herself at His feet with a wail. ‘If it is Thou, raise my child!’ she cries, holding out her hands to Him. The procession halts, the coffin is laid on the steps at His feet. He looks with compassion, and His lips once more softly pronounce, ‘Maiden, arise!’ and the maiden arises. The little girl sits up in the coffin and looks round, smiling with wide-open wondering eyes, holding a bunch of white roses they had put in her hand.

    “There are cries, sobs, confusion among the people, and at that moment the cardinal himself, the Grand Inquisitor, passes by the cathedral. He is an old man, almost ninety, tall and erect, with a withered face and sunken eyes, in which there is still a gleam of light. He is not dressed in his gorgeous cardinal’s robes, as he was the day before, when he was burning the enemies of the Roman Church—at that moment he was wearing his coarse, old, monk’s cassock. At a distance behind him come his gloomy assistants and slaves and the ‘holy guard.’ He stops at the sight of the crowd and watches it from a distance. He sees everything; he sees them set the coffin down at His feet, sees the child rise up, and his face darkens. He knits his thick grey brows and his eyes gleam with a sinister fire. He holds out his finger and bids the guards take Him. And such is his power, so completely are the people cowed into submission and trembling obedience to him, that the crowd immediately make way for the guards, and in the midst of deathlike silence they lay hands on Him and lead Him away. The crowd instantly bows down to the earth, like one man, before the old inquisitor. He blesses the people in silence and passes on. The guards lead their prisoner to the close, gloomy vaulted prison in the ancient palace of the Holy Inquisition and shut Him in it. The day passes and is followed by the dark, burning ‘breathless’ night of Seville. The air is ‘fragrant with laurel and lemon.’ In the pitch darkness the iron door of the prison is suddenly opened and the Grand Inquisitor himself comes in with a light in his hand. He is alone; the door is closed at once behind him. He stands in the doorway and for a minute or two gazes into His face. At last he goes up slowly, sets the light on the table and speaks.

    “ ‘Is it Thou? Thou?’ but receiving no answer, he adds at once, ‘Don’t answer, be silent. What canst Thou say, indeed? I know too well what Thou wouldst say. And Thou hast no right to add anything to what Thou hadst said of old. Why, then, art Thou come to hinder us? For Thou hast come to hinder us, and Thou knowest that. But dost Thou know what will be to-morrow? I know not who Thou art and care not to know whether it is Thou or only a semblance of Him, but to-morrow I shall condemn Thee and burn Thee at the stake as the worst of heretics. And the very people who have to-day kissed Thy feet, to-morrow at the faintest sign from me will rush to heap up the embers of Thy fire. Knowest Thou that? Yes, maybe Thou knowest it,’ he added with thoughtful penetration, never for a moment taking his eyes off the Prisoner.”

    “I don’t quite understand, Ivan. What does it mean?” Alyosha, who had been listening in silence, said with a smile. “Is it simply a wild fantasy, or a mistake on the part of the old man—some impossible quid pro quo?”

    “Take it as the last,” said Ivan, laughing, “if you are so corrupted by modern realism and can’t stand anything fantastic. If you like it to be a case of mistaken identity, let it be so. It is true,” he went on, laughing, “the old man was ninety, and he might well be crazy over his set idea. He might have been struck by the appearance of the Prisoner. It might, in fact, be simply his ravings, the delusion of an old man of ninety, over-excited by the auto da fe of a hundred heretics the day before. But does it matter to us after all whether it was a mistake of identity or a wild fantasy? All that matters is that the old man should speak out, should speak openly of what he has thought in silence for ninety years.”

    “And the Prisoner too is silent? Does He look at him and not say a word?”

    “That’s inevitable in any case,” Ivan laughed again. “The old man has told Him He hasn’t the right to add anything to what He has said of old. One may say it is the most fundamental feature of Roman Catholicism, in my opinion at least. ‘All has been given by Thee to the Pope,’ they say, ‘and all, therefore, is still in the Pope’s hands, and there is no need for Thee to come now at all. Thou must not meddle for the time, at least.’ That’s how they speak and write too—the Jesuits, at any rate. I have read it myself in the works of their theologians. ‘Hast Thou the right to reveal to us one of the mysteries of that world from which Thou hast come?’ my old man asks Him, and answers the question for Him. ‘No, Thou hast not; that Thou mayest not add to what has been said of old, and mayest not take from men the freedom which Thou didst exalt when Thou wast on earth. Whatsoever Thou revealest anew will encroach on men’s freedom of faith; for it will be manifest as a miracle, and the freedom of their faith was dearer to Thee than anything in those days fifteen hundred years ago. Didst Thou not often say then, “I will make you free”? But now Thou has seen these “free” men,’ the old man adds suddenly, with a pensive smile. ‘Yes, we’ve paid dearly for it,’ he goes on, looking sternly at Him, ‘but at last we have completed that work in Thy name. For fifteen centuries we have been wrestling with Thy freedom, but now it is ended and over for good. Dost Thou not believe that it’s over for good? Thou lookest meekly at me and deignest not even to be wroth with me. But let me tell Thee that now, to-day, people are more persuaded than ever that they have perfect freedom, yet they have brought their freedom to us and laid it humbly at our feet. But that has been our doing. Was this what Thou didst? Was this Thy freedom?’”

    “I don’t understand again,” Alyosha broke in. “Is he ironical, is he jesting?”

    “Not a bit of it! He claims it as a merit for himself and his Church that at last they have vanquished freedom and have done so to make men happy. ‘For now’ (he is speaking of the Inquisition, of course) ‘for the first time it has become possible to think of the happiness of men. Man was created a rebel; and how can rebels be happy? Thou wast warned,’ he says to Him. ‘Thou hast had no lack of admonitions and warnings, but Thou didst not listen to those warnings; Thou didst reject the only way by which men might be made happy. But, unfortunately, departing Thou didst hand on the work to us. Thou has promised, Thou hast established by Thy word, Thou has given to us the right to bind and to unbind, and now, of course, Thou canst not think of taking it away. Why, then, hast Thou come to hinder us?’”

    “And what’s the meaning of ‘no lack of admonitions and warnings’?” asked Alyosha.

    “Why, that’s the chief part of what the old man must say.”

    “ ‘The wise and dread Spirit, the spirit of self-destruction and non-existence,’ the old man goes on, ‘the great spirit talked with Thee in the wilderness, and we are told in the books that he “tempted” Thee. Is that so? And could anything truer be said than what he revealed to Thee in three questions and what Thou didst reject, and what in the books is called “the temptation”? And yet if there has ever been on earth a real stupendous miracle, it took place on that day, on the day of the three temptations. The statement of those three questions was itself the miracle. If it were possible to imagine simply for the sake of argument that those three questions of the dread spirit had perished utterly from the books, and that we had to restore them and to invent them anew, and to do so had gathered together all the wise men of the earth—rulers, chief priests, learned men, philosophers, poets—and had set them the task to invent three questions, such as would not only fit the occasion, but express in three words, three human phrases, the whole future history of the world and of humanity—dost Thou believe that all the wisdom of the earth united could have invented anything in depth and force equal to the three questions which were actually put to Thee then by the wise and mighty spirit in the wilderness? From those questions alone, from the miracle of their statement, we can see that we have here to do not with the fleeting human intelligence, but with the absolute and eternal. For in those three questions the whole subsequent history of mankind is, as it were, brought together into one whole, and foretold, and in them are united all the unsolved historical contradictions of human nature. At the time it could not be so clear, since the future was unknown; but now that fifteen hundred years have passed, we see that everything in those three questions was so justly divined and foretold, and has been so truly fulfilled, that nothing can be added to them or taken from them.

    “ ‘Judge Thyself who was right—Thou or he who questioned Thee then? Remember the first question; its meaning, in other words, was this: “Thou wouldst go into the world, and art going with empty hands, with some promise of freedom which men in their simplicity and their natural unruliness cannot even understand, which they fear and dread—for nothing has ever been more insupportable for a man and a human society than freedom. But seest Thou these stones in this parched and barren wilderness? Turn them into bread, and mankind will run after Thee like a flock of sheep, grateful and obedient, though for ever trembling, lest Thou withdraw Thy hand and deny them Thy bread.” But Thou wouldst not deprive man of freedom and didst reject the offer, thinking, what is that freedom worth, if obedience is bought with bread? Thou didst reply that man lives not by bread alone. But dost Thou know that for the sake of that earthly bread the spirit of the earth will rise up against Thee and will strive with Thee and overcome Thee, and all will follow him, crying, “Who can compare with this beast? He has given us fire from heaven!” Dost Thou know that the ages will pass, and humanity will proclaim by the lips of their sages that there is no crime, and therefore no sin; there is only hunger? “Feed men, and then ask of them virtue!” that’s what they’ll write on the banner, which they will raise against Thee, and with which they will destroy Thy temple. Where Thy temple stood will rise a new building; the terrible tower of Babel will be built again, and though, like the one of old, it will not be finished, yet Thou mightest have prevented that new tower and have cut short the sufferings of men for a thousand years; for they will come back to us after a thousand years of agony with their tower. They will seek us again, hidden underground in the catacombs, for we shall be again persecuted and tortured. They will find us and cry to us, “Feed us, for those who have promised us fire from heaven haven’t given it!” And then we shall finish building their tower, for he finishes the building who feeds them. And we alone shall feed them in Thy name, declaring falsely that it is in Thy name. Oh, never, never can they feed themselves without us! No science will give them bread so long as they remain free. In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet, and say to us, “Make us your slaves, but feed us.” They will understand themselves, at last, that freedom and bread enough for all are inconceivable together, for never, never will they be able to share between them! They will be convinced, too, that they can never be free, for they are weak, vicious, worthless and rebellious. Thou didst promise them the bread of Heaven, but, I repeat again, can it compare with earthly bread in the eyes of the weak, ever sinful and ignoble race of man? And if for the sake of the bread of Heaven thousands and tens of thousands shall follow Thee, what is to become of the millions and tens of thousands of millions of creatures who will not have the strength to forego the earthly bread for the sake of the heavenly? Or dost Thou care only for the tens of thousands of the great and strong, while the millions, numerous as the sands of the sea, who are weak but love Thee, must exist only for the sake of the great and strong? No, we care for the weak too. They are sinful and rebellious, but in the end they too will become obedient. They will marvel at us and look on us as gods, because we are ready to endure the freedom which they have found so dreadful and to rule over them—so awful it will seem to them to be free. But we shall tell them that we are Thy servants and rule them in Thy name. We shall deceive them again, for we will not let Thee come to us again. That deception will be our suffering, for we shall be forced to lie.

    “ ‘This is the significance of the first question in the wilderness, and this is what Thou hast rejected for the sake of that freedom which Thou hast exalted above everything. Yet in this question lies hid the great secret of this world. Choosing “bread,” Thou wouldst have satisfied the universal and everlasting craving of humanity—to find some one to worship. So long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and so painfully as to find some one to worship. But man seeks to worship what is established beyond dispute, so that all men would agree at once to worship it. For these pitiful creatures are concerned not only to find what one or the other can worship, but to find something that all would believe in and worship; what is essential is that all may be together in it. This craving for community of worship is the chief misery of every man individually and of all humanity from the beginning of time. For the sake of common worship they’ve slain each other with the sword. They have set up gods and challenged one another, “Put away your gods and come and worship ours, or we will kill you and your gods!” And so it will be to the end of the world, even when gods disappear from the earth; they will fall down before idols just the same. Thou didst know, Thou couldst not but have known, this fundamental secret of human nature, but Thou didst reject the one infallible banner which was offered Thee to make all men bow down to Thee alone—the banner of earthly bread; and Thou hast rejected it for the sake of freedom and the bread of Heaven. Behold what Thou didst further. And all again in the name of freedom! I tell Thee that man is tormented by no greater anxiety than to find some one quickly to whom he can hand over the gift of freedom with which the ill-fated creature is born. But only one who can appease their conscience can take over their freedom. In bread there was offered Thee an invincible banner; give bread, and man will worship Thee, for nothing is more certain than bread. But if some one else gains possession of his conscience—oh! then he will cast away Thy bread and follow after him who has ensnared his conscience. In that Thou wast right. For the secret of man’s being is not only to live but to have something to live for. Without a stable conception of the object of life, man would not consent to go on living, and would rather destroy himself than remain on earth, though he had bread in abundance. That is true. But what happened? Instead of taking men’s freedom from them, Thou didst make it greater than ever! Didst Thou forget that man prefers peace, and even death, to freedom of choice in the knowledge of good and evil? Nothing is more seductive for man than his freedom of conscience, but nothing is a greater cause of suffering. And behold, instead of giving a firm foundation for setting the conscience of man at rest for ever, Thou didst choose all that is exceptional, vague and enigmatic; Thou didst choose what was utterly beyond the strength of men, acting as though Thou didst not love them at all—Thou who didst come to give Thy life for them! Instead of taking possession of men’s freedom, Thou didst increase it, and burdened the spiritual kingdom of mankind with its sufferings for ever. Thou didst desire man’s free love, that he should follow Thee freely, enticed and taken captive by Thee. In place of the rigid ancient law, man must hereafter with free heart decide for himself what is good and what is evil, having only Thy image before him as his guide. But didst Thou not know he would at last reject even Thy image and Thy truth, if he is weighed down with the fearful burden of free choice? They will cry aloud at last that the truth is not in Thee, for they could not have been left in greater confusion and suffering than Thou hast caused, laying upon them so many cares and unanswerable problems.

    “ ‘So that, in truth, Thou didst Thyself lay the foundation for the destruction of Thy kingdom, and no one is more to blame for it. Yet what was offered Thee? There are three powers, three powers alone, able to conquer and to hold captive for ever the conscience of these impotent rebels for their happiness—those forces are miracle, mystery and authority. Thou hast rejected all three and hast set the example for doing so. When the wise and dread spirit set Thee on the pinnacle of the temple and said to Thee, “If Thou wouldst know whether Thou art the Son of God then cast Thyself down, for it is written: the angels shall hold him up lest he fall and bruise himself, and Thou shalt know then whether Thou art the Son of God and shalt prove then how great is Thy faith in Thy Father.” But Thou didst refuse and wouldst not cast Thyself down. Oh! of course, Thou didst proudly and well like God; but the weak, unruly race of men, are they gods? Oh, Thou didst know then that in taking one step, in making one movement to cast Thyself down, Thou wouldst be tempting God and have lost all Thy faith in Him, and wouldst have been dashed to pieces against that earth which Thou didst come to save. And the wise spirit that tempted Thee would have rejoiced. But I ask again, are there many like Thee? And couldst Thou believe for one moment that men, too, could face such a temptation? Is the nature of men such, that they can reject miracle, and at the great moments of their life, the moments of their deepest, most agonising spiritual difficulties, cling only to the free verdict of the heart? Oh, Thou didst know that Thy deed would be recorded in books, would be handed down to remote times and the utmost ends of the earth, and Thou didst hope that man, following Thee, would cling to God and not ask for a miracle. But Thou didst not know that when man rejects miracle he rejects God too; for man seeks not so much God as the miraculous. And as man cannot bear to be without the miraculous, he will create new miracles of his own for himself, and will worship deeds of sorcery and witchcraft, though he might be a hundred times over a rebel, heretic and infidel. Thou didst not come down from the Cross when they shouted to Thee, mocking and reviling Thee, “Come down from the cross and we will believe that Thou art He.” Thou didst not come down, for again Thou wouldst not enslave man by a miracle, and didst crave faith given freely, not based on miracle. Thou didst crave for free love and not the base raptures of the slave before the might that has overawed him for ever. But Thou didst think too highly of men therein, for they are slaves, of course, though rebellious by nature. Look round and judge; fifteen centuries have passed, look upon them. Whom hast Thou raised up to Thyself? I swear, man is weaker and baser by nature than Thou hast believed him! Can he, can he do what Thou didst? By showing him so much respect, Thou didst, as it were, cease to feel for him, for Thou didst ask far too much from him—Thou who hast loved him more than Thyself! Respecting him less, Thou wouldst have asked less of him. That would have been more like love, for his burden would have been lighter. He is weak and vile. What though he is everywhere now rebelling against our power, and proud of his rebellion? It is the pride of a child and a schoolboy. They are little children rioting and barring out the teacher at school. But their childish delight will end; it will cost them dear. They will cast down temples and drench the earth with blood. But they will see at last, the foolish children, that, though they are rebels, they are impotent rebels, unable to keep up their own rebellion. Bathed in their foolish tears, they will recognise at last that He who created them rebels must have meant to mock at them. They will say this in despair, and their utterance will be a blasphemy which will make them more unhappy still, for man’s nature cannot bear blasphemy, and in the end always avenges it on itself. And so unrest, confusion and unhappiness—that is the present lot of man after Thou didst bear so much for their freedom! Thy great prophet tells in vision and in image, that he saw all those who took part in the first resurrection and that they were of each tribe twelve thousand. But if there were so many of them, they must have been not men but gods. They had borne Thy cross, they had endured scores of years in the barren, hungry wilderness, living upon locusts and roots—and Thou mayest indeed point with pride at those children of freedom, of free love, of free and splendid sacrifice for Thy name. But remember that they were only some thousands; and what of the rest? And how are the other weak ones to blame, because they could not endure what the strong have endured? How is the weak soul to blame that it is unable to receive such terrible gifts? Canst Thou have simply come to the elect and for the elect? But if so, it is a mystery and we cannot understand it. And if it is a mystery, we too have a right to preach a mystery, and to teach them that it’s not the free judgment of their hearts, not love that matters, but a mystery which they must follow blindly, even against their conscience. So we have done. We have corrected Thy work and have founded it upon miracle, mystery, and authority. And men rejoiced that they were again led like sheep, and that the terrible gift that had brought them such suffering, was, at last, lifted from their hearts. Were we right teaching them this? Speak! Did we not love mankind, so meekly acknowledging their feebleness, lovingly lightening their burden, and permitting their weak nature even sin with our sanction? Why hast Thou come now to hinder us? And why dost Thou look silently and searchingly at me with Thy mild eyes? Be angry. I don’t want Thy love, for I love Thee not. And what use is it for me to hide anything from Thee? Don’t I know to Whom I am speaking? All that I can say is known to Thee already. And is it for me to conceal from Thee our mystery? Perhaps it is Thy will to hear it from my lips. Listen, then. We are not working with Thee, but with him—that is our mystery. It’s long—eight centuries—since we have been on his side and not on Thine. Just eight centuries ago, we took from him what Thou didst reject with scorn, that last gift he offered Thee, showing Thee all the kingdoms of the earth. We took from him Rome and the sword of Caesar, and proclaimed ourselves sole rulers of the earth, though hitherto we have not been able to complete our work. But whose fault is that? Oh, the work is only beginning, but it has begun. It has long to await completion and the earth has yet much to suffer, but we shall triumph and shall be Caesars, and then we shall plan the universal happiness of man. But Thou mightest have taken even then the sword of Caesar. Why didst Thou reject that last gift? Hadst Thou accepted that last counsel of the mighty spirit, Thou wouldst have accomplished all that man seeks on earth—that is, some one to worship, some one to keep his conscience, and some means of uniting all in one unanimous and harmonious ant-heap, for the craving for universal unity is the third and last anguish of men. Mankind as a whole has always striven to organise a universal state. There have been many great nations with great histories, but the more highly they were developed the more unhappy they were, for they felt more acutely than other people the craving for worldwide union. The great conquerors, Timours and Ghenghis-Khans, whirled like hurricanes over the face of the earth striving to subdue its people, and they too were but the unconscious expression of the same craving for universal unity. Hadst Thou taken the world and Caesar’s purple, Thou wouldst have founded the universal state and have given universal peace. For who can rule men if not he who holds their conscience and their bread in his hands. We have taken the sword of Caesar, and in taking it, of course, have rejected Thee and followed him. Oh, ages are yet to come of the confusion of free thought, of their science and cannibalism. For having begun to build their tower of Babel without us, they will end, of course, with cannibalism. But then the beast will crawl to us and lick our feet and spatter them with tears of blood. And we shall sit upon the beast and raise the cup, and on it will be written, “Mystery.” But then, and only then, the reign of peace and happiness will come for men. Thou art proud of Thine elect, but Thou hast only the elect, while we give rest to all. And besides, how many of those elect, those mighty ones who could become elect, have grown weary waiting for Thee, and have transferred and will transfer the powers of their spirit and the warmth of their heart to the other camp, and end by raising their free banner against Thee. Thou didst Thyself lift up that banner. But with us all will be happy and will no more rebel nor destroy one another as under Thy freedom. Oh, we shall persuade them that they will only become free when they renounce their freedom to us and submit to us. And shall we be right or shall we be lying? They will be convinced that we are right, for they will remember the horrors of slavery and confusion to which Thy freedom brought them. Freedom, free thought and science, will lead them into such straits and will bring them face to face with such marvels and insoluble mysteries, that some of them, the fierce and rebellious, will destroy themselves, others, rebellious but weak, will destroy one another, while the rest, weak and unhappy, will crawl fawning to our feet and whine to us: “Yes, you were right, you alone possess His mystery, and we come back to you, save us from ourselves!”

    “ ‘Receiving bread from us, they will see clearly that we take the bread made by their hands from them, to give it to them, without any miracle. They will see that we do not change the stones to bread, but in truth they will be more thankful for taking it from our hands than for the bread itself! For they will remember only too well that in old days, without our help, even the bread they made turned to stones in their hands, while since they have come back to us, the very stones have turned to bread in their hands. Too, too well they know the value of complete submission! And until men know that, they will be unhappy. Who is most to blame for their not knowing it, speak? Who scattered the flock and sent it astray on unknown paths? But the flock will come together again and will submit once more, and then it will be once for all. Then we shall give them the quiet humble happiness of weak creatures such as they are by nature. Oh, we shall persuade them at last not to be proud, for Thou didst lift them up and thereby taught them to be proud. We shall show them that they are weak, that they are only pitiful children, but that childlike happiness is the sweetest of all. They will become timid and will look to us and huddle close to us in fear, as chicks to the hen. They will marvel at us and will be awe-stricken before us, and will be proud at our being so powerful and clever, that we have been able to subdue such a turbulent flock of thousands of millions. They will tremble impotently before our wrath, their minds will grow fearful, they will be quick to shed tears like women and children, but they will be just as ready at a sign from us to pass to laughter and rejoicing, to happy mirth and childish song. Yes, we shall set them to work, but in their leisure hours we shall make their life like a child’s game, with children’s songs and innocent dance. Oh, we shall allow them even sin, they are weak and helpless, and they will love us like children because we allow them to sin. We shall tell them that every sin will be expiated, if it is done with our permission, that we allow them to sin because we love them, and the punishment for these sins we take upon ourselves. And we shall take it upon ourselves, and they will adore us as their saviour who have taken on themselves their sins before God. And they will have no secrets from us. We shall allow or forbid them to live with their wives and mistresses, to have or not to have children—according to whether they have been obedient or disobedient—and they will submit to us gladly and cheerfully. The most painful secrets of their conscience, all, all they will bring to us, and we shall have an answer for all. And they will be glad to believe our answer, for it will save them from the great anxiety and terrible agony they endure at present in making a free decision for themselves. And all will be happy, all the millions of creatures except the hundred thousand who rule over them. For only we, we who guard the mystery, shall be unhappy. There will be thousands of millions of happy babes, and a hundred thousand sufferers who have taken upon themselves the curse of the knowledge of good and evil. Peacefully they will die, peacefully they will expire in Thy name, and beyond the grave they will find nothing but death. But we shall keep the secret, and for their happiness we shall allure them with the reward of heaven and eternity. Though if there were anything in the other world, it certainly would not be for such as they. It is prophesied that Thou wilt come again in victory, Thou wilt come with Thy chosen, the proud and strong, but we will say that they have only saved themselves, but we have saved all. We are told that the harlot who sits upon the beast, and holds in her hands the mystery, shall be put to shame, that the weak will rise up again, and will rend her royal purple and will strip naked her loathsome body. But then I will stand up and point out to Thee the thousand millions of happy children who have known no sin. And we who have taken their sins upon us for their happiness will stand up before Thee and say: “Judge us if Thou canst and darest.” Know that I fear Thee not. Know that I too have been in the wilderness, I too have lived on roots and locusts, I too prized the freedom with which Thou hast blessed men, and I too was striving to stand among Thy elect, among the strong and powerful, thirsting “to make up the number.” But I awakened and would not serve madness. I turned back and joined the ranks of those who have corrected Thy work. I left the proud and went back to the humble, for the happiness of the humble.


    pp. 260-263: “ . . . You declared yesterday at father’s that there was no God.” Alyosha looked searchingly at his brother.

    “I said that yesterday at dinner on purpose to tease you and I saw your eyes glow. But now I’ve no objection to discussing with you, and I say so seriously. I want to be friends with you, Alyosha, for I have no friends and want to try it. Well, only fancy, perhaps I too accept God,” laughed Ivan, “that’s a surprise for you, isn’t it?”

    “Yes, of course, if you are not joking now.”

    “Joking? I was told at the elder’s yesterday that I was joking. You know, dear boy, there was an old sinner in the eighteenth century who declared that, if there were no God, he would have to be invented. S’il n’existait pas Dieu, il faudrait l’inventer. And man has actually invented God. And what’s strange, what would be marvellous, is not that God should really exist; the marvel is that such an idea, the idea of the necessity of God, could enter the head of such a savage, vicious beast as man. So holy it is, so touching, so wise and so great a credit it does to man. As for me, I’ve long resolved not to think whether man created God or God man. And I won’t go through all the axioms laid down by Russian boys on that subject, all derived from European hypotheses; for what’s a hypothesis there, is an axiom with the Russian boy, and not only with the boys but with their teachers too, for our Russian professors are often just the same boys themselves. And so I omit all the hypotheses. For what are we aiming at now? I am trying to explain as quickly as possible my essential nature, that is what manner of man I am, what I believe in, and for what I hope, that’s it, isn’t it? And therefore I tell you that I accept God simply. But you must note this: if God exists and if He really did create the world, then, as we all know, He created it according to the geometry of Euclid and the human mind with the conception of only three dimensions in space. Yet there have been and still are geometricians and philosophers, and even some of the most distinguished, who doubt whether the whole universe, or to speak more widely the whole of being, was only created in Euclid’s geometry; they even dare to dream that two parallel lines, which according to Euclid can never meet on earth, may meet somewhere in infinity. I have come to the conclusion that, since I can’t understand even that, I can’t expect to understand about God. I acknowledge humbly that I have no faculty for settling such questions, I have a Euclidian earthly mind, and how could I solve problems that are not of this world? And I advise you never to think about it either, my dear Alyosha, especially about God, whether He exists or not. All such questions are utterly inappropriate for a mind created with an idea of only three dimensions. And so I accept God and am glad to, and what’s more I accept His wisdom, His purpose—which are utterly beyond our ken; I believe in the underlying order and the meaning of life; I believe in the eternal harmony in which they say we shall one day be blended. I believe in the Word to Which the universe is striving, and Which Itself was “with God,” and Which Itself is God and so on, and so on, to infinity. There are all sorts of phrases for it. I seem to be on the right path, don’t I? Yet would you believe it, in the final result I don’t accept this world of God’s, and, although I know it exists, I don’t accept it at all. It’s not that I don’t accept God, you must understand, it’s the world created by Him I don’t and cannot accept. Let me make it plain. I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidian mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened with men—but though all that may come to pass, I don’t accept it. I won’t accept it. Even if parallel lines do meet and I see it myself, I shall see it and say that they’ve met, but still I won’t accept it. That’s what’s at the root of me, Alyosha; that’s my creed. I am in earnest in what I say. I began our talk as stupidly as I could on purpose, but I’ve led up to my confession, for that’s all you want. You didn’t want to hear about God, but only to know what the brother you love lives by. And so I’ve told you.”

    Ivan concluded his long tirade with marked and unexpected feeling.

    “And why did you begin ‘as stupidly as you could’?” asked Alyosha, looking dreamily at him.

    “To begin with, for the sake of being Russian. Russian conversations on such subjects are always carried on inconceivably stupidly. And secondly, the stupider one is, the closer one is to reality. The stupider one is, the clearer one is. Stupidity is brief and artless, while intelligence wriggles and hides itself. Intelligence is a knave, but stupidity is honest and straightforward. I’ve led the conversation to my despair, and the more stupidly I have presented it, the better for me.”

    “You will explain why you don’t accept the world?” said Alyosha.

    “To be sure I will, it’s not a secret, that’s what I’ve been leading up to. Dear little brother, I don’t want to corrupt you or to turn you from your stronghold, perhaps I want to be healed by you.” Ivan smiled suddenly quite like a little gentle child. Alyosha had never seen such a smile on his face before.


    4

    Rebellion

    I must make you one confession,” Ivan began. “I could never understand how one can love one’s neighbours. It’s just one’s neighbours, to my mind, that one can’t love, though one might love those at a distance. I once read somewhere of John the Merciful, a saint, that when a hungry, frozen beggar came to him, he took him into his bed, held him in his arms, and began breathing into his mouth, which was putrid and loathsome from some awful disease. I am convinced that he did that from ‘self-laceration,’ from the self-laceration of falsity, for the sake of the charity imposed by duty, as a penance laid on him. For any one to love a man, he must be hidden, for as soon as he shows his face, love is gone.”

    “Father Zossima has talked of that more than once,” observed Alyosha, “he, too, said that the face of a man often hinders many people not practised in love, from loving him. But yet there’s a great deal of love in mankind, and almost Christ-like love. I know that myself, Ivan.”

    “Well, I know nothing of it so far, and can’t understand it, and the innumerable mass of mankind are with me there. The question is, whether that’s due to men’s bad qualities or whether it’s inherent in their nature. To my thinking, Christ-like love for men is a miracle impossible on earth. He was God. But we are not gods. Suppose I, for instance, suffer intensely. Another can never know how much I suffer, because he is another and not I. And what’s more, a man is rarely ready to admit another’s suffering (as though it were a distinction). Why won’t he admit it, do you think? Because I smell unpleasant, because I have a stupid face, because I once trod on his foot. Besides there is suffering and suffering; degrading, humiliating suffering such as humbles me—hunger, for instance,--my benefactor will perhaps allow me; but when you come to higher suffering—for an idea, for instance—he will very rarely admit that, perhaps because my face strikes him as not at all what he fancies a man should have who suffers for an idea. And so he deprives me instantly of his favour, and not at all from badness of heart.


    pp. 321-322 [BOOK VI—The Russian Monk (BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES: (a) Father Zossima’s Brother)]: “ . . .every one of us has sinned against all men, and I more than any.”

    Mother positively smiled at that, smiled through her tears. “Why, how could you have sinned against all men, more than all? Robbers and murderers have done that, but what sin have you committed yet, that you hold yourself more guilty than all?”

    “Mother, little heart of mine,” he said (he had begun using such strange caressing words at that time), “little heart of mine, my joy, believe me, every one is really responsible to all men for all men and for everything. I don’t know how to explain it to you, but I feel it is so, painfully even. And how is it we went on then living, getting angry and not knowing?”

    So he would get up every day, more and more sweet and joyous and full of love. When the doctor, an old German called Eisenschmidt, came: “Well, doctor, have I another day in this world?” he would ask, joking.

    “You’ll live many days yet,” the doctor would answer, “and months and years too.”

    “Months and years!” he would exclaim. “Why reckon the days? One day is enough for a man to know all happiness. My dear ones, why do we quarrel, try to outshine each other and keep grudges against each other? Let’s go straight into the garden, walk and play there, love, appreciate, and kiss each other, and glorify life.”

    “Your son cannot last long,” the doctor told my mother, as she accompanied him to the door. “The disease is affecting his brain.”

    The windows of his room looked out into the garden, and our garden was a shady one, with old trees in it which were coming into bud. The first birds of spring were flitting in the branches, chirruping and singing at the windows. And looking at them and admiring them, he began suddenly begging their forgiveness too, “Birds of heaven, happy birds, forgive me, for I have sinned against you too.” None of us could understand that at the time, but he shed tears of joy. “Yes,” he said, “there was such a glory of God all about me; birds, trees, meadows, sky, only I lived in shame and dishonoured it all and did not notice the beauty and glory.”

    “You take too many sins on yourself,” mother used to say, weeping.

    “Mother, darling, it’s for joy, not for grief I am crying. Though I can’t explain it to you, I like to humble myself before them, for I don’t know how to love them enough. If I have sinned against every one, yet all forgive me, too, and that’s heaven. Am I not in heaven now?”


    pp. 405-407 (BOOK VI—3: From the Discourses and Teachings of the Elder Zosima): Fathers and teachers, what is a monk? In the enlightened world this word is pronounced in our day by some with mockery, and by some even as an expletive. And the more time passes, the more this is so. It is true, oh, it is true, that there are in the monkhood also many parasites, lovers of the flesh, voluptuaries and brazen vagabonds. Worldly men of progressive education point to this: ‘You are,’ they say, ‘idlers and useless members of society; shameless beggars, you live upon the efforts of others.’ Yet even so how many meek and humble ones there are in the monkhood, thirsting for seclusion and ardent prayer in silence. These are pointed to less and are even passed over without comment altogether, and how surprised would the same worldly men be if I told them that from these meek souls who thirst for secluded prayer may once again issue the salvation of the Russian land! For verily they are being prepared in silence ‘for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year’. Meanwhile in their seclusion they are preserving the image of Christ in well-apportioned and undistorted form, in the purity of God’s truth, as it was handed down to them by the most ancient fathers, apostles and martyrs, and when the need arrives they will show that image to the wavering truth of the world. Great is this thought. This star will shine in the east.

    Such is my opinion concerning the monk, and is there any falseness in it, or pride? Go, look among the secular and at all the world that exalts itself above God’s people: have not God’s image and his truth become distorted therein? What they have is science, and in science only that which is subject to the senses. The spiritual world, on the other hand, the loftier half of man’s being, is rejected altogether, cast out with a certain triumph, hatred even. The world has proclaimed freedom, particularly of late, and yet what do we see in this freedom of theirs: nothing but servitude and suicide! For the world says: ‘You have needs, so satisfy them, for you have the same rights as the wealthiest and most highly placed of men. Do not be afraid to satisfy them, but even multiply them’ – that is the present-day teaching of the world. In that, too, they see freedom. And what is the result of this right to the multiplication of needs? Among the rich solitariness and spiritual suicide, and among the poor—envy and murder, for while they have been given rights, they have not yet been afforded the means with which to satisfy their needs. Assurance is offered that as time goes by the world will become more united, that it will form itself into a brotherly communion by shortening distance and transmitting thoughts through the air. Alas, do not believe in such a unification of men. In construing freedom as the multiplication and speedy satisfaction of needs, they distort their own nature, for they engender within themselves many senseless and stupid desires, habits and most absurd inventions. They live solely for envy, for love of the flesh and for self-conceit. To have dinners, horses and carriages, rank, and attendants who are slaves is already considered such a necessity that they will even sacrifice their lives, their honour and philanthropy in order to satisfy that necessity, and will even kill themselves if they cannot do so. Among those who are not rich we see the same thing, and among the poor envy and the frustration of needs are present dulled by drunkenness. But soon in place of alcohol it will be blood upon which they grow intoxicated – to that they are being led. I ask you: is such a man free? I knew one ‘fighter for the cause’ who himself told me that when in prison he was deprived of tobacco so tormented was he by this deprivation that he almost went and betrayed his ‘cause’ in order that he should be given some tobacco. And after all, it is a man such as this who says: ‘I am going to fight for mankind.’ Well, where can such a man go and of what is he capable? Of a quick action perhaps, but he will not endure long. And it is small wonder that in place of freedom they have found slavery, and in place of service to brotherly love and the unity of mankind they have found isolation and solitariness, as my mysterious visitor and teacher told me in my youth. And so it is that in the world the idea of service to mankind, of the brotherhood and inclusiveness of men, is fading more and more, and in truth this thought is now encountered with mockery, for how can he desist from his habits, this slave, where can he go, if he is so accustomed to satisfying his countless needs, which he himself has invented? Solitary is he, and what concern can he have for the whole? And they have reached a point where the quantity of objects they amass is ever greater, and their joy is ever smaller.

    The monkish path is a different matter. Obedience, fasting and prayer are even the objects of laughter, and yet it is only in them that the path to true and genuine freedom is contained: I cut off from myself my superfluous and unnecessary needs, humble and scourge my vain and proud will with obedience and thereby attain, with God’s help, freedom of spirit, and together with it spiritual gaiety! Which of them is more capable of raising aloft a great idea and of going to serve it—the isolated rich man, or this freed one—freed from the tyranny of objects and habits? The monk is reproached for his solitariness: ‘You have withdrawn into solitariness in order to save yourself, living the life of a monk within monastery walls, and have forgotten the brotherly service of mankind.’ But we shall see which of them will be more diligent in the matter of brotherly love. For the solitariness is not ours, but theirs, only they do not see it. And from our midst since olden days have come leaders of the people, so why should they not exist now? The same meek and humble fasters and vowers of silence will rise up and go to accomplish the great task. From the people is the salvation of Russia.


    -pp. 411-412: Life without servants is impossible in the secular world, but act in such a manner that your servant is freer in spirit than if he were not a servant. And why should I not be a servant to my servant, in such a way that he should even be aware of it, and without any pride on my part or lack of credence on his? Why should my servant not be to me as one of my own flesh and blood, so that at last I accept him into my family and rejoice in this? Even at the present time this is something that may be accomplished in such a fashion, but it will serve as the foundation of a future glorious unity of men, when servants are not what a man will seek for himself nor what he will desire to make of those who are his like, as he does now but, on the contrary, with all his might will himself desire to become the servant to all, in the manner described in the Gospels. And is this really a dream, that at last man shall find his joys alone in deeds of enlightenment and mercy, and not in cruel delights, as he does now—in gluttony, lechery, self-conceit, boasting and the envious exaltation of one above the other? I firmly believe that it is not, and that the time is nigh. People laugh and ask when this time will begin and whether it is probable that it will begin. I, on the other hand, am of the opinion that with Christ we shall resolve this great matter. And how many ideas have there been upon earth, in human history, which only ten years earlier were unimaginable and which suddenly appeared when their mysteriously appointed season arrived, to go spreading all over the earth? So among us, too, shall it be, and our people shall shine like a light to the world, and all shall say: ‘The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head stone of the corner.’ And the mockers shall themselves declare that, on the contrary, they are moving towards unity, then verily this will be believed only by the most simple-hearted of them, so that one may even marvel at this simple-heartedness. Verily, they possess more dreamlike fantasy than we do. They think to establish themselves in truth and justice, but, having rejected Christ, they end by bathing the world in blood, for blood seeketh blood, and they that take the sword shall perish with it too. And were it not for the covenant of Christ, they should destroy one another even unto the last two men upon the earth. And in their pride those last two would not be able to stay each other’s hands, but the last would slay the one before the last, and then himself as well. And this would be accomplished, were it not for the covenant of Christ, that for the sake of the meek and the humble those days will be shortened. In the time after my duel, when still I wore my officer’s uniform, I began to talk about servants when I went into society, and I recall that everyone marvelled at me: ‘What do you want us to do?’ they said, ‘sit our servants down on the sofa and bring them cups of tea?’ And then I said to them in answer: ‘Well, why not, if at least only on occasion?’ Then they all laughed. Their question was a frivolous one, and my reply unclear, but I think that it contained a certain amount of truth.


    pp. 413-415: The youth who was my brother asked forgiveness of the birds; that might seem foolish, and yet it is true, for all is like an ocean, all flows and is contiguous, and if you touch it in one place it will reverberate at the other end of the world. Though it may be insanity to ask forgiveness of the birds, after all, both birds and child and indeed all animals around you would feel easier if you yourself were inwardly better-apportioned than you are now, even if they felt so only by a single drop. All is like an ocean, I say to you. Then you would start to pray to the birds, too, tormented by an all-inclusive love, as in some kind of ecstasy, and pray that they release you from your sin. Hold such ecstasy dear, however foolish it may seem to men.

    My friends, ask God for gaiety. Be gay as children, as the birds of the sky. And let not human sin confound you in your deeds, do not be afraid that it will frustrate your task and not allow it to be accomplished, do not say: ‘Strong is sin, strong is impiety, strong is the vicious world in which men live, and we are alone and helpless, that vicious world will frustrate us and not allow us to accomplish our good deeds.’ Avoid, O children, this melancholy! There is but one salvation from it: take yourself and make yourself a respondent for all human sin. Friend, this is indeed truly so, for no sooner do you sincerely make yourself the respondent of all creatures and all things than you will immediately see that it is in reality thus and that it is you who are guilty for all creatures and all things. But by foisting your own laziness and helplessness on to other people, you will end by partaking of satanic pride and by murmuring against God. My view of satanic pride is like this: it is hard for us on earth to grasp it, but for this reason it is so easy to fall into error and to partake of it, while yet supposing we are doing something great and beautiful. And indeed while yet we are upon earth there are many of the most powerful emotions and movements of our nature that we cannot as yet grasp; do not be tempted by this and do not suppose that this may serve you as an excuse for anything, for the Eternal Judge will ask of you what you have been able to grasp and not what you have failed to – you yourself will be persuaded of this, for then you will behold things in their correct light and will argue no more. Verily, upon earth we are, in a manner of speaking, out wandering, and were it not for the precious image of Christ before us we should have perished and wandered astray for good, like the human race before the Flood. Much upon earth is concealed from us, but in recompense for that we have been gifted with a mysterious, sacred sense of our living connection with another world, with a celestial and higher world, and indeed the roots of our thoughts and emotions are not here, but in other worlds. That is why the philosophers say that it is impossible to grasp the essence of things upon earth. God took seeds from other worlds and sowed them upon this earth and cultivated his garden, and all that could come up, did so, but that which has grown lives and has its life only in the sense of its mysterious contiguity with other worlds, and if that sense weakens or is destroyed in you, then what has grown dies within you. Then you become indifferent to life and even conceive a hatred of it. Thus do I think.


    pp. 351-359: “His elder died today, the elder Zosima, the saint.”

    “The elder Zosima died!” Grushenka exclaimed. “Oh, Lord, I didn’t know!” She crossed herself piously. “Lord, but what am I doing now, sitting on his lap!” She suddenly gave a start as if in fright, jumped off his knees at once, and sat down on the sofa. Alyosha gave her a long, surprised look, and something seemed to light up in his face.

    “Rakitin,” he suddenly said loudly and firmly, “don’t taunt me with having rebelled against my God. I don’t want to hold any anger against you, and therefore you be kinder, too. I’ve lost such a treasure as you never had, and you cannot judge me now. You’d do better to look here, at her: did you see how she spared me? I came here looking for a wicked soul—I was drawn to that, because I was low and wicked myself, but I found a true sister, I found a treasure—a loving soul . . . She spared me just now . . . I’m speaking of you, Agrafena Alexandrovna. You restored my soul just now.”

    Alyosha was breathless and his lips began to tremble. He stopped.

    “Really saved you, did she!” Rakitin laughed spitefully. “Yet she was going to eat you up, do you know that?”

    “Stop, Rakitka!” Grushenka suddenly jumped up. “Be still, both of you. I’ll tell you everything now: you be still, Alyosha, because I feel ashamed of hearing such words from you, because I’m wicked, not good—that’s how I am. And you, Rakitka, be still because you’re lying. I did have such a low thought, of eating him up, but now you’re lying, it’s quite different now . . . and I don’t want to hear any more from you, Rakitka!” Grushenka spoke all this with unusual excitement.

    “Look at them—both senseless!” Rakitin hissed, staring at them both in amazement. “It’s crazy, I feel like I’m in a madhouse. They’ve both gone soft, they’ll start crying in a minute!”

    “I will start crying, I will start crying!” Grushenka kept repeating. “He called me his sister, I’ll never forget it! Just know one thing, Rakitka, I may be wicked, but still I gave an onion.”

    “An onion? Ah, the devil, they really have gone crazy!”

    Rakitin was surprised at their exaltation, which offended and annoyed him, though he should have realized that everything had just come together for them both in such a way that their souls were shaken, which does not happen very often in life. But Rakitin, who could be quite sensitive in understanding everything that concerned himself, was quite crude in understanding the feelings and sensations of his neighbors—partly because of his youthful inexperience, and partly because of his great egoism.

    “You see, Alyoshechka,” Grushenka turned to him, laughing nervously, “I’m boasting to Rakitka that I gave an onion, but I’m not boasting to you, I’ll tell you about it for a different reason. It’s just a fable, but a good fable, I heard it when I was still a child, from my Matryona who cooks for me now. It goes like this: Once upon a time there was a woman, and she was wicked as wicked could be, and she died. And not one good deed was left behind her. The devils took her and threw her into the lake of fire. And her guardian angel stood thinking: what good deed of hers can I remember to tell God? Then he remembered and said to God: once she pulled up an onion and gave it to a beggar woman. And God answered: now take that same onion, hold it out to her in the lake, let her take hold of it, and pull, and if you pull her out of the lake, she can go to paradise, but if the onion breaks, she can stay where she is. The angel ran to the woman and held out the onion to her: here, woman, he said, take hold of it and I’ll pull. And he began pulling carefully, and had almost pulled her all the way out, when other sinners in the lake saw her being pulled out and all began holding on to her so as to be pulled out with her. But the woman was wicked as wicked could be, and she began to kick them with her feet: ‘It’s me who’s getting pulled out, not you; it’s my onion, not yours.’ No sooner did she say it than the onion broke. And the woman fell back into the lake and is burning there to this day. And the angel wept and went away. That’s the fable, Alyosha, I know it by heart, because I myself am that wicked woman. I boasted to Rakitin that I gave an onion, but I’ll say it differently to you: in my whole life I’ve given just one little onion, that’s how much good I’ve done. And don’t praise me after that, Alyosha, don’t think I’m good, I’m wicked, wicked as can be, and if you praise me you’ll make me ashamed. Ah, let me confess everything: listen, Alyosha, I wanted so much to lure you here and pestered Rakitin so much that I even promised him twenty-five roubles if he’d bring you to me. No, wait, Rakitka!” She went briskly to the table, opened a drawer, got out a purse, and from the purse took a twenty-five-rouble bill.

    “What nonsense! What nonsense!” exclaimed Rakitin, taken aback.

    “I owe it to you, Rakitka, take it, you won’t refuse, you asked for it yourself,” and she flung the bill at him.

    “Why refuse?” Rakitin said in a deep voice, visibly ashamed, but disguising his embarrassment with swagger. “It will truly come in handy; fools exist for the intelligent man’s profit.”

    “And now keep still, Rakitka, what I’m going to say now is not for your ears. Sit there in the corner and keep still, you don’t love us, so keep still.”

    “What’s there to love you for?” Rakitin snarled, no longer concealing his spite. He put the twenty-five roubles in his pocket, and was decidedly ashamed before Alyosha. He had planned on being paid later, so that Alyosha would not know, but now shame made him angry. Up to that moment he had found it more politic not to contradict Grushenka too much, despite all her barbs, since she obviously had some sort of power over him. But now he, too, got angry:

    “One loves for some reason, and what has either of you done for me?”

    “You should love for no reason, like Alyosha.”

    “How does he love you? What has he shown you, that you’re making such a fuss about it?”

    Grushenka stood in the middle of the room; she spoke heatedly, and hysterical notes could be heard in her voice.

    “Keep still, Rakitka, you don’t understand anything about us! And don’t you dare speak familiarly with me again, I forbid it. You’re too bold, that’s what! Sit in the corner like my lackey and keep still. And now, Alyosha, I will tell the whole, pure truth to you alone, so that you can see what a creature I am! I tell it to you, not to Rakitka. I wanted to ruin you, I was quite determined, that is the great truth: I wanted it so much that I bribed Rakitka with money to bring you. And why did I want it so much? You knew nothing, Alyosha, you used to turn away from me, you’d walk by me with your eyes on the ground, but I looked at you a hundred times before, I began asking everyone about you. Your face stayed in my heart: ‘He despises me,’ I thought, ‘he doesn’t even want to look at me.’ And finally such a feeling took hold of me that I was surprised at myself: why should I be afraid of a boy like him? I’ll eat him up and laugh. I was so angry! Believe me, no one here dares to say or think they can come to Agrafena Alexandrovna for that bad thing; I have only the old man here, I’m bought and sold to him, Satan married us, but there’s no one else. Yet looking at you, I was determined: I’ll eat him up. Eat him up and laugh. See what a wicked bitch I am, and you called me your sister! Now the man who wronged me has come, I’m sitting here waiting for his message. Do you know what this man has been to me? It’s five years since Kuzma brought me here—I used to sit hiding from people, so that people wouldn’t see or hear me, a silly slip of a girl, sitting and crying, not sleeping all night, thinking: ‘Where is he now, the man who wronged me? He must be laughing at me with some other woman, and what won’t I do to him, if only I ever see him, if only I meet him: I’ll make him pay! How I’ll make him pay!’ At night, in the dark, I sobbed into the pillow and kept thinking it all over, I tore my heart on purpose, to ease it with spite: ‘How I’ll make him pay, oh, how I will!’ I would sometimes even scream in the darkness. Then I would suddenly remember that I was not going to do anything to him, but that he was laughing at me now, or maybe had quite forgotten me, just didn’t remember, and then I would throw myself from my bed onto the floor, flooding myself with helpless tears, and shake and shake till dawn. In the morning I would get up worse than a dog, ready to tear the whole world apart. And then you know what: I began saving money, became merciless, grew fat—and do you think I got any smarter? Not a bit. No one sees it, no one in the whole universe knows it, but when the dark of night falls, I sometimes lie just as I used to, as a young girl, five years ago, gnashing my teeth and crying all night, thinking: ‘I’ll show him, oh, yes, I’ll show him!’ Do you hear what I’m saying? Now try to understand me: a month ago I suddenly received this letter: he’s coming, his wife died, he wants to see me. It took my breath away. Lord, I suddenly thought: what if he comes and whistles for me, calls me, and I just crawl to him like a little dog, guilty and beaten! I thought of it and couldn’t believe myself: ‘Am I so base? Will I just run to him?’ And I’ve been so angry with myself all this month that it’s even worse than five years ago. Now you see how violent, how wild I am, Alyosha, I’ve spoken out the whole truth to you! I’ve been toying with Mitya so as not to run to the other one. Keep still, Rakitin, it’s not for you to judge me, I’m not telling it to you. Before you came I was lying here waiting, thinking, deciding my whole fate, and you will never know what was in my heart. No, Alyosha, tell your young lady not to be angry for two days ago. . . ! No one in the whole world knows how I feel now, or can know . . . Because maybe I’ll take a knife with me today, I haven’t decided yet . . .”

    And having uttered this “pathetic” phrase, Grushenka suddenly could not help herself: she broke off, covered her face with her hands, threw herself onto the sofa, into the pillows, and sobbed like a little child. Alyosha stood up and went over to Rakitin.

    “Misha,” he said, “don’t be angry. You’re offended with her, but don’t be angry. Did you hear her just now? One cannot ask so much of a human soul, one should be more merciful . . .”

    Alyosha said this from an unrestrainable impulse of his heart. He had to speak out and he turned to Rakitin. If there had been no Rakitin, he would have begun exclaiming to himself. But Rakitin looked at him with a sneer, and Alyosha suddenly stopped.

    “They just loaded you with your elder, and now you’ve fired your elder off at me, Alyoshenka, little man of God,” Rakitin said with a hateful smile.

    “Don’t laugh, Rakitin, don’t sneer, don’t speak of the deceased: he is higher than anyone who has ever lived!” Alyosha cried with tears in his voice. “I stood up to speak to you not as a judge but as the lowliest of the accused. Who am I compared with her? I came here seeking my own ruin, saying: ‘Who cares, who cares?’ because of my faintheartedness; but she, after five years of torment, as soon as someone comes and speaks a sincere word to her, forgives everything, forgets everything, and weeps! The man who wronged her has come back, he is calling her, and she forgives him everything, and hastens to him with joy, and she won’t take a knife, she won’t! No, I am not like that. I don’t know whether you are like that, Misha, but I am not like that! I learned this lesson today, just now . . . She is higher in love than we are . . . Have you ever heard her speak before of what she just told now? No, you have not; if you had, you would have understood everything long ago . . . and the other woman, who was offended two days ago, she, too, must forgive! And she will forgive if she knows . . . and she will know . . . This soul is not reconciled yet, it must be spared . . . maybe there is a treasure in this soul . . .”

    Alyosha fell silent, because his breath failed him. Rakitin, despite all his anger, watched in amazement. He had never expected such a tirade from the quiet Alyosha.

    “Quite a lawyer we’ve got here! Have you fallen in love with her or something? You win, Agrafena Alexandrovna, our ascetic is really in love with you!” he shouted with an insolent laugh.

    Grushenka raised her head from the pillow and looked at Alyosha; a tender smile shone on her face, somehow suddenly swollen with tears.

    “Let him be, Alyosha, my cherub, you see how he is, he’s not worth talking to. Mikhail Osipovich,” she turned to Rakitin, “I was about to ask your forgiveness for having been rude to you, but now I don’t want to. Alyosha, come here and sit down,” she beckoned to him with a joyful smile, “sit down, so, and tell me,” she took his hand, smiling, and peered into his face, “you tell me: do I love this man or not? The one who wronged me, do I love him or not? I was lying here in the dark before you came, and kept asking my heart: do I love this man or not? Deliver me, Alyosha, the time has come; it shall be as you decide. Should I forgive him or not?”

    “But you’ve already forgiven him,” Alyosha said, smiling.

    “Yes, I’ve forgiven him,” Grushenka said meaningly. “What a base heart! To my base heart!” She suddenly snatched a glass from the table, drank it in one gulp, held it up, and smashed it as hard as she could on the floor. The glass shattered and tinkled. A certain cruel line flashed in her smile.

    “Or maybe I haven’t forgiven him yet,” she said somehow menacingly, dropping her eyes to the ground, as though she were alone, talking to herself. “Maybe my heart is only getting ready to forgive him. I still have to struggle with my heart. You see, Alyosha, I’ve grown terribly fond of my tears over these five years . . . Maybe I’ve come to love only my wrong, and not him at all!”

    “I’d hate to be in his skin!” Rakitin hissed.

    “And you won’t be, Rakitka, you’ll never be in his skin. You’ll make shoes for me, Rakitka, that’s what I’ll have you do, and you’ll never get a woman like me . . . Maybe he won’t either . . .”

    “No? Then why all this finery?” Rakitin taunted her slyly.

    “Don’t reproach me with my finery, Rakitka, you don’t know the whole of my heart yet! If I choose, I’ll tear it off right now, I’ll tear it off this very minute!” she cried in a ringing voice. “You don’t know why I need this finery, Rakitka! Maybe I’ll go up to him and say: ‘Did you ever see me like this?’ He left a seventeen-year-old, skinny, consumptive crybaby. I’ll sit down beside him, I’ll seduce him, I’ll set him on fire: ‘Take a good look at me now, my dear sir, because that’s all you’ll get—for there’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip!’ Maybe that’s why I need this finery, Rakitka,” Grushenka finished with a malicious little laugh. “I’m violent, Alyosha, I’m wild. I’ll tear off my finery, I’ll maim myself, my beauty, I’ll burn my face, and slash it with a knife, and go begging. If I choose, I won’t go anywhere or to anyone; if I choose, I’ll send everything back to Kuzma tomorrow, all his presents, and all his money, and go and work all my life as a charwoman . . . ! You think I won’t do it, Rakitka, you think I won’t dare to do it? I will, I will do it, I can do it now, only don’t annoy me . . . and I’ll get rid of that one, a fig for him, he won’t get me!”

    She shouted these last words hysterically, but again could not help herself, covered her face with her hands, threw herself onto the pillow, and again shook with sobs. Rakitin stood up.

    “Time to go,” he said, “it’s late, they won’t let us into the monastery.”

    Grushenka leaped to her feet.

    “You’re not going to leave, Alyosha!” she exclaimed in sorrowful amazement. “But what are you doing to me? You stirred me all up, tormented me, and now for another night I’ll be left alone again!”

    “What do you want him to do, spend the night here? He can if he wants to! I can go by myself!” Rakitin joked caustically.

    “Keep still, you wicked soul,” Grushenka shouted furiously at him, “you never said anything like what he came and told me.”

    “Just what did he tell you?” Rakitin grumbled irritably.

    “I don’t know, I don’t know what he told me, my heart heard it, he wrung my heart . . . He’s the first to pity me, and the only one, that’s what! Why didn’t you come before, you cherub,” she suddenly fell on her knees to him, as if beside herself. “All my life I’ve been waiting for such a one as you, I knew someone like that would come and forgive me. I believed that someone would love me, a dirty woman, not only for my shame . . . !”

    “What did I do for you?” Alyosha answered with a tender smile, and he bent down to her and gently took her hands. “I just gave you an onion, one little onion, that’s all, that’s all . . . !”

    Having said that, he himself started weeping. At the same moment there was a sudden noise at the doorway, someone came into the front hall; Grushenka jumped up, looking terribly frightened. Fenya rushed noisily into the room, shouting:

    “My lady, my dear, my lady, a messenger has ridden up,” she exclaimed joyfully and breathlessly. “A carriage has come for you from Mokroye, Timofei the coachman with a troika, they’re changing horses right now . . . The letter, the letter, my lady, here’s the letter!”

    She was holding the letter in her hand, waving it in the air all the while she was shouting. Grushenka snatched the letter from her and brought it near the candle. It was just a note, a few lines, and she read it in a moment.

    “He’s calling me!” she cried, quite pale, her face twisted in a painful smile. “He’s whistling! Crawl, little dog!”

    Only for one moment did she hesitate; suddenly the blood rushed to her head and brought fire to her cheeks.

    “I’m going!” she suddenly exclaimed. “Oh, my five years! Farewell, everyone! Farewell, Alyosha, my fate is decided . . . Go, go, all of you, go away, I don’t want to see you . . . ! Grushenka is flying to a new life . . . Rakitka, don’t you think ill of me either. Maybe I’m going to my death! Ah, I feel drunk!”

    She left them suddenly and ran to her bedroom.

    “Well, she can’t be bothered with us now!” Rakitin growled. “Let’s go, or there may be more of this female screaming, I’m sick of these tearful screams . . .”

    Alyosha mechanically allowed himself to be led out. The carriage stood in the yard, the horses were being unharnessed, people were bustling about with lanterns. A fresh troika was being led in through the open gate. But just as Alyosha and Rakitin were stepping off the porch, the window of Grushenka’s bedroom suddenly opened, and she called after Alyosha in a ringing voice:

    “Alyoshechka, bow to your brother Mitenka for me, and tell him not to think ill of me, his wicked woman. And tell him, too, that I said: ‘Grushenka has fallen to a scoundrel, and not to you, a noble man!’ And add this, too, that Grushenka loved him for one hour, just for one hour she loved him—and from now on he should remember that hour all his life; tell him, that is what Grushenka bids you forever.”

    She finished in a voice full of weeping. The window slammed shut.

    “Hm, hm!” Rakitin grunted, laughing. “She does in your brother Mitenka and then tells him to remember all his life. What a carnivore!”

    Alyosha made no reply, as if he had not heard; he walked briskly beside Rakitin, apparently in a great hurry; he walked mechanically, his mind apparently elsewhere. Rakitin was suddenly stung, as if someone had touched him on an open wound. He had been expecting something quite different when he brought Grushenka and Alyosha together; what had happened was something other than what he had wanted so much.

    “He’s a Pole, this officer of hers,” he spoke again, restraining himself, “and he’s not even an officer now, he served as a customs clerk in Siberia, somewhere on the Chinese border, just some runty little Polack. They say he lost his job. Now he’s heard that Grushenka has some money, so he’s come back—that’s the whole miracle.”

    Again it was as if Alyosha did not hear. Rakitin could not help himself:

    “So you converted a sinful woman?” he laughed spitefully to Alyosha. “Turned a harlot onto the path of truth? Drove out the seven devils, eh? So here’s where today’s expected miracles took place!”

    “Stop it, Rakitin,” Alyosha replied with suffering in his soul.

    “And now you ‘despise’ me for those twenty-five roubles? You think I sold a true friend. But you’re not Christ, and I’m not Judas.”

    “Ah, Rakitin, I assure you I’d forgotten all about that,” Alyosha exclaimed, “you’ve reminded me of it yourself . . .”

    But now Rakitin finally got mad.

    “The devil take you one and all!” he suddenly yelled. “Why the devil did I have anything to do with you! I don’t even want to know you anymore. Go by yourself, there’s your road!”

    And turning abruptly into another street, he left Alyosha alone in the dark.



    Alyosha: EII
    Ivan: XNTx or EIE-Ni
    Fyodor Karamazov: SLE
    Mitya: SEE
    Grushenka: EIE
    Zosima: ESE or EII
    Last edited by HERO; 11-12-2015 at 02:00 AM.

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    I've only read Crime and Punishment, but I sense some similarities to Albert Camus's (whom I believe to be INFp) works. Not that I necessarily disagree with INFj.
    Quote Originally Posted by 1981slater View Post
    Axis of Evil: Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Agarina
    Quote Originally Posted by Maritsa Darmandzhyan
    Agarina does not like human beings; she just wants a pretty boy toy.
    Johari Nohari

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    A centipede was happy – quite!
    Until a toad in fun
    Said, "Pray, which leg moves after which?"
    This raised her doubts to such a pitch,
    She fell exhausted in the ditch
    Not knowing how to run.

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    I was bowled over by 'The Idiot', I loved reading up on his life and tying in the political, personal and religious themes of the time... esp (relgious) with 'The Brothers Karamazov'... i think he invested a lot of elements from his own struggles and personality traits and fears into many of the main characters.

    I think he portrayed a fantastic man in the prince, one which many even now would scorn and ridicule for his gentle/delicate nature.

    Oh so anyway, i'd also be happy with INFj as his type.

    Now this is a story all about how, my type got changed, turned upside down. Just wait for a minute and watch chatbox right there, & I'll tell how Gem became the moderator with blue hair.

    In typology central friended and praised, on the picture thread was where she spent most her days. Chilling out, selfies, relaxing all cool, And all typing some people and getting them schooled.

    When a couple of girls who were up to no good, Started annoying her & her friends in the forumhood, She got in one little flame war & got pissed off & said 'I'm moving in with that exboyfriend in the forum with the socionics toffs.

    So Gem pulls up to the forum for a year without being a hater, And yells to typocentral 'Yo creeps! Smell Ya later', Became a mod in her kingdom she was finally there, To sit on her throne as the mod with blue hair.

    InvisibruJim

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    Never read anything from him, maybe I am going to and come back.

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    I really liked the mind games with the investigating police officer in Crime and Punishment.
    Reason is a whore.

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    My favorite novelist. If only I were like him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by agape View Post
    My favorite novelist. If only I were like him.
    What, Russian and dead?

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    Well I now know who to talk to when I am having a hard time falling asleep. Let's exchange digits.

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    Oh come on, he's INFj

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    Next in the Russian Author Sociotype thread we welcome:

    -Franz Kafka

    and

    -Vladimir Nabokov!

    STAY TUNED

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    Quote Originally Posted by FoxOnStilts View Post
    Next in the Russian Author Sociotype thread we welcome:

    -Franz Kafka
    Russian?
    „Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.“
    – Arthur Schopenhauer

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pa3s View Post
    Russian?
    I had a question in there asking if he was actually Russian, then decided to take it out and not bother googling. C'mon Pa3s. This is the kind of risks one has to take if one wants to live life. #YOLO #SWAG

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    I see you like to live dangerously.
    „Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.“
    – Arthur Schopenhauer

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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bro...azov#Influence

    The Brothers Karamazov has had a deep influence on many writers and philosophers that followed it. Admirers of the novel include Albert Einstein, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Martin Heidegger, Cormac McCarthy and Kurt Vonnegut. Sigmund Freud called it "the most magnificent novel ever written" and was fascinated with the book for its Oedipal themes.

    Franz Kafka is another writer who felt immensely indebted to Dostoyevsky and The Brothers Karamazov for influencing his own work. Kafka called himself and Dostoyevsky "blood relatives", perhaps because of Dostoyevsky's existential motifs. Another interesting parallel between the two authors was their strained relationships with their fathers. Kafka felt immensely drawn to the hatred Fyodor's sons demonstrate toward their father in The Brothers Karamazov and dealt with the theme of fathers and sons himself in many of his works, most explicitly in his short story "The Judgment".



    The Brothers Karamazov; p. 694-9:

    "Look, gentlemen, look at how our young men are shooting themselves—oh, without the least Hamletian question of ‘what lies beyond,’ without a trace of such questions, as if this matter of our spirit, and all that awaits us beyond the grave, had been scrapped long ago in them, buried and covered with dust. Look, finally, at our depravity, at our sensualists. Fyodor Pavlovich, the unfortunate victim in the current trial, is almost an innocent babe next to some of them. And we all knew him, ‘he lived among us’ . . . Yes, perhaps some day the foremost minds both here and in Europe will consider the psychology of Russian crime, for the subject is worthy of it. But this study will be taken up later on, at leisure, and when the whole tragic topsy-turveydom of our present moment has moved more into the background so that it will be possible to examine it more intelligently and more impartially than people like myself, for example, can do. For now we are either horrified or pretend that we are horrified, while, on the contrary, relishing the spectacle, like lovers of strong, eccentric sensations that stir our cynical and lazy idleness, or, finally, like little children waving the frightening ghosts away, and hiding our heads under the pillow until the frightening vision is gone, so as to forget it immediately afterwards in games and merriment. But should not we, too, some day begin to live soberly and thoughtfully; should not we, too, take a look at ourselves as a society; should not we, too, understand at least something of our social duty, or at least begin to understand? A great writer of the previous epoch, in the finale of the greatest of his works, personifying all of Russia as a bold Russian troika galloping towards an unknown goal, exclaims: ‘Ah, troika, bird-troika, who invented you!’—and in proud rapture adds that all nations respectfully stand aside for this troika galloping by at breakneck speed. Let it be so, gentlemen, let them stand aside, respectfully or not, but in my sinful judgment the artistic genius ended like that either in a fit of innocently infantile sunnymindedness, or simply from fear of contemporary censorship. For if his troika were to be drawn by none but his own heroes, the Sobakeviches, Nozdryovs, and Chichikovs, then no matter who is sitting in the coachman’s box, it would be impossible to arrive at anything sensible with such horses! And those were still former horses, a far cry from our own, ours are no comparison . . .” [ . . . the line “Ah, troika . . .” comes from Gogol’s Dead Souls; Sobakevich, Nozdryov, and Chichikov are the grotesque heroes of the novel.]

    Here Ippolit Kirillovich’s speech was interrupted by applause. They liked the liberalism of his depiction of the Russian troika. True, only two or three claps broke out, so that the presiding judge did not even find it necessary to address the public with a threat to “clear the court” and merely gave the clappers a stern look. But Ippolit Kirillovich was encouraged: never had he been applauded before! For so many years no one had wanted to listen to the man, and suddenly there came an opportunity to speak out for all Russia to hear!

    “Indeed,” he went on, “what is this Karamazov family that has suddenly gained such sad notoriety all over Russia? Perhaps I am greatly exaggerating, but it seems to me that certain basic, general elements of our modern-day educated society shine through, as it were, in the picture of this nice little family—oh, not all the elements, and they shine only microscopically, ‘like to the sun in a small water-drop,’* yet something has been reflected, something has betrayed itself. Look at this wretched, unbridled, and depraved old man, this ‘paterfamilias,’ who has so sadly ended his existence. A nobleman by birth, starting out his career as a poor little sponger, who through an accidental and unexpected marriage grabs a small capital as a dowry, at first a petty cheat and flattering buffoon with a germ of mental capacity, a far from weak one, by the way, and above all a usurer. As the years go by—that is, as his capital grows—he gets bolder. Self-deprecation and fawning disappear, only a jeering and wicked cynic and sensualist remains. The whole spiritual side has been scrapped, but there is an extraordinary thirst for life. In the end he sees nothing in life apart from sensual pleasure, and thus he teaches his children. Of the spiritual sort of fatherly duties—none at all. He laughs at them, he brings his little children up in the backyard and is glad when they are taken away from him. He even forgets about them altogether. The old man’s whole moral rule is—après moi le deluge [ . . . “after me (comes) the flood,” attributed to Louis XV, and also to his favorite, the Marquise de Pompadour.] Everything contrary to the idea of a citizen, a complete, even hostile separation from society: ‘Let the whole world burn, so long as I am all right.’ And he is all right, he is perfectly content, he wants to live like that for another twenty or thirty years. He cheats his own son, and with the sons’ money, his maternal inheritance, which he does not want to give him, he takes his own son’s mistress away. No, I have no intention of handing over the defense of the accused to the highly talented attorney from Petersburg. I myself can speak the truth, I myself understand the sum total of indignation he has stored up in his son’s heart. But enough, enough of that unfortunate old man, he has his reward. Let us recall, however, that he is a father, and one of our modern-day fathers. Shall I offend society if I say that he is even one of many modern-day fathers? Alas, so many modern-day fathers simply do not speak their minds as cynically as this one did, for they are better bred, better educated, but essentially they are of almost the same philosophy as he. But allow that I am a pessimist, allow that I am. You will forgive me: that was our arrangement. Let us settle it beforehand: do not believe me, do not believe me, I shall speak, but do not believe me. But still let me speak my mind, still you may remember a little something of what I say. Now, however, we come to the children of this old man, this paterfamilias: one of them stands before us in the dock, we shall have much to say of him later; the others I shall mention only in passing. The elder of the two is one of our modern young men, brilliantly educated, with quite a powerful mind, who, however, no longer believes in anything, who has already scrapped and rejected much, too much in life, exactly as his father had done. We have all heard him, he was received amicably in our society. He did not conceal his opinions, even the opposite, quite the opposite, which now emboldens me to speak of him somewhat frankly, not as a private person, of course, but only as a member of the Karamazov family. Yesterday a certain sick idiot died here, on the outskirts of our town, by suicide; a person much involved in the present case, the former servant and, perhaps, illegitimate son of Fyodor Pavlovich, Smerdyakov. In the preliminary investigation he told me, with hysterical tears, how this young Karamazov, Ivan Fyodorovich, had horrified him with his spiritual unrestraint. ‘Everything, according to him, is permitted, whatever there is in the world, and from now on nothing should be forbidden—that’s what he kept teaching me about.’ It seems that this thesis, which he was taught, ultimately caused the idiot to lose his mind, though, of course, his mental disorder was also affected by his falling sickness, and by this whole terrible catastrophe that had broken out in their house. But this idiot let drop one very, very curious remark, which would do honor even to a more intelligent observer, and that is why I am mentioning it now: ‘If,’ he said to me, ‘any one of the sons most resembles Fyodor Pavlovich in character, it is him, Ivan Fyodorovich!’ At this remark I shall interrupt the characterization I have begun, considering it indelicate to continue further. Oh, I do not want to draw any further conclusions and, like the raven, only croak ruin over a young fate. We have just seen, here in this hall, that the direct force of the truth still lives in his young heart, that the feeling of family loyalty has not yet been stifled in him by unbelief and moral cynicism, acquired more as an inheritance than through real mental suffering. Now the other son—oh, still a youth, pious and humble, who, in contrast to the dark, corrupting world view of his brother, seeks to cling to ‘popular foundations,’ so to speak, or to what goes by that clever name among us in certain theoretical corners of our thinking intelligentsia. He clung to the monastery, you see; he all but became a monk himself. In him, it seems to me, unconsciously, as it were, and so early on, there betrayed itself that timid despair that leads so many in our poor society, fearing its cynicism and depravity, and mistakenly ascribing all evil to European enlightenment, to throw themselves, as they put it, to the ‘native soil,’ so to speak, into the motherly embrace of the native earth, like children frightened by ghosts, who even at the dried-up breast of a paralyzed mother wish only to fall peacefully asleep and even to sleep for the rest of their lives, simply not to see the horrors that frighten them. For my part, I wish the good and gifted young man all the best, I hope that his youthful brightheartedness and yearning for popular foundations will not turn later, as so often happens, into dark mysticism on the moral side, and witless chauvinism on the civic side—two qualities that perhaps threaten more evil for the nation than even the premature corruption owing to a falsely understood and gratuitously acquired European enlightenment from which his elder brother suffers.”


    * like to the sun . . . : a line from the ode “God” (1784) by the great Russian poet G.R. Derzhavin (1743-1816).


    Mysticism and chauvinism again drew two or three claps. And of course Ippolit Kirillovich had gotten carried away, and all this scarcely suited the present case, to say nothing of its being rather vague, but this consumptive and embittered man had too great a desire to speak his whole mind at least once in his life. It was said afterwards that in characterizing Ivan Fyodorovich, he had even been prompted by an indelicate feeling, because the young man had publicly snubbed him once or twice in argument, and Ippolit Kirilovich, remembering it, now desired to have his revenge. But I do not know that it is possible to draw such a conclusion. In any event, all this was merely a preamble, and further on the speech became more direct and to the point.

    “But now we have the third son of this father of a modern-day family,” Ippolit Kirillovich continued. “He is in the dock, he stands before us. Before us also stand his deeds, his life and acts: the hour has come, and everything has been unfolded, everything has been revealed. In contrast to the ‘Europeanism’ and the ‘popular foundations’ of his brothers, he seems to represent ingenuous Russia—oh, not all, not all, and God forbid it should be all! Yet she is here, our dear mother Russia, we can smell her, we can hear her. Oh, we are ingenuous, we are an amazing mixture of good and evil, we are lovers of enlightenment and Schiller, and at the same time we rage in taverns and tear out the beards of little drunkards, our tavern mates. Oh, we can also be good and beautiful, but only when we are feeling good and beautiful ourselves. We are, on the contrary, even possessed—precisely possessed—by the noblest ideals, but only on condition that they be attained by themselves, that they fall on our plate from the sky, and, above all, gratuitously, gratuitously, so that we need pay nothing for them. We like very much to get things, but terribly dislike having to pay for them, and so it is with everything. Oh, give us, give us all possible good things in life (precisely all, we won’t settle for less) and, more particularly, do not obstruct our character in any way, and then we, too, will prove that we can be good and beautiful. We are not greedy, no, but give us money, more and more money, as much money as possible, and then you will see how generously, with what scorn for filthy lucre, we can throw it away in one night of unrestrained carousing. And if we are not given any money, we will show how we manage to get it anyway when we want it badly enough. But of that later—let us take things in order. First of all, we see a poor, neglected boy, ‘in the backyard, without any shoes,’ as it was just put by our venerable and respected citizen—alas, of foreign origin! Once more I repeat, I yield to no one in defending the accused. I am prosecutor, but also defender. Yes, we, too, are human and are able to weigh the influence on a man’s character of the earliest impressions of childhood and the parental nest. But then the boy becomes a youth, a young man, an officer; for riotous conduct, for a challenge to a duel, he is exiled to one of the remote frontier towns of our bounteous Russia. There he serves, there he carouses, and of course a big ship needs a big sea. We need money, money above all, and so, after a long dispute, he and his father agree on a final six thousand, which is sent to him. Note that he signed this document, that this letter exists in which he all but renounces everything, and on payment of this six thousand ends his dispute with his father over the inheritance. Here occurs his encounter with a young girl of lofty character and development. Oh, I dare not repeat the details, you have only just heard them: here is honor, here is selflessness, I shall say no more. The image of a young man, thoughtless and depraved, who nonetheless bows to true nobility, to a lofty idea, flashed before us extremely sympathetically. But suddenly, after that, in this same courtroom, the other side of the coin followed quite unexpectedly. Again I dare not venture to guess, and will refrain from analyzing, why it followed thus. And yet there were reasons why it followed thus. This same person, all in tears from her long-concealed indignation, declares to us that he, he himself, was the first to despise her for her perhaps imprudent and impetuous, but all the same lofty and magnanimous impulse. It was in him, in this girl’s fiancé, before anyone else, that this derisive smile flashed, which from him alone she could not endure. Knowing that he had already betrayed her (betrayed her in the prior conviction that now she must bear with him in everything, even in his betrayal), knowing this, she deliberately offers him three thousand roubles, and clearly, all too clearly, lets him understand that she is offering him money to betray her: ‘Well, will you take it or not, will you be so cynical?’ she says to him silently with her probing and accusing eyes. He looks at her, he understands her thoughts perfectly (he himself confessed here before you that he understood everything), and without reservation he appropriates the three thousand and squanders it in two days with his new sweetheart! What are we to believe, then? The first legend—the impulse of a lofty nobility giving its last worldly means and bowing down before virtue, or the other side of the coin, which is so repugnant? It is usually so in life that when there are two opposites one must look for truth in the middle; in the present case it is literally not so. Most likely in the first instance he was sincerely noble, and in the second just as sincerely base. Why? Precisely because we are of a broad, Karamazovian nature—and this is what I am driving at—capable of containing all possible opposites and of contemplating both abysses at once, the abyss above us, an abyss of lofty ideals, and the abyss beneath us, an abyss of the lowest and foulest degradation. Recall the brilliant thought expressed earlier by a young observer who has profoundly and closely contemplated the whole Karamazov family, Mr. Rakitin: ‘A sense of the lowness of degradation is as necessary for these unbridled, unrestrained natures as the sense of the loftiest nobility’—and it is true: they precisely need this unnatural mixture, constantly and ceaselessly. Two abysses, two abysses, gentlemen, in one and the same moment—without that we are wretched and dissatisfied, our existence is incomplete. We are broad, broad as our whole mother Russia, we will embrace everything and get along with everything!



    p. 742-6:

    "Yes, it is a horrible thing to shed a father’s blood—his blood who begot me, his blood who loved me, his life’s blood who did not spare himself for me, who from childhood ached with my aches, who all his life suffered for my happiness and lived only in my joys, my successes! Oh, to kill such a father—who could even dream of it! Gentlemen of the jury, what is a father, a real father, what does this great word mean, what terribly great idea is contained in this appellation? We have just indicated something of what a true father is and ought to be. In the present case, with which all of us are now so involved, for which our souls ache—in the present case the father, the late Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov, in no way fitted the idea of a father that has just spoken to our hearts. That is a calamity. Yes, indeed, some fathers are like a calamity. Let us examine this calamity more closely—we must not be afraid of anything, gentlemen of the jury, in view of the importance of the impending decision. We more especially ought not to be afraid now, or, so to speak, to wave certain ideas away, like children or frightened women, as the highly talented prosecutor happily expressed it. Yet in his ardent speech my esteemed opponent (my opponent even before I uttered my first word) exclaimed several times: ‘No, I shall not turn over the defense of the accused to anyone, I shall not yield his defense to the defense attorney from Petersburg—I am both prosecutor and defender!’ So he exclaimed several times, and yet he forgot to mention that if this terrible defendant was, for all of twenty-three years, so grateful just for one pound of nuts given him as a child by the only man who was ever nice to him in his paternal home, then, conversely, such a man could not fail to remember, for all those twenty-three years, how his father had him running around barefoot ‘in the backyard, without any shoes, his little britches hanging by one button,’ as the philanthropic Dr. Herzenstube put it. Oh, gentlemen of the jury, why need we examine this ‘calamity’ more closely, why repeat what everyone already knows! What did my client meet when he came home to his father? And why, why portray my client as heartless, as an egoist, a monster? He is unbridled, he is wild and stormy, that is why we are trying him now, but who is responsible for his destiny, who is responsible that for all his good inclinations, his noble, sensitive heart, he received such an absurd upbringing? Did anyone teach him any sense at all, has he been enlightened by learning, did anyone give him at least a little love in his childhood? My client grew up in God’s keeping—that is, like a wild beast. Perhaps he longed to see his father after so many years of separation; perhaps a thousand times before then, recalling his childhood as if in sleep, he had driven away the loathsome ghosts of his childhood dreams, and longed with all his soul to vindicate his father and embrace him! And now what? He meets with nothing but cynical jeers, suspiciousness, and pettifoggery over the disputed money; all he hears daily, ‘over the cognac,’ are talk and worldly precepts that make him sick at heart; and, finally, he beholds his father stealing his mistress away from him, from his own son, and with the son’s own money—oh, gentlemen of the jury, this is loathsome and cruel! And this same old man complains to everyone about the irreverence and cruelty of his son, besmirches him in society, injures him, slanders him, buys up his promissory notes in order to put him in jail! Gentlemen of the jury, these souls, these people who seem hardhearted, stormy, and unrestrained, people like my client, sometimes, and indeed most often, are extremely tenderhearted, only they keep it hidden. Do not laugh, do not laugh at my idea! Earlier the talented prosecutor laughed mercilessly at my client, pointing to his love for Schiller, his love for ‘the beautiful and lofty.’ I should not laugh at that if I were him, if I were a prosecutor! Yes, these hearts—oh, let me defend these hearts, which are so rarely and so wrongly understood—these hearts quite often thirst for what is tender, for what is beautiful and righteous, precisely the contrary, as it were, of themselves, of their storminess, their cruelty—thirst for it unconsciously, precisely thirst for it. Outwardly passionate and cruel, they are capable, for instance, of loving a woman to the point of torment, and inevitably with a lofty and spiritual love. Again, do not laugh at me: it most often happens precisely so with such natures! Only they are unable to conceal their passion, at times very coarse—and that is what strikes everyone, that is what everyone notices, and no one sees the inner man. On the contrary, all such passions are quickly spent, but at the side of a noble, beautiful being this apparently coarse and cruel man seeks renewal, seeks the chance to reform, to become better, to become lofty and honest—‘lofty and beautiful,’ much ridiculed though the phrase may be! I said earlier that I would not venture to touch on my client’s romance with Miss Verkhovtsev. Yet I may allow myself half a word: what we heard earlier was not testimony, but only the cry of a frenzied and vengeful woman, and it is not for her, no, it is not for her to reproach him with betrayal, because she herself has betrayed him! If she had had a little time to think better of it, she would not have given such testimony! Oh, do not believe her, no, my client is not a ‘monster,’ as she called him! The crucified lover of mankind, as he was going to his cross, said: ‘I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep, so that not one will be destroyed . . .’ Let us, too, not destroy a human soul! What is a father, I was asking just now, and exclaimed that it is a great word, a precious appellation. But, gentlemen of the jury, one must treat words honestly, and I shall allow myself to name a thing by the proper word, the proper appellation: such a father as the murdered old Karamazov cannot and does not deserve to be called a father. Love for a father that is not justified by the father is an absurdity, an impossibility. Love cannot be created out of nothing: only God creates out of nothing. ‘Fathers, provoke not your children,’ writes the apostle, from a heart aflame with love. I quote these holy words now not for the sake of my client, but as a reminder to all fathers. Who has empowered me to teach fathers? No one. But as a man and a citizen I call out—vivos voco! [“I call the living.” From the epigraph to Schiller’s “Song of the Bell.”] We are not long on this earth, we do many evil deeds and say many evil words. And therefore let us all seize the favorable moment of our being together in order to say a good word to each other as well. And so I do; while I am in this place, I make the best of my moment. Not in vain is this tribune given us by a higher will—from here we can be heard by the whole of Russia. I speak not only to fathers here, but to all fathers I cry out: ‘Fathers, provoke not your children!’ Let us first fulfill Christ’s commandment ourselves, and only then let us expect the same of our children. Otherwise we are not fathers but enemies of our children, and they are not our children but our enemies, and we ourselves have made them our enemies! ‘With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you’—it is not I who say this, it is the Gospel precept: measure with the same measure as it is measured to you. How can we blame our children if they measure to us with our own measure? Recently in Finland a girl, a servant, was suspected of secretly giving birth to a baby. They began watching her, and in the attic of the house, in a corner, behind some bricks, found her chest, which no one knew about, opened it, and took out of it the little body of a newborn baby that she had killed. In the same chest were found two skeletons of babies she had given birth to previously and killed at the moment of birth, as she confessed. Gentlemen of the jury, was she a mother to her children? Yes, she gave birth to them, but was she a mother to them? Would any one of us dare pronounce over her the sacred name of mother? Let us be brave, gentlemen of the jury, let us even be bold, it is even our duty to be so in the present moment and not to be afraid of certain words and ideas, like Moscow merchants’ wives who are afraid of ‘metal’ and ‘brimstone.’* No, let us prove, on the contrary, that the progress of the past few years has touched our development as well, and let us say straight out: he who begets is not yet a father; a father is he who begets and proves worthy of it. Oh, of course, there is another meaning, another interpretation of the word ‘father,’ which insists that my father, though a monster, though a villain to his children, is still my father simply because he begot me. But this meaning is, so to speak, a mystical one, which I do not understand with my reason, but can only accept by faith, or, more precisely, on faith, like many other things that I do not understand, but that religion nonetheless tells me to believe. But in that case let it remain outside the sphere of real life. While within the sphere of real life, which not only has its rights, but itself imposes great obligations—within this sphere, if we wish to be humane, to be Christians finally, it is our duty and obligation to foster only those convictions that are justified by reason and experience, that have passed through the crucible of analysis, in a word, to act sensibly and not senselessly as in dreams or delirium, so as not to bring harm to a man, so as not to torment and ruin a man. Then, then it will be a real Christian deed, not only a mystical one, but a sensible and truly philanthropic deed . . .”


    * ‘metal’ and ‘brimstone’: refers to a passage from the play Hard Days (1863) by Alexander Ostrovsky (1823-86), in which a merchant’s wife is afraid to hear these biblical words.


    At this point loud applause broke out in many parts of the hall, but Fetyukovich even waved his hands, as if begging not to be interrupted and to be allowed to finish. Everything at once became hushed. The orator went on:

    “Do you think, gentlemen of the jury, that such questions can pass our children by, let’s say, if they are now adolescents, let’s say, if they are now beginning to reason? No, they cannot, and let us not ask such impossible forbearance of them! The sight of an unworthy father, especially in comparison with other fathers, fathers worthy of their children, his own peers, involuntarily presents a young man with tormenting questions. To these questions he receives the conventional answer: ‘He begot you, you are of his blood, that is why you must love him.’ The young man involuntarily begins thinking: ‘But did he love me when he was begetting me,’ he asks, wondering more and more. ‘Did he beget me for my own sake? He did not know me, not even my sex at that moment, the moment of passion, probably heated up with wine, and probably all he did for me was pass on to me an inclination to drink—so much for his good deeds . . . Why should I love him just because he begot me and then never loved me all my life?’ Oh, perhaps to you these questions appear coarse, cruel, but do not demand impossible forbearance from a young mind: ‘Drive nature out the door and it will fly back in the window’—and above all, above all, let us not be afraid of ‘metal’ and ‘brimstone,’ let us decide the question as reason and the love of man dictate, and not as dictated by mystical notions. How decide it, then? Here is how: let the son stand before his father and ask him reasonably: ‘Father, tell me, why should I love you? Father, prove to me that I should love you’—and if the father can, if he is able to answer and give him proof, then we have a real, normal family, established not just on mystical prejudice, but on reasonable, self-accountable, and strictly humane foundations. In the opposite case, if the father can give no proof—the family is finished then and there: he is not a father to his son, and the son is free and has the right henceforth to look upon his father as a stranger and even as his enemy. Our tribune, gentlemen of the jury, should be a school of truth and sensible ideas.”

    Here the orator was interrupted by unrestrained, almost frenzied applause. Of course, the whole room did not applaud, but still about half the room applauded. Fathers and mothers applauded. From above, where the ladies were sitting, shrieks and cries could be heard. Handkerchiefs were waved. The presiding judge began ringing the bell as hard as he could. He was obviously annoyed with the behavior of the courtroom, but decidedly did not dare “clear” the court, as he had recently threatened to do: even the dignitaries, the old men with stars on their frock coats, who were sitting on special chairs behind the judges, were applauding and waving handkerchiefs to the orator . . .



    p. 331-333:

    . . . . And all at once I knew what it was: it was because I had beaten Afanasy the evening before! It all rose before my mind, it all was as it were repeated over again; he stood before me and I was beating him straight on the face and he was holding his arms stiffly down, his head erect, his eyes fixed upon me as though on parade. He staggered at every blow and did not even dare to raise his hands to protect himself. That is what a man has been brought to, and that was a man beating a fellow creature! What a crime! It was as though a sharp dagger had pierced me right through. I stood as if I were struck dumb, while the sun was shining, the leaves were rejoicing and the birds were trilling the praise of God. . . . I hid my face in my hands, fell on my bed and broke into a storm of tears. And then I remembered my brother Markel and what he said on his deathbed to his servants: “My dear ones, why do you wait on me, why do you love me, am I worth your waiting on me?”

    Yes, am I worth it? flashed through my mind. After all what am I worth, that another man, a fellow creature, made in the likeness and image of God, should serve me? For the first time in my life this question forced itself upon me. He had said, “Mother, my little heart, in truth we are each responsible to all for all, it’s only men don’t know this. If they knew it, the world would be a paradise at once.”

    “God, can that too be false?” I thought as I wept, “in truth perhaps, I am more than all others responsible for all, a greater sinner than all men in the world. And all at once the whole truth in its full light appeared to me . . ."



    p. 418-9:

    . . . woe unto those who annihilate themselves while yet they are on the earth, woe to the suicides! I think there can be none more unhappy than these. It is a sin, we are informed, to say prayers for such as these, and outwardly the Church more or less rejects them, but in the secrecy of my heart I think that one might say a few prayers for them, too. After all, Christ will not be angered in the face of love. For such as these I have prayed inwardly all my life, I confess it to you, fathers and teachers, and even now I pray for them each day.

    O, there are even in hell those who are proud and truculent, in spite of their undisputed knowledge and their contemplation of the irrefutable truth; there are those, frightening ones, who have communed with Satan and his proud spirit to the exclusion of all else. For them hell is already voluntary and insatiable; they are already willing martyrs. For in cursing God and life they have cursed themselves. They nourish themselves on their malicious pride like a hungry man in the wilderness who starts to suck the blood from his own body. But they will be insatiable until the end of time and they will reject forgiveness; the God who calls them, they curse. They are unable to contemplate the living God without hatred and they demand that life shall have no God, that God shall destroy himself and all his creation. And they will burn in the fire of their anger eternally, thirsting for death and non-existence. But they shall not receive death . . .



    from The Short Novels of Dostoevsky; p. 626-31 (The Friend of the Family by Dostoevsky):

    Imagine the most insignificant, the most cowardly creature, an outcast from society, of no service to any one, utterly useless, utterly disgusting, but incredibly vain, though entirely destitute of any talent by which he might have justified his morbidly sensitive vanity. I hasten to add that Foma Fomitch was the incarnation of unbounded vanity, but that at the same time it was a special kind of vanity—that is, the vanity found in a complete nonentity, and, as is usual in such cases, a vanity mortified and oppressed by grievous failures in the past; a vanity that has begun rankling long, long ago, and ever since has given off envy and venom, at every encounter, at every success of any one else. I need hardly say that all this was seasoned with the most unseemly touchiness, the most insane suspiciousness. It may be asked, how is one to account for such vanity? How does it arise, in spite of complete insignificance, in pitiful creatures who are forced by their social position to know their place? How answer such a question. Who knows, perhaps, there are exceptions, of whom my hero is one? He certainly is an exception to the rule, as will be explained later. But allow me to ask: are you certain that those who are completely resigned to be your buffoons, your parasites and your toadies, and consider it an honour and a happiness to be so, are you certain that they are quite devoid of vanity and envy? What of the slander and backbiting and tale-bearing and mysterious whisperings in back corners, somewhere aside and at your table? Who knows, perhaps, in some of these degraded victims of fate, your fools and buffoons, vanity far from being dispelled by humiliation is even aggravated by that very humiliation, by being a fool and buffoon, by eating the bread of dependence and being for ever forced to submission and self-suppression. Who knows, maybe, this ugly exaggerated vanity is only a false fundamentally depraved sense of personal dignity, first outraged, perhaps, in childhood by oppression, poverty, filth, spat upon, perhaps, in the person of the future outcast’s parents before his eyes. But I have said that Foma Fomitch was also an exception to the general rule; that is true. He had at one time been a literary man slighted and unrecognized, and literature is capable of ruining men very different from Foma Fomitch—I mean, of course, when it is not crowned with success. I don’t know, but it may be assumed that Foma Fomitch had been unsuccessful before entering on a literary career; possibly in some other calling, too, he had received more kicks than halfpence, or possibly something worse. About that, however, I cannot say; but I made inquiries later on, and I know for certain that Foma Fomitch composed, at some time in Moscow, a romance very much like those that were published every year by dozens in the ‘thirties, after the style of The Deliverance of Moscow, The Chieftains of the Tempest, Sons of Love, or the Russians in 1104—novels which in their day afforded an agreeable butt for the wit of Baron Brambeus. That was, of course, long ago; but the serpent of literary vanity sometimes leaves a deep and incurable sting, especially in insignificant and dull-witted persons. Foma Fomitch had been disappointed from his first step in a literary career, and it was then that he was finally enrolled in the vast army of the disappointed, from which all the crazy saints, hermits and wandering pilgrims come later on. I think that his monstrous boastfulness, his thirst for praise and distinction, for admiration and homage, dates from the same period. Even when he was a buffoon he got together a group of idiots to do homage to him. Somewhere and somehow to stand first, to be an oracle, to swagger and give himself airs—that was his most urgent craving! As others did not praise him he began to praise himself. I have myself in my uncle’s house at Stepantchikovo heard Foma’s sayings after he had become the absolute monarch and oracle of the household. “I am not in my proper place among you,” he would say sometimes with mysterious impressiveness. “I am not in my proper place here. I will look round, I will settle you all, I will show you, I will direct you, and then good-bye; to Moscow to edit a review! Thirty thousand people will assemble every month to hear my lectures. My name will be famous at last, and then—woe to my enemies.”

    But while waiting to become famous the genius insisted upon immediate recognition in substantial form. It is always pleasant to receive payment in advance, and in this case it was particularly so. I know that he seriously assured my uncle that some great work lay before him, Foma, in the future—a work for which he had been summoned into the world, and to the accomplishment of this work he was urged by some sort of person with wings, who visited him at night, or something of that kind. This great work was to write a book full of profound wisdom in the soul-saving line, which would set the whole world agog and stagger all Russia. And when all Russia was staggered, he, Foma, disdaining glory, would retire into a monastery, and in the catacombs of Kiev would pray day and night for the happiness of the Fatherland. All this imposed upon my uncle.

    Well, now imagine what this Foma, who had been all his life oppressed and crushed, perhaps actually beaten too, who was vain and secretly lascivious, who had been disappointed in his literary ambitions, who had played the buffoon for a crust of bread, who was at heart a despot in spite of all his previous abjectness and impotence, who was a braggart, and insolent when successful, might become when he suddenly found himself in the haven he had reached after so many ups and downs, honoured and glorified, humoured and flattered, thanks to a patroness who was an idiot and a patron who was imposed upon and ready to agree to anything. I must, of course, explain my uncle’s character more fully, or Foma Fomitch’s success cannot be understood. But for the moment I will say that Foma was a complete illustration of the saying, “Let him sit down to the table and he will put his feet on it.” He paid us out for his past! A base soul escaping from oppression becomes an oppressor. Foma had been oppressed, and he had at once a craving to oppress others; he had been the victim of whims and caprices and now he imposed his own whims and caprices on others. He had been the butt of others, and now he surrounded himself with creatures whom he could turn into derision. His boasting was ridiculous; the airs he gave himself were incredible; nothing was good enough for him; his tyranny was beyond all bounds, and it reached such a pitch that simple-hearted people who had not witnessed his manoeuvres, but only heard queer stories about him, looked upon all this as a miracle, as the work of the devil, crossed themselves and spat.

    I was speaking of my uncle. Without explaining his remarkable character (I repeat) it is, of course, impossible to understand Foma Fomitch’s insolent domination in another man’s house; it is impossible to understand the metamorphosis of the cringing dependent into the great man. Besides being kind-hearted in the extreme, my uncle was a man of the most refined delicacy in spite of a somewhat rough exterior, of the greatest generosity and of proved courage. I boldly say of “courage”; nothing could have prevented him from fulfilling an obligation, from doing his duty—in such cases no obstacle would have dismayed him. His soul was as pure as a child’s. He was a perfect child at forty, open-hearted in the extreme, always good-humoured, imagining everybody an angel, blaming himself for other people’s shortcomings, and exaggerating the good qualities of others, even presupposing them where they could not possibly exist. He was one of those very generous and pure-hearted men who are positively ashamed to assume any harm of another, are always in haste to endow their neighbours with every virtue, rejoice at other people’s success, and in that way always live in an ideal world, and when everything goes wrong always blame themselves first. To sacrifice themselves in the interests of others is their natural vocation. Some people would have called him cowardly, weak-willed and feeble. Of course he was weak, and indeed he was of too soft a disposition; but it was not from lack of will, but from the fear of wounding, of behaving cruelly, from excess of respect for others and for mankind in general. He was, however, weak-willed and cowardly only when nothing was at stake but his own interests, which he completely disregarded, and for this he was continually an object of derision, and often with the very people for whom he was sacrificing his own advantage. He never believed, however, that he had enemies; he had them, indeed, but he somehow failed to observe them. He dreaded fuss and disturbance in the house like fire, and immediately gave way to any one and submitted to anything. He gave in through a sort of shy good nature, from a sort of shy delicacy. “So be it,” he would say, quickly brushing aside all reproaches for his indulgence and weakness; “so be it . . . that every one may be happy and contented!” I need hardly say that he was ready to submit to every honourable influence. What is more, an adroit rogue might have gained complete control over him, and even have lured him on to do wrong, of course misrepresenting the wrong action as a right one. My uncle very readily put faith in other people, and was often far from right in doing so. When, after many sufferings, he brought himself at last to believe that the man who deceived him was dishonest, he always blamed himself first—and sometimes blamed himself only. Now, imagine, suddenly queening it in his quiet home, a capricious, doting, idiot woman—inseparable from another idiot, her idol—a woman who had only feared her general, and was now afraid of nothing, and impelled by a craving to make up to herself for what she had suffered in the past; and this idiot woman my uncle thought it his duty to revere, simply because she was his mother. They began with proving to my uncle at once that he was coarse, impatient, ignorant and selfish to the utmost degree. The remarkable thing is that the idiotic old lady herself believed in what she professed. And I believe that Foma Fomitch did also, at least to some extent. They persuaded my uncle, too, that Foma had been sent from heaven by Divine Providence for the salvation of his soul and the subduing of his unbridled passions; that he was haughty, proud of his wealth, and quite capable of reproaching Foma Fomitch for eating his bread. My poor uncle was very soon convinced of the depth of his degradation, was ready to tear his hair and to beg forgiveness. . . .

    “It’s all my own fault, brother,” he would say sometimes to one of the people he used to talk to. “It’s all my fault! One ought to be doubly delicate with a man who is under obligations to one. . . . I mean that I . . . Under obligations, indeed! I am talking nonsense again! He is not under obligations to me at all: on the contrary, it is I who am under an obligation to him for living with me! And here I have reproached him for eating my bread! . . . Not that I did reproach him, but it seems I made some slip of the tongue—I often do make such slips. . . . And, after all, the man has suffered, he has done great things; for ten years in spite of insulting treatment he was tending his sick friend! And then his learning. . . . He’s a writer! A highly educated man! A very lofty character; in short . . .”

    The conception of the highly educated and unfortunate Foma ignominiously treated by the cruel and capricious general rent my uncle’s heart with compassion and indignation. All Foma’s peculiarities, all his ignoble doings my uncle at once ascribed to his sufferings, the humiliations he had endured in the past, and the bitterness left by them. . . . He at once decided in his soft and generous heart that one could not be so exacting with a man who had suffered as with an ordinary person; that one must not only forgive him, but more than that, one must, by gentle treatment, heal his wounds, restore him and reconcile him with humanity. Setting this object before him he was completely fired by it, and lost all power of perceiving that his new friend was a lascivious and capricious animal, an egoist, a sluggard, a lazy drone—and nothing more. He put implicit faith in Foma’s genius and learning. I forgot to mention that my uncle had the most naïve and disinterested reverence for the words “learning” and “literature,” though he had himself never studied anything. This was one of his chief and most guileless peculiarities.

    “He is writing,” he would whisper, walking on tiptoe, though he was two rooms away from Foma’s study. “I don’t know precisely what he is writing,” he added, with a proud and mysterious air, “but no doubt he is brewing something, brother. . . . I mean in the best sense, of course; it would be just a jumble that . . . I fancy he is writing of productive forces of some sort—he said so himself. I suppose that has something to do with politics. Yes, his name will be famous! Then we shall be famous through him. He told me that himself, brother. . . .”

    I know for a fact that my uncle was forced by Foma’s orders to shave off his beautiful fair whiskers. Foma considered that these whiskers made my uncle look like a Frenchman, and that wearing them showed a lack of patriotism. Little by little Foma began meddling in the management of the estate, and giving sage counsels on the subject. These sage counsels were terrible. The peasants soon saw the position and understood who was their real master, and scratched their heads uneasily.



    p. 4-7 (The Gambler): . . . I must confess I made my appearance at dinner unbidden; I fancy the General forgot to give orders, or else he would certainly have sent me to dine at the table d’hote. I came of my own accord, so that the General looked at me with astonishment. Kind-hearted Marya Filippovna immediately made a place for me; but my meeting with Mr. Astley saved the situation, and I could not help seeming to belong to the party.

    I met this strange Englishman for the first time in the train in Prussia, where we sat opposite to one another, when I was travelling to join the family; then I came across him as I was going into France, and then again in Switzerland: in the course of that fortnight twice—and now I suddenly met him in Roulettenburg. I never met a man so shy in my life. He is stupidly shy and, of course, is aware of it himself, for he is by no means stupid. He is very sweet and gentle, however. I drew him into talk at our first meeting in Prussia. He told me that he had been that summer at North Cape, and that he was very anxious to visit the fair at Nizhni Novgorod. I don’t know how he made acquaintance with the General; I believe that he is hopelessly in love with Polina. When she came in he glowed like a sunset. He was very glad that I was sitting beside him at the table and seemed already to look upon me as his bosom friend.

    At dinner the Frenchman gave himself airs in an extraordinary way; he was nonchalant and majestic with every one. In Moscow, I remember, he used to blow soap bubbles. He talked a great deal about finance and Russian politics. The General sometimes ventured to contradict, but discreetly, and only so far as he could without too great loss of dignity.

    I was in a strange mood; of course, before we were half through dinner I had asked myself my usual invariable question: “Why I went on dancing attendance on this General, and had not left them long ago?” From time to time I glanced at Polina Alexandrovna. She took no notice of me whatever. It ended by my flying into a rage and making up my mind to be rude.

    I began by suddenly, apropos of nothing, breaking in on the conversation in a loud voice. What I longed to do above all things was to be abusive to the Frenchman. I turned round to the General and very loudly and distinctly, I believe, interrupted him. I observed that this summer it was utterly impossible for a Russian to dine at table d’hote. The General turned upon me an astonished stare.

    “If you are a self-respecting man,” I went on, “you will certainly be inviting abuse and must put up with affronts to your dignity. In Paris, on the Rhine, even in Switzerland, there are so many little Poles, and French people who sympathize with them, that there’s no chance for a Russian to utter a word.”

    I spoke in French. The General looked at me in amazement. I don’t know whether he was angry or simply astonished at my so forgetting myself.

    “It seems some one gave you a lesson,” said the Frenchman, carelessly and contemptuously.

    “I had a row for the first time with a Pole in Paris,” I answered; “then with a French officer who took the Pole’s part. And then some of the French came over to my side, when I told them how I tried to spit in Monseigneur’s coffee.”

    “Spit?” asked the General, with dignified perplexity, and he even looked about him aghast.

    The Frenchman scanned me mistrustfully.

    “Just so,” I answered. “After feeling convinced for two whole days that I might have to pay a brief visit to Rome about our business, I went to the office of the Papal Embassy to get my passport viséed. There I was met by a little abbé, a dried-up little man of about fifty, with a frost-bitten expression. After listening to me politely, but extremely drily, he asked me to wait a little. Though I was in a hurry, of course I sat down to wait, and took up L’Opinion Nationale and began reading a horribly abusive attack on Russia. Meanwhile, I heard some one in the next room ask to see Monseigneur; I saw my abbé bow to him. I addressed the same request to him again; he asked me to wait—more drily than ever. A little later some one else entered, a stranger, but on business, some Austrian; he was listened to and at once conducted upstairs. Then I felt very much vexed; I got up, went to the abbé and said resolutely, that as Monseigneur was receiving, he might settle my business, too. At once the abbé drew back in great surprise. It was beyond his comprehension that an insignificant Russian should dare to put himself on a level with Monseigneur’s guests. As though delighted to have an opportunity of insulting me, he looked me up and down, and shouted in the most insolent tone: ‘Can you really suppose that Monseigneur is going to leave his coffee on your account?’ Then I shouted, too, but more loudly than he: ‘Let me tell you I’m ready to spit in your Monseigneur’s coffee! If you don’t finish with my passport this minute, I’ll go to him in person.’

    “ ‘What! When the Cardinal is sitting with him!’ cried the abbé, recoiling from me with horror, and, flinging wide his arms, he stood like a cross, with an air of being ready to die rather than let me pass.

    “Then I answered him that ‘I was a heretic and a barbarian, que je suis hérétique et barbare,’ and that I cared nothing for all these Archbishops, Cardinals, Monseigneurs and all of them. In short, I showed I was not going to give way. The abbé looked at me with uneasy ill-humor, then snatched my passport and carried it upstairs. A minute later it had been viséed. Here, wouldn’t you like to see it?” I took out the passport and showed the Roman visé.

    “Well, I must say . . .” the General began.

    “What saved you was saying that you were a heretic and barbarian,” the Frenchman observed, with a smile. “Cela n’était pas si bête [This was not so stupid].”

    “Why, am I to model myself upon our Russians here? They sit, not daring to open their lips, and almost ready to deny they are Russians. In Paris, anyway in my hotel, they began to treat me much more attentively when I told every one about my passage-at-arms with the abbé. The fat Polish pan, the person most antagonistic to me at table d’hote, sank into the background. The Frenchmen did not even resent it when I told them that I had, two years previously, seen a man at whom, in 1812, a French chasseur had shot simply in order to discharge his gun. The man was at that time a child of ten, and his family had not succeeded in leaving Moscow.”

    “That’s impossible,” the Frenchman boiled up; “a French soldier would not fire at a child!”

    “Yet it happened,” I answered. “I was told it by a most respectable captain on the retired list, and I saw the scar on his cheek from the bullet myself.”

    The Frenchman began talking rapidly and at great length. The General began to support him, but I recommended him to read, for instance, passages in the “Notes” of General Perovsky, who was a prisoner in the hands of the French in 1812. At last Marya Filippovna began talking of something else to change the conversation. The General was very much displeased with me, for the Frenchman and I had almost begun shouting at one another. But I fancy my dispute with the Frenchman pleased Mr. Astley very much. Getting up from the table, he asked me to have a glass of wine with him.


    from Notes from Underground:

    “ . . . I boldly declare that all these fine systems, all these theories that explain to humanity its best, normal interests, and assert that by striving out of necessity to attain them, it will immediately become virtuous and noble, are in my opinion pure sophistry! Oh yes, sophistry! You see, even to affirm this theory of the regeneration of the entire human race by means of this systematic classification of its own personal advantages is, in my opinion, almost the same as affirming with Buckle, for example, that civilization softens man and therefore he becomes less bloodthirsty and less inclined to wage war. He appears to argue it very logically. But man is so partial to systems and abstract conclusions that he is ready deliberately to distort the truth, ready neither to hear nor see anything, only as long as he can justify his logic. That’s why I take this as an example, because it is an all too striking one. Just take a look around you: blood is flowing in rivers and in such a jolly way you’d think it was champagne. There’s your entire nineteenth century, in which Buckle lived too. There’s your Napoleon—both the great Napoleon and the present-day one. There’s your North America the everlasting Union. Finally, there’s your grotesque Schleswig-Holstein . . . And what does civilization soften in us? Civilization develops in man only the many-sidedness of his sensations and decidedly nothing more. And through the development of this many-sidedness man may advance still further to the stage where he will find pleasure in bloodshed. Well, that’s already happened to him. Have you noticed that the most refined bloodshedders have almost invariably been highly civilized gentlemen, to whom all those different Attilas and Stenka Razins could not have held a candle. And if they don’t arrest your attention as powerfully as Atilla and Stenka Razin, that’s precisely because you meet with them so often, they are too commonplace and too familiar. At all events, if as a result of civilization man hasn’t grown more bloodthirsty, he has certainly become viler in his quest for blood than before. Formerly he saw justice in bloodshed and exterminated those he needed to with an easy conscience. But nowadays, although we consider bloodshed something abhorrent, we still participate in it—and more than ever. Which is worse?—that you must decide for yourselves. They say that Cleopatra (apologies for taking an example from Roman history) was fond of sticking gold pins into the bosoms of her slave girls, taking keen delight in their screams and contortions. You will say that this happened in relatively barbarous times; that today too times are still barbarous because (also relatively speaking) we still stick pins into people; and that even now, although man has learned to see more clearly than in barbarous times, he’s a long way from accustoming himself to act as science and reason dictate. For all that you are absolutely convinced that man is bound to grow accustomed once certain bad old habits have been discarded and when science and common sense have fully re-educated and directed human nature along normal lines. You are convinced that man will then, of his own accord, cease making mistakes and—so to speak—willy-nilly refuse to divorce his volition from his normal interests . . .





    http://st-james.hubpages.com/hub/Quo...ich-Dostoevsky

    Dostoevsky's influence has been acclaimed by a wide variety of writers, including Marcel Proust, William Faulkner, Charles Bukowski, Albert Camus, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ayn Rand, Franz Kafka, Henry Miller, Yukio Mishima, Cormac McCarthy, Gabriel García Márquez, Jack Kerouac, J.D. Salinger, Allen Ginsberg, Orhan Pamuk, and Joseph Heller.

    American novelist Ernest Hemingway cited Dostoevsky as a major influence on his work in his autobiographical novella A Moveable Feast.

    In a book of interviews with Arthur Power (Conversations with James Joyce), James Joyce praised Dostoevsky's influence:

    ‘...he is the man more than any other who has created modern prose, and intensified it to its present-day pitch. It was his explosive power which shattered the Victorian novel with its simpering maidens and ordered commonplaces; books which were without imagination or violence.’

    In her essay The Russian Point of View, Virginia Woolf stated that,

    ‘The novels of Dostoevsky are seething whirlpools, gyrating sandstorms, waterspouts which hiss and boil and suck us in. They are composed purely and wholly of the stuff of the soul. Against our wills we are drawn in, whirled round, blinded, suffocated, and at the same time filled with a giddy rapture. Out of Shakespeare there is no more exciting reading.’


    Quotes from Dostoevsky

    ‘Deprived of meaningful work, men and women lose their reason for existence; they go stark, raving mad.’

    ‘Happiness does not lie in happiness, but in the achievement of it.’

    ‘Man, so long as he remains free, has no more constant and agonizing anxiety than to find as quickly as possible someone to worship.’

    ‘Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.’

    ‘Power is given only to those who dare to lower themselves and pick it up. Only one thing matters, one thing; to be able to dare!’

    ‘Realists do not fear the results of their study.’

    ‘Sarcasm: the last refuge of modest and chaste-souled people when the privacy of their soul is coarsely and intrusively invaded.’

    ‘The cleverest of all, in my opinion, is the man who calls himself a fool at least once a month.’

    ‘The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness.’

    ‘There are things which a man is afraid to tell even to himself, and every decent man has a number of such things stored away in his mind.’

    ‘There is no subject so old that something new cannot be said about it.’

    ‘To live without Hope is to Cease to live.’

    ‘To love someone means to see him as God intended him.’

    ‘We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.’



    A Writer’s Diary by Dostoevsky; p. 316-7 (A Colony of Young Offenders):

    So what sort of people has such a young offender encountered? How bestially indifferent must they have been toward his very existence! . . . . there truly are individuals so dark and dreadful that every trace of their humanity and civic duty has disappeared. When one realizes that, one can also understand what such a tiny, savage soul will become when forsaken and rejected by the human community this way. Yes, these children’s souls have witnessed some gloomy scenes and they are accustomed to strong impressions that will remain with them for ever, of course, and will recur in terrible dreams for the rest of their lives. And so those who would reform and educate such children must struggle with these terrible impressions; they must eradicate them and implant new ones—an enormous task.

    “You will not believe the savage state some of them are in when they come here,” P.A. told me. “There are some who know nothing of themselves or of their place in society. Such a boy has been wandering around the streets scarcely knowing what he is doing, and the only thing on earth he knows and can make any sense of is his freedom—the freedom to wander about, half dead from cold and hunger, but only to wander freely. There is one small boy here, no more than ten, and even now he is utterly unable to get along without stealing. He steals aimlessly, not for profit, but mechanically, simply to steal.”

    “So how do you hope to reform such children?”

    “Through work, a completely different way of life, and through fair treatment. And finally there’s the hope that in three years their old weaknesses and habits will be forgotten of their own accord, simply through the passage of time.”


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dostoyevsky#Legacy

    Together with Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky is often regarded as one of the greatest and most influential novelists of the Golden Age of Russian literature. Albert Einstein put him above the mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss, calling him a "great religious writer" who explores "the mystery of spiritual existence". Friedrich Nietzsche called Dostoyevsky "the only psychologist ... from whom I had something to learn; he ranks among the most beautiful strokes of fortune in my life".

    In his posthumous collection of sketches A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway stated that in Dostoyevsky "there were things believable and not to be believed, but some so true that they changed you as you read them; frailty and madness, wickedness and saintliness, and the insanity of gambling were there to know".

    Sigmund Freud called The Brothers Karamazov "the most significant novel ever written". Modern cultural movements such as the surrealists, the existentialists and the Beats cite Dostoyevsky as an influence, and he is cited as the forerunner of Russian symbolism, existentialism, expressionism and psychoanalysis.



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dou...el)#Influences

    Vladimir Nabokov, who generally regarded Dostoyevsky as a "rather mediocre" writer called The Double "the best thing [Dostoevsky] ever wrote," saying that it is "a perfect work of art.”



    http://www.fyodordostoevsky.com/quotes.php



    "So great is the worth of Dostoevsky that to have produced him is by itself sufficient justification for the existence of the Russian people in the world: and he will bear witness for his country-men at the last judgement of the nations." - Nikolay Berdyaev

    Turgenev on Dostoevsky: "...the nastiest Christian I've ever met".


    "Dostoyevsky wrote of the unconscious as if it were conscious; that is in reality the reason why his characters seem 'pathological', while they are only visualized more clearly than any other figures in imaginative literature... He was in the rank in which we set Dante, Shakespeare and Goethe." - Edwin Muir



    http://www.spectator.co.uk/books/893...ekirin-review/

    'The Shakespeare of the lunatic asylum' - review of The Dostoevsky Archive by Peter Sekirin

    Peter Conradi

    After you decapitate someone, might their severed head continue thinking? Prince Myshkin holds his audience spellbound with this macabre inquiry in The Idiot, a great novel whose author, Fyodor Dostoevsky, was once called the Shakespeare of the lunatic asylum. Each of his great novels concerns a murder (one a parricide); most also touch upon the sickening theme of the rape of a child. The writer Lafcadio Hearn warned that reading him might actually drive you mad: it can certainly invoke pity and terror, embarrassment and laughter.

    Dostoevsky’s life was even weirder than his fiction. He was born in 1821, the son of a surgeon whom he believed to have been killed by his own serfs. He was often poor, and so he is the only great Russian writer of his generation whose first language was Russian rather than French: there was no money for the requisite governess. After writing the sentimental Poor Folk (1845), he joined the socialist Petrashevsky’s circle, was arrested and spent six months in solitary. On 22 December 1849 he and others were given long peasant blouses as shrouds and condemned to death by firing squad.

    They were tied to stakes, summoned to repentance by a priest, and blind-folded. Tsar Nicholas I loved to be seen as all-powerful, and personally supervised the sacking of all schoolmasters whose pupils slouched in class. That day he choreographed a mock-execution with an aide-de-camp galloping onto the scene to reveal the true sentences: hard labour in Siberia. Dostoevsky, heavily shackled, took into his eight years of exile The Pickwick Papers, David Copperfield and a Decembrist Bible. Of all writers he best loved Dickens, whose novels calmed him down and cheered him up. Like Dickens, Dostoevsky was a great reader and performer of his own work.

    The novels he wrote on his return from exile, after a change of political heart, rank in any league table among the greatest. Dostoevsky was now a monarchist and the arch-enemy of radicals. The title of The Devils (1871)— aka The Possessed — refers to socialists crazed by spite and envy. It is a novel that with hindsight seems to prophesy the age of Stalin, under whose rule — although Poor Folk stayed in the syllabus — Dostoevsky’s later work went out of favour and out of print.

    When, in 1971, the Soviet Academy opened a subscription list for the first new edition of his work for half a century, crowds of Russians queued patiently through the night to enter their names. But even then, two decades after Stalin’s death, much about Dostoevsky was still censored. It was, for example, too embarrassing to be mentioned by Soviet biographers that Dostoevsky visited Petersburg’s Winter Palace and developed a close relationship with the Royal Family. Rather oddly, this book’s eccentric index gives the enticing entry ‘tutoring Tsar’s children’ with no following page reference. We are, however, told that he was once seen hanging on to one of the Tsarina Maria Fyodorovna’s buttons while she tried unsuccessfully to retire and that she cried. His habit of buttonholing you was quite literal.

    That is not a bad analogy for the experience of reading his novels. It recalls being addressed by a complete stranger with unnerving and soul-piercing intimacy. And it may be why the composer Tchaikovsky — who wept when he read The Brothers Karamazov as he had never wept at any other book — nonetheless recorded: ‘Author of genius. But the more I read, the more he weighs me down.’ Tchaikovsky attended Dostoevsky’s rapturously applauded Pushkin Speech with its mystical summons to love of the Russian people.




    Lectures on Russian Literature / Nabokov; p. 135 [criticism of The Brothers Karamazov]:

    Ivan, the second brother, who goes away from the town in order to allow the murder to be completed (by Smerdyakov whom he has been actually coaching for murder in a sort of metaphysical way), Ivan who thus becomes so to say an accomplice of Dmitri, Ivan is much more closely integrated in the plot of the book than is the third brother Alyosha. Where Alyosha is concerned, we constantly gain the impression that the author was torn between two independent plots: Dmitri’s tragedy on the one side and the story of the almost saintly youth Alyosha. Alyosha is again an exponent (the other was Prince Myshkin) of the author’s unfortunate love for the simple-minded hero of Russian folklore. The whole lengthy limp story of the monk Zosima could have been deleted from the novel without impairing it; rather, its deletion would have given the book more unity and a better balanced construction. And again quite independently, sticking quite obviously out of the general scheme of the book, stands the, in itself, very well written story of the schoolboy Ilyusha. But even into that excellent story about the boy Ilyusha, another boy Kolya, the dog Zhuchka, the silver toy cannon, the cold nose of the puppy, the freakish tricks of the hysterical father, even into this story Alyosha introduces an unpleasant unctuous chill.

    Generally speaking, whenever the author busies himself with Dmitri his pen acquires exceptional liveliness. Dmitri seems to be constantly illumined by strong lamps, and so do all those who surround him. But the moment we come to Alyosha, we are immersed in a different, entirely lifeless element. Dusky paths lead the reader away into a murky world of cold reasoning abandoned by the spirit of art.


    p. 102-5:

    Through French and Russian translations, Western influence, sentimental and gothic — Samuel Richardson, Ann Radcliffe, Dickens, Rousseau, Eugene Sue — combines in Dostoevski's works with a religion of compassion merging on melodramatic sentimentality.

    We must distinguish between "sentimental" and "sensitive." A sentimentalist may be a perfect brute in his free time. A sensitive person is never a cruel person. Sentimental Rousseau, who could weep over a progressive idea, distributed his many natural children through various poorhouses and workhouses and never gave a hoot for them. A sentimental old maid may pamper her parrot and poison her niece. The sentimental politician may remember Mother's Day and ruthlessly destroy a rival. Stalin loved babies. Lenin sobbed at the opera, especially at the Traviata. A whole century of authors praised the simple life of the poor, and so on. Remember that when we speak of sentimentalists, among them Richardson, Rousseau, Dostoevski, we mean the non-artistic exaggeration of familiar emotions meant to provoke automatically traditional compassion in the reader.

    Dostoevski never really got over the influence which the European mystery novel and the sentimental novel made upon him. The sentimental influence implied that kind of conflict he liked — placing virtuous people in pathetic situations and then extracting from these situations the last ounce of pathos. When after his return from Siberia his essential ideas began to ripen — the idea of salvation to be found through transgression, the ethical supremacy of suffering and submission over struggle and resistance, the defence of free will not as a metaphysical but as a moral proposition, and the ultimate formula of egoism-antichrist Europe on one side and brotherhood-Christ-Russia on the other — when these ideas (which are all thoroughly examined in countless textbooks) suffused his novels, much of the Western influence still remained, and one is tempted to say that in a way Dostoevski, who so hated the West, was the most European of the Russian writers.

    Another interesting line of inquiry lies in the examination of his characters in their historical development. Thus the favorite hero of the old Russian folklore, John the Simpleton, who is considered a weak-minded muddler by his brothers but is really as cunning as a skunk and perfectly immoral in his activities, an unpoetical and unpleasant figure, the personification of secret slyness triumphing over the big and the strong, Johnny the Simpleton, that product of a nation which has had more than one nation's share of misery, is a curious prototype of Dostoevski's Prince Myshkin, hero of his novel The Idiot, the positively good man, the pure innocent fool, the cream of humility, renunciation, and spiritual peace.

    And Prince Myshkin, in turn, had for his grandson the character recently created by the contemporary Soviet writer Mikhail Zoshchenko, the type of cheerful imbecile, muddling through a police-state totalitarian world, imbecility being the last refuge in that kind of world.

    Dostoevski's lack of taste, his monotonous dealings with persons suffering with pre-Freudian complexes, the way he has of wallowing in the tragic misadventures of human dignity — all this is difficult to admire. I do not like this trick his characters have of "sinning their way to Jesus" or, as a Russian author Ivan Bunin put it more bluntly, "spilling Jesus all over the place."

    Just as I have no ear for music, I have to my regret no ear for Dostoevski the Prophet. The very best thing he ever wrote seems to me to be The Double. It is the story—told very elaborately, in great, almost Joycean detail (as the critic Mirsky notes), and in a style intensely saturated with phonetic and rhythmical expressiveness—of a government clerk who goes mad, obsessed by the idea that a fellow clerk has usurped his identity. It is a perfect work of art, that story, but it hardly exists for the followers of Dostoevski the Prophet, because it was written in the 1840s, long before his so-called great novels; and moreover its imitation of Gogol is so striking as to seem at times almost a parody.

    In the light of the historical development of artistic vision, Dostoevski is a very fascinating phenomenon. If you examine closely any of his works, say The Brothers Karamazov, you will note that the natural background and all things relevant to the perception of the senses hardly exist. What landscape there is is a landscape of ideas, a moral landscape. The weather does not exist in his world, so it does not much matter how people dress. Dostoevski characterizes his people through situation, through ethical matters, their psychological reactions, their inside ripples. After describing the looks of a character, he uses the old-fashioned device of not referring to his specific physical appearance any more in the scenes with him. This is not the way of an artist, say Tolstoy, who sees his character in his mind all the time and knows exactly the specific gesture he will employ at this or that moment. But there is something more striking still about Dostoevski. He seems to have been chosen by the destiny of Russian letters to become Russia's greatest playwright, but he took a wrong turn and wrote novels. The novel The Brothers Karamazov has always seemed to me a straggling play, with just that amount of furniture and other implements needed for the various actors: a round table with the wet, round trace of a glass, a window painted yellow to make it look as if there were sunlight outside, or a shrub hastily brought in and plumped down by a stagehand.



    “Dostoevsky – in Moderation” by Thomas Mann:


    There was something very attractive to me about the invitation on the part of the Dial Press to write a preface to an edition of Dostoevsky’s shorter novels, the six narratives included in this volume. The publisher’s moderation which determined the character of this edition tended to put the commentator’s mind at ease and to encourage him in a task from which he might otherwise have shrunk, not to say recoiled—the task of making the entire, tremendous cosmos of Dostoevsky’s works the object of his consideration and discussion. Moreover this commentator would scarcely have had another chance in this life to render his critical tribute to the great Russian if it had not been for this opportunity to do it lightly, so to speak, in a limited space, for a specific purpose, and with the degree of self-restriction which the purpose charitably prescribes.

    Strangely enough, my life as an author led me to write detailed studies on Tolstoy as well as on Goethe—several on each of them. But I have never formally written on two other cultural experiences of similar weight that moved me as deeply in my youth and that I never tired of renewing and intensifying in my mature years: I have never written on Nietzsche nor on Dostoevsky. I omitted writing the Nietzsche essay for which my friends often asked me, although it seemed to lie on my path. And the “profound, criminal, saintly face of Dostoevsky” (that was my characterization at one time) appears only fleetingly in my writings to vanish again quickly. Why this evasion, this shunning, this silence—in contrast with the inadequate, to be sure, but enthusiastic eloquence to which the greatness of the other two masters and stars inspired me? I know the answer. It was easy for me to render intimate and rapturous homage, tempered with tender irony, to the images of the divine and the fortunate, the children of nature in their exalted simplicity and their exuberant healthfulness: to the autobiographic aristocratism of the molder of a majestic personal culture, Goethe, and to the primitive epic force, the unrivaled naturalness, of the “great author of all the Russias,” Tolstoy, with his clumsy, every failing attempts at moralistic spiritualization of his pagan corporeality. But I am filled with awe, with a profound, mystic, silence-enjoining awe, in the presence of the religious greatness of the damned, in the presence of genius of disease and the disease of genius, of the type of the afflicted and the possessed, in whom saint and criminal are one. . . .


    “The Pale Criminal”—whenever I read this chapter heading in Zarathustra, a morbidly inspired work of genius if ever there was one, the eerily grief-ridden features of Dostoevsky, as we know them from a number of good pictures, stand before me. Moreover, I suspect that they were in the mind of the drunken migrainist of Sils Maria when he wrote it. For Dostoevsky’s work played a remarkable role in his life; he frequently mentions him in his letters as well as in his books (while I am not aware that he ever said a word about Tolstoy); he calls him the most profound psychologist in world literature and refers to him in a kind of unassuming enthusiasm as his “great teacher”—although in fact there is scarcely an indication of discipleship in his relation to his great Eastern brother-in-spirit. They were more nearly brothers in spirit, tragically grotesque companions in misfortune, in spite of fundamental differences in heredity and tradition—on the one hand the German professor, whose Luciferian genius, stimulated by disease, developed from the soil of classical learning, philological erudition, idealistic philosophy, and musical Romanticism; on the other, the Byzantine Christian, who was free from the humanistic inhibitions that limited the other, and who could occasionally be regarded as the “great teacher” simply because he was not German (for it was Nietzsche’s most passionate desire to free himself of his Germanism), because he appeared as the liberator from bourgeois morality, and because he affirmed the will to psychological affront, to the crime of frank acknowledgment.

    It seems impossible to speak of Dostoevsky’s genius without being forced to think of the word “criminal.” The eminent Russian critic Merezhkovsky uses it in various studies on the author of The Karamazovs, repeatedly and with a double meaning: referring, in the first place, to Dostoevsky himself and to “the criminal curiosity of his insight,” and, in the second place, referring to the object of this insight, the human heart, whose most recondite and most criminal impulses he laid bare. “The reader,” says this critic, “is aghast at his omniscience, his penetration into the conscience of a stranger. We are confronted by our own secret thoughts, which we would not reveal to a friend, not even to ourselves.” Yet we are only apparently dealing with objective and quasi-medical scrutiny and diagnosis—it is in reality psychological lyricism in the widest sense of the word, admission and horrible confession, pitiless revelation of the criminal depths of the author’s own conscience—and this accounts for the terrific moral force, the religious frightfulness of Dostoevsky’s knowledge of the soul. A comparison with Proust, and with the psychological novelties, surprises, and knick-knacks that abound in his works, at once exposes the difference in accent, in moral tone. The psychological curios and pertnesses of the Frenchman are simply amusing compared with the ghastly revelations of Dostoevsky, a man who had been in Hell. Could Proust have written Crime and Punishment, the greatest detective novel of all times? It was not the science that he lacked, but the conscience. . . . As far as Goethe is concerned, a psychologist of the first water from Werther to the Elective Affinities, Goethe declares frankly that he has never heard of a crime of which he did not feel capable himself. This is the word of a disciple of pietistic self-scrutiny but the element of Greek innocence predominates in it. It is a self-possessed word—a challenge to bourgeois morality, to be sure, but cool and haughty rather than filled with Christian contrition, bold rather than profound in a religious sense. Tolstoy was essentially his peer, in spite of all Christian velleity. “I have nothing to conceal from men,” he used to say; “let them all know what I am doing!” Compare this with the confessions of the hero of Notes from Underground where he speaks of his secret dissipations. “Even at that time,” he says, “I had a love for secrecy. I was terribly afraid that someone might see me, meet me, recognize me.” His life, which could not bear ultimate frankness, ultimate exposure before the eyes of the world, was ruled by the secret of Hell.

    Undoubtedly the subconsciousness and even the consciousness of this titanic creator was permanently burdened with a heavy sense of guilt, a sense of the criminal, and this feeling was by no means of purely hypochondriac nature. It was connected with his infirmity, the “sacred” disease, the pre-eminently mystic disease, epilepsy. He suffered from it from childhood, but the disease was fatally intensified by his trial when he was unjustly accused in the year 1849, at the age of twenty-eight, on a charge of political conspiracy and actually sentenced to death (he was already standing at the stake facing death when, at the last moment, his sentence was commuted to four years at hard labor in Siberia). It was his opinion that the disease would culminate in the exhaustion of his physical and intellectual powers, in death or insanity. The attacks occurred on the average of once a month, sometimes more frequently, at times even twice a week. He often described them: both in direct communication and by transferring the malady to psychologically favored characters in his novels: to the terrible Smerdyakov, to the hero of The Idiot, Prince Myshkin, to the nihilist and fanatic Kirilov in The Possessed. Two symptoms, according to his description, are characteristic of the falling sickness: the incomparable sense of rapture, of inner enlightenment, of harmony, of highest ecstasy, preceding by a few moments the spasm that begins with an inarticulate, no longer human scream—and the state of horrible depression and deep grief, of spiritual ruin and desolation, that follows it. This reaction seems to me even more symbolic of the nature of the disease than the exaltation that precedes the attack. Dostoevsky describes it as a rapture so strong and sweet “that one is ready to exchange ten years of life or even life itself for the bliss of these few seconds.” The subsequent, terrific hangover, however, according to the confession of the great invalid, was marked by a “feeling of being a criminal,” by the weight of unknown guilt, by the burden of an awful crime.


    I don’t know what neurologists think of the “sacred” disease, but in my opinion it is definitely rooted in the realm of the sexual, it is a wild and explosive manifestation of sex dynamics, a transferred and transfigured sexual act, a mystic dissipation. I repeat that I regard the subsequent state of contrition and misery, the mysterious feeling of guilt, as even more revealing than the preceding seconds of bliss for which “one is ready to exchange his life.” No matter to what extent the malady menaced Dostoevsky’s mental powers, it is certain that his genius is most intimately connected with it and colored by it, that his psychological insight, his understanding of crime and of what the Apocalypse calls “satanic depths,” and most of all his ability to suggest secret guilt and to weave it into the background of his frequently horrible creatures—all these qualities are inseparably related to the disease. In the past of Svidrigailov (Crime and Punishment), for example, there is “a criminal affair of bestial, not to say fantastic, brutality, for which he would most certainly have been sent to Siberia.” It is left to the more or less willing imagination of the reader to guess what this affair may be: in all probability it is a sex crime, possibly child rape—for this is also the secret or a part of the secret in the life of Stavrogin in The Possessed, that icy and contemptible masterful person before whom weaker creatures groveled in the dust, possibly one of the most weirdly attractive characters in world literature. There is an unpublished portion of this novel, “Stavrogin’s Confession,” in which he relates, among other things, the rape of a little girl. According to Merezhkovsky it is a powerful fragment, full of terrible realism transcending the bounds of art. Apparently this infamous crime constantly occupied the author’s moral imagination. It is said that one day he confessed the commission of a sin of this sort to his famous colleague Turgenev, whom he hated and despised on account of his West European sympathies—undoubtedly a mendacious confession with which he merely wished to frighten and confuse the serene, humane, and quite unsatanic Turgenev. In St. Petersburg, when he was forty years old and had attained fame as the author of The House of Death, which had moved even the Czar to tears, in a family circle that included a number of very young girls, he once narrated the plot of a story he had planned in his youth, a novel in which a landed proprietor, a sedate and substantial man, suddenly remembers that two decades ago, after an all-night drinking bout with dissolute companions, he had raped a ten-year-old girl.

    “Fyodor Mikhailovitch!” the mother of the household exclaimed, raising her hands in horror. “Have pity on us! The children are listening!”

    Yes, he must have been a very remarkable citizen, this Fyodor Mikhailovitch.

    Nietzsche’s infirmity was not the falling sickness, although it is not difficult to picture the author of Zarathustra and The Antichrist as an epileptic. He shared the fate of many artists and particularly of a notable number of musicians (among whom he belongs after a fashion): he perished from progressive paralysis, a malady of unmistakably sexual origin, since medical science has long recognized it as the result of luetic infection. Viewed from the naturalistic-medical angle—a limited perspective, to be sure—Nietzsche’s intellectual development is nothing but the case history of paralytic deterioration and degeneration—that is, he was propelled from a state of highly gifted normality upward into icy and grotesque spheres of fatal insight and moral isolation, a terrible and criminal degree of knowledge for which a delicate and kindhearted man, such as he was, in need of forbearance and indulgence, had never been born but for which, like Hamlet, he had only been called.

    “Criminal”—I repeat the word in order to stress the psychological relationship of the cases of Nietzsche and Dostoevsky. It is no mere chance that the former was so strongly attracted to the latter that he called him his “great teacher.” Excess is common to them both, the drunken unleashing of insight, coupled with a religious, i.e., satanistic moralism which in Nietzsche’s case was called antimoralism. Neitzsche probably did not know the epileptic’s mystic sense of guilt of which I spoke. But the fact that his personal conception of life made him familiar with that of the criminal is attested by one of his aphorisms, which I can’t find at the moment but which I distinctly remember. In it he says that all intellectual isolation and alienation from the civil norm, all mental autonomy and ruthlessness, are related to the criminal’s mode of life and afford an experiential insight into it. It seems to me that we can go even farther and say that all creative originality, all artistry in the widest sense of the word, does just that. The French painter and sculptor Degas once made the remark that the artist must approach his work in the same frame of mind in which the criminal commits his deed.

    “Exceptional conditions make the artist,” Nietzsche himself said: “all conditions that are profoundly related and interlaced with morbid phenomena; it seems impossible to be an artist and not to be sick.” The German thinker probably did not know the nature of his disease, but he was well aware of his debt to it, and his letters and published works are full of heroic eulogies of disease as a means to knowledge. A typical symptom of paralysis, presumably due to hyperemia of the affected cerebral parts, is the surge of an intoxicating sense of bliss and power and an actual—though medically, of course, pathological—intensification of productive capacity. Before it clouds its victim’s mind and kills him, the disease grants him illusory (in the sense of sane normality) experiences of power and sovereign facility, of enlightenment and blissful inspiration, so that he stands in awe of himself and is filled with the conviction that there has been no one like him in a thousand years; he regards himself as a divine mouthpiece, a vessel of grace, a god in his own right. We have descriptions of such euphoric affliction and of overwhelming inspiration in the letters of Hugo Wolf, in whose case they were invariably followed by periods of intellectual void and artistic impotence. But the most grandiose account of paralytic enlightenment, a stylistic masterpiece, is found in Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo, in the third section of the chapter on Zarathustra. “Does anyone,” he asks, “at the end of the nineteenth century have an idea of what poets of powerful eras called inspiration? If not, I shall describe it.” It is clear that he regards his experience as something atavistic, something daemonically retrovertive, something belonging to another, more “powerful,” more Godlike state of mankind, something foreign to the psychic capabilities of our faintly rationalistic epoch. And to think that what he is in truth describing—but what is truth: experience or medicine?—is a morbid state of irritation that mockingly precedes the paralytic collapse.

    Possibly his concept of the “Eternal Return,” to which he attaches great weight, is a product of euphoria, uncontrolled by reason, and a reminiscence rather than intellectual property. Merezhkovsky pointed out long ago that the idea of the “Superman” occurs in Dostoevsky, in the speeches of the aforementioned epileptic, Kirilov, in The Possessed. Dostoevsky’s, nihilistic seer says: “There will be a new man and everything will be new. History will be divided into two sections: from the gorilla to the annihilation of God, and from the annihilation of God to the physical transformation of the earth and of man”—in other words, to the appearance of the God-man, the superman. But no one seems to have noted that the idea of the Eternal Return is also to be found in The Karamazovs, in Ivan’s dialogue with the Devil. “You’re always thinking of our present earth!” says the Devil. “But our present earth has repeated itself, possibly billions of times; it would become senile, turned to ice, broke in two, fell apart, resolved itself into its elements, once more there was water ‘over the firmament,’ then the comet, next the sun, and finally, out of the sun, came the earth—this process has perhaps repeated itself times without number and each time in the identical manner down to the last tiny detail . . . isn’t that the most unspeakably indecent boredom!”

    Through the mouth of the Devil Dostoevsky designates as “indecent boredom” what Nietzsche hails with Dionysiac affirmation, adding “For I love you, Eternity!” But the idea is the same, and while I believe that the Superman is a case of coincidence based on intellectual fraternity, I am inclined to regard the “Eternal Return” as a result of reading, a subconscious, euphorically tinged memory of Dostoevsky.


    . . . From the biological point of view the life of this man [Dostoevsky] is most confusing: a quivering bundle of nerves, subject to spasms at a moment’s notice, “so sensitive as if he had been flayed and the mere contact with the air were painful” (quoted from Notes from Underground), he nevertheless managed to live a full sixty years (1821-1881), and in his four productive decades he erected a stupendous lifework of an unheard-of novelty and audacity, a surging wealth of passions and visions—a work which not only broadens our knowledge of man by its furor of “criminal” insight and confession, but also contains a surprising amount of mischievous humor, fantastic comedy, and “cheerfulness of the spirit.” For, among other things, as the reader of the present edition will soon discover, this crucified man was also a really great humorist.


    . . . . I confess that I like the first part of Notes from Underground even better than the second, the stirring and shameful story of the prostitute Liza. I grant that the first part does not consist of action but of talk, and talk reminiscent in many respects of the depraved prating of certain religious personages in Dostoevsky’s great novels. Granted also that it is hazardous talk in the strongest sense of the word, dangerously likely to confuse naïve minds, because it stresses skepticism against faith, and because it heretically attacks civilization and democracy and the humanitarians and the meliorists who believe that man strives for happiness and advancement while he is actually thirsting just as much for suffering, the only source of knowledge, that he really does not want the crystal palace and the anthill of social consummation, and that he will never renounce his predilection for destruction and chaos. All that sounds like reactionary wickedness and may worry well-meaning minds who believe that the most important thing today is the bridging of the chasm that yawns between intellectual realization and scandalously retarded social and economic reality. It is the most important thing—and yet those heresies are the truth: the dark side of truth, away from the sun, which no one dares to neglect who is interested in the truth, the whole truth, truth about man. The tortured paradoxes which Dostoevsky’s “hero” hurls at his positivistic adversaries, antihuman as they sound, are spoken in the name of and out of love for humanity: on behalf of a new, deeper, and unrhetorical humanity that has passed through all the hells of suffering and of understanding.












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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bro...azov#Influence

    The Brothers Karamazov has had a deep influence on many writers and philosophers that followed it. Admirers of the novel include Albert Einstein, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Martin Heidegger, Cormac McCarthy and Kurt Vonnegut. Sigmund Freud called it "the most magnificent novel ever written" and was fascinated with the book for its Oedipal themes.

    Franz Kafka is another writer who felt immensely indebted to Dostoyevsky and The Brothers Karamazov for influencing his own work. Kafka called himself and Dostoyevsky "blood relatives", perhaps because of Dostoyevsky's existential motifs. Another interesting parallel between the two authors was their strained relationships with their fathers. Kafka felt immensely drawn to the hatred Fyodor's sons demonstrate toward their father in The Brothers Karamazov and dealt with the theme of fathers and sons himself in many of his works, most explicitly in his short story "The Judgment".


    https://www.litmir.co/br/?b=215899&p=210

    The Brothers Karamazov; p. 694-9:

    "Look, gentlemen, look at how our young men are shooting themselves—oh, without the least Hamletian question of ‘what lies beyond,’ without a trace of such questions, as if this matter of our spirit, and all that awaits us beyond the grave, had been scrapped long ago in them, buried and covered with dust. Look, finally, at our depravity, at our sensualists. Fyodor Pavlovich, the unfortunate victim in the current trial, is almost an innocent babe next to some of them. And we all knew him, ‘he lived among us’ . . . Yes, perhaps some day the foremost minds both here and in Europe will consider the psychology of Russian crime, for the subject is worthy of it. But this study will be taken up later on, at leisure, and when the whole tragic topsy-turveydom of our present moment has moved more into the background so that it will be possible to examine it more intelligently and more impartially than people like myself, for example, can do. For now we are either horrified or pretend that we are horrified, while, on the contrary, relishing the spectacle, like lovers of strong, eccentric sensations that stir our cynical and lazy idleness, or, finally, like little children waving the frightening ghosts away, and hiding our heads under the pillow until the frightening vision is gone, so as to forget it immediately afterwards in games and merriment. But should not we, too, some day begin to live soberly and thoughtfully; should not we, too, take a look at ourselves as a society; should not we, too, understand at least something of our social duty, or at least begin to understand? A great writer of the previous epoch, in the finale of the greatest of his works, personifying all of Russia as a bold Russian troika galloping towards an unknown goal, exclaims: ‘Ah, troika, bird-troika, who invented you!’—and in proud rapture adds that all nations respectfully stand aside for this troika galloping by at breakneck speed. Let it be so, gentlemen, let them stand aside, respectfully or not, but in my sinful judgment the artistic genius ended like that either in a fit of innocently infantile sunnymindedness, or simply from fear of contemporary censorship. For if his troika were to be drawn by none but his own heroes, the Sobakeviches, Nozdryovs, and Chichikovs, then no matter who is sitting in the coachman’s box, it would be impossible to arrive at anything sensible with such horses! And those were still former horses, a far cry from our own, ours are no comparison . . .” [ . . . the line “Ah, troika . . .” comes from Gogol’s Dead Souls; Sobakevich, Nozdryov, and Chichikov are the grotesque heroes of the novel.]

    Here Ippolit Kirillovich’s speech was interrupted by applause. They liked the liberalism of his depiction of the Russian troika. True, only two or three claps broke out, so that the presiding judge did not even find it necessary to address the public with a threat to “clear the court” and merely gave the clappers a stern look. But Ippolit Kirillovich was encouraged: never had he been applauded before! For so many years no one had wanted to listen to the man, and suddenly there came an opportunity to speak out for all Russia to hear!

    “Indeed,” he went on, “what is this Karamazov family that has suddenly gained such sad notoriety all over Russia? Perhaps I am greatly exaggerating, but it seems to me that certain basic, general elements of our modern-day educated society shine through, as it were, in the picture of this nice little family—oh, not all the elements, and they shine only microscopically, ‘like to the sun in a small water-drop,’* yet something has been reflected, something has betrayed itself. Look at this wretched, unbridled, and depraved old man, this ‘paterfamilias,’ who has so sadly ended his existence. A nobleman by birth, starting out his career as a poor little sponger, who through an accidental and unexpected marriage grabs a small capital as a dowry, at first a petty cheat and flattering buffoon with a germ of mental capacity, a far from weak one, by the way, and above all a usurer. As the years go by—that is, as his capital grows—he gets bolder. Self-deprecation and fawning disappear, only a jeering and wicked cynic and sensualist remains. The whole spiritual side has been scrapped, but there is an extraordinary thirst for life. In the end he sees nothing in life apart from sensual pleasure, and thus he teaches his children. Of the spiritual sort of fatherly duties—none at all. He laughs at them, he brings his little children up in the backyard and is glad when they are taken away from him. He even forgets about them altogether. The old man’s whole moral rule is—après moi le deluge [ . . . “after me (comes) the flood,” attributed to Louis XV, and also to his favorite, the Marquise de Pompadour.] Everything contrary to the idea of a citizen, a complete, even hostile separation from society: ‘Let the whole world burn, so long as I am all right.’ And he is all right, he is perfectly content, he wants to live like that for another twenty or thirty years. He cheats his own son, and with the sons’ money, his maternal inheritance, which he does not want to give him, he takes his own son’s mistress away. No, I have no intention of handing over the defense of the accused to the highly talented attorney from Petersburg. I myself can speak the truth, I myself understand the sum total of indignation he has stored up in his son’s heart. But enough, enough of that unfortunate old man, he has his reward. Let us recall, however, that he is a father, and one of our modern-day fathers. Shall I offend society if I say that he is even one of many modern-day fathers? Alas, so many modern-day fathers simply do not speak their minds as cynically as this one did, for they are better bred, better educated, but essentially they are of almost the same philosophy as he. But allow that I am a pessimist, allow that I am. You will forgive me: that was our arrangement. Let us settle it beforehand: do not believe me, do not believe me, I shall speak, but do not believe me. But still let me speak my mind, still you may remember a little something of what I say. Now, however, we come to the children of this old man, this paterfamilias: one of them stands before us in the dock, we shall have much to say of him later; the others I shall mention only in passing. The elder of the two is one of our modern young men, brilliantly educated, with quite a powerful mind, who, however, no longer believes in anything, who has already scrapped and rejected much, too much in life, exactly as his father had done. We have all heard him, he was received amicably in our society. He did not conceal his opinions, even the opposite, quite the opposite, which now emboldens me to speak of him somewhat frankly, not as a private person, of course, but only as a member of the Karamazov family. Yesterday a certain sick idiot died here, on the outskirts of our town, by suicide; a person much involved in the present case, the former servant and, perhaps, illegitimate son of Fyodor Pavlovich, Smerdyakov. In the preliminary investigation he told me, with hysterical tears, how this young Karamazov, Ivan Fyodorovich, had horrified him with his spiritual unrestraint. ‘Everything, according to him, is permitted, whatever there is in the world, and from now on nothing should be forbidden—that’s what he kept teaching me about.’ It seems that this thesis, which he was taught, ultimately caused the idiot to lose his mind, though, of course, his mental disorder was also affected by his falling sickness, and by this whole terrible catastrophe that had broken out in their house. But this idiot let drop one very, very curious remark, which would do honor even to a more intelligent observer, and that is why I am mentioning it now: ‘If,’ he said to me, ‘any one of the sons most resembles Fyodor Pavlovich in character, it is him, Ivan Fyodorovich!’ At this remark I shall interrupt the characterization I have begun, considering it indelicate to continue further. Oh, I do not want to draw any further conclusions and, like the raven, only croak ruin over a young fate. We have just seen, here in this hall, that the direct force of the truth still lives in his young heart, that the feeling of family loyalty has not yet been stifled in him by unbelief and moral cynicism, acquired more as an inheritance than through real mental suffering. Now the other son—oh, still a youth, pious and humble, who, in contrast to the dark, corrupting world view of his brother, seeks to cling to ‘popular foundations,’ so to speak, or to what goes by that clever name among us in certain theoretical corners of our thinking intelligentsia. He clung to the monastery, you see; he all but became a monk himself. In him, it seems to me, unconsciously, as it were, and so early on, there betrayed itself that timid despair that leads so many in our poor society, fearing its cynicism and depravity, and mistakenly ascribing all evil to European enlightenment, to throw themselves, as they put it, to the ‘native soil,’ so to speak, into the motherly embrace of the native earth, like children frightened by ghosts, who even at the dried-up breast of a paralyzed mother wish only to fall peacefully asleep and even to sleep for the rest of their lives, simply not to see the horrors that frighten them. For my part, I wish the good and gifted young man all the best, I hope that his youthful brightheartedness and yearning for popular foundations will not turn later, as so often happens, into dark mysticism on the moral side, and witless chauvinism on the civic side—two qualities that perhaps threaten more evil for the nation than even the premature corruption owing to a falsely understood and gratuitously acquired European enlightenment from which his elder brother suffers.”


    * like to the sun . . . : a line from the ode “God” (1784) by the great Russian poet G.R. Derzhavin (1743-1816).


    Mysticism and chauvinism again drew two or three claps. And of course Ippolit Kirillovich had gotten carried away, and all this scarcely suited the present case, to say nothing of its being rather vague, but this consumptive and embittered man had too great a desire to speak his whole mind at least once in his life. It was said afterwards that in characterizing Ivan Fyodorovich, he had even been prompted by an indelicate feeling, because the young man had publicly snubbed him once or twice in argument, and Ippolit Kirilovich, remembering it, now desired to have his revenge. But I do not know that it is possible to draw such a conclusion. In any event, all this was merely a preamble, and further on the speech became more direct and to the point.

    “But now we have the third son of this father of a modern-day family,” Ippolit Kirillovich continued. “He is in the dock, he stands before us. Before us also stand his deeds, his life and acts: the hour has come, and everything has been unfolded, everything has been revealed. In contrast to the ‘Europeanism’ and the ‘popular foundations’ of his brothers, he seems to represent ingenuous Russia—oh, not all, not all, and God forbid it should be all! Yet she is here, our dear mother Russia, we can smell her, we can hear her. Oh, we are ingenuous, we are an amazing mixture of good and evil, we are lovers of enlightenment and Schiller, and at the same time we rage in taverns and tear out the beards of little drunkards, our tavern mates. Oh, we can also be good and beautiful, but only when we are feeling good and beautiful ourselves. We are, on the contrary, even possessed—precisely possessed—by the noblest ideals, but only on condition that they be attained by themselves, that they fall on our plate from the sky, and, above all, gratuitously, gratuitously, so that we need pay nothing for them. We like very much to get things, but terribly dislike having to pay for them, and so it is with everything. Oh, give us, give us all possible good things in life (precisely all, we won’t settle for less) and, more particularly, do not obstruct our character in any way, and then we, too, will prove that we can be good and beautiful. We are not greedy, no, but give us money, more and more money, as much money as possible, and then you will see how generously, with what scorn for filthy lucre, we can throw it away in one night of unrestrained carousing. And if we are not given any money, we will show how we manage to get it anyway when we want it badly enough. But of that later—let us take things in order. First of all, we see a poor, neglected boy, ‘in the backyard, without any shoes,’ as it was just put by our venerable and respected citizen—alas, of foreign origin! Once more I repeat, I yield to no one in defending the accused. I am prosecutor, but also defender. Yes, we, too, are human and are able to weigh the influence on a man’s character of the earliest impressions of childhood and the parental nest. But then the boy becomes a youth, a young man, an officer; for riotous conduct, for a challenge to a duel, he is exiled to one of the remote frontier towns of our bounteous Russia. There he serves, there he carouses, and of course a big ship needs a big sea. We need money, money above all, and so, after a long dispute, he and his father agree on a final six thousand, which is sent to him. Note that he signed this document, that this letter exists in which he all but renounces everything, and on payment of this six thousand ends his dispute with his father over the inheritance. Here occurs his encounter with a young girl of lofty character and development. Oh, I dare not repeat the details, you have only just heard them: here is honor, here is selflessness, I shall say no more. The image of a young man, thoughtless and depraved, who nonetheless bows to true nobility, to a lofty idea, flashed before us extremely sympathetically. But suddenly, after that, in this same courtroom, the other side of the coin followed quite unexpectedly. Again I dare not venture to guess, and will refrain from analyzing, why it followed thus. And yet there were reasons why it followed thus. This same person, all in tears from her long-concealed indignation, declares to us that he, he himself, was the first to despise her for her perhaps imprudent and impetuous, but all the same lofty and magnanimous impulse. It was in him, in this girl’s fiancé, before anyone else, that this derisive smile flashed, which from him alone she could not endure. Knowing that he had already betrayed her (betrayed her in the prior conviction that now she must bear with him in everything, even in his betrayal), knowing this, she deliberately offers him three thousand roubles, and clearly, all too clearly, lets him understand that she is offering him money to betray her: ‘Well, will you take it or not, will you be so cynical?’ she says to him silently with her probing and accusing eyes. He looks at her, he understands her thoughts perfectly (he himself confessed here before you that he understood everything), and without reservation he appropriates the three thousand and squanders it in two days with his new sweetheart! What are we to believe, then? The first legend—the impulse of a lofty nobility giving its last worldly means and bowing down before virtue, or the other side of the coin, which is so repugnant? It is usually so in life that when there are two opposites one must look for truth in the middle; in the present case it is literally not so. Most likely in the first instance he was sincerely noble, and in the second just as sincerely base. Why? Precisely because we are of a broad, Karamazovian nature—and this is what I am driving at—capable of containing all possible opposites and of contemplating both abysses at once, the abyss above us, an abyss of lofty ideals, and the abyss beneath us, an abyss of the lowest and foulest degradation. Recall the brilliant thought expressed earlier by a young observer who has profoundly and closely contemplated the whole Karamazov family, Mr. Rakitin: ‘A sense of the lowness of degradation is as necessary for these unbridled, unrestrained natures as the sense of the loftiest nobility’—and it is true: they precisely need this unnatural mixture, constantly and ceaselessly. Two abysses, two abysses, gentlemen, in one and the same moment—without that we are wretched and dissatisfied, our existence is incomplete. We are broad, broad as our whole mother Russia, we will embrace everything and get along with everything!



    p. 742-6:

    "Yes, it is a horrible thing to shed a father’s blood—his blood who begot me, his blood who loved me, his life’s blood who did not spare himself for me, who from childhood ached with my aches, who all his life suffered for my happiness and lived only in my joys, my successes! Oh, to kill such a father—who could even dream of it! Gentlemen of the jury, what is a father, a real father, what does this great word mean, what terribly great idea is contained in this appellation? We have just indicated something of what a true father is and ought to be. In the present case, with which all of us are now so involved, for which our souls ache—in the present case the father, the late Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov, in no way fitted the idea of a father that has just spoken to our hearts. That is a calamity. Yes, indeed, some fathers are like a calamity. Let us examine this calamity more closely—we must not be afraid of anything, gentlemen of the jury, in view of the importance of the impending decision. We more especially ought not to be afraid now, or, so to speak, to wave certain ideas away, like children or frightened women, as the highly talented prosecutor happily expressed it. Yet in his ardent speech my esteemed opponent (my opponent even before I uttered my first word) exclaimed several times: ‘No, I shall not turn over the defense of the accused to anyone, I shall not yield his defense to the defense attorney from Petersburg—I am both prosecutor and defender!’ So he exclaimed several times, and yet he forgot to mention that if this terrible defendant was, for all of twenty-three years, so grateful just for one pound of nuts given him as a child by the only man who was ever nice to him in his paternal home, then, conversely, such a man could not fail to remember, for all those twenty-three years, how his father had him running around barefoot ‘in the backyard, without any shoes, his little britches hanging by one button,’ as the philanthropic Dr. Herzenstube put it. Oh, gentlemen of the jury, why need we examine this ‘calamity’ more closely, why repeat what everyone already knows! What did my client meet when he came home to his father? And why, why portray my client as heartless, as an egoist, a monster? He is unbridled, he is wild and stormy, that is why we are trying him now, but who is responsible for his destiny, who is responsible that for all his good inclinations, his noble, sensitive heart, he received such an absurd upbringing? Did anyone teach him any sense at all, has he been enlightened by learning, did anyone give him at least a little love in his childhood? My client grew up in God’s keeping—that is, like a wild beast. Perhaps he longed to see his father after so many years of separation; perhaps a thousand times before then, recalling his childhood as if in sleep, he had driven away the loathsome ghosts of his childhood dreams, and longed with all his soul to vindicate his father and embrace him! And now what? He meets with nothing but cynical jeers, suspiciousness, and pettifoggery over the disputed money; all he hears daily, ‘over the cognac,’ are talk and worldly precepts that make him sick at heart; and, finally, he beholds his father stealing his mistress away from him, from his own son, and with the son’s own money—oh, gentlemen of the jury, this is loathsome and cruel! And this same old man complains to everyone about the irreverence and cruelty of his son, besmirches him in society, injures him, slanders him, buys up his promissory notes in order to put him in jail! Gentlemen of the jury, these souls, these people who seem hardhearted, stormy, and unrestrained, people like my client, sometimes, and indeed most often, are extremely tenderhearted, only they keep it hidden. Do not laugh, do not laugh at my idea! Earlier the talented prosecutor laughed mercilessly at my client, pointing to his love for Schiller, his love for ‘the beautiful and lofty.’ I should not laugh at that if I were him, if I were a prosecutor! Yes, these hearts—oh, let me defend these hearts, which are so rarely and so wrongly understood—these hearts quite often thirst for what is tender, for what is beautiful and righteous, precisely the contrary, as it were, of themselves, of their storminess, their cruelty—thirst for it unconsciously, precisely thirst for it. Outwardly passionate and cruel, they are capable, for instance, of loving a woman to the point of torment, and inevitably with a lofty and spiritual love. Again, do not laugh at me: it most often happens precisely so with such natures! Only they are unable to conceal their passion, at times very coarse—and that is what strikes everyone, that is what everyone notices, and no one sees the inner man. On the contrary, all such passions are quickly spent, but at the side of a noble, beautiful being this apparently coarse and cruel man seeks renewal, seeks the chance to reform, to become better, to become lofty and honest—‘lofty and beautiful,’ much ridiculed though the phrase may be! I said earlier that I would not venture to touch on my client’s romance with Miss Verkhovtsev. Yet I may allow myself half a word: what we heard earlier was not testimony, but only the cry of a frenzied and vengeful woman, and it is not for her, no, it is not for her to reproach him with betrayal, because she herself has betrayed him! If she had had a little time to think better of it, she would not have given such testimony! Oh, do not believe her, no, my client is not a ‘monster,’ as she called him! The crucified lover of mankind, as he was going to his cross, said: ‘I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep, so that not one will be destroyed . . .’ Let us, too, not destroy a human soul! What is a father, I was asking just now, and exclaimed that it is a great word, a precious appellation. But, gentlemen of the jury, one must treat words honestly, and I shall allow myself to name a thing by the proper word, the proper appellation: such a father as the murdered old Karamazov cannot and does not deserve to be called a father. Love for a father that is not justified by the father is an absurdity, an impossibility. Love cannot be created out of nothing: only God creates out of nothing. ‘Fathers, provoke not your children,’ writes the apostle, from a heart aflame with love. I quote these holy words now not for the sake of my client, but as a reminder to all fathers. Who has empowered me to teach fathers? No one. But as a man and a citizen I call out—vivos voco! [“I call the living.” From the epigraph to Schiller’s “Song of the Bell.”] We are not long on this earth, we do many evil deeds and say many evil words. And therefore let us all seize the favorable moment of our being together in order to say a good word to each other as well. And so I do; while I am in this place, I make the best of my moment. Not in vain is this tribune given us by a higher will—from here we can be heard by the whole of Russia. I speak not only to fathers here, but to all fathers I cry out: ‘Fathers, provoke not your children!’ Let us first fulfill Christ’s commandment ourselves, and only then let us expect the same of our children. Otherwise we are not fathers but enemies of our children, and they are not our children but our enemies, and we ourselves have made them our enemies! ‘With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you’—it is not I who say this, it is the Gospel precept: measure with the same measure as it is measured to you. How can we blame our children if they measure to us with our own measure? Recently in Finland a girl, a servant, was suspected of secretly giving birth to a baby. They began watching her, and in the attic of the house, in a corner, behind some bricks, found her chest, which no one knew about, opened it, and took out of it the little body of a newborn baby that she had killed. In the same chest were found two skeletons of babies she had given birth to previously and killed at the moment of birth, as she confessed. Gentlemen of the jury, was she a mother to her children? Yes, she gave birth to them, but was she a mother to them? Would any one of us dare pronounce over her the sacred name of mother? Let us be brave, gentlemen of the jury, let us even be bold, it is even our duty to be so in the present moment and not to be afraid of certain words and ideas, like Moscow merchants’ wives who are afraid of ‘metal’ and ‘brimstone.’* No, let us prove, on the contrary, that the progress of the past few years has touched our development as well, and let us say straight out: he who begets is not yet a father; a father is he who begets and proves worthy of it. Oh, of course, there is another meaning, another interpretation of the word ‘father,’ which insists that my father, though a monster, though a villain to his children, is still my father simply because he begot me. But this meaning is, so to speak, a mystical one, which I do not understand with my reason, but can only accept by faith, or, more precisely, on faith, like many other things that I do not understand, but that religion nonetheless tells me to believe. But in that case let it remain outside the sphere of real life. While within the sphere of real life, which not only has its rights, but itself imposes great obligations—within this sphere, if we wish to be humane, to be Christians finally, it is our duty and obligation to foster only those convictions that are justified by reason and experience, that have passed through the crucible of analysis, in a word, to act sensibly and not senselessly as in dreams or delirium, so as not to bring harm to a man, so as not to torment and ruin a man. Then, then it will be a real Christian deed, not only a mystical one, but a sensible and truly philanthropic deed . . .”


    * ‘metal’ and ‘brimstone’: refers to a passage from the play Hard Days (1863) by Alexander Ostrovsky (1823-86), in which a merchant’s wife is afraid to hear these biblical words.


    At this point loud applause broke out in many parts of the hall, but Fetyukovich even waved his hands, as if begging not to be interrupted and to be allowed to finish. Everything at once became hushed. The orator went on:

    “Do you think, gentlemen of the jury, that such questions can pass our children by, let’s say, if they are now adolescents, let’s say, if they are now beginning to reason? No, they cannot, and let us not ask such impossible forbearance of them! The sight of an unworthy father, especially in comparison with other fathers, fathers worthy of their children, his own peers, involuntarily presents a young man with tormenting questions. To these questions he receives the conventional answer: ‘He begot you, you are of his blood, that is why you must love him.’ The young man involuntarily begins thinking: ‘But did he love me when he was begetting me,’ he asks, wondering more and more. ‘Did he beget me for my own sake? He did not know me, not even my sex at that moment, the moment of passion, probably heated up with wine, and probably all he did for me was pass on to me an inclination to drink—so much for his good deeds . . . Why should I love him just because he begot me and then never loved me all my life?’ Oh, perhaps to you these questions appear coarse, cruel, but do not demand impossible forbearance from a young mind: ‘Drive nature out the door and it will fly back in the window’—and above all, above all, let us not be afraid of ‘metal’ and ‘brimstone,’ let us decide the question as reason and the love of man dictate, and not as dictated by mystical notions. How decide it, then? Here is how: let the son stand before his father and ask him reasonably: ‘Father, tell me, why should I love you? Father, prove to me that I should love you’—and if the father can, if he is able to answer and give him proof, then we have a real, normal family, established not just on mystical prejudice, but on reasonable, self-accountable, and strictly humane foundations. In the opposite case, if the father can give no proof—the family is finished then and there: he is not a father to his son, and the son is free and has the right henceforth to look upon his father as a stranger and even as his enemy. Our tribune, gentlemen of the jury, should be a school of truth and sensible ideas.”

    Here the orator was interrupted by unrestrained, almost frenzied applause. Of course, the whole room did not applaud, but still about half the room applauded. Fathers and mothers applauded. From above, where the ladies were sitting, shrieks and cries could be heard. Handkerchiefs were waved. The presiding judge began ringing the bell as hard as he could. He was obviously annoyed with the behavior of the courtroom, but decidedly did not dare “clear” the court, as he had recently threatened to do: even the dignitaries, the old men with stars on their frock coats, who were sitting on special chairs behind the judges, were applauding and waving handkerchiefs to the orator . . .



    p. 331-333:

    . . . . And all at once I knew what it was: it was because I had beaten Afanasy the evening before! It all rose before my mind, it all was as it were repeated over again; he stood before me and I was beating him straight on the face and he was holding his arms stiffly down, his head erect, his eyes fixed upon me as though on parade. He staggered at every blow and did not even dare to raise his hands to protect himself. That is what a man has been brought to, and that was a man beating a fellow creature! What a crime! It was as though a sharp dagger had pierced me right through. I stood as if I were struck dumb, while the sun was shining, the leaves were rejoicing and the birds were trilling the praise of God. . . . I hid my face in my hands, fell on my bed and broke into a storm of tears. And then I remembered my brother Markel and what he said on his deathbed to his servants: “My dear ones, why do you wait on me, why do you love me, am I worth your waiting on me?”

    Yes, am I worth it? flashed through my mind. After all what am I worth, that another man, a fellow creature, made in the likeness and image of God, should serve me? For the first time in my life this question forced itself upon me. He had said, “Mother, my little heart, in truth we are each responsible to all for all, it’s only men don’t know this. If they knew it, the world would be a paradise at once.”

    “God, can that too be false?” I thought as I wept, “in truth perhaps, I am more than all others responsible for all, a greater sinner than all men in the world. And all at once the whole truth in its full light appeared to me . . ."



    p. 418-9:

    . . . woe unto those who annihilate themselves while yet they are on the earth, woe to the suicides! I think there can be none more unhappy than these. It is a sin, we are informed, to say prayers for such as these, and outwardly the Church more or less rejects them, but in the secrecy of my heart I think that one might say a few prayers for them, too. After all, Christ will not be angered in the face of love. For such as these I have prayed inwardly all my life, I confess it to you, fathers and teachers, and even now I pray for them each day.

    O, there are even in hell those who are proud and truculent, in spite of their undisputed knowledge and their contemplation of the irrefutable truth; there are those, frightening ones, who have communed with Satan and his proud spirit to the exclusion of all else. For them hell is already voluntary and insatiable; they are already willing martyrs. For in cursing God and life they have cursed themselves. They nourish themselves on their malicious pride like a hungry man in the wilderness who starts to suck the blood from his own body. But they will be insatiable until the end of time and they will reject forgiveness; the God who calls them, they curse. They are unable to contemplate the living God without hatred and they demand that life shall have no God, that God shall destroy himself and all his creation. And they will burn in the fire of their anger eternally, thirsting for death and non-existence. But they shall not receive death . . .



    from The Short Novels of Dostoevsky; p. 626-31 (The Friend of the Family by Dostoevsky):

    Imagine the most insignificant, the most cowardly creature, an outcast from society, of no service to any one, utterly useless, utterly disgusting, but incredibly vain, though entirely destitute of any talent by which he might have justified his morbidly sensitive vanity. I hasten to add that Foma Fomitch was the incarnation of unbounded vanity, but that at the same time it was a special kind of vanity—that is, the vanity found in a complete nonentity, and, as is usual in such cases, a vanity mortified and oppressed by grievous failures in the past; a vanity that has begun rankling long, long ago, and ever since has given off envy and venom, at every encounter, at every success of any one else. I need hardly say that all this was seasoned with the most unseemly touchiness, the most insane suspiciousness. It may be asked, how is one to account for such vanity? How does it arise, in spite of complete insignificance, in pitiful creatures who are forced by their social position to know their place? How answer such a question. Who knows, perhaps, there are exceptions, of whom my hero is one? He certainly is an exception to the rule, as will be explained later. But allow me to ask: are you certain that those who are completely resigned to be your buffoons, your parasites and your toadies, and consider it an honour and a happiness to be so, are you certain that they are quite devoid of vanity and envy? What of the slander and backbiting and tale-bearing and mysterious whisperings in back corners, somewhere aside and at your table? Who knows, perhaps, in some of these degraded victims of fate, your fools and buffoons, vanity far from being dispelled by humiliation is even aggravated by that very humiliation, by being a fool and buffoon, by eating the bread of dependence and being for ever forced to submission and self-suppression. Who knows, maybe, this ugly exaggerated vanity is only a false fundamentally depraved sense of personal dignity, first outraged, perhaps, in childhood by oppression, poverty, filth, spat upon, perhaps, in the person of the future outcast’s parents before his eyes. But I have said that Foma Fomitch was also an exception to the general rule; that is true. He had at one time been a literary man slighted and unrecognized, and literature is capable of ruining men very different from Foma Fomitch—I mean, of course, when it is not crowned with success. I don’t know, but it may be assumed that Foma Fomitch had been unsuccessful before entering on a literary career; possibly in some other calling, too, he had received more kicks than halfpence, or possibly something worse. About that, however, I cannot say; but I made inquiries later on, and I know for certain that Foma Fomitch composed, at some time in Moscow, a romance very much like those that were published every year by dozens in the ‘thirties, after the style of The Deliverance of Moscow, The Chieftains of the Tempest, Sons of Love, or the Russians in 1104—novels which in their day afforded an agreeable butt for the wit of Baron Brambeus. That was, of course, long ago; but the serpent of literary vanity sometimes leaves a deep and incurable sting, especially in insignificant and dull-witted persons. Foma Fomitch had been disappointed from his first step in a literary career, and it was then that he was finally enrolled in the vast army of the disappointed, from which all the crazy saints, hermits and wandering pilgrims come later on. I think that his monstrous boastfulness, his thirst for praise and distinction, for admiration and homage, dates from the same period. Even when he was a buffoon he got together a group of idiots to do homage to him. Somewhere and somehow to stand first, to be an oracle, to swagger and give himself airs—that was his most urgent craving! As others did not praise him he began to praise himself. I have myself in my uncle’s house at Stepantchikovo heard Foma’s sayings after he had become the absolute monarch and oracle of the household. “I am not in my proper place among you,” he would say sometimes with mysterious impressiveness. “I am not in my proper place here. I will look round, I will settle you all, I will show you, I will direct you, and then good-bye; to Moscow to edit a review! Thirty thousand people will assemble every month to hear my lectures. My name will be famous at last, and then—woe to my enemies.”

    But while waiting to become famous the genius insisted upon immediate recognition in substantial form. It is always pleasant to receive payment in advance, and in this case it was particularly so. I know that he seriously assured my uncle that some great work lay before him, Foma, in the future—a work for which he had been summoned into the world, and to the accomplishment of this work he was urged by some sort of person with wings, who visited him at night, or something of that kind. This great work was to write a book full of profound wisdom in the soul-saving line, which would set the whole world agog and stagger all Russia. And when all Russia was staggered, he, Foma, disdaining glory, would retire into a monastery, and in the catacombs of Kiev would pray day and night for the happiness of the Fatherland. All this imposed upon my uncle.

    Well, now imagine what this Foma, who had been all his life oppressed and crushed, perhaps actually beaten too, who was vain and secretly lascivious, who had been disappointed in his literary ambitions, who had played the buffoon for a crust of bread, who was at heart a despot in spite of all his previous abjectness and impotence, who was a braggart, and insolent when successful, might become when he suddenly found himself in the haven he had reached after so many ups and downs, honoured and glorified, humoured and flattered, thanks to a patroness who was an idiot and a patron who was imposed upon and ready to agree to anything. I must, of course, explain my uncle’s character more fully, or Foma Fomitch’s success cannot be understood. But for the moment I will say that Foma was a complete illustration of the saying, “Let him sit down to the table and he will put his feet on it.” He paid us out for his past! A base soul escaping from oppression becomes an oppressor. Foma had been oppressed, and he had at once a craving to oppress others; he had been the victim of whims and caprices and now he imposed his own whims and caprices on others. He had been the butt of others, and now he surrounded himself with creatures whom he could turn into derision. His boasting was ridiculous; the airs he gave himself were incredible; nothing was good enough for him; his tyranny was beyond all bounds, and it reached such a pitch that simple-hearted people who had not witnessed his manoeuvres, but only heard queer stories about him, looked upon all this as a miracle, as the work of the devil, crossed themselves and spat.

    I was speaking of my uncle. Without explaining his remarkable character (I repeat) it is, of course, impossible to understand Foma Fomitch’s insolent domination in another man’s house; it is impossible to understand the metamorphosis of the cringing dependent into the great man. Besides being kind-hearted in the extreme, my uncle was a man of the most refined delicacy in spite of a somewhat rough exterior, of the greatest generosity and of proved courage. I boldly say of “courage”; nothing could have prevented him from fulfilling an obligation, from doing his duty—in such cases no obstacle would have dismayed him. His soul was as pure as a child’s. He was a perfect child at forty, open-hearted in the extreme, always good-humoured, imagining everybody an angel, blaming himself for other people’s shortcomings, and exaggerating the good qualities of others, even presupposing them where they could not possibly exist. He was one of those very generous and pure-hearted men who are positively ashamed to assume any harm of another, are always in haste to endow their neighbours with every virtue, rejoice at other people’s success, and in that way always live in an ideal world, and when everything goes wrong always blame themselves first. To sacrifice themselves in the interests of others is their natural vocation. Some people would have called him cowardly, weak-willed and feeble. Of course he was weak, and indeed he was of too soft a disposition; but it was not from lack of will, but from the fear of wounding, of behaving cruelly, from excess of respect for others and for mankind in general. He was, however, weak-willed and cowardly only when nothing was at stake but his own interests, which he completely disregarded, and for this he was continually an object of derision, and often with the very people for whom he was sacrificing his own advantage. He never believed, however, that he had enemies; he had them, indeed, but he somehow failed to observe them. He dreaded fuss and disturbance in the house like fire, and immediately gave way to any one and submitted to anything. He gave in through a sort of shy good nature, from a sort of shy delicacy. “So be it,” he would say, quickly brushing aside all reproaches for his indulgence and weakness; “so be it . . . that every one may be happy and contented!” I need hardly say that he was ready to submit to every honourable influence. What is more, an adroit rogue might have gained complete control over him, and even have lured him on to do wrong, of course misrepresenting the wrong action as a right one. My uncle very readily put faith in other people, and was often far from right in doing so. When, after many sufferings, he brought himself at last to believe that the man who deceived him was dishonest, he always blamed himself first—and sometimes blamed himself only. Now, imagine, suddenly queening it in his quiet home, a capricious, doting, idiot woman—inseparable from another idiot, her idol—a woman who had only feared her general, and was now afraid of nothing, and impelled by a craving to make up to herself for what she had suffered in the past; and this idiot woman my uncle thought it his duty to revere, simply because she was his mother. They began with proving to my uncle at once that he was coarse, impatient, ignorant and selfish to the utmost degree. The remarkable thing is that the idiotic old lady herself believed in what she professed. And I believe that Foma Fomitch did also, at least to some extent. They persuaded my uncle, too, that Foma had been sent from heaven by Divine Providence for the salvation of his soul and the subduing of his unbridled passions; that he was haughty, proud of his wealth, and quite capable of reproaching Foma Fomitch for eating his bread. My poor uncle was very soon convinced of the depth of his degradation, was ready to tear his hair and to beg forgiveness. . . .

    “It’s all my own fault, brother,” he would say sometimes to one of the people he used to talk to. “It’s all my fault! One ought to be doubly delicate with a man who is under obligations to one. . . . I mean that I . . . Under obligations, indeed! I am talking nonsense again! He is not under obligations to me at all: on the contrary, it is I who am under an obligation to him for living with me! And here I have reproached him for eating my bread! . . . Not that I did reproach him, but it seems I made some slip of the tongue—I often do make such slips. . . . And, after all, the man has suffered, he has done great things; for ten years in spite of insulting treatment he was tending his sick friend! And then his learning. . . . He’s a writer! A highly educated man! A very lofty character; in short . . .”

    The conception of the highly educated and unfortunate Foma ignominiously treated by the cruel and capricious general rent my uncle’s heart with compassion and indignation. All Foma’s peculiarities, all his ignoble doings my uncle at once ascribed to his sufferings, the humiliations he had endured in the past, and the bitterness left by them. . . . He at once decided in his soft and generous heart that one could not be so exacting with a man who had suffered as with an ordinary person; that one must not only forgive him, but more than that, one must, by gentle treatment, heal his wounds, restore him and reconcile him with humanity. Setting this object before him he was completely fired by it, and lost all power of perceiving that his new friend was a lascivious and capricious animal, an egoist, a sluggard, a lazy drone—and nothing more. He put implicit faith in Foma’s genius and learning. I forgot to mention that my uncle had the most naïve and disinterested reverence for the words “learning” and “literature,” though he had himself never studied anything. This was one of his chief and most guileless peculiarities.

    “He is writing,” he would whisper, walking on tiptoe, though he was two rooms away from Foma’s study. “I don’t know precisely what he is writing,” he added, with a proud and mysterious air, “but no doubt he is brewing something, brother. . . . I mean in the best sense, of course; it would be just a jumble that . . . I fancy he is writing of productive forces of some sort—he said so himself. I suppose that has something to do with politics. Yes, his name will be famous! Then we shall be famous through him. He told me that himself, brother. . . .”

    I know for a fact that my uncle was forced by Foma’s orders to shave off his beautiful fair whiskers. Foma considered that these whiskers made my uncle look like a Frenchman, and that wearing them showed a lack of patriotism. Little by little Foma began meddling in the management of the estate, and giving sage counsels on the subject. These sage counsels were terrible. The peasants soon saw the position and understood who was their real master, and scratched their heads uneasily.



    p. 4-7 (The Gambler): . . . I must confess I made my appearance at dinner unbidden; I fancy the General forgot to give orders, or else he would certainly have sent me to dine at the table d’hote. I came of my own accord, so that the General looked at me with astonishment. Kind-hearted Marya Filippovna immediately made a place for me; but my meeting with Mr. Astley saved the situation, and I could not help seeming to belong to the party.

    I met this strange Englishman for the first time in the train in Prussia, where we sat opposite to one another, when I was travelling to join the family; then I came across him as I was going into France, and then again in Switzerland: in the course of that fortnight twice—and now I suddenly met him in Roulettenburg. I never met a man so shy in my life. He is stupidly shy and, of course, is aware of it himself, for he is by no means stupid. He is very sweet and gentle, however. I drew him into talk at our first meeting in Prussia. He told me that he had been that summer at North Cape, and that he was very anxious to visit the fair at Nizhni Novgorod. I don’t know how he made acquaintance with the General; I believe that he is hopelessly in love with Polina. When she came in he glowed like a sunset. He was very glad that I was sitting beside him at the table and seemed already to look upon me as his bosom friend.

    At dinner the Frenchman gave himself airs in an extraordinary way; he was nonchalant and majestic with every one. In Moscow, I remember, he used to blow soap bubbles. He talked a great deal about finance and Russian politics. The General sometimes ventured to contradict, but discreetly, and only so far as he could without too great loss of dignity.

    I was in a strange mood; of course, before we were half through dinner I had asked myself my usual invariable question: “Why I went on dancing attendance on this General, and had not left them long ago?” From time to time I glanced at Polina Alexandrovna. She took no notice of me whatever. It ended by my flying into a rage and making up my mind to be rude.

    I began by suddenly, apropos of nothing, breaking in on the conversation in a loud voice. What I longed to do above all things was to be abusive to the Frenchman. I turned round to the General and very loudly and distinctly, I believe, interrupted him. I observed that this summer it was utterly impossible for a Russian to dine at table d’hote. The General turned upon me an astonished stare.

    “If you are a self-respecting man,” I went on, “you will certainly be inviting abuse and must put up with affronts to your dignity. In Paris, on the Rhine, even in Switzerland, there are so many little Poles, and French people who sympathize with them, that there’s no chance for a Russian to utter a word.”

    I spoke in French. The General looked at me in amazement. I don’t know whether he was angry or simply astonished at my so forgetting myself.

    “It seems some one gave you a lesson,” said the Frenchman, carelessly and contemptuously.

    “I had a row for the first time with a Pole in Paris,” I answered; “then with a French officer who took the Pole’s part. And then some of the French came over to my side, when I told them how I tried to spit in Monseigneur’s coffee.”

    “Spit?” asked the General, with dignified perplexity, and he even looked about him aghast.

    The Frenchman scanned me mistrustfully.

    “Just so,” I answered. “After feeling convinced for two whole days that I might have to pay a brief visit to Rome about our business, I went to the office of the Papal Embassy to get my passport viséed. There I was met by a little abbé, a dried-up little man of about fifty, with a frost-bitten expression. After listening to me politely, but extremely drily, he asked me to wait a little. Though I was in a hurry, of course I sat down to wait, and took up L’Opinion Nationale and began reading a horribly abusive attack on Russia. Meanwhile, I heard some one in the next room ask to see Monseigneur; I saw my abbé bow to him. I addressed the same request to him again; he asked me to wait—more drily than ever. A little later some one else entered, a stranger, but on business, some Austrian; he was listened to and at once conducted upstairs. Then I felt very much vexed; I got up, went to the abbé and said resolutely, that as Monseigneur was receiving, he might settle my business, too. At once the abbé drew back in great surprise. It was beyond his comprehension that an insignificant Russian should dare to put himself on a level with Monseigneur’s guests. As though delighted to have an opportunity of insulting me, he looked me up and down, and shouted in the most insolent tone: ‘Can you really suppose that Monseigneur is going to leave his coffee on your account?’ Then I shouted, too, but more loudly than he: ‘Let me tell you I’m ready to spit in your Monseigneur’s coffee! If you don’t finish with my passport this minute, I’ll go to him in person.’

    “ ‘What! When the Cardinal is sitting with him!’ cried the abbé, recoiling from me with horror, and, flinging wide his arms, he stood like a cross, with an air of being ready to die rather than let me pass.

    “Then I answered him that ‘I was a heretic and a barbarian, que je suis hérétique et barbare,’ and that I cared nothing for all these Archbishops, Cardinals, Monseigneurs and all of them. In short, I showed I was not going to give way. The abbé looked at me with uneasy ill-humor, then snatched my passport and carried it upstairs. A minute later it had been viséed. Here, wouldn’t you like to see it?” I took out the passport and showed the Roman visé.

    “Well, I must say . . .” the General began.

    “What saved you was saying that you were a heretic and barbarian,” the Frenchman observed, with a smile. “Cela n’était pas si bête [This was not so stupid].”

    “Why, am I to model myself upon our Russians here? They sit, not daring to open their lips, and almost ready to deny they are Russians. In Paris, anyway in my hotel, they began to treat me much more attentively when I told every one about my passage-at-arms with the abbé. The fat Polish pan, the person most antagonistic to me at table d’hote, sank into the background. The Frenchmen did not even resent it when I told them that I had, two years previously, seen a man at whom, in 1812, a French chasseur had shot simply in order to discharge his gun. The man was at that time a child of ten, and his family had not succeeded in leaving Moscow.”

    “That’s impossible,” the Frenchman boiled up; “a French soldier would not fire at a child!”

    “Yet it happened,” I answered. “I was told it by a most respectable captain on the retired list, and I saw the scar on his cheek from the bullet myself.”

    The Frenchman began talking rapidly and at great length. The General began to support him, but I recommended him to read, for instance, passages in the “Notes” of General Perovsky, who was a prisoner in the hands of the French in 1812. At last Marya Filippovna began talking of something else to change the conversation. The General was very much displeased with me, for the Frenchman and I had almost begun shouting at one another. But I fancy my dispute with the Frenchman pleased Mr. Astley very much. Getting up from the table, he asked me to have a glass of wine with him.


    from Notes from Underground:

    “ . . . I boldly declare that all these fine systems, all these theories that explain to humanity its best, normal interests, and assert that by striving out of necessity to attain them, it will immediately become virtuous and noble, are in my opinion pure sophistry! Oh yes, sophistry! You see, even to affirm this theory of the regeneration of the entire human race by means of this systematic classification of its own personal advantages is, in my opinion, almost the same as affirming with Buckle, for example, that civilization softens man and therefore he becomes less bloodthirsty and less inclined to wage war. He appears to argue it very logically. But man is so partial to systems and abstract conclusions that he is ready deliberately to distort the truth, ready neither to hear nor see anything, only as long as he can justify his logic. That’s why I take this as an example, because it is an all too striking one. Just take a look around you: blood is flowing in rivers and in such a jolly way you’d think it was champagne. There’s your entire nineteenth century, in which Buckle lived too. There’s your Napoleon—both the great Napoleon and the present-day one. There’s your North America the everlasting Union. Finally, there’s your grotesque Schleswig-Holstein . . . And what does civilization soften in us? Civilization develops in man only the many-sidedness of his sensations and decidedly nothing more. And through the development of this many-sidedness man may advance still further to the stage where he will find pleasure in bloodshed. Well, that’s already happened to him. Have you noticed that the most refined bloodshedders have almost invariably been highly civilized gentlemen, to whom all those different Attilas and Stenka Razins could not have held a candle. And if they don’t arrest your attention as powerfully as Atilla and Stenka Razin, that’s precisely because you meet with them so often, they are too commonplace and too familiar. At all events, if as a result of civilization man hasn’t grown more bloodthirsty, he has certainly become viler in his quest for blood than before. Formerly he saw justice in bloodshed and exterminated those he needed to with an easy conscience. But nowadays, although we consider bloodshed something abhorrent, we still participate in it—and more than ever. Which is worse?—that you must decide for yourselves. They say that Cleopatra (apologies for taking an example from Roman history) was fond of sticking gold pins into the bosoms of her slave girls, taking keen delight in their screams and contortions. You will say that this happened in relatively barbarous times; that today too times are still barbarous because (also relatively speaking) we still stick pins into people; and that even now, although man has learned to see more clearly than in barbarous times, he’s a long way from accustoming himself to act as science and reason dictate. For all that you are absolutely convinced that man is bound to grow accustomed once certain bad old habits have been discarded and when science and common sense have fully re-educated and directed human nature along normal lines. You are convinced that man will then, of his own accord, cease making mistakes and—so to speak—willy-nilly refuse to divorce his volition from his normal interests . . .





    http://st-james.hubpages.com/hub/Quo...ich-Dostoevsky

    Dostoevsky's influence has been acclaimed by a wide variety of writers, including Marcel Proust, William Faulkner, Charles Bukowski, Albert Camus, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ayn Rand, Franz Kafka, Henry Miller, Yukio Mishima, Cormac McCarthy, Gabriel García Márquez, Jack Kerouac, J.D. Salinger, Allen Ginsberg, Orhan Pamuk, and Joseph Heller.

    American novelist Ernest Hemingway cited Dostoevsky as a major influence on his work in his autobiographical novella A Moveable Feast.

    In a book of interviews with Arthur Power (Conversations with James Joyce), James Joyce praised Dostoevsky's influence:

    ‘...he is the man more than any other who has created modern prose, and intensified it to its present-day pitch. It was his explosive power which shattered the Victorian novel with its simpering maidens and ordered commonplaces; books which were without imagination or violence.’

    In her essay "The Russian Point of View", Virginia Woolf stated that,

    ‘The novels of Dostoevsky are seething whirlpools, gyrating sandstorms, waterspouts which hiss and boil and suck us in. They are composed purely and wholly of the stuff of the soul. Against our wills we are drawn in, whirled round, blinded, suffocated, and at the same time filled with a giddy rapture. Out of Shakespeare there is no more exciting reading.’


    Quotes from Dostoevsky

    ‘Deprived of meaningful work, men and women lose their reason for existence; they go stark, raving mad.’

    ‘Happiness does not lie in happiness, but in the achievement of it.’

    ‘Man, so long as he remains free, has no more constant and agonizing anxiety than to find as quickly as possible someone to worship.’

    ‘Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.’

    ‘Power is given only to those who dare to lower themselves and pick it up. Only one thing matters, one thing; to be able to dare!’

    ‘Realists do not fear the results of their study.’

    ‘Sarcasm: the last refuge of modest and chaste-souled people when the privacy of their soul is coarsely and intrusively invaded.’

    ‘The cleverest of all, in my opinion, is the man who calls himself a fool at least once a month.’

    ‘The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness.’

    ‘There are things which a man is afraid to tell even to himself, and every decent man has a number of such things stored away in his mind.’

    ‘There is no subject so old that something new cannot be said about it.’

    ‘To live without Hope is to Cease to live.’

    ‘To love someone means to see him as God intended him.’

    ‘We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.’



    A Writer’s Diary by Dostoevsky; p. 316-7 (A Colony of Young Offenders):

    So what sort of people has such a young offender encountered? How bestially indifferent must they have been toward his very existence! . . . . there truly are individuals so dark and dreadful that every trace of their humanity and civic duty has disappeared. When one realizes that, one can also understand what such a tiny, savage soul will become when forsaken and rejected by the human community this way. Yes, these children’s souls have witnessed some gloomy scenes and they are accustomed to strong impressions that will remain with them for ever, of course, and will recur in terrible dreams for the rest of their lives. And so those who would reform and educate such children must struggle with these terrible impressions; they must eradicate them and implant new ones—an enormous task.

    “You will not believe the savage state some of them are in when they come here,” P.A. told me. “There are some who know nothing of themselves or of their place in society. Such a boy has been wandering around the streets scarcely knowing what he is doing, and the only thing on earth he knows and can make any sense of is his freedom—the freedom to wander about, half dead from cold and hunger, but only to wander freely. There is one small boy here, no more than ten, and even now he is utterly unable to get along without stealing. He steals aimlessly, not for profit, but mechanically, simply to steal.”

    “So how do you hope to reform such children?”

    “Through work, a completely different way of life, and through fair treatment. And finally there’s the hope that in three years their old weaknesses and habits will be forgotten of their own accord, simply through the passage of time.”


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dostoyevsky#Legacy

    Together with Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky is often regarded as one of the greatest and most influential novelists of the Golden Age of Russian literature. Albert Einstein put him above the mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss, calling him a "great religious writer" who explores "the mystery of spiritual existence". Friedrich Nietzsche called Dostoyevsky "the only psychologist ... from whom I had something to learn; he ranks among the most beautiful strokes of fortune in my life".

    In his posthumous collection of sketches A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway stated that in Dostoyevsky "there were things believable and not to be believed, but some so true that they changed you as you read them; frailty and madness, wickedness and saintliness, and the insanity of gambling were there to know".

    Sigmund Freud called The Brothers Karamazov "the most significant novel ever written". Modern cultural movements such as the surrealists, the existentialists and the Beats cite Dostoyevsky as an influence, and he is cited as the forerunner of Russian symbolism, existentialism, expressionism and psychoanalysis.



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dou...el)#Influences

    Vladimir Nabokov, who generally regarded Dostoyevsky as a "rather mediocre" writer called The Double "the best thing [Dostoevsky] ever wrote," saying that it is "a perfect work of art.”



    http://www.fyodordostoevsky.com/quotes.php



    "So great is the worth of Dostoevsky that to have produced him is by itself sufficient justification for the existence of the Russian people in the world: and he will bear witness for his country-men at the last judgement of the nations." - Nikolay Berdyaev

    Turgenev on Dostoevsky: "...the nastiest Christian I've ever met".


    "Dostoyevsky wrote of the unconscious as if it were conscious; that is in reality the reason why his characters seem 'pathological', while they are only visualized more clearly than any other figures in imaginative literature... He was in the rank in which we set Dante, Shakespeare and Goethe." - Edwin Muir



    http://www.spectator.co.uk/books/893...ekirin-review/

    'The Shakespeare of the lunatic asylum' - review of The Dostoevsky Archive by Peter Sekirin

    Peter Conradi

    After you decapitate someone, might their severed head continue thinking? Prince Myshkin holds his audience spellbound with this macabre inquiry in The Idiot, a great novel whose author, Fyodor Dostoevsky, was once called the Shakespeare of the lunatic asylum. Each of his great novels concerns a murder (one a parricide); most also touch upon the sickening theme of the rape of a child. The writer Lafcadio Hearn warned that reading him might actually drive you mad: it can certainly invoke pity and terror, embarrassment and laughter.

    Dostoevsky’s life was even weirder than his fiction. He was born in 1821, the son of a surgeon whom he believed to have been killed by his own serfs. He was often poor, and so he is the only great Russian writer of his generation whose first language was Russian rather than French: there was no money for the requisite governess. After writing the sentimental Poor Folk (1845), he joined the socialist Petrashevsky’s circle, was arrested and spent six months in solitary. On 22 December 1849 he and others were given long peasant blouses as shrouds and condemned to death by firing squad.

    They were tied to stakes, summoned to repentance by a priest, and blind-folded. Tsar Nicholas I loved to be seen as all-powerful, and personally supervised the sacking of all schoolmasters whose pupils slouched in class. That day he choreographed a mock-execution with an aide-de-camp galloping onto the scene to reveal the true sentences: hard labour in Siberia. Dostoevsky, heavily shackled, took into his eight years of exile The Pickwick Papers, David Copperfield and a Decembrist Bible. Of all writers he best loved Dickens, whose novels calmed him down and cheered him up. Like Dickens, Dostoevsky was a great reader and performer of his own work.

    The novels he wrote on his return from exile, after a change of political heart, rank in any league table among the greatest. Dostoevsky was now a monarchist and the arch-enemy of radicals. The title of The Devils (1871)— aka The Possessed — refers to socialists crazed by spite and envy. It is a novel that with hindsight seems to prophesy the age of Stalin, under whose rule — although Poor Folk stayed in the syllabus — Dostoevsky’s later work went out of favour and out of print.

    When, in 1971, the Soviet Academy opened a subscription list for the first new edition of his work for half a century, crowds of Russians queued patiently through the night to enter their names. But even then, two decades after Stalin’s death, much about Dostoevsky was still censored. It was, for example, too embarrassing to be mentioned by Soviet biographers that Dostoevsky visited Petersburg’s Winter Palace and developed a close relationship with the Royal Family. Rather oddly, this book’s eccentric index gives the enticing entry ‘tutoring Tsar’s children’ with no following page reference. We are, however, told that he was once seen hanging on to one of the Tsarina Maria Fyodorovna’s buttons while she tried unsuccessfully to retire and that she cried. His habit of buttonholing you was quite literal.

    That is not a bad analogy for the experience of reading his novels. It recalls being addressed by a complete stranger with unnerving and soul-piercing intimacy. And it may be why the composer Tchaikovsky — who wept when he read The Brothers Karamazov as he had never wept at any other book — nonetheless recorded: ‘Author of genius. But the more I read, the more he weighs me down.’ Tchaikovsky attended Dostoevsky’s rapturously applauded Pushkin Speech with its mystical summons to love of the Russian people.




    Lectures on Russian Literature / Nabokov; p. 135 [criticism of The Brothers Karamazov]:

    Ivan, the second brother, who goes away from the town in order to allow the murder to be completed (by Smerdyakov whom he has been actually coaching for murder in a sort of metaphysical way), Ivan who thus becomes so to say an accomplice of Dmitri, Ivan is much more closely integrated in the plot of the book than is the third brother Alyosha. Where Alyosha is concerned, we constantly gain the impression that the author was torn between two independent plots: Dmitri’s tragedy on the one side and the story of the almost saintly youth Alyosha. Alyosha is again an exponent (the other was Prince Myshkin) of the author’s unfortunate love for the simple-minded hero of Russian folklore. The whole lengthy limp story of the monk Zosima could have been deleted from the novel without impairing it; rather, its deletion would have given the book more unity and a better balanced construction. And again quite independently, sticking quite obviously out of the general scheme of the book, stands the, in itself, very well written story of the schoolboy Ilyusha. But even into that excellent story about the boy Ilyusha, another boy Kolya, the dog Zhuchka, the silver toy cannon, the cold nose of the puppy, the freakish tricks of the hysterical father, even into this story Alyosha introduces an unpleasant unctuous chill.

    Generally speaking, whenever the author busies himself with Dmitri his pen acquires exceptional liveliness. Dmitri seems to be constantly illumined by strong lamps, and so do all those who surround him. But the moment we come to Alyosha, we are immersed in a different, entirely lifeless element. Dusky paths lead the reader away into a murky world of cold reasoning abandoned by the spirit of art.


    p. 102-5:

    Through French and Russian translations, Western influence, sentimental and gothic — Samuel Richardson, Ann Radcliffe, Dickens, Rousseau, Eugene Sue — combines in Dostoevski's works with a religion of compassion merging on melodramatic sentimentality.

    We must distinguish between "sentimental" and "sensitive." A sentimentalist may be a perfect brute in his free time. A sensitive person is never a cruel person. Sentimental Rousseau, who could weep over a progressive idea, distributed his many natural children through various poorhouses and workhouses and never gave a hoot for them. A sentimental old maid may pamper her parrot and poison her niece. The sentimental politician may remember Mother's Day and ruthlessly destroy a rival. Stalin loved babies. Lenin sobbed at the opera, especially at the Traviata. A whole century of authors praised the simple life of the poor, and so on. Remember that when we speak of sentimentalists, among them Richardson, Rousseau, Dostoevski, we mean the non-artistic exaggeration of familiar emotions meant to provoke automatically traditional compassion in the reader.

    Dostoevski never really got over the influence which the European mystery novel and the sentimental novel made upon him. The sentimental influence implied that kind of conflict he liked — placing virtuous people in pathetic situations and then extracting from these situations the last ounce of pathos. When after his return from Siberia his essential ideas began to ripen — the idea of salvation to be found through transgression, the ethical supremacy of suffering and submission over struggle and resistance, the defence of free will not as a metaphysical but as a moral proposition, and the ultimate formula of egoism-antichrist Europe on one side and brotherhood-Christ-Russia on the other — when these ideas (which are all thoroughly examined in countless textbooks) suffused his novels, much of the Western influence still remained, and one is tempted to say that in a way Dostoevski, who so hated the West, was the most European of the Russian writers.

    Another interesting line of inquiry lies in the examination of his characters in their historical development. Thus the favorite hero of the old Russian folklore, John the Simpleton, who is considered a weak-minded muddler by his brothers but is really as cunning as a skunk and perfectly immoral in his activities, an unpoetical and unpleasant figure, the personification of secret slyness triumphing over the big and the strong, Johnny the Simpleton, that product of a nation which has had more than one nation's share of misery, is a curious prototype of Dostoevski's Prince Myshkin, hero of his novel The Idiot, the positively good man, the pure innocent fool, the cream of humility, renunciation, and spiritual peace.

    And Prince Myshkin, in turn, had for his grandson the character recently created by the contemporary Soviet writer Mikhail Zoshchenko, the type of cheerful imbecile, muddling through a police-state totalitarian world, imbecility being the last refuge in that kind of world.

    Dostoevski's lack of taste, his monotonous dealings with persons suffering with pre-Freudian complexes, the way he has of wallowing in the tragic misadventures of human dignity — all this is difficult to admire. I do not like this trick his characters have of "sinning their way to Jesus" or, as a Russian author Ivan Bunin put it more bluntly, "spilling Jesus all over the place."

    Just as I have no ear for music, I have to my regret no ear for Dostoevski the Prophet. The very best thing he ever wrote seems to me to be The Double. It is the story—told very elaborately, in great, almost Joycean detail (as the critic Mirsky notes), and in a style intensely saturated with phonetic and rhythmical expressiveness—of a government clerk who goes mad, obsessed by the idea that a fellow clerk has usurped his identity. It is a perfect work of art, that story, but it hardly exists for the followers of Dostoevski the Prophet, because it was written in the 1840s, long before his so-called great novels; and moreover its imitation of Gogol is so striking as to seem at times almost a parody.

    In the light of the historical development of artistic vision, Dostoevski is a very fascinating phenomenon. If you examine closely any of his works, say The Brothers Karamazov, you will note that the natural background and all things relevant to the perception of the senses hardly exist. What landscape there is is a landscape of ideas, a moral landscape. The weather does not exist in his world, so it does not much matter how people dress. Dostoevski characterizes his people through situation, through ethical matters, their psychological reactions, their inside ripples. After describing the looks of a character, he uses the old-fashioned device of not referring to his specific physical appearance any more in the scenes with him. This is not the way of an artist, say Tolstoy, who sees his character in his mind all the time and knows exactly the specific gesture he will employ at this or that moment. But there is something more striking still about Dostoevski. He seems to have been chosen by the destiny of Russian letters to become Russia's greatest playwright, but he took a wrong turn and wrote novels. The novel The Brothers Karamazov has always seemed to me a straggling play, with just that amount of furniture and other implements needed for the various actors: a round table with the wet, round trace of a glass, a window painted yellow to make it look as if there were sunlight outside, or a shrub hastily brought in and plumped down by a stagehand.



    “Dostoevsky – in Moderation” by Thomas Mann:


    There was something very attractive to me about the invitation on the part of the Dial Press to write a preface to an edition of Dostoevsky’s shorter novels, the six narratives included in this volume. The publisher’s moderation which determined the character of this edition tended to put the commentator’s mind at ease and to encourage him in a task from which he might otherwise have shrunk, not to say recoiled—the task of making the entire, tremendous cosmos of Dostoevsky’s works the object of his consideration and discussion. Moreover this commentator would scarcely have had another chance in this life to render his critical tribute to the great Russian if it had not been for this opportunity to do it lightly, so to speak, in a limited space, for a specific purpose, and with the degree of self-restriction which the purpose charitably prescribes.

    Strangely enough, my life as an author led me to write detailed studies on Tolstoy as well as on Goethe—several on each of them. But I have never formally written on two other cultural experiences of similar weight that moved me as deeply in my youth and that I never tired of renewing and intensifying in my mature years: I have never written on Nietzsche nor on Dostoevsky. I omitted writing the Nietzsche essay for which my friends often asked me, although it seemed to lie on my path. And the “profound, criminal, saintly face of Dostoevsky” (that was my characterization at one time) appears only fleetingly in my writings to vanish again quickly. Why this evasion, this shunning, this silence—in contrast with the inadequate, to be sure, but enthusiastic eloquence to which the greatness of the other two masters and stars inspired me? I know the answer. It was easy for me to render intimate and rapturous homage, tempered with tender irony, to the images of the divine and the fortunate, the children of nature in their exalted simplicity and their exuberant healthfulness: to the autobiographic aristocratism of the molder of a majestic personal culture, Goethe, and to the primitive epic force, the unrivaled naturalness, of the “great author of all the Russias,” Tolstoy, with his clumsy, every failing attempts at moralistic spiritualization of his pagan corporeality. But I am filled with awe, with a profound, mystic, silence-enjoining awe, in the presence of the religious greatness of the damned, in the presence of genius of disease and the disease of genius, of the type of the afflicted and the possessed, in whom saint and criminal are one. . . .


    “The Pale Criminal”—whenever I read this chapter heading in Zarathustra, a morbidly inspired work of genius if ever there was one, the eerily grief-ridden features of Dostoevsky, as we know them from a number of good pictures, stand before me. Moreover, I suspect that they were in the mind of the drunken migrainist of Sils Maria when he wrote it. For Dostoevsky’s work played a remarkable role in his life; he frequently mentions him in his letters as well as in his books (while I am not aware that he ever said a word about Tolstoy); he calls him the most profound psychologist in world literature and refers to him in a kind of unassuming enthusiasm as his “great teacher”—although in fact there is scarcely an indication of discipleship in his relation to his great Eastern brother-in-spirit. They were more nearly brothers in spirit, tragically grotesque companions in misfortune, in spite of fundamental differences in heredity and tradition—on the one hand the German professor, whose Luciferian genius, stimulated by disease, developed from the soil of classical learning, philological erudition, idealistic philosophy, and musical Romanticism; on the other, the Byzantine Christian, who was free from the humanistic inhibitions that limited the other, and who could occasionally be regarded as the “great teacher” simply because he was not German (for it was Nietzsche’s most passionate desire to free himself of his Germanism), because he appeared as the liberator from bourgeois morality, and because he affirmed the will to psychological affront, to the crime of frank acknowledgment.

    It seems impossible to speak of Dostoevsky’s genius without being forced to think of the word “criminal.” The eminent Russian critic Merezhkovsky uses it in various studies on the author of The Karamazovs, repeatedly and with a double meaning: referring, in the first place, to Dostoevsky himself and to “the criminal curiosity of his insight,” and, in the second place, referring to the object of this insight, the human heart, whose most recondite and most criminal impulses he laid bare. “The reader,” says this critic, “is aghast at his omniscience, his penetration into the conscience of a stranger. We are confronted by our own secret thoughts, which we would not reveal to a friend, not even to ourselves.” Yet we are only apparently dealing with objective and quasi-medical scrutiny and diagnosis—it is in reality psychological lyricism in the widest sense of the word, admission and horrible confession, pitiless revelation of the criminal depths of the author’s own conscience—and this accounts for the terrific moral force, the religious frightfulness of Dostoevsky’s knowledge of the soul. A comparison with Proust, and with the psychological novelties, surprises, and knick-knacks that abound in his works, at once exposes the difference in accent, in moral tone. The psychological curios and pertnesses of the Frenchman are simply amusing compared with the ghastly revelations of Dostoevsky, a man who had been in Hell. Could Proust have written Crime and Punishment, the greatest detective novel of all times? It was not the science that he lacked, but the conscience. . . . As far as Goethe is concerned, a psychologist of the first water from Werther to the Elective Affinities, Goethe declares frankly that he has never heard of a crime of which he did not feel capable himself. This is the word of a disciple of pietistic self-scrutiny but the element of Greek innocence predominates in it. It is a self-possessed word—a challenge to bourgeois morality, to be sure, but cool and haughty rather than filled with Christian contrition, bold rather than profound in a religious sense. Tolstoy was essentially his peer, in spite of all Christian velleity. “I have nothing to conceal from men,” he used to say; “let them all know what I am doing!” Compare this with the confessions of the hero of Notes from Underground where he speaks of his secret dissipations. “Even at that time,” he says, “I had a love for secrecy. I was terribly afraid that someone might see me, meet me, recognize me.” His life, which could not bear ultimate frankness, ultimate exposure before the eyes of the world, was ruled by the secret of Hell.

    Undoubtedly the subconsciousness and even the consciousness of this titanic creator was permanently burdened with a heavy sense of guilt, a sense of the criminal, and this feeling was by no means of purely hypochondriac nature. It was connected with his infirmity, the “sacred” disease, the pre-eminently mystic disease, epilepsy. He suffered from it from childhood, but the disease was fatally intensified by his trial when he was unjustly accused in the year 1849, at the age of twenty-eight, on a charge of political conspiracy and actually sentenced to death (he was already standing at the stake facing death when, at the last moment, his sentence was commuted to four years at hard labor in Siberia). It was his opinion that the disease would culminate in the exhaustion of his physical and intellectual powers, in death or insanity. The attacks occurred on the average of once a month, sometimes more frequently, at times even twice a week. He often described them: both in direct communication and by transferring the malady to psychologically favored characters in his novels: to the terrible Smerdyakov, to the hero of The Idiot, Prince Myshkin, to the nihilist and fanatic Kirilov in The Possessed. Two symptoms, according to his description, are characteristic of the falling sickness: the incomparable sense of rapture, of inner enlightenment, of harmony, of highest ecstasy, preceding by a few moments the spasm that begins with an inarticulate, no longer human scream—and the state of horrible depression and deep grief, of spiritual ruin and desolation, that follows it. This reaction seems to me even more symbolic of the nature of the disease than the exaltation that precedes the attack. Dostoevsky describes it as a rapture so strong and sweet “that one is ready to exchange ten years of life or even life itself for the bliss of these few seconds.” The subsequent, terrific hangover, however, according to the confession of the great invalid, was marked by a “feeling of being a criminal,” by the weight of unknown guilt, by the burden of an awful crime.


    I don’t know what neurologists think of the “sacred” disease, but in my opinion it is definitely rooted in the realm of the sexual, it is a wild and explosive manifestation of sex dynamics, a transferred and transfigured sexual act, a mystic dissipation. I repeat that I regard the subsequent state of contrition and misery, the mysterious feeling of guilt, as even more revealing than the preceding seconds of bliss for which “one is ready to exchange his life.” No matter to what extent the malady menaced Dostoevsky’s mental powers, it is certain that his genius is most intimately connected with it and colored by it, that his psychological insight, his understanding of crime and of what the Apocalypse calls “satanic depths,” and most of all his ability to suggest secret guilt and to weave it into the background of his frequently horrible creatures—all these qualities are inseparably related to the disease. In the past of Svidrigailov (Crime and Punishment), for example, there is “a criminal affair of bestial, not to say fantastic, brutality, for which he would most certainly have been sent to Siberia.” It is left to the more or less willing imagination of the reader to guess what this affair may be: in all probability it is a sex crime, possibly child rape—for this is also the secret or a part of the secret in the life of Stavrogin in The Possessed, that icy and contemptible masterful person before whom weaker creatures groveled in the dust, possibly one of the most weirdly attractive characters in world literature. There is an unpublished portion of this novel, “Stavrogin’s Confession,” in which he relates, among other things, the rape of a little girl. According to Merezhkovsky it is a powerful fragment, full of terrible realism transcending the bounds of art. Apparently this infamous crime constantly occupied the author’s moral imagination. It is said that one day he confessed the commission of a sin of this sort to his famous colleague Turgenev, whom he hated and despised on account of his West European sympathies—undoubtedly a mendacious confession with which he merely wished to frighten and confuse the serene, humane, and quite unsatanic Turgenev. In St. Petersburg, when he was forty years old and had attained fame as the author of The House of Death, which had moved even the Czar to tears, in a family circle that included a number of very young girls, he once narrated the plot of a story he had planned in his youth, a novel in which a landed proprietor, a sedate and substantial man, suddenly remembers that two decades ago, after an all-night drinking bout with dissolute companions, he had raped a ten-year-old girl.

    “Fyodor Mikhailovitch!” the mother of the household exclaimed, raising her hands in horror. “Have pity on us! The children are listening!”

    Yes, he must have been a very remarkable citizen, this Fyodor Mikhailovitch.

    Nietzsche’s infirmity was not the falling sickness, although it is not difficult to picture the author of Zarathustra and The Antichrist as an epileptic. He shared the fate of many artists and particularly of a notable number of musicians (among whom he belongs after a fashion): he perished from progressive paralysis, a malady of unmistakably sexual origin, since medical science has long recognized it as the result of luetic infection. Viewed from the naturalistic-medical angle—a limited perspective, to be sure—Nietzsche’s intellectual development is nothing but the case history of paralytic deterioration and degeneration—that is, he was propelled from a state of highly gifted normality upward into icy and grotesque spheres of fatal insight and moral isolation, a terrible and criminal degree of knowledge for which a delicate and kindhearted man, such as he was, in need of forbearance and indulgence, had never been born but for which, like Hamlet, he had only been called.

    “Criminal”—I repeat the word in order to stress the psychological relationship of the cases of Nietzsche and Dostoevsky. It is no mere chance that the former was so strongly attracted to the latter that he called him his “great teacher.” Excess is common to them both, the drunken unleashing of insight, coupled with a religious, i.e., satanistic moralism which in Nietzsche’s case was called antimoralism. Neitzsche probably did not know the epileptic’s mystic sense of guilt of which I spoke. But the fact that his personal conception of life made him familiar with that of the criminal is attested by one of his aphorisms, which I can’t find at the moment but which I distinctly remember. In it he says that all intellectual isolation and alienation from the civil norm, all mental autonomy and ruthlessness, are related to the criminal’s mode of life and afford an experiential insight into it. It seems to me that we can go even farther and say that all creative originality, all artistry in the widest sense of the word, does just that. The French painter and sculptor Degas once made the remark that the artist must approach his work in the same frame of mind in which the criminal commits his deed.

    “Exceptional conditions make the artist,” Nietzsche himself said: “all conditions that are profoundly related and interlaced with morbid phenomena; it seems impossible to be an artist and not to be sick.” The German thinker probably did not know the nature of his disease, but he was well aware of his debt to it, and his letters and published works are full of heroic eulogies of disease as a means to knowledge. A typical symptom of paralysis, presumably due to hyperemia of the affected cerebral parts, is the surge of an intoxicating sense of bliss and power and an actual—though medically, of course, pathological—intensification of productive capacity. Before it clouds its victim’s mind and kills him, the disease grants him illusory (in the sense of sane normality) experiences of power and sovereign facility, of enlightenment and blissful inspiration, so that he stands in awe of himself and is filled with the conviction that there has been no one like him in a thousand years; he regards himself as a divine mouthpiece, a vessel of grace, a god in his own right. We have descriptions of such euphoric affliction and of overwhelming inspiration in the letters of Hugo Wolf, in whose case they were invariably followed by periods of intellectual void and artistic impotence. But the most grandiose account of paralytic enlightenment, a stylistic masterpiece, is found in Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo, in the third section of the chapter on Zarathustra. “Does anyone,” he asks, “at the end of the nineteenth century have an idea of what poets of powerful eras called inspiration? If not, I shall describe it.” It is clear that he regards his experience as something atavistic, something daemonically retrovertive, something belonging to another, more “powerful,” more Godlike state of mankind, something foreign to the psychic capabilities of our faintly rationalistic epoch. And to think that what he is in truth describing—but what is truth: experience or medicine?—is a morbid state of irritation that mockingly precedes the paralytic collapse.

    Possibly his concept of the “Eternal Return,” to which he attaches great weight, is a product of euphoria, uncontrolled by reason, and a reminiscence rather than intellectual property. Merezhkovsky pointed out long ago that the idea of the “Superman” occurs in Dostoevsky, in the speeches of the aforementioned epileptic, Kirilov, in The Possessed. Dostoevsky’s, nihilistic seer says: “There will be a new man and everything will be new. History will be divided into two sections: from the gorilla to the annihilation of God, and from the annihilation of God to the physical transformation of the earth and of man”—in other words, to the appearance of the God-man, the superman. But no one seems to have noted that the idea of the Eternal Return is also to be found in The Karamazovs, in Ivan’s dialogue with the Devil. “You’re always thinking of our present earth!” says the Devil. “But our present earth has repeated itself, possibly billions of times; it would become senile, turned to ice, broke in two, fell apart, resolved itself into its elements, once more there was water ‘over the firmament,’ then the comet, next the sun, and finally, out of the sun, came the earth—this process has perhaps repeated itself times without number and each time in the identical manner down to the last tiny detail . . . isn’t that the most unspeakably indecent boredom!”

    Through the mouth of the Devil, Dostoevsky designates as “indecent boredom” what Nietzsche hails with Dionysiac affirmation, adding “For I love you, Eternity!” But the idea is the same, and while I believe that the Superman is a case of coincidence based on intellectual fraternity, I am inclined to regard the “Eternal Return” as a result of reading, a subconscious, euphorically tinged memory of Dostoevsky.


    . . . From the biological point of view the life of this man [Dostoevsky] is most confusing: a quivering bundle of nerves, subject to spasms at a moment’s notice, “so sensitive as if he had been flayed and the mere contact with the air were painful” (quoted from Notes from Underground), he nevertheless managed to live a full sixty years (1821-1881), and in his four productive decades he erected a stupendous lifework of an unheard-of novelty and audacity, a surging wealth of passions and visions—a work which not only broadens our knowledge of man by its furor of “criminal” insight and confession, but also contains a surprising amount of mischievous humor, fantastic comedy, and “cheerfulness of the spirit.” For, among other things, as the reader of the present edition will soon discover, this crucified man was also a really great humorist.


    . . . . I confess that I like the first part of Notes from Underground even better than the second, the stirring and shameful story of the prostitute Liza. I grant that the first part does not consist of action but of talk, and talk reminiscent in many respects of the depraved prating of certain religious personages in Dostoevsky’s great novels. Granted also that it is hazardous talk in the strongest sense of the word, dangerously likely to confuse naïve minds, because it stresses skepticism against faith, and because it heretically attacks civilization and democracy and the humanitarians and the meliorists who believe that man strives for happiness and advancement while he is actually thirsting just as much for suffering, the only source of knowledge, that he really does not want the crystal palace and the anthill of social consummation, and that he will never renounce his predilection for destruction and chaos. All that sounds like reactionary wickedness and may worry well-meaning minds who believe that the most important thing today is the bridging of the chasm that yawns between intellectual realization and scandalously retarded social and economic reality. It is the most important thing—and yet those heresies are the truth: the dark side of truth, away from the sun, which no one dares to neglect who is interested in the truth, the whole truth, truth about man. The tortured paradoxes which Dostoevsky’s “hero” hurls at his positivistic adversaries, antihuman as they sound, are spoken in the name of and out of love for humanity: on behalf of a new, deeper, and unrhetorical humanity that has passed through all the hells of suffering and of understanding.













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    Last edited by HERO; 11-12-2015 at 01:33 AM.

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    EII 4w5, probably sp/sx. his heroes are always depicted in a very dismally delta Fi way, i.e. as possessing a kind of stable core that's constantly infringed upon by circumstances but never really undermined; and the circumstances he depicts are equally bleak, varying from grandiose, haphazard escapades to solemn, simple-hearted interactions, all of which seem to kind of evolve of their own accord, like tolstoy except with a stable inner environmental influence. unlike the latter, he's more intimate and personal, and seeks less to evoke interpersonal, semi-aristocratic nuance than to highlight psychological lineaments... it's pretty cool, because you can get sidetracked in stories that aren't even being deliberately told, something which ties back into delta Ne, which could be conceived of as the most 'free' of all information elements in a quadra progression sense.

    I haven't read crime and punishment but I have read the brothers karamazov (my favorite), notes from the underground and the double. what's interesting is that despite the fact that the latter two are infinitely more bleak than the former, the stories being told feel the same. there's a central undercurrent of why people actually make the choices they do, what they are in and of themselves, and how they essentially bear on their psychological constitution and output, whether it be in the form of despondent masochism, borderline psychosis, or religiously-inspired devotion. so I'm definitely looking forward to reading crime and punishment.
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    - from A New Word on The Brothers Karamazov; p. 74-89 (“Struggle for Theosis: Smerdyakov as Would-Be Saint” by Lee D. Johnson):

    As a boy, he enjoys spending his free time engaged in the ceremonial hanging of cats. As a young man, he shares some of his childhood tricks of the trade with a local youth, teaching the boy a particularly novel method of torturing dogs. Following a pattern common among animal torturers, he eventually sets his sadistic sights on a human being—in this case, murdering his blood father without much in the way of any apparent, serious motive. Indeed, one would be hard-pressed to find a more thoroughly repugnant character in all of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s oeuvre than Pavel Smerdyakov.

    And yet, this ostensible characterization must give us pause. Robert Louis Jackson has said that the central questions posed by The Brothers Karamazov as a whole can be distilled to the simple query: Is the human being good by nature? And, as a correlative question, one might also ask: In the world of Dostoevsky’s final novel, are all human beings worthy, essentially good? Certainly, any reasonable consideration of the morally repulsive character of Smerdyakov would lead us to the brink of answering at least the latter, broader question in the negative: some human beings are morally bankrupt, unworthy, and, in the common Christian sense of the word, evil. And, indeed, many critics have rightly seen in Smerdyakov a demonic element, identifying him with Ivan’s hallucinatory devil and tracing the lackey’s purely nefarious influence throughout the novel.


    But is this the final word on this illegitimate Karamazov son? Would it not be detrimental to the author’s conception of free will and salvation to create a character born of pure evil, a man wholly bereft of innate goodness and thereby deprived of any considerable chance for redemption? A closer reading of the Smerdyakov character reveals surprising evidence toward an answer to these questions, evidence which suggests not only that Dostoevsky imbues Smerdyakov with traits he deems worthy and noble, but that he uses precisely this seemingly base character to embody some of his most cherished religious beliefs. That is to say, despite Smerdyakov’s violent, nihilistic exterior, there are subtle indications of a much different nature within him, of a deeply spiritual side. In particular, Smerdyakov unwittingly displays signs of a latent, unconscious understanding of a religious concept central to Orthodox theology and crucial to the religious thematics of The Brothers Karamazov on the whole. This concept is known as theosis—the Orthodox belief that human beings are capable of partaking in the very divinity of God, that such participation is, in fact, the end goal of all Christians. As the fourth-century saint Athanasius summarizes, “For He was made man that we might be made God.” From its incipience, this doctrine of theosis, or deification, was staunchly distinguished by the Eastern church fathers from the seemingly similar but originally pagan concept of apotheosis, whereby a human being does not so much share God’s divinity as become a god himself. Indeed, the doctrinal battles that gave birth to the Seven Ecumenical Councils (the councils that form the backbone of the Eastern Orthodox Churches) were primarily concerned with achieving precise Trinitarian and christological formulas, carefully balanced definitions that would, on the one hand, preserve the possibility of theosis without, on the other, opening the door for any heretical tendency that remotely resembled the pagan concept of apotheosis.

    Dostoevsky, well read in patristic literature, incorporates these religious conceptual battles into the thematic structure of his novel, and in the character of Smerdyakov we see a struggle between his innately felt but consciously stifled yearnings for true theosis and the distorted surface manifestation of such yearnings, which find their expression in a form resembling that of apotheosis.

    At the point of Alyosha Karamazov’s spiritual nadir, when the public disgrace visited upon his elder’s funeral seems to shake the very foundations of his religious faith, Alyosha’s thoughts and words suddenly bear a striking resemblance to those of his brother, Ivan. Alyosha burns with indignation at God’s apparent lack of justice and even goes so far as to quote his older brother’s most blasphemous pronouncement: “I’m not rebelling against my God, I simply ‘do not accept his world,’” Alyosha said with a sudden, crooked smile”. However, the narrator is careful to identify the source of Alyosha’s despair: “ ‘No, he was not with those of little faith.’ Moreover, it was quite the opposite: all his confusion arose precisely because of his great faith”. That there is a profound longing for God behind Alyosha’s momentary rebellion is, perhaps, not surprising; but surely Alyosha’s close borrowing of Ivan’s ideas at this juncture must lead the astute reader to question whether there might not be a similar “confusion” in Ivan himself—a spiritual yearning recast as spiritual revolt. And would it not also be logical to seek signs of this same spiritual confusion in the other character who readily adopts Ivan’s ideas, and who speaks of them with a similar, queer smile of collusion—Ivan’s ideological ally, Smerdyakov?

    Vasily Rozanov has said that it is precisely the element of the divine within the human being that leads him to rebel against God. This phrase may well be applied to Smerdyakov, as a close examination of this character evinces a strange inner element beneath much of the lackey’s rebellious behavior and blasphemous speech. His foster father, Grigory, asks Smerdyakov why it is that he has not married and why he will not allow Grigory to find the young man a wife. Grigory’s question is easily seen in conjunction with the narrator’s repeated references to Smerdyakov as having the appearance or demeanor of a eunuch. Such a striking comparison has led Richard Peace to associate Smerdyakov with the religious sect of the Castrates. And certainly, these references bring to mind the biblical verse that speaks of “eunuchs from birth” and “those who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven”. However, this persistent detail can also be read as emblematic of Smerdyakov’s spiritual desires on the whole. One senses that he, too, on some level, seeks the kingdom of heaven, but that in his efforts he has stifled and mutilated his natural self, and the multiple descriptions of his “sallow eunuch’s complexion” would seem to indicate an inner calling that is in some way stunted from living expression.*

    *Michael Holquist interprets this “eunuch” status as symbolic of Smerdyakov’s inability to progress from the role of son to that of father, an indication of his permanent state of adolescence. This notion of stunted growth on a primarily psychological level can be read as a correlate explanation to the present essay’s consideration of Smerdyakov’s retarded spiritual development: an inability to progress toward God the Father. However, while critics have tended to view Smerdyakov in a more static manner, as a character mired in this stunted state without any potential for change—Holquist sees Smerdyakov as “condemned always to be the helpless son”; Grossman refers to him as a “moral monster and spiritual corpse”; Peace describes the lackey as one who “suffer[s] from ‘narrowness’ ” and whose “nature is not open to beauty”—the present essay argues for a broader, more dynamic conception of Smerdyakov, a character whose latent spiritual proclivities ceaselessly struggle to break into the conscious fore.


    Similarly, Smerdyakov is stricken with epilepsy, a disease that Dostoevsky had previously associated with moments of mystical lucidity in connection with The Idiot’s Prince Myshkin and his own experiences with the illness. That Dostoevsky would now choose to associate a condition that had accrued such spiritual significance for his readers, that he would link a symbol fraught with established meaning to this professed atheist leads us to question further whether there is more to Smerdyakov than is initially apparent. And yet here, too, there remains a sense of spirituality gone awry, of a deep yearning for the sacred turned profane. This illness—normally an involuntary paroxysm that, in Dostoevsky’s writings, overcomes the afflicted person like the sudden flash of light that knocks St. Paul to the ground on the road to Damascus—is, instead, consciously feigned as an alibi for murder. Unlike his namesake, Pavel Smerdyakov is not lifted up to third heaven by a higher power but willfully chooses to fall into a basement with a sham attack, and his disease is consistently referred to by the antiquated term paduchaia bolezn’, the “falling sickness.” There is ever a struggle between the Saul and the Paul in Smerdyakov, and it is highly significant that Pavel’s attempt to wrench control of his illness from the hands of God by feigning a fit at his own predesignated time is followed by a particularly strong and unexpected real attack of epilepsy. Despite his best efforts to deny and overcome it, there is within him an otherworldly force that he cannot suppress. After his mystical epiphany, St. Paul was sent “a messenger of Satan to torment [him], to keep [him] from being too elated” (2 Cor 12:7). This messenger, which biblical scholars have traditionally identified as a disease or physical disability of some sort, is meant to keep St. Paul’s pride in check, to restrain him from boasting. By constrast, it is precisely Pavel Smerdyakov’s pride that will not let him succumb to any mystical inclinations, and in this sense he is his own messenger of Satan.*

    *In the Gospels, illness is frequently connected with stubborn, impious pride. Epilepsy, traditionally associated with demonic possession, can only be cured by giving oneself over to an abiding belief in God. After Jesus cures a young epileptic, driving the demon from his body, the disciples ask him why they had not been able to heal the boy. Jesus replies, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you”. Throughout The Brothers Karamazov, there are indications that Smerdyakov, too, need only shed his demonic pride and allow himself to discover faith in God in order to be healed.


    Seeing Smerdyakov in a state of real illness after his epileptic fit, Ivan is puzzled. “But you did predict the day and hour!” he exclaims, as though Smerdyakov, like Jesus speaking with foreknowledge of his own death, would know when his hour had come. But despite all of his careful calculations, Smerdyakov cannot predict the real seizure that overtakes him, leaving him feeling very weak, speaking slowly and having difficulty moving his tongue. Indeed, it is generally worth noting Smerdyakov’s taciturn nature with its sudden, intermittent verbal outbursts, followed by an eventual period of difficulty speaking whatsoever—as we shall see that Smerdyakov’s speech itself is the greatest indicator of the spiritual state within.

    Fyodor Karamazov repeatedly refers to Smerdyakov as “Balaam’s ass”—a playfully derisive reference to the donkey in the story from the Book of Numbers—implying that Fyodor, like Balaam, is obliged constantly to scorn and berate his servant in order to keep him in his place and get him to serve his master properly. There is, of course, a great deal of irony here at the expense of Fyodor, who doesn’t seem to remember or care about the rest of the biblical story. In the Bible, Balaam’s path is blocked by a sword-bearing angel he does not see, and when the ass on which he rides turns from the road to avoid this angel, Balaam strikes it three times to get it to turn back and obey. Suddenly, the donkey speaks to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” But when the animal’s pleas inspire only further anger on its master’s part, the angel intercedes, chastising Balaam, “[Y]our way is perverse before me. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away from me, surely just now I would have killed you . . . !” When one realizes that it is the donkey who holds the very life of Balaam at its mercy, the narrator’s seemingly humorous borrowing of Fyodor’s phrase takes on a more ominous tone: “Balaam’s ass turned out to be the lackey Smerdyakov”; as surely those three metaphorical blows will be answered when Smerdyakov’s three violent blows to Fyodor’s head will crush his skull.

    However, while this biblical allusion most clearly draws attention to Fyodor’s tragic hubris, there is another element of meaning here that is easily overlooked. Namely, it is the donkey, now so thoroughly identified with Smerdyakov, that sees the angel in the first place—yet another indication that there may be an unexpected spiritual affinity, a higher vision of sorts hidden within Smerdyakov. It is also emphasized in the biblical story that the Lord himself opened the donkey’s mouth and spoke through him. Thus, the sudden speech of the animal, though spoken by it and expressing its concerns, is ultimately orchestrated by a higher source. This detail would seem to ask us to take particular note of the speech of Smerdyakov as well, especially given that the next chapter prompts the reader again by beginning, “But Balaam’s ass suddenly spoke”. Could there not be a similar duality of voices in many of Smerdyakov’s words? And might this duality also entail a conjoining of the high and low—the views of a beastly creature, nonetheless orchestrated to express also the ideas of an unseen, perhaps even divine source? Let us briefly consider a few examples.

    In the second chapter of book 5, the young girl, Marya Kondratievna, openly flirts with Smerdyakov, coquettishly asserting, “I wouldn’t trade a certain dandy I know for three of the youngest Englishmen”. Again showing his eunuch’s nature, Smerdyakov seems oblivious to, or at least wholly unconcerned with, any amorous overtones, and answers, in the original text, “Eto kak kto obozhaet-s”. Translated figuratively, this phrase means, “Well, everyone has his preference,” or, “To each his own.” But literally, the phrase could be translated as something like, “Everyone worships in his own way,” an aphorism which itself neatly contains much about the novel as a whole, as it can rightly be said that many of its major characters are seeking to worship in their own way, searching for God on their own terms (this phrase may even contain evocations of the ultimate search for God, the quest for theosis. Smerdyakov himself is no exception to this search, and though he hides this fact from himself, there are moments when it emerges nonetheless.

    Of particular interest along these lines is the song that Smerdyakov sings to Marya. The author draws our attention to its three seemingly superfluous verses by placing them at the center of their own chapter, which is given the title, “Smerdyakov with a Guitar.” Recorded by Dostoevsky some forty years earlier from actual servants overheard singing it, it was considered important enough by the author to preserve and include in his final novel. Although Smerdyakov himself dismisses the song as trivial—“Verse is useless”—this is merely the pronouncement of his conscious mind, whereas the music, as the expression of the soul, reveals a deeper reality. These are the words:

    An invincible power
    Binds me to my sweetheart,
    Lord have me-e-ercy,
    On her and me!
    On her and me!
    On her and me!

    Crown of the Tsar—
    Grant my sweetheart good health.
    Lord have me-e-ercy,
    On her and me!
    On her and me!
    On her and me!

    No matter how I must try,
    I will get away,
    And life I will enjo-o-oy,
    And in the capital I’ll live!
    I will not grieve!
    I will not grieve at all!
    I have no intention whatsoever to grieve!


    In Smerdyakov’s mind, this is a frivolous love song, particularly worthy of disdain, perhaps, because of its folk nature. In the first verse, the “invincible power” that “binds him to his sweetheart” is love, or perhaps God in the sense of romantic kismet. The “Crown of the Tsar” in the second verse is that of the Russian monarch, by whose authority he wishes his sweetheart good health. And finally, the third verse speaks of running away to live a romantic life of fun in the capital, presumably accompanied by this same sweetheart. This third verse is perhaps the first clue that for all Smerdyakov’s dissociating himself with the song, there is something in it directly relevant to him. For Smerdyakov has confessed that he really does dream of running away to the big city, to Moscow, to open up his own café some day, and perhaps he might even take his listener Marya, as Moscow is her hometown.*

    *This surface interpretation of the song’s meaning—as a desire to run away to the capital—connects it generally with the religiously rebellious ideas shared by Ivan and Smerdyakov, and, more specifically, with the notion that such ideas are ultimately little more than moral escapism. Ivan reveals the full extent of his blasphemous ideas to Alyosha at the tavern, Capital City, to which Smerdyakov directs Alyosha immediately after singing the final verse (quoted earlier); Ivan then attempts to evade responsibility for his father’s welfare by running away to Moscow at a crucial juncture, an act Smerdyakov nonetheless takes as his initial cue for murder (clearly, leaving for Moscow is here a moral half measure, as it is neither a refusal to leave nor an assent to the rehearsed destination, Chermashnya); and, finally, when Ivan is on his way to confront Smerdyakov for the last time over their shared role in the parricide, he nears this same Marya Kondratievna’s home, where the words of a passing peasant’s song overwhelm him with rage: “Akh, Vanka’s left for Peter[sburg], / I won’t wait!” In these instances, the desire to run away to the city reflects the conflicted spiritual urges shared (on different levels) by both Smerdyakov and Ivan—an unconscious longing to divest oneself of responsibility, to avoid the horrible repercussions of their own conscious thoughts, and to flee to an idealized, faraway city, a City of God. The consequences of the ideas he shares with Smerdyakov are, indeed, unbearable for Ivan to contemplate, hence his seemingly irrational fury at the drunken peasant’s unwitting, musical reminder. In short, the theme of running away to the city is not unlike Alyosha’s urge to enter the monastery—an inner, spiritual need to escape the evils of life, but an escape made at the expense of ethical involvement with the external world.


    On a spiritual level, however, Smerdyakov’s song can be interpreted quite differently, and it is on this level that we can once again see Smerdyakov unwittingly expressing ideas that not only are religious in nature but that begin to spell out the basic concepts of Orthodox theosis, albeit in laconic form. Consciously, Smerdyakov seeks to stand alone, to assert that “All is permitted,” and to assume a godlike stance in taking upon himself a role not unlike Balaam’s angel, deciding who is perverse before him and therefore deserving of death. In short, he desires a form of personal apotheosis. Despite the fact that Smerdyakov wishes to place himself in a godlike position, however, there can be only one Christian God, who cannot be overcome. “An invincible power / Binds me to my sweetheart, / Lord have mercy, / On her and me!” Here are his true inner desires, quite in keeping with Orthodoxy in general and with the notion of theosis, with its emphasis on universal return to godhead. By an invincible power we are all bound, to each other and to God, from whom we came and to whom we must return, whereupon we, too,will share in divinity. It is only by God’s mercy that such a return is possible, as it cannot be achieved without him.

    Similarly, the “Crown of the Tsar”, by which the singer wishes his sweetheart good health, can readily be interpreted as the divine crown, thereby having a greater sense of consistency when followed by “Lord have mercy / On her and me!”. In fact, Dostoevsky’s first-draft variant of the line was even more openly spiritual in its connotations: “Glorious crown”. In the third verse—“No matter how I must try, / I will get away, / And life I will enjoy, / And in the capital I’ll live!”—again, we see the task of universal return. The capital can be understood in terms of the heavenly kingdom, toward which all Christians must strive. The word naslazhda-a-tsia (“enjoy”) on the one hand recalls the sensualist dreams that constitute one half of the Karamazov nature; but at the same time, the Church Slavic root of this word evokes the spiritual sweetness so often used to describe divinity in Russian religious texts, and as such it can be paired with the word pom-i-ilui (“have me-e-ercy”), as both words are drawn out in the song as though to give them a liturgical feel. In his personal notebooks, Dostoevsky writes, “The human being strives on earth toward an ideal that is contrary to his nature”. Surely this sentence accurately describes Smerdyakov, who consciously rejects Christianity, and yet whose unconscious strives to return to divinity, to return to the wearer of the glorious crown.

    Again in his personal notebooks, Dostoevsky writes,

    Christ entered wholly into humanity, and the human being strives toward the ideal of personal transformation into the “I” of Christ. Having achieved this, the human will clearly see that all those who have attained this goal on earth have merged with His ultimate nature, that is, with Christ.

    Though he cannot know or accept it, this merging is Smerdyakov’s innate ideal as well. Smerdyakov’s song ends with the near repetitions, “I will not grieve! / I will not grieve at all! / I have no intention whatsoever to grieve!” This final line seems an eerie evocation of his ultimate, heinous deed. He will kill his father as an act of sheer will or intention—partially to prove his belief that “All is permitted”—and, as such, he has no intention to grieve. To enable himself to commit parricide, he may very well have had to convince himself over and over that he will not mourn. However, there may be ironies of a spiritual nature here as well.

    The discourse of the mystic “emerges from a mourning, an unaccepted mourning,” writes Michel de Certeau. “One suffers the pangs of absence because one suffers the pangs of the One.” That is to say, at the heart of any mystical yearning lies the desire to be whole again, to fill the void between God and human. Once this chasm has been bridged, if only in the spiritual imagination, there can be no mourning. Smerdyakov unwittingly seeks to atone with God, to be at one with God, and thus to end the mourning of separation. In essence, he seeks the same advice that the so-called Women of Faith seek from Zosima, who, in return, tells them not to fear their grief of separation but to be assured that their deceased children have returned to God and yet retain contact with this world. Once one has faith in this idea, grief will turn into a quiet joy.

    The clearest indication of an innate, unconscious, but deeply felt understanding of theosis in Smerdyakov comes when he is still a boy, when his foster father, Grigory, attempts to teach him the biblical Scriptures. By the second or third day, Grigory finds the boy grinning at him derisively during the lesson. Annoyed, he asks, “What is it?” “Nothing, sir,” Smerdyakov answers. “The Lord God created light on the first day, and the sun, moon and stars on the fourth day. So just where did this light shine from on the first day?” Clearly, before any influence from Ivan, we can already see in young Smerdyakov’s character the cold, intellectual literalism that will later become the hallmark of his adult philosophical outlook. Already we see the focus on logical details at the deliberate expense of any sanctity accorded to Christian teachings, and, in this case, a rejection of Christian cosmogony itself, the very foundations upon which the Christian God’s world is created. Grigory is appalled at such apparent disrespect and strikes the boy across the face. This blow seems to affect Smerdyakov very strongly, as he then sulks in the corner for a few days, and then, within a week, he has his first epileptic seizure.

    There is undoubtedly yet another meaning to this brief anecdote, however, and the first clue to it can be found in the words introducing the incident: “Grigory taught him to read and write and, when he had reached twelve years old, began teaching him the Scriptures”. In all of the Scriptures of the Bible, there is only one mention of Jesus in his youth, and this is when he is precisely of this age: “Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended, they started to return, but the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing it”. It would seem that Jesus is disobeying and displeasing his father here, just as Smerdyakov does his. But, of course, Joseph is not Jesus’ real father, and when they at last locate the boy, Jesus claims to be in the house of his true Father. “When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days, they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers”. That is to say, young Jesus’ innate comprehension of the most erudite of theological questions seems to defy utterly his years.

    I assert that young Smerdyakov, at twelve years old, also asks his teacher a question far beyond the ken of any normal child his age. His question hints at an almost otherworldly understanding of profound theological matters. Without consciously realizing the full import of his query, Smerdyakov asks about the source of the light created on the first day, before there were astronomical bodies to produce any light in accordance with the laws of science. This cosmological conundrum is, in fact, one of the cornerstone questions of the Eastern Orthodox conception of theosis. According to this tradition, this mysterious primordial luminescence is called the Hidden Light, a light that emanates directly from God himself, that shines at the beginning of time, and that shall shine forth clearly at the end of time. It is this same supernatural light that is thought to afford certain saints with an inexplicable white glow, and, most important, it is this light that illuminates Christ atop Mount Tabor.

    It is because of the importance of the concept of theosis that the Eastern Orthodox churches place such great emphasis upon the story of Christ’s Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, when the divine nature of Christ, hitherto imperceptible to those around him, began to make itself manifest on earth through the illumination of his garments. This event can be seen to reveal a dynamic, rather than static, relation between Christ’s human and divine natures. The fact that Christ’s divinity seems to unfold gradually from his humanity has been interpreted by early Christian thinkers as symbolic of the teleology that Christ made possible for all humans: we, too, can share in some part of divine grace while on earth, and just as Christ rose to Heaven, we, too, will eventually experience divinity.

    This concept of corporeal transformation by way of the light upon Mount Tabor was certainly familiar to Dostoevsky, and he writes in the notebooks for the novel, “Your flesh will be transformed. (The Light of Tabor.) Life is Paradise, the keys to which are in our possession”. And it is precisely this dynamic sense of divinity hidden within humanity that Smerdyakov displays throughout the novel, in the subtle but unmistakable details of his words. He, too, has the ability to transform himself in accordance with Christ’s example, though he does not, or will not, recognize that he holds the key. When Smerdyakov at one point protests the fatherless status of his birth, saying to Marya, “I rebel against [my] nativity”,* his strange wording seems to evoke a denial not only of his own birth but of Christ’s birth, and perhaps more keenly, it is a denial of the birth of Christ within himself.

    *Rather than the expected word for “birth”—rozhdenie—here Smerdyakov opts for rozhdestvo, a term that evokes the Nativity, the birth of Christ.


    As the novel progresses, Smerdyakov’s inner light struggles to come to the surface, to change him completely. At the same time, however, his logical mind inexorably moves forward with his plans to assert his own godlike status through an act of parricide, which for him is inevitably linked with a form of philosophical deicide, and ultimately, with suicide. Finally, during his last day alive, just when he is certain that he must kill himself, not only is Smerdyakov’s self-destructive drive toward would-be apotheosis in evidence, but his formerly unconscious sense of theosis seems to break into his conscious thoughts, compelling him to make statements wholly uncharacteristic of the earlier Smerdyakov. What previously had been hidden in unthinking lines of sung verse—“An invincible power / Binds me to my sweetheart”—is now spoken aloud as a conscious idea. He says to Ivan,

    “There isn’t any ghost here, sir, aside from the both of us, sir, and a certain third one. Without doubt, he’s here now, that third one, located between the two of us.”

    “Who is this he? Who is located? Who is this third one?”

    “The third one is God, sir . . . only don’t search for him, you won’t find him.”



    Whether Smerdyakov’s previously mysterious knowledge of Orthodox theology has at last manifested itself in overt, albeit simple terms, or whether this strange outburst is the result of his reading Grigory’s book of Isaac the Syrian’s writings is unclear, but these words clearly recall the biblical maxim that serves as a foundation for much of the Orthodox notions of deification, as well as for Eastern theology in general. In Matthew 18:19, Christ says: “Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Eastern theologians have extrapolated from this concept, developing the idea, given the name sobornost’ in nineteenth-century Russia, which holds that the more Christians who agree and gather in his name, the greater is the presence of God. The same early Christian thinkers who first wrote on the concept of theosis—Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origen, Athanasius—also postulated about the eventual possibility of gathering all people in God’s name, whereby a universal return to godhead would be enacted, universal deification.

    At any rate, it seems clear that Smerdyakov’s unexpected assertion that “God is located between the two of us” stands as proof that the young man had reached a crossroads in his life, the very brink of a deeply religious epiphany—a fact that, in Dostoevsky’s worldview, makes his suicide all the more tragic. Smerdyakov had only to recognize the divine capacity within to effect his salvation. His haunting words “Only don’t search for him, you won’t find [him]” are directed to Ivan but better apply to his own self-imposed condition. Now that the path Ivan had represented to him—the path to godlike freedom—has proved an illusion, Smerdyakov’s search for a logical, external connection to divinity has reached a dead end; no matter how he seeks, he will not find God by such means.

    Thus Smerdyakov’s confused evocation of Jesus’ words at this point is laden with dramatic irony. In speaking to the Pharisees, Jesus says, “I will be with you for a little while longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. You will search for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come” (Jn 7:33-34). The path to death, resurrection, and return to godhead is not open to the Pharisees, who, like Smerdyakov, will not allow themselves to believe. For such people, death alone is the only realizable end.

    Jesus again addresses the Pharisees, “I am going away, and you will search for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come.” But the Pharisees are uncomprehending and respond, “Is he going to kill himself? Is that what he means by saying, ‘Where I am going you cannot come’?” (Jn 8:21-22). Again, like Smerdyakov, the Pharisees cannot conceive of the miracle of Resurrection; they see only the road to suicide. But despite this stunted vision, such people are doomed to death not by necessity but by choice. Both Smerdyakov and the Pharisees see God immediately in front of them—the Pharisees see flesh and blood, while Smerdyakov senses a ghostlike presence—but they choose not to comprehend the evidence before them. Instead, they think only in terms of superficial logic and, in particular, the struggle for power. Nonetheless, there is an unconscious part of Smerdyakov that knows the one he seeks is an “invincible power”; he cannot conquer this power, he can only recognize that he is inextricably bound to it. It is this same internally felt power that has drawn Smerdyakov to pore over the Bible in his last remaining days, and this same divinity that, despite Smerdyakov’s hopeless words to Ivan, keeps the possibility of salvation within the immediate reach of even the most inveterate sinner: “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks, receives, and everyone who searches, finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened”. Smerdyakov’s intellect has repressed his spiritual side for so long, it is now fatally stunted by unbelief. He cannot bring himself to find what is only a hair’s breadth away for him. He cannot logically grasp what he has so powerfully felt but not understood all his life: the path that follows Christ to Resurrection and reunion with God cannot be found in an external source—the divinity he seeks is within him from the start.

    In the chapter that serves as our introduction proper to Smerdyakov, the narrator compares the young man to the subject of Kramskoy’s painting The Contemplator, and his characterization of the man in the portrait also says a great deal about the nature of Smerdyakov’s enormous potential for great mystical awakening, a potential that remains suppressed and unrecognized unto the moment of his death.

    [H]e is not thinking, he is “contemplating” something. If you nudged him, he would give a start and look at you as if he had just woken up, but without understanding anything. It’s true that he would come to himself at once, and yet, if he were asked what he had been thinking about while standing there, he would most likely not remember, but would most likely keep hidden away in himself the impression he had been under while contemplating. These impressions are dear to him, and he is most likely storing them up imperceptibly and even without realizing it—why and what for, of course, he does not know either; perhaps suddenly, having stored up his impressions over many years, he will drop everything and wander off to Jerusalemn to save his soul, or perhaps he will suddenly burn down his native village, or perhaps he will do both.




    - from Gender and Sexuality in Russian Civilisation; p. 239-51 (“Dostoevskii’s Homophilia/Homophobia” by Michael Katz):

    In his controversial essay on “Dostoevsky and Parricide” (1928) no less a figure than Sigmund Freud psychoanalyzes the author and defines his malady with the following pronouncement: “Such a [bisexual] disposition must certainly be assumed in Dostoevsky, and it shows itself in a viable form (as latent homosexuality) in the important part played by male friendships in his life, in his strangely tender attitude towards rivals in love and in his remarkable understanding of situations which are explicable only by repressed homosexuality, as many examples from his novels show”. Unfortunately Freud provided no details in the form of biographical evidence of citations of chapter and verse in any of Dostoevsky’s works. His controversial tantalizing diagnosis remains unsubstantiated.

    Modern commentators are divided in their opinions. In his multi-volume critical biography of Dostoevsky, Joseph Frank refutes Freud’s allegations and defends the author from this “inappropriate” diagnosis. Frank counters Freud’s accusation by endeavouring to explain what he considers to be the true nature of Dostoevsky’s male friendships and his real attitude towards his rivals in love. On the other hand, psychoanalytic critics such as Daniel Rancour-Laferriere, have argued as follows: “As for homosexual impulses in Dostoevsky’s fictional characters, it is no longer possible to deny the homosexual aspect of Prince Myshkin’s affectively charged bond with Rogozhin after the painstaking studies of Lesser and Dalton…. The scene in which Myshkin and Rogozhin sleep together on the same bed can hardly be disregarded any more as evidence of Dostoevsky’s intuitive knowledge of homosexual feelings”.

    Lesser regards Dostoevsky as a bisexual who firmly repressed or sublimated his homosexual feelings. In his analysis of The Idiot he insists that on the unconscious level Dostoevsky “knows” a great deal more than he is willing or able to confront on the conscious level about the nature of sexuality and homosexuality.

    Attempts by Freud and his followers to psychoanalyze the author are less than compelling; on the other hand, Lesser and Rancour-Laferriere suggest an approach that can be helpful both in validating and amplifying Karlinsky’s assertion that the author “was not aware of the existence of gayness”, as well as defining the nature of Dostoevsky’s attitude: namely “intuitive knowledge” or “unconscious understanding”. As textual evidence for what Karlinsky describes as Dostoevsy’s lack of conscious awareness of homosexuality, he cites Notes from the House of the Dead, a semi-fictional account of the author’s experience in a Siberian penal colony. [Historical evidence, though minimal, suggests that homosexuality “flourished among the [penal] colony’s many unattached men”. See Engelstein, The Keys to Happiness: Sex and the Search for Modernity in Fin-de-Siecle Russia, 31]. In particular, Karlinsky refers in passing to the episode in which the convict Petrov, a violent and hardened criminal, manifests an extraordinary fondness for Goryanchikov, the narrator of the prison memoirs.

    Goryanchikov finds Petrov’s persistent attentions disagreeable at first, but soon confesses that Petrov played his part so well that his visits soon became a “pleasant diversion”. The visitor is described as a short man with a strong build, agile and “flighty”. He has a pleasing face, a fair complexion, high cheek bones, a bold gaze, and fine teeth. He looks much younger than his years and likes to walk around barefoot, spending most of his time in the prison kitchen talking and listening, as others prepared or cooked. The narrator confesses that he could never understand what it was that Petrov expected from his company. Nevertheless, Petrov becomes extremely attached to Goryanchikov, looks upon him as a child, feels compassion for him as a stronger person does for a weaker one. Once this bond established, we are told that their “friendship” continued for years afterwards. The most revealing encounter between the narrator and Petrov occurs in the bathhouse, a location described at some length in Dostoevsky’s Notes from the House of the Dead. There, amidst a scene of bedlam where convicts reach a state of frenzy, Goryanchikov reports: “… as soon as [he] was undressed”, Petrov took him by the arm and helped him to walk in spite of his chains. The narrator admits to feeling ashamed of all his attention: “I had promised him nothing for his assistance, nor had he asked me for anything. What on earth inspired him to take care of me like that?” Petrov offers to wash the narrator from head to foot and proceeds to rub him with soap; the narrator objects at first, but then submits to Petrov’s desire: “I tried to make him understand that I could wash myself, but it was no use contradicting him so I let him have his way entirely”. Summarizing this intimate relationship between the convict and the narrator, Karlinsky concludes: “Dostoevsky offers several tentative psychological explanations for Petrov’s behavior, but finds them all unsatisfactory. The most obvious explanation of all, namely that Petrov found the narrator physically attractive and desirable, just didn’t occur to Dostoevsky”. In other words, as incredible as it may seem, Dostoevsky manages to portray the emotional relationship without any conscious awareness of the real nature of Petrov’s feelings.

    I would argue that in the character of Petrov we encounter an early version of a positive male homosexual prototype that recurs in Dostoevsky’s works. Petrov has a distinctive appearance (build, complexion, face, manner) that sets him apart from other prisoners and includes elements of the “medical stereotype” of homosexuality described by George Mosse in his study Nationalism and Sexuality, where “so-called abnormality” was part of his “psychological makeup, his looks and bodily structure”. Petrov is also linked to two “marked” locations, one associated with physical nakedness, the other, traditionally with women: the bathhouse and the kitchen, places where he feels most comfortable. He forms a strong emotional attachment to another male, a bond that defies conventional explanation (in the context of Dostoevsky’s stated psychological motivation), one that is described as both one-sided and long-lasting. Finally, there is an unequal distribution of power between the two: Petrov treats the narrator as if he were a helpless child. The narrator assures himself and us that “he [Petrov] was not a servant in any sense of the word”—yet Petrov does indeed “serve” Goryanchikov—both by providing a source of pleasant diversion by his frequent visits and conversation, as well as by guiding and assisting him in the bathhouse. Still, Petrov wields all the power: in the end the narrator submits and “lets him have his way entirely”.

    While the narrator remains unresponsive to Petrov’s overtures and puzzled by his persistent displays of affection, he describes another of his fellow prisoners with greater sympathy; and in this case the affection seems to be reciprocated. I have in mind the Dagestan Tatar Aley, the youngest of three brothers (the older two, we are told are distinctly masculine). Aley is said to have a “splendid, beautiful face” and a tender, sincere smile; he is “pure and chaste as a girl”, modest and delicate; his pearly white teeth would be the envy of any woman. Aley seems to be intended as the embodiment of the “other”—an “exotic maiden”—a Tatar among Russians, a feminine man among “macho” males. During his time in prison Aley learns how to sew underwear and make boots, skills not associated with virile masculinity. His strongest desire is to serve and please the narrator: he does everything he can to make Goryanchikov’s life easier. The narrator repays the kindness by teaching the lad how to read and write; the pupil proves willing and eager to learn, and makes rapid progress. Along the way Aley “comes to love the narrator as much as he [Aley] loved his own brothers”. Upon his release from prison, Aley bids farewell to his true friend and mentor, paying tribute to him in touching terms: “You made a man of me”. Both Petrov and Aley share characteristics that set them apart from other prisoners—feminine physical traits as well as non-masculine activities (Petrov in the bathhouse and kitchen / Aley sewing underwear and making boots). In addition the two men forge strong emotional attachments to the narrator: with Petrov the affection has an obvious physical manifestation in the bath. In both cases, I would argue, Dostoevsky portrays a close homophilic bond between men, and in Petrov’s case, even a homoerotic one.

    An early example of reciprocated love between two women can be found in Dostoevsky’s first attempt at writing fiction. While the “large novel” in the form of a “confession” mentioned to his brother in a letter from 1846 was never actually completed, a fragment entitled Netochka Nezvanova, intended to serve as the prologue to the bigger work, was published in 1849. Dostoevsky’s efforts were curtailed by his arrest, imprisonment, and subsequent exile to Siberia. Chapter Five of the fragment contains the moving episode of Netochka’s encounter with Katya, a girl her own age, the beautiful, but spoiled daughter of a prince. The weakened heroine is attracted immediately and irresistibly: Netochka “longed to kiss her”, and starts dreaming of her “as if we were in love”. This heroine “burns with this new feeling”, while Katya, the object of her affection, “could not help noticing it; at first she thought it exceptionally strange”. Before long Netochka confesses: “To be brief, and forgive me for what I am about to say, I was in love with Katya. Yes, it was love, real love with all its ups and downs, real passionate love”.

    The heroine’s passion soon grows beyond all measure: “my infatuation… already knew no bounds…. I was no longer in control of myself. I pined with love for her…. my love for Katya verged on the abnormal”.* The crisis occurs when Netochka willingly accepts both the blame and the punishment for her friend’s misbehaviour: at that point Katya finally acknowledges her own affection for the heroine. At long last the two girls “embrace sweetly and joyfully like two lovers after a long separation”. That night they lie together in the same bed, “embracing and hugging eagerly”, showering each other with kisses, laughing and crying at the same time.

    * In Sex and Society in the World of the Orthodox Slavs, 900-1700 (p. 204), Levin argues that lesbian activity was “not deemed to be a serious violation” and even “reinforced appropriate behavior” between “unmarried girls”.

    Most critics have failed to note the true nature of this poignant relationship; Joseph Frank employs utmost discretion: “Netochka, starved for affection, falls passionately in love with the beautiful Katya in a fashion whose erotic overtones are perfectly explicit. Victor Terras, on the other hand, in his Karamazov Companion, notes in passing: “Dostoevsky is one of the first Russian writers to describe female homoeroticism in physical terms. In his early novel Netochka Nezvanova (1848-49) there is an episode of torrid lovemaking by two young girls” (187). What is striking, of course, is the homoerotic quality of this extraordinary passion. It is characterized as extremely intense, verging on the “abnormal” by the person experiencing the emotion. Furthermore, the object of the affection remains temporarily unaware of the meaning of the bond. When she finally comes to understand it, she defends it vigorously. Her father objects, “You little imps! What has happened to you both? What kind of friendship is this? What sort of love”? Katya replies, “Be quiet, Papa, you don’t understand our affairs”. And they rushed into each others’ arms. Perhaps it was the fact that the two “same-sex lovers” were women that freed the author from his own inhibitions and allowed him to portray the reciprocal nature of this relationship.

    Another example of an explicitly homophilic relationship has received considerable critical attention: that is the dramatic scene between Myshkin and Rogozhin at the end of The Idiot (Part IV, chapter xi), when the Prince returns to Rogozhin’s house and comes upon Nastasya Filippovna’s corpse. After this discovery and Myshkin’s painful realization of what actually happened, Rogozhin invites him to spend the night together in a vigil over her body. He even insists on making up a bed so the two men can be together, i.e. lie down together, side by side—Dostoevsky emphasizes all these details. Rogozhin takes the Prince by the arm and leads him “tenderly and rapturously” to the improvised double bed. [Instead of marrying Myshkin, Natasha flees to Rogozhin who then stabs her to death. Since neither “suitor” gets to sleep with her, they go to bed with each other.] That night Rogozhin has disturbing dreams during which he emits piercing screams and strange bursts of laughter. The Prince responds by stretching out his own trembling hand and gently stroking Rogozhin’s hair and cheeks. Finally: “[Myshkin] presses his face against Rogozhin’s pale and motionless face; tears flowed from his eyes onto Rogozhin’s cheeks, but perhaps he no longer even noticed his own tears and knew nothing about them…”

    Gender asymmetry in erotic triangles has been treated both by Rene Girard in Deceit, Desire and the Novel and by Eve Sedgwick in Between Men. Girard argues that the bond between rivals in such a triangle is even stronger, more heavily determinant of actions and choices, than anything in the bond between either of the two lovers and their beloved. Psychoanalytic critics have argued that the “real” reason Dostoevsky has Myshkin and Rogozhin cling to each other after Nastasya’s death is not that they have both lost their chance to sleep with her, but rather that their attraction to each other needs to be contained and re-channelled. Whether or not one agrees, it is clear that the author is portraying sympathetically the existence of a strong homophilic and/or homoerotic bond between these two male characters, just as he had done between two women in Netochka Nazvanova and two men in Notes from the House of the Dead.

    While the narrator’s attitude in Notes from the House of the Dead appears as a naïve, non-judgmental, almost tolerant acceptance of Petrov’s attentions and a warm reciprocation of Aley’s affection, in Notes from Underground (1864) this attitude is transformed into a powerful, negative rejection of such an intimate relationship. There it is the servant Apollon who represents the embodiment of the author’s homosexual stereotype, but one where Dostoevsky’s homophobic, rather than homophilic impulse prevails. Apollon is introduced to the reader as the “bane of [the Underground Man’s] existence,” “a punishment inflicted on [him] by Providence”. He is succinctly described as an elderly dignified gentleman who also works as a tailor. He has a distinctive appearance: his flaxen hair is slicked down with vegetable oil and a single lock is brushed over his forehead. His mouth is drawn up in the shape of an izhitsa, the triangular, final letter of the pre-Revolutionary Russian alphabet: in other words, his lips are constantly pursed. [The Russian phrase “propisat’ izhitsu” is an idiom meaning “to lecture or give a good lesson”.] Apollon’s mouth also houses an abnormally large tongue which produces a lisp and hiss of which the speaker is inordinately proud, convinced that it affords him great dignity. Indeed, the narrator characterizes Apollon as a pedant in possession of enormous self-esteem and majestic self-assurance.

    Other details of Apollon’s appearance and behavior confirm the stereotype: he is “in love with every one of his buttons and every one of his fingernails;” “his gait alone would throw me into convulsions;” he speaks in “slow, measured tones” and would read the Psalter behind his partition in a steady, sing-song voice, “as if chanting over the dead”. The narrator describes his connection with Apollon as a strange organic bond: it is “as if [Apollon] were chemically linked with my existence”. This bizarre relationship lasts seven long years, during which the two, master and servant bicker and squabble non-stop, but they are inseparable.

    First and foremost Dostoevsky’s Apollon, whose namesake is, of course, the Greek god of light, music, and poetry, has here in the underground been transformed into a high priest of darkness, death, and dying. Apollon spends his time reading psalms and ultimately hires himself out to recite over the dead; as if that weren’t macabre enough, he exterminates rats and makes shoe polish. In addition to this mythological inversion, there is the perversion of normality in Apollon’s physical appearance: the phallic tongue which causes lisping and hissing; the slow, measured tone of voice; his strange gait, pursed lips, single greased lock of hair. While the narrator describes this appearance as repulsive, we are informed that Apollon is narcissistically “in love” with himself. At the same time he seems unaware of the impact he has on others—particularly on the narrator.

    There is, of course, an obvious inversion of the power relationship between master and servant, victim and victimizer. The intense love-hate which exists between the two provides further evidence of the irrationality of human nature, one of the main themes of the underground man’s vitriolic polemic. The essence of this bond introduces one of Dostoevsky’s most disturbing psychological insights about human nature and interpersonal relationships in general. The narrator is driven to reveal his own repressed homicidal impulse, first directed at Apollon: “I’ll kill him, I’ll kill him, I shrieked… You don’t understand, Liza, what this executioner is doing to me…” It is this violent impulse, which later recurs with respect to Liza in the narrator’s imagination (“A terrible anger against her suddenly welled up in my heart; I think I could have killed her”), that eventually finds its artistic representation in the numerous murders committed in Dostoevsky’s subsequent novels.

    To some extent the scene with Apollon provides the narrator with a brief moment of comic relief, a respite before the final denouement with Liza. The ridiculous argument over Apollon’s withheld wages, the power struggle between the two, and the narrator’s absurd demand that his servant summon a policeman to have himself arrested, provides a diversion that is both splendidly ridiculous, and also allows Liza to enter: “I never even heard the door from the hallway open at that very moment, quietly and slowly, or that someone walked in, stopped, and began to examine us in bewilderment. I glanced up, almost died from shame, and ran back into my own room”.

    In an article entitled “Verbal Pollution in The Brothers Karamazov”, Gary Saul Morson describes the crucial role of the so-called “gatekeepers” in that novel: “Power therefore belongs to the gatekeepers; trust must be placed in those who mediate”. Apollon plays the role of just such a gatekeeper in Notes from Underground: it is he who admits or denies entrance to visitors. For the hero there is only one visitor, female, whose presence is both desired and feared. Although she slips into the apartment unnoticed during the argument between master and servant, it is Apollon who enters the narrator’s room to announce her: “ ‘There’s some woman asking for you’, he said, staring at me with particular severity; then he stood aside and let her in—it was Liza. He didn’t want to leave and scrutinized us mockingly”. Not only does Apollon serve as the actual gatekeeper who admits or denies entrance, he also serves as a symbolic gatekeeper, i.e. someone who prepares and/or delivers food. In a study by anthropologist Mary Douglas entitled Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo, a cook is characterized as a symbolic gatekeeper who selects clean items and transforms raw ones into the assimilable. Although Apollon does not actually prepare the hero’s food, it is he who fulfils this conventionally female role. He is asked to fetch tea and rusks when Liza arrives and delivers the refreshments just as the conversation takes a turn for the worse.

    Finally, I would argue that Apollon represents an inversion of yet another sort: viewed solely in the context of Dostoevsky’s characterizations, he is a dramatic example of gender inversion and “perverted” sexuality. His emotional attachment to the underground man, his appearance and behavior, his role as literal (admitting the woman) and symbolic gatekeeper (and his association with the kitchen from which refreshments are procured), lead to the conclusion that Apollon is an extreme variation on the stereotype of the male homosexual first described in Notes from the House of the Dead. But, whereas the portrayal of Petrov was fundamentally neutral, and that of Aley, unequivocally positive, Apollon’s is extremely unfavorable.

    But even Apollon pales when compared to his confrere in The Brothers Karamazov. It is the lackey Smerdyakov who represents the final and fullest exploration of the male homosexual stereotype in Dostoevsky’s fiction. [In the American Imago article “Dostoevsky: Epilepsy, Mysticism, and Homosexuality”, J. R. Maze mentions Smerdyakov’s “emasculated… homosexual attitude that might be thrust on one by an overbearing father”.] And, as usual, the author brings to bear on this brilliant characterization, no matter how despicable, all the powers of his creative imagination. In the Notebooks for The Brothers Karamazov we find this intriguing unattributed exchange:

    —About Smerdyakov (he has been tormenting himself very much)

    —Does Smerdyakov interest you?

    —Yes—
    (p. 71)


    Even Smerdyakov’s origins are suspicious: we are told with more or less certainty who his mother was—the village idiot, “Stinking Lizaveta”, who has more than a touch of the holy fool. After she dies in childbirth, Grigory’s wife Martha becomes the unfortunate lad’s “proxy” mother. Identifying Smerdyakov’s father proves to be more difficult. Fyodor Karamazov is alleged to be the most likely culprit. He seems only too willing to take credit or accept the blame, but the unsavoury convict Karp is also mentioned as a possible suspect and the ambiguity is never resolved. Two other paternal figures are cited: Grigory plays the role of “proxy” father and actually brings up Smerdyakov; and the Devil himself is referred to as the lad’s real spiritual father. If this complex genealogy does not resolve all questions, a Russian proverb hurled by Grigory at Smerdyakov might: “You sprang up from the mildew in the bathhouse”—suggesting, as Morson quips, the possibility of some sort of non-human, “spontaneous vegetative mutation”.

    While the issue of his paternity is left unresolved, the location of his birth is clearly specified: Smerdyakov was born in a bathhouse, a traditional location for such events, and one that also recalls Notes from the House of the Dead where Goryanchikov first encountered the unwanted attentions of Petrov. Meanwhile a resemblance to Apollon from Notes from Underground is suggested by the extraordinary account of Smerdyakov’s childhood: “… he was fond of hanging cats and burying them with great ceremony. He used to dress up in a sheet as though it were a surplice, sing, and wave some object over the dead cat as though it were a censer”. Apollon, we recall, chants from the Psalter “as if over the dead”, and then winds up doing just that. The vignette from Smerdyakov’s childhood suggests a strange affinity between these two sadistic necrophiliacs.

    When it comes to Smerdyakov’s appearance and character, numerous details suggest his inverted sexuality. He is said to be extremely fastidious and tidy: as a result Fyodor decides to make Smerdyakov his cook (symbolic gatekeeper) and sends him to Moscow for culinary training. When he returns to assume his post in Fyodor’s kitchen, as well as to serve as his master’s actual gatekeeper, Smerdyakov is said to look old for his age (unlike Petrov). His face is wrinkled and yellow and he has “begun to resemble a eunuch”. Nevertheless, he dresses very well: he always sports a clean coat and fresh linen; he brushes his clothes scrupulously and is fond of cleaning his calfskin boots with special English shoe polish. Although Smerdyakov spends all his money on enhancing his physical appearance—clothes, pomades, and perfumes—we are assured that he has nothing but contempt for the female sex. In fact when Fyodor once asks him if he ever wants to get married, “…Smerdyakov turned pale with anger, and made no reply. Fyodor Pavlovich gave it up and left him alone”.

    Smerdyakov is, of course, one of Ivan Karamazov’s “doubles” and, as such, is extraordinarily attached to his intellectual mentor. The lackey is always eager for his teacher’s attention and affection; in fact, Ivan’s approval seems to be the primary motivating force for many of Smerdyakov’s words and deeds, including the murder of Fyodor. The intimate nature of their relationship is revealed most clearly in the series of interviews in Book XI. After taking his final leave from Ivan after their third meeting, Smerdyakov is replaced by another of Ivan’s many doubles, the nightmarish Devil with whom both characters have been so closely linked.

    Dostoevsky offers us Smerdyakov’s sexual inversion as a stark contrast to the more “normal, healthy” heterosexuality of the three full-blooded Karamazovs. Each brother is either intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and/or physically involved with one or more women: Ivan with Katerina; Dmitry with Katerina and Grushenka; Alyosha with Grushenka and Liza Khokhlakova. [Alyosha’s relations with women are more problematic; at the conclusion of the novel his “non-sexual affinities still lie with pre-adolescent males (The Boys).] Smerdyakov is also provided with a partner, but his relationship with her must be viewed as a broad parody of a heterosexual courtship. Book V includes the chapter “Smerdyakov with a Guitar” which depicts the lackey’s “romance” with Marya Kondratyevna: “the daughter of the household, who has just come back from Moscow, the one who wears the dress with a train and goes to Martha for soup”. That dress with the train receives special attention in Dostoevsky’s notebooks for The Brothers Karamazov; although eventually omitted from the final version, there he reveals the extent of Smerdyakov’s curious fixation: “[he] took a liking to two of her [Marya’s] dresses, one with a train, and to her manner of shifting that train. At first he got angry with the train, but later… he took a great liking to it” (Notebooks for the Brothers Karamazov, 69). The train is obviously a symbol of feminine sexuality; Smerdyakov is attracted by it, though not aroused by it, except to a feeling of envy: as he wants one, too, and he wants to be able to “shift” it seductively.

    Dressed to the nines, boots polished, hair pomaded (perhaps even curled), Smerdyakov serenades his “sweetheart” in an effeminate “sugary falsetto”. He whispers his version of ever-so-clever sweet nothings into his “intended’s” ear, telling her how much he hates Russia (“the French should have conquered us”), and the Russian people (they “deserve a good beating”); he concludes by saying he would even have sanctioned being killed “before he was ever born”. Note that it is not Smerdyakov who makes the advances in this strange courtship: it is his “intended”, Marya Kondratyevna, speaking with a lisp and wearing a dress with a long train, who is the aggressor. The physical details of Smerdyakov’s appearance and apparel, his high-pitched voice, his fixation on the train of Marya’s dress, the passive role he plays, and the nature of his conversation, confirm that this is no authentic romance at all, but a striking inversion of the standard conventions of heterosexual courtship. [It has been suggested that Grushenka’s Polish suitor deserves attention in this connection with his “tiny nose and very thin, pointed, dyed and impudent looking mustache”, his “absurd wig made in Siberia”, and his “lovelocks foolishly combed forward over the temples”; Mitya muses blissfully and enigmatically: “I suppose it’s all right since he wears a wig”.]

    The assembled evidence supports and confirms Karlinsky’s extraordinary and counter-intuitive conclusion: in spite of his perceptive exploration of the human psyche, Dostoevsky appears to have remained unaware of the existence of homosexuality. Nevertheless, that lack of awareness did not prevent him from possessing what Simon Lesser has called that “unconscious understanding” that enabled him to depict a range of homophilic and homophobic relationships in his fiction. Petrov and Aley in Notes from the House of the Dead both provide an early illustration of homophilic gender inversion. Katya and the heroine of Netochka Nezvanova, and Myshkin and Rogozhin from The Idiot provide examples of strong, affectionate homoerotic relationships. On the other hand, in the characters of Apollon in Notes from Underground and, to a much greater extent, Smerdyakov in The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky takes gender inversion to its extreme. These two figures give full vent to the author’s homophobic attitudes and reveal how powerfully he pathologized, even demonized, this fundamental aspect of human sexuality.



    - from Discovering Sexuality in Dostoevsky by Susanne Fusso (“Dostoevsky’s Comely Boy: Homoerotic Desire and Aesthetic Strageties in A Raw Youth”):

    . . . In his 1862 pseudo-autobiography Notes from the House of the Dead, based on his experiences in a Siberian prison, Dostoevsky explains how prisoners deal with their sexual needs. One method is to bribe guards to take the prisoner not to his work site but to a secluded hut for a tryst with a prostitute. But such expeditions, since they are expensive and risky, are extremely rare; as the narrator tells us, “lovers of the fair sex resort to other means, which are completely safe”. In what seems to be a digression but really isn’t, the narrator goes on to describe the prisoner Sirotkin, whom he calls “pretty boy” twice in the space of one paragraph. Sirotkin does not ply any of the prisoners’ moneymaking trades, but he always seems to have sums of ready cash and new clothes, gifts from other prisoners. One can only conclude that Sirotkin represents that “other means” of satisfying sexual desire—male prostitution. Our narrator is curious about Sirotkin and his “comrades,” and promises to describe them more extensively: “If circumstances permit, I will say something in more detail about this whole gang”.

    This promise is not kept in House of the Dead, but over ten years later in A Raw Youth, Dostoevsky created a character similar to Sirotkin and explored the phenomenon of homoerotic desire in much more detail than he was willing or able to do in 1862. The character Trishatov, also a “pretty boy” dependent on male admirers for nice clothes and pocket money, makes a brief but telling appearance in the novel and serves to elucidate the experimental and unorthodox aesthetics of this most challenging of Dostoevsky’s works. Despite its substantial size and its appearance between the masterworks The Devils and The Brothers Karamazov, “A Raw Youth” has been largely ignored by readers and critics . . . Jacques Catteau has aptly characterized the novel as “the most ‘mad’ and so the most neglected book in the canon.” As he says, “It is a concentration of all those elements of the Dostoyevskian novel which are most irritating to the Euclidean mind.”


    . . . In the third and last part of A Raw Youth, the narrator Arkady Dolgoruky encounters Petia Trishatov, a mysterious but strangely appealing figure. Trishatov appears in only a few scenes but plays an important role both in the novel’s plot and in its aesthetic system. Trishatov, a member of a gang of blackmailers headed by Arkady’s school chum and tormentor Lambert, is about twenty years old, but nineteen-year-old Arkady almost always refers to him as “boy”: “the comely boy,” “the strange boy,” “my boy”. Unlike his companion Andreev, whose hands and clothes are filthy, Trishatov is beautifully dressed and impeccably groomed. Yet Lambert’s mistress Alphonsine is repelled by him and refuses to let him touch her: “Oh, you nasty little boy! . . . don’t come near me, don’t get me dirty”. Lambert tells Arkady that Trishatov is a general’s son, but “his family is ashamed of him, I got him out of being prosecuted, I saved him”. Indeed, Lambert appears to have a rather intimate relationship with Trishatov, buying him expensive presents like an elk-fur coat and a gold watch. The mystery of Trishatov is easily solved. Numerous hints in the text of A Raw Youth, plus the very fact that Lambert does not name Trishatov’s crime, help us understand why Alphonsine shuns him and why he was to be prosecuted: for the crime covered by Article 995 of the criminal code, “men lying with men”, punishable by loss of civil rights and exile to Siberia. [On the history of legal punishment for homosexuality in Russia, see Engelstein, Keys to Happiness, 57-64; and Healey, Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia, 21-22, 79-81. Healey points out that Article 995 was only episodically enforced (78).]

    . . . There are not one but many plots in A Raw Youth. It is a psychological mystery novel, in which Arkady seeks to solve the riddle of his complex and enigmatic biological father. It is a bildungsroman, in which the young man tries out several designs for living, including miserly accumulation of capital, the dissipated gambling life of a young aristocrat, and the holy quest for “blagoobrazie” (“blessed form”) inspired by his legal father Makar.*

    *In her interesting chapter on A Raw Youth, Olga Meerson argues that the novel traces Arkadii’s progress from being an emotional exhibitionist who fails to respect the secrets of others (what she calls “zero-tabooing”) to being a person who is expert in tabooing, who “has no choice but to keep silent about the scandalousness of this fallen world and of himself in it” (Dostoevsky’s Taboos, 165).


    Simon Karlinsky has claimed that Dostoevsky, “one of the most perceptive explorers of the human psyche that literature has known, does not seem to have been aware of the existence of gayness.” Karlinsky, an incisive and astute critic of Russian literature, the man who opened our eyes to the homoerotic dimension of Gogol’s work, betrays an unaccountable blind spot here. It is inconceivable that Dostoevsky, to whom nothing human was alien, who was passionately interested in all the twists and turns of human desire, could have been unaware of the existence of same-sex desire. On the contrary, although homosexuality is not one of his major themes (and probably could not have been, considering the censorship), it does play an important role in many of his works, as Michael R. Katz has recently argued for House of the Dead, Notes from Underground, and The Brothers Karamazov. Despite the evidence he adduces of homoerotic themes in Dostoevsky’s work, Katz still agrees with Karlinsky’s statement, believing that Dostoevsky was consciously unaware of homosexuality, but had an “intuitive knowledge” or “unconscious understanding” of it. In fact, there is both textual and extratextual evidence that Dostoevsky was quite consciously aware of the phenomenon of homosexuality.

    What might Dostoevsky have known about homosexuality at the time of writing A Raw Youth? Leaving aside his earlier experience in a Siberian prison, there are two obvious sources of information and inspiration. One was his professional relationship with Prince Vladimir Meshchersky, whose homosexuality was well known in Russian society. The other was the growing body of scientific and forensic research on homosexuality.

    Meshchersky, the archconservative owner of the journal The Citizen, of which Dostoevsky served as editor from January 1873 to April 1874, used his considerable influence with Tsar Alexander III (and later with Nicholas II) to promote the careers of his lovers, whom he called his “spiritual sons”. Count S. Iu. Witte, Meshcherskii’s former protégé, even implied in a special appendix to his memoirs that Meshchersky was the lover of Alexander III (and the procurer of a male lover for Nicholas II).

    The prevalence of homosexuality in Russian high aristocratic circles, as reflected in Meshchersky’s career, is also reflected, if only obliquely, in the text of A Raw Youth, most significantly in the hero’s name. Arkady is, as I mentioned, the illegitimate son of the nobleman Versilov and a peasant woman, but his legal father is the former serf Makar Dolgoruky. The Dolgoruky/Dolgorukov family was one of the most ancient Russian princely clans (the two versions of the name were interchangeable in the nineteenth century). Arkady suffers greatly from the bitter irony of bearing this glittering name without a right to the princely status it implies. Every time Arkadii introduces himself he is met by the question, “Prince Dolgoruky?” to which he must give the humiliating reply, “No, just Dolgoruky”. Arkady says that “few people could be so furious at their own last name as I have been throughout my life”.


    Arkady’s name, and his repudiation of it, have another, less obvious significance. One of the most famous bearers of the Dolgoruky/Dolgorukov name was Prince Pyotr Vladimirovich Dolgorukov, who in the nineteenth century was believed to have been the author of the anonymous letters that precipitated Pushkin’s fatal duel. The question of Dolgorukov’s responsibility for circulating the “Order of the Cuckold” was raised in the Russian-language press several times in the decade preceding the writing of A Raw Youth. The anonymous letters and other documents relating to the duel were first published in Herzen’s Polar Star in 1861; the accusation of Dolgorukov first appeared in print in 1863; and the accusation was repeated in the journal Russian Archive in 1872. Although scholars have recently cast doubt on Dolgorukov’s involvement, in the 1870s he was widely believed to have sent the letters and thus to have played a role in Pushkin’s death. As Stella Abramovich has pointed out, Dolgorukov’s homosexuality served as the psychological basis reinforcing suspicions of his guilt, since it seemed to unite him in a kind of conspiratorial union with Pushkin’s killer Georges D’Anthes and his probable lover Baron Heeckeren. Pushkin is a guiding literary spirit for Arkadii; works like The Covetous Knight and “The Queen of Spades” serve the young man as vital points of orientation in a disintegrating world. When he angrily denies that he is “Prince Dolgorukii,” he is denying participation in a plot of homosexual aristocrats to destroy Pushkin. Although there is no indication in the text that Arkadii is aware of the connection, Dostoevsky and his audience would be, thanks to the discussions of the scandal in the Russian press in the 1860s and 1870s.

    Thus in the 1870s the examples of Meshchersky and Dolgorukov were available to bring the question of homosexual desire within Dostoevsky’s ken. The larger society around him would also have been a valuable source of information, of course. Dan Healey has shown that it was in the 1870s that a modern homosexual subculture emerged in Russian cities, “against the backdrop of rapid urbanization and the accelerated introduction of market relationships.” It was also a time of growing scientific interest in the phenomenon of homosexuality. Dostoevsky was always interested in the opinions of scientists and medical experts on social issues (even if he at times disagreed with them). In the second half of the nineteenth century Russian science was forming a more detailed theoretical and clinical picture of homosexuality, under the influence of Western European researchers . . . Two sources would have been available to Dostoevsky at the time of writing A Raw Youth: Merzheevsky’s 1872 adaptation and translation of Johann Casper’s handbook of forensic medicine and Tarnovsky’s Perversion of the Sexual Feeling, which was published only in 1885, but the theories it summarizes were no doubt in the discussion by the 1870s.




    . . . It is precisely Arkady’s lack of a “normal” heterosexual development that makes him such a compelling figure. Moreover, since the reader has developed an imaginative sympathy with Arkady, when he expresses homoerotic feelings they become universal human feelings, not something alien and threatening.

    One reason Dostoevsky can label his nineteen-year-old narrator a “podrostok” (literally, “adolescent”) is that Arkady is, at least physically, a virgin; he tells us that he learned about sex from his comrades at boarding school, but “only words, not the deed”. Part of the plot of A Raw Youth is the story of Arkady’s sometimes painful sexual education. In boarding school, a prime location for same-sex experimentation, Arkady came under the influence of Lambert, a bigger, stronger, physically abusive classmate who used Arkady “not just for taking off his boots”. It is clear that Arkady has been verbally seduced by Lambert at a young age, as a memory of his childhood reveals. A conversation with Lambert about pistols and sabers takes a less innocent turn: “Lambert moved to his favorite conversation about a certain revolting subject, and although I was secretly amazed at myself, I really liked to hear it”.

    One of Arkady’s confessions to the old Prince marks him as a textbook case of incipient homosexuality, according to the medical opinion of his time. A symptom of what Tarnovsky calls “congenital pederasty” is disgust at the sight of a naked woman: “For the congenital pederast all arousal disappears in the presence of women. The sight of an undressed young woman leaves him indifferent.” We learn early in the novel that Arkady experiences a similar feeling; he amazes the old Prince by announcing, “When I was thirteen years old I saw female nakedness, the whole thing; since then I’ve been disgusted by it”. Not surprisingly, here again Lambert is involved. Arkady tells of a day of dissipation spent with Lambert, during which Lambert accuses his own mother of sleeping with a priest, steals money from her, buys a canary and a rifle and blows the canary to bits, and finally brings Arkady to a hotel and hires a prostitute: “That’s when I saw all that . . . what I told you about”. When Lambert begins to beat the woman with a whip, Arkady intervenes and Lambert stabs him with a fork. “Since then it’s made me sick to think about nakedness; believe me, she was a beauty”.

    With his usual frankness, Arkady tells the reader of a much more recent experience that also has a homoerotic coloration. The incident took place a few months before the time of narration. Returning to Moscow on the train from the suburbs, Arkady is strangely attracted to an unkempt young “former student” who spends the trip drinking vodka with lackeys and merchants. Arkady quickly strikes up an acquaintance with the young man and they make a date to meet on Tverskoi Boulevard. Here they engage in a form of molestation that goes beyond normal male bonding to form a strong homoerotic connection between the two male participants. They choose an unaccompanied, respectable-looking woman and begin walking on either side of her. Their behavior is designed to torment her while denying her existence:

    With the utmost calm, as if we didn’t notice her at all, we would begin to converse with each other in the most obscene way. We called things by their real names, with an air of utter serenity, as though it were quite proper, and we got into such subtleties, explaining various nasty and swinish activities, that the filthiest imagination of the filthiest debauchee couldn’t have thought them up.

    It is not clear what is more important here: embarrassing the female victim or using her to heighten the excitement of the two men’s sexual discourse. Soon Arkady suggests an escalation in the game that graduates from words to deeds: “I told the student that Jean-Jacques Rousseau admits in his Confessions that when he was a youth he liked to hide behind a corner, expose the usually hidden parts of the body, and lie in wait for passing women in that state”. The student shows no interest in this new technique, and Arkady soon breaks with him.

    The episode with the student is a crude example of a particular sort of relationship that is typical for A Raw Youth. The configuration is a triangle consisting of two men and a woman, in which the most complex and emotionally charged relationship is between the two men; the woman serves merely as a pretext for intimate psychological games between the men. Rene Girard has of course explored in detail the phenomenon of triangular desire in his Deceit, Desire, and the Novel, which devotes sustained attention to Dostoevsky; Eve Sedgwick has emphasized the gender relations inherent in such triangles, examining among other things “the use of women as exchangeable, perhaps symbolic, property for the primary purpose of cementing the bonds of men with men.” To take as an example the classic triangle of Pechorin, Grushnitsky, and Princess Mary in Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time, a Girardian analysis would point out that Pechorin’s desire for Mary is ignited by his knowledge that Grushnitsky desires her; his relationship with Grushnitsky the mediator is more intense than his conventional courtship of the Princess. An analysis based on Sedgwick would go one step further to focus on the implicitly homoerotic bond that is thus formed between the two men in the erotic triangle. The most important such relationship in A Raw Youth is among Arkady, his father Versilov, and Katerina Nikolaevna, but other male characters like Lambert also intervene to siphon off emotional and sexual energy from the female object of Arkady’s desire. Such triangles are fairly common in nineteenth-century Russian literature, and Dostoevsky himself used them before A Raw Youth. But in no other Dostoevsky novel is the male-female connection as perfunctory, as vestigial, and as unconvincing as Arkady’s relationship with Katerina Nikolaevna. In fact, most of his meetings with her are not even narrated for us but merely summarized. By the end of A Raw Youth, Arkady hints at a serious developing relationship with Katerina Nikolaevna. The description of that relationship, however, much like Raskolnikov’s rather unconvincing Christian conversion, is deferred to “another story, a completely new story”. And just before this “happy” denouement Arkady has a tender and highly significant encounter with Trishatov.



    The presentation of Trishatov’s character is another instance of Dostoevsky’s ambivalent attitude toward homosexuality in this novel. In some ways his portrayal of Trishatov adheres to the stereotypes of his time, and in other ways it departs from them strikingly. Alphonsine’s disgust is what nineteenth-century Russian medical science considered to be the natural feminine reaction to a homosexual man. According to Tarnovsky, the homosexual “condemns himself to the greatest deprivation in life, not only to the deprivation of the love and attachment of women, but also to their complete loathing, contempt, and the arousal in them of a feeling of disgust.” But in his appearance Trishatov does not fit the stereotyped image promulgated by nineteenth-century Russian researchers. According to them, the typical homosexual man affects an excessively feminine appearance, with long ringlets, perfume, bracelets, cinched-in waist, and a hip-swinging walk. Trishatov is “pretty” and “comely,” but nothing in his dress, grooming, or walk is unmasculine. Dostoevsky excised an epithet that appears in the drafts, probably because it conformed too slavishly to the stereotyped image of the homosexual, who according to Tarnovsky is marked by “well-developed hips.” In Dostoevsky’s notebooks the prototype of Trishatov is called “the fat-assed little prince”; in the final text there is no such epithet, not even a euphemism. Michel Foucault has discussed the way in which the nineteenth-century stereotypical portrait of the homosexual portrayed him as “a life form, and a morphology, with an indiscreet anatomy and possibly a mysterious physiology.” Homosexuality was “written immodestly on his face and body because it was a secret that always gave itself away.” In the final text of A Raw Youth, Dostoevsky resists marking Trishatov with any “indiscreet” anatomical features, despite what the scientists of his time considered to be typical. Ultimately he seems to have relied on his personal experience, as reflected in the figure of Sirotkin, rather than on the stereotype. This is perhaps why Trishatov’s homosexuality has escaped the notice of most Russian and Western scholars. [As far as I can determine, Zohrab is the first scholar to discuss Trishatov’s homosexuality. In a personal communication, Liia Mikhailovna Rozenblium, editor of the drafts of A Raw Youth for Literaturnoe nasledstvo, expressed her concurrence in my opinion that the character of Trishatov is meant to be a portrait of a homosexual man.]

    Dostoevsky’s presentation of Trishatov also eludes stereotype by enlisting the reader’s sympathy for the character. When a homosexual couple appears in the officers’ mess in Leo Tolstoy’s 1874-77 novel Anna Karenina, Vronsky, the character through whom the scene is focalized, reacts with “a grimace of disgust”; nothing in the text indicates that the narrator does not share that disgust. But in A Raw Youth, the narrator Arkadii, with whom the reader feels an imaginative sympathy, is instantly attracted to Trishatov and treats him with an affectionate respect that wars with Trishatov’s self-loathing. Arkady’s attraction to Trishatov inevitably communicates itself to the reader. And Alphonsine’s digust only enhances the reader’s affinity for Trishatov, since she is perhaps the novel’s most loathsome character. Her revulsion redounds to Trishatov’s credit in our eyes.

    When Arkady meets Trishatov, the very linguistic texture of his narrative tells us that he is strongly attracted to the young man. He admires Trishatov’s beauty repeatedly, and uses affectionate diminutives like “golosok,” “lichiko,” and “pal’chiki” (affectionate diminutives of “voice,” “face,” and “fingers”) to describe him. [Compare the description of Sirotkin in Notes from the House of the Dead: “lichiko chisten’koe, nezhnoe” (“a clean, tender little face”). Variants of the text of A Raw Youth show that Dostoevsky worked carefully on the epithets used to describe Trishatov.] Lambert takes Arkady, Trishatov, and Trishatov’s inseparable companion Andreev to a restaurant, where they meet a sinister figure referred to only as “riaboi” (“the pockmarked man”). Arkady, despite his attraction to Trishatov, is uneasy about being seen in the “zagadochnaia kompaniia” (“enigmatic company”) of Lambert’s friends: “[The pockmarked man] could take me for one of the blackmailers accompanying Lambert”; “The thought that he would take me for one of Lambert’s employees enraged me again”. But the evening soon develops into a tête-à-tête between Arkady and Trishatov. Andreev causes a public scandal and Lambert drags him out of the restaurant. Arkady says, “Trishatov started to run after them, but looked at me and stayed . . . He took his cup of coffee and moved from his place to sit next to me”. Arkady is not at all averse to what amounts to an open flirtation. When Trishatov asks if Arkady would receive him in his home, he replies, “O, prikhodite, ia vas dazhe liubliu” (“Oh, do come, I even like you a lot [or “love you”]. After some personal conversation, Trishatov offers Arkady two extraordinary literary fantasies, on Goethe’s Faust and Dickens’s Old Curiosity Shop. The climax of their encounter, when Trishatov’s sad, champagne-enhanced memories get the better of him, is a moment of tenderness the likes of which we have not witnessed between Arkady and Katerina Nikolaevna: “ ‘Oh, Dolgorukii, you know, everyone has his memories!’ And suddenly he lay his pretty little head on my shoulder and began to cry. I was very, very sorry for him.”



    . . . Arkady’s experiments with nonstandard sexuality might seem at first to be yet another example of the novel’s obsession with the disorder that threatens the Russian familial and social structure. Dostoevsky speaks in the notebooks of “decomposition” as the “main visible idea of the novel”: “In everything is the idea of decomposition, because everyone is separate and there are no bonds remaining not only in the Russian family, but even simply among people”. The novel explores all the forces of disorder at work in the modern world, with the disintegrative force of capitalism at the root of them all. As one might expect, Dostoevsky does seem to regard homosexuality as one of the forces of “decomposition” in the modern world, as the episodes of the old Prince, of Lambert, and of the molestation game suggest. Yet in A Raw Youth, homosexuality is not prosecuted with the same fury as adultery, capitalism, and child abandonment. The only clearly homosexual character, Trishatov, is treated with tact, sympathy, and an admirable effort to avoid stereotype. The moments of tender friendship and concern between Trishatov and Andreev or Trishatov and Arkady stand out from the generally bleak landscape of human relationships in A Raw Youth. Homosexuality can lead to the creation of “accidental families” in the best sense, families based on elective affinities, not on blood. Thus homosexuality should not, in my view, be classed only with the forces of disorder in A Raw Youth.




    - from A Karamazov Companion by Victor Terras; p. 187:

    Dostoevsky is one of the first Russian writers to describe female homoeroticism in physical terms. In his early novel Netochka Nezvanova there is an episode of torrid lovemaking by two young girls. One of the two girls is named Katia and is obviously the first version of the character of which Katerina Ivanovna is the last. A homoerotic tendency fits well into the general picture of Katerina Ivanovna’s personality.






    - from Dialogues With Dostoevsky by Robert Louis Jackson; p. 147-8 (“Dostoevsky and the Marquis de Sade”):

    Sade’s name appears in Dostoevsky’s writings with significant frequency. Some of Dostoevsky’s references to Sade come up in connection with characters in his works (Prince Valkovsky, Stavrogin, Fyodor Karamazov) who behave, philosophize, and even look like some of the denizens of Sade’s fictional world.* Prince Valkovsky, in The Insulted and Injured, mentions the French writer in his confrontation with Ivan Petrovich: “My lady’s sensuality was such that even the marquis de Sade might have learned from her.” This remark is echoed in The Devils where Shatov asks Stavrogin: “Is it true that the marquis de Sade might have learned from you?” In this same conversation Shatov asks Stavrogin whether he had in fact affirmed that he “knew no difference in beauty between some sensual, beastial jest and some act of heroism, such as sacrificing one’s life for mankind.”

    In his discussion of Pushkin’s “Egyptian Nights,” Dostoevsky observes that the “hyena Cleopatra knew all the mysteries of love and pleasure; compared to her, perhaps, the marquis de Sade might have seemed a child.” Pushkin’s Cleopatra in Dostoevsky’s conception is not merely a corrupt human being, but the representative of a decadent, stagnant society whose foundations had long ago begun to crumble.


    “All faith has been already lost; hope seems a useless deceit; thought is paling and disappearing; the divine fire has left it; society has lost its sense of direction and in cold despair senses an abyss ahead of it and is ready to topple into it. Life is suffocating through lack of a goal. The future offers nothing; one must demand everything from the present, one must fill one’s life only with the necessities of the moment. Everything passes into the body, everything is used up in physical debauchery, and in order to compensate for the higher spiritual impressions which are lacking, people aggravate their nerves, their whole body with whatever is capable of arousing sensations. The most monstrous perversions, the most abnormal phenomena, gradually are taken for granted. Even the feeling of self-preservation disappears. Cleoptra is the representative of this society.”


    Debauchery is characteristically understood and depicted by Dostoevsky not merely as erotic excess or perversion, but as a signal and symptom of the breakdown of society. Cleopatra, like the marquis de Sade, is the representative of a decadent, stagnant society without faith or morals. There is no “goal,” that is, no social, spiritual, or religious ideal. For want of a spiritual life, all energies are directed to material things, “the necessities of the moment”; “everything passes into the body.” Such a state of affairs is suicidal and can only end in destruction and self-destruction. Erotic excess, then, is only the “last expression” of the decline of a materialistic civilization. Thus, the narrator in “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man,” speaking of the corruption of man and history after the “fall,” notes that “the feeling of self-preservation rapidly began to weaken, proud men and sensualists appeared who bluntly demanded all or nothing.”

    *Where looks are concerned, one is struck by a certain resemblance between Dostoevsky’s general portrait of Stavrogin and Sade’s depiction of Dolmance in Philosophy in the Bedroom. “Dolmance, my dear sister, has just turned 36; he is tall, extremely handsome, eyes very alive and very intelligent, but all the same there is some suspicion of hardness and a trace of wickedness in his features; he has the whitest teeth in the world, a shade of softness about his figure and in his attitude, doubtless owing to his habit of taking on effeminate airs so often; he is extremely elegant, has a pretty voice, many talents, and above all else an exceedingly philosophic bent to his mind. . . . He is the most notorious atheist, the most immoral fellow. . . . His is the most complete and thoroughgoing corruption, and he the most evil individual, the greatest scoundrel in the world.” See Sade, Justine, in Philosophy in the Bedroom and Other Writings compiled and translated by Richard Seaver and Austryn Wainhouse, p. 187-88.






    - from The Devils by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (translated by David Magarshack); p. 140-1:

    To the paragon of Ladies, Miss Tushin.

    Madam,
    Oh, what grace
    In Miss Tushin’s face,
    When with her cousin on side-saddle forth she sallies,
    And playful zephyr with her tresses dallies,
    Or when with her mother in church she bows low,
    And on devout faces a red flush doth show!
    Then for the joys of lawful wedlock I yearn
    And after her, with her mother, never a tear I spurn.
    Composed by an untutored man during an argument.


    Madam,

    I pity myself most of all that I have not lost an arm at Sebastopol for the glory of our country, not having been there at all, but having served throughout the campaign as a supplier of low victuals which I consider a scurvy business. You are a goddess of antiquity and I am nothing, and have caught a vision of immortality. Look on these as verses and nothing more, for verses are after all nonsense and justify what would have been considered rank insolence in prose. Can the sun be angry with an amoeba if the latter should write a poem to it from the drop of water where there are millions of them if you look through a microscope? Even the club for the protection of larger animals in the best Petersburg society, which quite rightly shows compassion to the dog and the horse, despises the tiny amoeba, not mentioning it at all on account of its not being big enough. I am not big enough either. The idea of marriage may seem absurd; but I shall soon be the owner of a property which in the old days would have been worth two hundred serfs through the good offices of a hater of mankind whom you should despise. I could tell a lot and I can produce documents which may even mean Siberia. Don’t despise my offer. For the letter from the amoeba see the poem.

    Captain Lebyatkin, your most humble servant who is ever at your command.
    Last edited by HERO; 11-12-2016 at 05:42 AM.

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    “Accidental Families and Surrogate Fathers: Richard, Gregory, and Smerdyakov” by Golstein

    In 1876, Dostoevsky wrote in a letter: “One of the most important problems at the present time to me, for example, is that of the younger generations and, along with it, the contemporary Russian family, which I feel is far from what it used to be even as recently as twenty years ago.” Indeed, from 1855 on, that is, after the death of Nicholas I and in the subsequent Great Reforms, Russia underwent a series of drastic social and economic changes that transformed beyond recognition the Russian family and the relations between generations. These changes were so momentous that the plight of the Russian family began to be perceived by Dostoevsky as “one of the most important problems” that he wanted to address. Small wonder that the novelist turned the Russian family into the subject of intense scrutiny. Not only his major novels but also A Writer’s Diary were used by Dostoevsky as a vehicle to highlight and investigate the new reality and its possible ramifications.

    In the January 1876 issue of A Writer’s Diary Dostoevsky confesses:

    For a long time now I have had the goal of writing a novel about children in Russia today, and about their fathers, too, of course, in their mutual relationship of today. . . . I will take fathers and children from every level of Russian society I can and follow the children from their earliest childhood.

    A year and a half ago, when Nikolai Alekseevich Nekrasov asked me to write a novel for Otechestvennye zapiski, I almost began my Fathers and Sons; but I held back, and thank God I did, for I was not ready. In the meantime I wrote only A Raw Youth, this first attempt at my idea.”


    Of course, Dostoevsky’s view of A Raw Youth (1875) as the first sample of his idea is somewhat misleading, since The Demons (1871) seems to be directly concerned with the relations between “present-day fathers and their Russian children.” Yet regardless of the first attempts at the idea, it is Dostoevsky’s last novel, The Brothers Karamazov, that analyzes the modern-day fathers and children most intensely.

    The opening of the novel, the first sentence of the first chapter, announces the centrality of the father-son theme: “Alexei Fyodorovich Karamazov was the third son of a landowner from our district, Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov, well known in his own day (and still remembered among us) because of his dark and tragic death, which happened exactly thirteen years ago”. A son, a father, and a father’s tragic death are announced from the start. And so are the ideas of history and memory: the outcome of the conflict is remembered, it leaves a trace and has an impact upon others.

    The first line of the next chapter reinforces the centrality of the novel’s problem content, while at the same time introducing the issue of a child’s upbringing into the picture: “Of course, one can imagine what sort of father and mentor such a man would be”. In the opening lines of these two chapters we find the whole of Dostoevsky’s novel: fathers, sons, failed upbringing, tragic death, and the repercussions that are remembered through the years.

    In fact, the first book of the novel is subtitled “A Nice Little Family.” This book consists of five chapters. The first one introduces the old Karamazov, the next three chapters describe his three sons, while the last chapter switches to elders, usually addressed as “fathers” in Russian. The structure of this first book is thus rather transparent: the stories of children that are placed in the middle are surrounded by the stories of various types of fathers, either physical or surrogate, either real or failed. The novel’s progression, introduced by the first book, will be later replayed over the expanse of the whole novel. It is not the progression from fathers to sons, however, but rather the movement from false fathers to the true, usually surrogate ones; from selfishness to sacrifice, from neglect and abuse to love and engagement.


    The Brothers Karamazov features, of course, a wide range of fathers, sons, families, and generations. The typical nineteenth-century family novel is transformed beyond recognition in Dostoevsky’s literary universe. The family becomes the locus of the most intense social, political, moral, and theological conflicts. It is within the accidental family that the new generation forms not only its views of its biological fathers but also its views of all other father figures: a government official, a czar, and God.

    . . . Better than any Russian radical, Dostoevsky knew that the modern-day fathers had failed. He does not, however, call for the abolition of the institution of the family. Nor does he blindly uphold the family in the manner of conservatives. Instead, he calls for a new type of family, one in which parental love and lifelong dedication result in a dissolution of the conflicts and tensions.

    It is clear that the primary responsibility for the creation of such a family lies with the parents. No matter how critical Dostoevsky was of the radical youth, he would emphasize again and again the role and responsibility of the “fathers.”

    In his drafts to The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky is quite explicit about his desire to reconstruct a family as a microcosm of divine love and unity. One entry acknowledges “family as the practical source of love”. Another maintains that “the Elder says that God gave us close kin so that they could teach us to love”.

    Utopian as it all sounds, Dostoevsky is aware that the alternatives are quite terrifying. It is these alternatives that Dostoevsky highlights in The Brothers Karamazov. If parents fail to turn the family into a school of love, sacrifice, and patient endeavor, the family becomes the place of judgments, violence, and crime.

    In his Writer’s Diary, Dostoevsky writes about the impact of family violence upon children: “This dismal picture will remain in their souls forever and might painfully undermine their youthful pride . . . The result will be an inability to cope with life’s problems, early pangs of vanity, a blush of false shame for their past, and a dull, sullen hatred for people, and this, perhaps, may last a lifetime”.

    The failure of fathers results in various forms of rebellion in children ranging from social to religious and cosmic. Two characters of the novel whose maturation had been accompanied by their contact with incompetent parental figures fully embody the dynamics of the rebellion of children. While Smerdyakov reveals that there is a small step between rejecting one’s father and killing him, Ivan Karamazov clearly shows that there is only a small step between rejecting one’s father and rejecting God.

    Parricide is, of course, the most vivid and striking form of rebellion against the fathers. In order fully to appreciate Dostoevsky’s deep vision of family interaction, one must examine the social and psychological dynamics leading the failed fathers to create the forces that destroy them.


    The Orphan Richard and his Failed Fathers

    Among the unforgettable examples of cruelty and injustice that Ivan Karamazov collects and then recites in the chapter “Rebellion”, one particular example might strike a reader as rather odd, confusing, and out of place. It does not quite fit into Ivan’s usual script of demonic adults torturing angelic children. I refer to the story of a man named Richard, a person who during his short life managed to be a victim, a murderer, and then a victim again.

    Richard, a six-year-old illegitimate child, was handed over by his parents to some Swiss shepherds. These peasants exploit and mistreat him. They seem to care more for their pigs than for the orphan boy. The child, however, survives, grows up, and moves to Geneva, where he lives in poverty and dissipation. Eventually he robs and kills an old man. He is caught. Inspired by numerous priests who surround him in prison, he undergoes a religious conversion. Regardless of his conversion, Richard is taken to the execution, while his “brothers,” as Ivan puts it, weep in joy at his forthcoming meeting with his Maker.

    Ivan informs Alyosha that he read this story in one of the proselytizing publications that were floating around Russia at that time. This story is remarkable for many reasons. It is a bitter mockery of the idea of “the restoration of a fallen man”, an idea that Dostoevsky considers central in nineteenth-century European literature and one that permeates his own works. The story of Richard also recalls Dmitri’s fate at the end of the novel. After his various visions and epiphanies, after his readiness to sing his hymn to God, the Russian court hands down a severe sentence.

    More important, the story brings to mind Smerdyakov, whose fate, with the exception of the conversion, parallels that of Richard. The similarities between Smerdyakov and Richard are too striking to be coincidental: both are illegitimate, both are raised by foster parents who used them as servants and treat them like wild animals; both turn into untamable and unsociable adults. Even the crimes of Richard and Smerdyakov are similar: each one kills and robs an old man; each one commits his crimes at the same age of twenty-three. [A story of an orphan adopted by shepherds takes us, of course, to the myth of Oedipus and its theme of parricide. The tale of a baby abandoned in Switzerland and executed in Geneva hints at Rousseau’s biography; it contains an obvious warning to fathers who abandon their children.]



    The story also presents its narrator, Ivan, in a rather curious light. With his rejection of “harmony” resting on the suffering of innocent children, Ivan is outraged that Richard is led to slaughter for the sake of the harmony of Western civilization. Ivan manifests sympathy for Richard and hatred for his self-righteous tormenters; he mocks the hypocrisy of killing one’s brother in Christ. Yet Ivan fails to recognize his brotherhood with his own blood brothers, one of whom, Dmitri, he frequently calls “a monster” and the other, Smerdyakov, “a stinking lackey.”

    Ivan’s complete identification with the child victims of his stories is clearly problematic. Ivan is no longer a child. He grew up into a powerful father figure for his own brothers. In other words, Ivan fails to acknowledge fully all the moral implications of Richard’s story. He fails to recognize himself in various participants of this story and glosses over the fact that he himself is not only a victim but a victimizer, not only a Richard but also the church that let down its brother and spiritual son. Richard’s story clearly implicates Ivan, as it does the readers of The Brothers Karamazov. The latter tend to share Ivan’s sensitivities and sympathize with Richard, though they ignore Smerdyakov’s fate. [As Olga Meerson has observed, “The injustice done to him [Smerdyakov] somehow eludes Ivan’s (and everyone else’s) indignation” ( Dostoevsky’s Taboos, 199).]



    . . . When in the first serious discussion of Smerdyakov (in the early chapters entitled “The Disputation” and “Over the Cognac”), Ivan calls him “peredovoe miaso” (the one who is leading the attack), he seems to acknowledge that Smerdyakov harbors enough anger to be at the forefront of rebellion against the fathers in power. Typically, however, Ivan does not explore the implications of his own words or actions. Rather than probing into the causes of Smerdyakov’s anger, Ivan immediately dismisses Smerdyakov as a “broth-maker” and maintains that “so far the people do not much like listening to these broth-makers”.

    In other words, Ivan prefers to discuss Smerdyakov’s potential rebelliousness and his possible influence among the peasants without truly looking into the causes of such a rebellion. Smerdyakov’s tortured past, a matter Dostoevsky had already introduced in the chapter immediately preceding Ivan’s musings on Smerdyakov, somehow eludes Ivan.

    Ivan recognizes the impact that the past abuses have upon some distant and romantic Richard, but not upon the unattractive lackey and half brother, Smerdyakov. Ivan is justifiably offended by the fact that a human being, an orphan Richard, is treated like a swine. He is aware that Richard’s monstrous attributes were not his essential quality. The story of Richard’s conversion suggests quite the opposite. Smerdyakov, like Richard, was never an incorrigible villain, either.

    Here an examination of the people and forces that shaped Smerdyakov’s character is in order. We know that in the case of Richard, it was his foster parents, the failed shepherds, who turn him into a criminal and then let him die. The failure of Smerdyakov’s father, Fyodor, and of his moral and intellectual mentor, Ivan, is evident. Our main focus must be the person who raised Smerdyakov, his foster parent, Grigory Kutuzov, a person who treated him no better than the Swiss shepherds treated Richard. Grigory, the failed surrogate father of Smerdyakov, bears his share of guilt in the murder of Fyodor Karamazov.


    Family: The School of Love or the School of Judgment

    Throughout his writings, Dostoevsky suggests that the proliferation of judgment, anger, and malice is tied to the absence of family love, to the tendency of grown-ups to judge, criticize, and punish their young. Behind the conflict of generations, behind the sons’ eagerness to judge and condemn the old, traditional, and habitual, lies the father’s failure to turn a family into a school of love. Dostoevsky, as his own musings on the importance of family disclose, was well aware that without love, such important social forces as duty, sacrifice, obedience, continuity, and tradition would be perceived as restrictive and tyrannical, as something that one would want to overturn and trample upon. In Dostoevsky’s view, there is only one step from dysfunctional families to the emergence of criminals, murderers, and rebels.

    Already his two previous novels suggest such a progression. In the case of Stepan Verkhovensky (The Demons), his liberalism is by far less important in the making of his son than his absenteeism; the same can be said about Versilov and his children (The Raw Youth). Fyodor Karamazov, who, besides being a cynic, egoist, and a sinner, simply forgets about his children, is one more manifestation of a similar paradigm. Dostoevsky’s view of an absentee father becomes explicit in his presentation of Ivan’s devil, a character compared to a type of a widower who dumps his children on distant relatives and happily forgets about them.

    The demonic nature of these absentee fathers, the progenitors of what Dostoevsky calls “an accidental family,” hardly needs further elaboration. However, another type of a father deserves mention: the one who is physically present but who acts as if harshness and cruelty were substitutes for love and pity. On one occasion, Dostoevsky calls such a person “a father unaccustomed to fatherhood”.

    The Grand Inquisitor is the ultimate emblem of such a “father.” Of course, as failures in the school of love, absentee fathers and tyrannical ones like the Grand Inquisitor are quite similar: both are absent at least on the emotional and spiritual level. Dostoevsky coined the phrase “unaccustomed to fatherhood” in reference to a man named Kronenberg, a sadistic father whose scandalous trial Dostoevsky covered in his Writer’s Diary.



    Grigory and His Family

    The archvillain of The Brothers Karamazov, Smerdyakov, was ushered into the world by absentee fathers: by his biological father and, most important, by the person nominally responsible for raising him: Karamazov’s servant, Grigory. Grigory is one more example of a father “unaccusstomed to fatherhood.” His destructive role in the shaping of Smerdyakov has so far eluded the readers of the novel. On those occasions when Grigory is mentioned at all, he is usually described as tender or pious. There is something in Grigory that elicits trust. Not only Fyodor Karamazov trusts him, but the reader does as well. We trust Grigory because he took care of Fyodor’s abandoned children, and we trust him because his negative views of Smerdyakov seem to confirm our view of Smerdyakov as an embodiment of evil.

    Grigory, obviously, does not lie on purpose, yet he can be spectacularly wrong. None of his testimony given under oath in the court of law is, in fact, correct; it is there that he characterizes Smerdyakov as honest but foolish (how little, indeed, he knows about the person he cared for from birth); and it is there that he affirms that on the night of the murder, he saw [Dmitri] open the door that leads into Fyodor’s room. Grigory’s remarks clearly constitute the most damning testimony against Dmitri.

    It was Grigory’s tendency to misjudge that in fact contributed to his master’s death. When he saw Dmitri running toward the fence, Grigory charged toward him, screaming, “Parricide!” He did not hesitate or seek to find out what happened. Here is how Dostoevsky describes Grigory’s actions and thoughts: “Just so, his forebodings had not deceived him; he recognized the man, it was him, the ‘monster,’ the ‘parricide’! ‘Parricide!’ the old man shouted for all the neighborhood to hear”. Dostoevsky rarely reproduces verbatim the thought processes of his characters, especially minor ones. This glimpse into Grigory’s mind is therefore extremely important. Dostoevsky clearly felt the need to underscore Grigory’s compulsive need to formulate and then convince himself of his forebodings.

    It did not even occur to Grigory to check on his master’s well-being. Had he returned to his master, who was alive and well at the moment, the murder would most likely have been prevented. The murderer Smerdyakov acknowledges that much to Ivan:

    I went to have a look in the corner, and stumbled over Grigory Vasilievich, lying near the wall, all covered with blood, unconscious. “So it’s true, Dmitri Fyodorovich was here,” jumped into my mind at once, and I at once decided to finish it all right then and there, sir, since even if Grigory Vasilievich was still alive, he wouldn’t see anything while he was unconscious.

    In other words, not only did Grigory raise the man who was the actual murderer of Fyodor Karamazov, but he also served as an unwitting accomplice in the murder.

    Grigory—his name, ironically, means “wide-awake” in its Greek origins—appears at key junctures of the novel. Critics do not usually identify Grigory with those other people in the novel who bear guilt and responsibility for the murder of Fyodor. Yet Grigory has something to feel guilty about: his foster child, Smerdyakov, commits suicide; he plays a fatal role in sending another foster child, Dmitri, to Siberia; and his own child is dead at two weeks old. Grigory might indeed be described as a sort of Chronos figure who devours his own children. The majority of the novel’s characters, including Smerdyakov, are tortured by guilt. Grigory, on the other hand, never questions his actions or convictions. In this respect he joins company with the novel’s obvious villains: Rakitin, Father Ferapont, and the merchant Samsonov.

    When his wife gives birth to a child, Grigory immediately condemns the baby as “a dragon” only because the boy has six fingers. Much later in the novel, the defense attorney Fetyukovich asks Grigory how many fingers he has—a seemingly unrelated and insulting question. On a symbolic level, however, this question points to something else: figuratively speaking, it is Grigory who has dragon fingers. Instead of counting the fingers of newborn babies and dubbing them dragons, Dostoevsky seems to suggest, Grigory might have taken a good look at his own dragonlike behavior. [Incidentally, Grigory’s last name is Kutuzov, that is, the name of the greatest Russian military leader (at least if we trust Tolstoy’s judgment of Kutuzov’s military abilities). Once again we have a sly suggestion on Dostoevsky’s part that Grigory is a leader of the army, an army of dragons whom he brings forth into the world.]

    In fact, the failure to love and pity coupled with the eagerness to judge, despise, and condemn is as pronounced in Grigory as it is in Ivan Karamazov or the Grand Inquisitor. In Grigory’s case, however, this combination of attributes is manifested on the concrete level of domestic life. That realm contrasts with the more abstract moral, philosophical, and religious spheres where these attributes are to be found in Ivan and the Grand Inquisitor. In any case, the outlook and conduct of Grigory, Ivan, and the Grand Inquisitor clearly demonstrate that hell is not only the inability to love, as Zosima remarks, but also the ability and craving to judge.

    Grigory judged his newborn babe a “dragon.” He deliberately refuses to help his wife take care of the baby: for three days he withdraws into the garden and wastes his time digging holes there. As a result, the baby dies of thrush, an infectious fungal disease caused by unsanitary conditions.

    . . . Grigory’s stubbornness, dogmatism, and constantly judgmental nature might have been praiseworthy under some other circumstances, but not within the family. His behavior instills in his foster children the conviction that the family is the place of willful, self-righteous, and cruel judgments. Once he judges and condemns someone, Grigory, in the language of Ivan’s civil court, cuts off the “harmful member”. He does not seek to change the situation through patience and love.

    In this respect, it is instructive to compare Grigory with another father in the novel, Captain Snegiryov. Encouraged by Smerdyakov, Snegiryov’s son Ilyusha commits a series of rather pugnacious misdemeanors. Yet rather than condemning or punishing his son in the manner of Grigory, Snegiryov treats his son with love and compassion. And of course, it is love that survives against all odds in the bitter and mistreated boy.

    Grigory’s double is Father Ferapont. This half-mad monk who sees devils everywhere approaches the world with an apocalyptic mentality. Like Grigory, Ferapont is forever ready to judge and condemn. When Zosima’s corpse begins to stink, one of the monks recalls Ferapont’s accusations of Zosima: “Yes, apparently Father Ferapont judged rightly yesterday”. This remark provides a vivid characterization of both the speaker and Father Ferapont: of all people, Christian monks should not judge. That is why in response to Ferapont’s accusations, Zosima’s friend Father Paisy replies, “Get thee hence, Father . . . it is not for men to judge, but for God”. Zosima, of course, makes a similar point when, in reply to Alyosha’s request to mediate between Fyodor and Dmitri, he asks, “[W]ho made me a judge over them?”.

    The belief that judgment can be just contradicts the very spirit of the novel itself. Justice and judgment consistently occupy opposite poles in Dostoevsky’s novelistic world. That is apparent not only on the level of the plot, which culminates in the trial and its miscarriage of justice, but also in the lives of numerous characters who are frequently mistaken in their rash judgments of others. In fact, the novel is so pervaded by misjudgments and misreadings that had it not been for its tragic content, it might have been viewed as a comedy of errors. As it now stands, it might be called a tragedy of misjudgments.*

    *With the exception of Zosima and Alyosha, it appears that everyone calls Dmitri a monster or parricide at one time or another. Zosima, of course, kneels in front of Dmitri, an emblematic gesture that points to anything but judgment and condemnation. The refusal to judge moves even such sinners as Fyodor, who confesses to Alyosha: “I feel that you’re the only one in the world who hasn’t condemned me, you are, my dear boy, I feel it, how can I not feel it”.


    Grigory reads only two books, which, according to the narrator, he scarcely comprehends: the Book of Job and the homilies of Isaac the Syrian, in other words, a book of God’s mysterious ways and a book of his mysterious power of love. In the transparently clear world of Grigory, however, there is no place for mystery. Once a monster, always a monster; once a stinking lackey, always a stinking lackey; once a rebel, always a rebel: such are the conclusions of his Euclidean mind, conclusions that he shares, of course, with his intellectual superiors Ivan and the Grand Inquisitor.

    Like Ivan’s devil who does not carry a watch, Grigory does not even know the date and the year, as he reveals during the trial. Grigory’s existence outside of time concords with his apocalyptic outlook (when time shall be no more) and with the finality of his judgments. There is no possibility of change or growth in his world. That is why he reads the same two books over and over again. Not surprisingly, Zosima, in his musings on hell, remarks that sinners in hell are tortured by the awareness that “there will be no more time” to rectify their failure of love. Even if he is not yet tortured by it, Grigory already inhabits this loveless and timeless hell.

    For some reason, we are told, Grigory dislikes one of Fyodor’s wives and adores another. And these predilections or prejudices of his are unchanging. His rigorous dogmatism does not even allow him to conceive of Smerdyakov as a helpless child or to imagine that the boy might view Grigory and Marfa as his parents. As far as Grigory is concerned, Smerdyakov is the fruit of “the devil’s son”. That is why Grigory, with his usual insensitivity, makes sure that everyone in Moscow knows of Smerdyakov’s scandalous heritage when the boy is sent there. Even as an adult, Smerdyakov complains about Gigory’s betrayal, a fact that discloses how much it must have wounded him. Alyosha happened to eavesdrop on Smerdyakov’s complaints:


    I could have done even better, miss . . . if it wasn’t for my destiny ever since childhood . . . I came from Stinking Lizaveta without a father, and they were shoving that in my face in Moscow, it spread there thanks to Grigory Vasilievich. Grigory Vasilievich reproaches me for rebelling against my nativity. “You opened her matrix,” he says . . . I’d have let them kill me in the womb, so as not to come out into the world at all, miss.


    There is a bitter irony in Grigory’s reproach to Smerdyakov. The expression lozhesna razverz (opened the womb) comes from Exodus: “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine”. Any firstborn, be it man or beast, is sanctified and belongs to God. Yet Grigory treats these very firstborns, these sanctified and Godly creatures, as if they were dragons or accursed anathemas. Grigory does his best to prevent Smerdyakov from growing; the latter appears to be forever tainted and defined by his last name (“a stinking one”). While the boy’s first name, Paul, suggests a possibility of a change, those around Smerdyakov made sure that the possibility of such an outcome was slim indeed.

    Grigory’s verbal abuses underline his simplistic mind-set. He reduces those he attacks to their base, inescapable, frequently nonhuman origins. This is how he talks to a boy Smerdyakov: “ ‘You think you are a human being?’ he would suddenly address Smerdyakov directly. ‘You are not a human being, you were begotten of bathhouse slime, that’s who you are’ ”. As the narrator reports, Smerdyakov could never forgive Grigory these words. Grigory, of course, is offended when during the trial Dmitri compares his loyalty to that of a dog. “I am not a poodle”, he mutters in indignation.

    Upon the birth of Smerdyakov and the death of his son, Grigory declares that “God’s orphan child is everyone’s kin, all the more so for you and me. Our little dead one sent us this one, who was born from the devil’s son and a righteous woman. Nurse him and weep no more”. Of this complex lineage—an orphan, a God’s child, “from the devil’s son and a righteous woman”—Grigory would later remember only the most offensive ones and would be forever happy to remind Smerdyakov of his dubious ancestry and otherwise to condemn and denigrate him.

    Late in the novel, when Ivan threatens to denounce Smerdyakov, the latter articulates to Ivan his possible court defense: “I will certainly say right out that I never told you any such thing, sir, and that you . . . invented all that against me since you’ve considered me like a fly all your life anyway, and not like a man”. Such an attitude, expressed by the majority of Smerdyakov’s superiors, is, of course, infectious. Thus, in turn, Smerdyakov begins to see others as no more than beasts (and we, of course, remember what he did with cats). On one occasion, Smerdyakov remarks of Grigory that “he is not a man, let me tell you, but just like a stubborn mule, sir: he didn’t see it, but he fancied he saw it—and you’ll never be able to shake him sir”. This assessment of Grigory’s stubbornness parallels Grigory’s own sentence: “You are not a human being.” Moreover, he seeks to accomplish the same task: to deny another person his humanity. Like father, like son, or in the words of the New Testament, frequently quoted and misquoted in the novel, “with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you”.

    This world of harsh immutable judgments was bound to implode. Discussing parents’ cruelty, Dostoevsky once remarked that “when a society ceases to pity its weak and oppressed, it will itself be afflicted; it will grow callous and wither, it will become depraved and sterile”. Is it so surprising, then, that the depraved Fyodor and sterile Grigory are despised, beaten, and even murdered by their children? Chickens come home to roost.

    Even though on one occasion the narrator notes Grigory’s fondness for children, neither Grigory’s words nor his actions support this assertion. Grigory, in fact, is very quick to abuse the boy Smerdyakov. He hits, whips, and curses him from the boy’s earliest childhood. It is Grigory’s violence, in fact, that the narrator connects with Smerdyakov’s first epileptic attack at the age of twelve; at that time, unhappy about Smerdyakov’s theological cynicism and his questioning the logic of Genesis, Grigory gives the boy “a violent blow on the cheek”. Even Fyodor is touched by the outcome of this incident and forbids Grigory to punish the boy. In earlier years, Dostoevsky criticized such methods of correction. He wrote in reference to another violent father: “[H]e supposed that one could eradicate at once, with one stroke, all that evil that had been sown and that had taken root in the heart of the child over the years. But that cannot be done; one must act slowly and have patience”.

    Needless to say, physical abuse of children is a grave sin in the world of Dostoevsky. As the result of such beatings, Smerdyakov usually would retreat to the corner of the room: the quintessential gesture of a child victim in Dostoevsky’s world:

    Do you know what it means to abuse a child? Their hearts are full of innocent, almost unconscious love, and blows such as these cause a grievous shock and tears that God sees and will count. For their reason is never capable of grasping their full guilt. Have you ever seen, or heard of little children who were tormented, or of orphans, say, who were raised among wicked strangers? Have you seen a child cowering in a corner, trying to hide, and weeping there . . . not knowing himself what he is doing, not clearly understanding his own guilt or why he is tormented but sensing all too well that he is not loved.


    “Sensing all too well that he is not loved”: here is a feeling that must have accompanied Smerdyakov throughout his life and that certainly explains, in part, at least, many aspects of his character and behavior, including his cruelty, anger, envy, and tendency to blame others. It is useful, in this respect, to recall Dickens’s approach to one of his most repulsive and negative characters, Uriah Heep. While not denying Heep’s bad qualities, the narrator of David Copperfield stresses also the formative aspects of his upbringing: “I had never doubted his meanness, his craft, and malice; but I fully comprehend now, for the first time, what a base, unrelenting, and revengeful spirit must have been engendered by this early, and this long, suppression”.

    In his essay on the bloodthirsty terrorist Nechaev, entitled “One of Today’s Falsehoods”, Dostoevsky claims that he could never have become another Nechaev; this is only because he had been loved as a child, and had remembered this love: “As far back as I can remember I recall my parents’ love for me”. On another occasion, he asserts: “The family is created by a ceaseless labor of love”. In fact, Dostoevsky stresses the same point in his presentation of Zosima, a man whose fond memories of childhood, shaped by the love of his mother and brother, gave him strength to renounce his old ways and change.*

    *It is telling that in the presentation of numerous criminals in his House of the Dead, Dostoevsky never mentions their families, unless he talks about criminals who clearly do not belong in prison. Dostoevsky’s favorite person in prison is a young man, Alei, whose description, in fact, bears a striking resemblance to that of Alyosha Karamazov. He is presented as the most loving and devoted son and brother. Alei stresses his mother’s love for him at the very first conversation with the narrator.


    In his portrayal of the Grand Inquisitor, Dostoevsky, one surmises, does not condemn him simply for treating his subjects as children but rather for being a bad father, a father “unaccustomed to fatherhood,” a person who thinks only the worst of his children and sees them as weak and corrupt creatures, incapable of finding their own way.* Paradoxically, such fathers seem to care about their children, yet because they interpret any sign of independence as ingratitude or rebellion, they are prone to immediate violence. [Dostoevsky argues that only he who observes, encourages, and participates in the spiritual growth of his children embodies a true fatherhood: “These little creatures only enter into our souls and attach themselves to our hearts when we, having begotten them, watch over them from childhood, without leaving them from the time of their first smile; and then we continue to grow into one another’s souls every day, every hour, all through our lives. Now that is the family, that is something sacred”.]

    *The Grand Inquisitor, of course, is the parody and perversion of the true Father, Christ, hence their confrontation over the fate of their “children” or their flock. Dostoevsky’s portrayal of the Grand Inquisitor contains a profound insight, one that has been known since the Antichrist of Revelation. The relevance of this insight became especially clear in the twentieth century: any figure with a claim to a surrogate fatherhood has to assume a religious aura, to utilize, or rather abuse, “miracle, mystery, and authority.” The great tyrants of the twentieth century, of course, did so rather successfully.


    Both Grigory and Smerdyakov, father and son, embody the vicious circle of harsh judgments and harsh sentences. It is thus hardly surprising that Smerdyakov so resembles Grigory. Grigory is a loner, pompous and taciturn. He never bothers to talk to people around him, including his wife, and presumes an air of superiority. Of Smerdyakov we learn that “he had an arrogant nature and seemed to despise everyone”.





    . . . In one of his rare monologues, Smerdyakov expresses the Job-like wish never to have been born. This comment alerts us (though not Alyosha, who overhears this complaint) to the harsh reality of his life. During another of his rebellious moments described in the chapter “The Disputation”, Smerdyakov, like Job, proceeds publicly to question God in the presence of his senior friends, such as Fyodor, Grigory, Ivan, and Alyosha. Like Job’s friends, these people prefer to blame the victim, accusing Smerdyakov of apostasy or monstrosity or pontificating about the Russianness of his beliefs.

    Rather than concentrating on the Joban subtext, however, the narrator gives the story a twist when he characterizes this unexpected rebellion with the following words: “but Balaam’s ass suddenly spoke”. This reference casts the events of the chapter in a totally different light. We remember from the Book of Numbers that Balaam’s ass, after she balks upon seeing an angel blocking her way, gets a sound beating from Balaam. After the beating has been repeated three times, and after the ass addresses Balaam in a human voice, Balaam finally begins to see what she has been seeing all along.

    By calling Smerdyakov a Balaam’s ass, yet by treating him as if he is just an ass, his “fathers” show the blindness of the Geneva citizens who call Richard “a brother” and then chop his head off, or the blindness of Ivan, who self-righteously condemns them without being aware that he himself is committing a similar moral blunder.

    This refusal to recognize the message of Balaam’s ass, the message of the ever-present power of miracles and faith which can be revealed to anyone, including an ass, informs the whole scene. Even though Smerdyakov undergoes a barrage of insults, as does Balaam’s ass, he, as opposed to this she-ass, denies the plausibility and relevance of both miracles and faith. While God is ever present in the story of Balaam, it is relegated to the useless beyond in the exchange that takes place between Smerdyakov and his listeners, Ivan and Fyodor. The ground is cleared for the world of “two vipers eating each other up”.

    Small wonder that Fyodor Karamazov gets very upset with Smerdyakov’s performance, especially after Ivan explains to him that the suppression of religion would result in the suppression of him, Fyodor Karamazov. Following Ivan’s explanation, Fyodor exclaims, “Ah, what an ass I am”. Fyodor’s exclamation not only underscores Fyodor’s kinship to Smerdyakov but also reminds us of the difference that separates the world of Balaam from the world of Karamazov’s Skotoprigonievsk. In the Bible, the ass speaks in the language of humans and sees angels; in the novel, humans persistently reject God’s relevance to their life and act like beasts. The scene, in fact, is dominated by the persistent comparison of human beings to roaches, pigs, and vipers.



    . . . Cruelty within the family—the desecration of the divine ideals of love, pity, and forgiveness—becomes for Dostoevsky one of the most disturbing and pervasive offenses. To underscore it, Dostoevsky has the main family offender, Fyodor, spit on an icon. In a similar vein, another failed father, Versilov in The Raw Youth, breaks an icon. These scarilegious acts highlight the fact that instead of being fathers, these men have become, as it were, anti-fathers. The neglect and abuse of children, these images of God, as well as the desecration of icons constitute the most direct and immediate subversion of the divine. They are presented as truly demonic. It is hardly surprising, then, that cosmic religious imagery pervades Dostoevsky’s portrayal of the family. It is also no surprise that the description of a failed family that opens The Brothers Karamazov is juxtaposed with the image of a new kind of family in the novel’s conclusion, that is, the family of an ideal foster parent, Alyosha, and his twelve boys. To paraphrase Dostoevsky, “God and devil are fighting with each other, and the battlefield is a human family.” The outcome of the battle will depend on what kind of family will prevail.




    - from Gender and Sexuality in Russian Civilisation; p. 239-51 (“Dostoevskii’s Homophilia/Homophobia” by Michael Katz):

    In his controversial essay on “Dostoevsky and Parricide” (1928) no less a figure than Sigmund Freud psychoanalyzes the author and defines his malady with the following pronouncement: “Such a [bisexual] disposition must certainly be assumed in Dostoevsky, and it shows itself in a viable form (as latent homosexuality) in the important part played by male friendships in his life, in his strangely tender attitude towards rivals in love and in his remarkable understanding of situations which are explicable only by repressed homosexuality, as many examples from his novels show”. Unfortunately Freud provided no details in the form of biographical evidence of citations of chapter and verse in any of Dostoevsky’s works. His controversial tantalizing diagnosis remains unsubstantiated.

    Modern commentators are divided in their opinions. In his multi-volume critical biography of Dostoevsky, Joseph Frank refutes Freud’s allegations and defends the author from this “inappropriate” diagnosis. Frank counters Freud’s accusation by endeavouring to explain what he considers to be the true nature of Dostoevsky’s male friendships and his real attitude towards his rivals in love. On the other hand, psychoanalytic critics such as Daniel Rancour-Laferriere, have argued as follows: “As for homosexual impulses in Dostoevsky’s fictional characters, it is no longer possible to deny the homosexual aspect of Prince Myshkin’s affectively charged bond with Rogozhin after the painstaking studies of Lesser and Dalton…. The scene in which Myshkin and Rogozhin sleep together on the same bed can hardly be disregarded any more as evidence of Dostoevsky’s intuitive knowledge of homosexual feelings”.

    Lesser regards Dostoevsky as a bisexual who firmly repressed or sublimated his homosexual feelings. In his analysis of The Idiot he insists that on the unconscious level Dostoevsky “knows” a great deal more than he is willing or able to confront on the conscious level about the nature of sexuality and homosexuality.

    Attempts by Freud and his followers to psychoanalyze the author are less than compelling; on the other hand, Lesser and Rancour-Laferriere suggest an approach that can be helpful both in validating and amplifying Karlinsky’s assertion that the author “was not aware of the existence of gayness”, as well as defining the nature of Dostoevsky’s attitude: namely “intuitive knowledge” or “unconscious understanding”. As textual evidence for what Karlinsky describes as Dostoevsy’s lack of conscious awareness of homosexuality, he cites Notes from the House of the Dead, a semi-fictional account of the author’s experience in a Siberian penal colony. [Historical evidence, though minimal, suggests that homosexuality “flourished among the [penal] colony’s many unattached men”. See Engelstein, The Keys to Happiness: Sex and the Search for Modernity in Fin-de-Siecle Russia, 31]. In particular, Karlinsky refers in passing to the episode in which the convict Petrov, a violent and hardened criminal, manifests an extraordinary fondness for Goryanchikov, the narrator of the prison memoirs.

    Goryanchikov finds Petrov’s persistent attentions disagreeable at first, but soon confesses that Petrov played his part so well that his visits soon became a “pleasant diversion”. The visitor is described as a short man with a strong build, agile and “flighty”. He has a pleasing face, a fair complexion, high cheek bones, a bold gaze, and fine teeth. He looks much younger than his years and likes to walk around barefoot, spending most of his time in the prison kitchen talking and listening, as others prepared or cooked. The narrator confesses that he could never understand what it was that Petrov expected from his company. Nevertheless, Petrov becomes extremely attached to Goryanchikov, looks upon him as a child, feels compassion for him as a stronger person does for a weaker one. Once this bond established, we are told that their “friendship” continued for years afterwards. The most revealing encounter between the narrator and Petrov occurs in the bathhouse, a location described at some length in Dostoevsky’s Notes from the House of the Dead. There, amidst a scene of bedlam where convicts reach a state of frenzy, Goryanchikov reports: “… as soon as [he] was undressed”, Petrov took him by the arm and helped him to walk in spite of his chains. The narrator admits to feeling ashamed of all his attention: “I had promised him nothing for his assistance, nor had he asked me for anything. What on earth inspired him to take care of me like that?” Petrov offers to wash the narrator from head to foot and proceeds to rub him with soap; the narrator objects at first, but then submits to Petrov’s desire: “I tried to make him understand that I could wash myself, but it was no use contradicting him so I let him have his way entirely”. Summarizing this intimate relationship between the convict and the narrator, Karlinsky concludes: “Dostoevsky offers several tentative psychological explanations for Petrov’s behavior, but finds them all unsatisfactory. The most obvious explanation of all, namely that Petrov found the narrator physically attractive and desirable, just didn’t occur to Dostoevsky”. In other words, as incredible as it may seem, Dostoevsky manages to portray the emotional relationship without any conscious awareness of the real nature of Petrov’s feelings.

    I would argue that in the character of Petrov we encounter an early version of a positive male homosexual prototype that recurs in Dostoevsky’s works. Petrov has a distinctive appearance (build, complexion, face, manner) that sets him apart from other prisoners and includes elements of the “medical stereotype” of homosexuality described by George Mosse in his study Nationalism and Sexuality, where “so-called abnormality” was part of his “psychological makeup, his looks and bodily structure”. Petrov is also linked to two “marked” locations, one associated with physical nakedness, the other, traditionally with women: the bathhouse and the kitchen, places where he feels most comfortable. He forms a strong emotional attachment to another male, a bond that defies conventional explanation (in the context of Dostoevsky’s stated psychological motivation), one that is described as both one-sided and long-lasting. Finally, there is an unequal distribution of power between the two: Petrov treats the narrator as if he were a helpless child. The narrator assures himself and us that “he [Petrov] was not a servant in any sense of the word”—yet Petrov does indeed “serve” Goryanchikov—both by providing a source of pleasant diversion by his frequent visits and conversation, as well as by guiding and assisting him in the bathhouse. Still, Petrov wields all the power: in the end the narrator submits and “lets him have his way entirely”.

    While the narrator remains unresponsive to Petrov’s overtures and puzzled by his persistent displays of affection, he describes another of his fellow prisoners with greater sympathy; and in this case the affection seems to be reciprocated. I have in mind the Dagestan Tatar Aley, the youngest of three brothers (the older two, we are told are distinctly masculine). Aley is said to have a “splendid, beautiful face” and a tender, sincere smile; he is “pure and chaste as a girl”, modest and delicate; his pearly white teeth would be the envy of any woman. Aley seems to be intended as the embodiment of the “other”—an “exotic maiden”—a Tatar among Russians, a feminine man among “macho” males. During his time in prison Aley learns how to sew underwear and make boots, skills not associated with virile masculinity. His strongest desire is to serve and please the narrator: he does everything he can to make Goryanchikov’s life easier. The narrator repays the kindness by teaching the lad how to read and write; the pupil proves willing and eager to learn, and makes rapid progress. Along the way Aley “comes to love the narrator as much as he [Aley] loved his own brothers”. Upon his release from prison, Aley bids farewell to his true friend and mentor, paying tribute to him in touching terms: “You made a man of me”. Both Petrov and Aley share characteristics that set them apart from other prisoners—feminine physical traits as well as non-masculine activities (Petrov in the bathhouse and kitchen / Aley sewing underwear and making boots). In addition the two men forge strong emotional attachments to the narrator: with Petrov the affection has an obvious physical manifestation in the bath. In both cases, I would argue, Dostoevsky portrays a close homophilic bond between men, and in Petrov’s case, even a homoerotic one.

    An early example of reciprocated love between two women can be found in Dostoevsky’s first attempt at writing fiction. While the “large novel” in the form of a “confession” mentioned to his brother in a letter from 1846 was never actually completed, a fragment entitled Netochka Nezvanova, intended to serve as the prologue to the bigger work, was published in 1849. Dostoevsky’s efforts were curtailed by his arrest, imprisonment, and subsequent exile to Siberia. Chapter Five of the fragment contains the moving episode of Netochka’s encounter with Katya, a girl her own age, the beautiful, but spoiled daughter of a prince. The weakened heroine is attracted immediately and irresistibly: Netochka “longed to kiss her”, and starts dreaming of her “as if we were in love”. This heroine “burns with this new feeling”, while Katya, the object of her affection, “could not help noticing it; at first she thought it exceptionally strange”. Before long Netochka confesses: “To be brief, and forgive me for what I am about to say, I was in love with Katya. Yes, it was love, real love with all its ups and downs, real passionate love”.

    The heroine’s passion soon grows beyond all measure: “my infatuation… already knew no bounds…. I was no longer in control of myself. I pined with love for her…. my love for Katya verged on the abnormal”.* The crisis occurs when Netochka willingly accepts both the blame and the punishment for her friend’s misbehaviour: at that point Katya finally acknowledges her own affection for the heroine. At long last the two girls “embrace sweetly and joyfully like two lovers after a long separation”. That night they lie together in the same bed, “embracing and hugging eagerly”, showering each other with kisses, laughing and crying at the same time.

    * In Sex and Society in the World of the Orthodox Slavs, 900-1700 (p. 204), Levin argues that lesbian activity was “not deemed to be a serious violation” and even “reinforced appropriate behavior” between “unmarried girls”.

    Most critics have failed to note the true nature of this poignant relationship; Joseph Frank employs utmost discretion: “Netochka, starved for affection, falls passionately in love with the beautiful Katya in a fashion whose erotic overtones are perfectly explicit. Victor Terras, on the other hand, in his Karamazov Companion, notes in passing: “Dostoevsky is one of the first Russian writers to describe female homoeroticism in physical terms. In his early novel Netochka Nezvanova (1848-49) there is an episode of torrid lovemaking by two young girls” (187). What is striking, of course, is the homoerotic quality of this extraordinary passion. It is characterized as extremely intense, verging on the “abnormal” by the person experiencing the emotion. Furthermore, the object of the affection remains temporarily unaware of the meaning of the bond. When she finally comes to understand it, she defends it vigorously. Her father objects, “You little imps! What has happened to you both? What kind of friendship is this? What sort of love”? Katya replies, “Be quiet, Papa, you don’t understand our affairs”. And they rushed into each others’ arms. Perhaps it was the fact that the two “same-sex lovers” were women that freed the author from his own inhibitions and allowed him to portray the reciprocal nature of this relationship.

    Another example of an explicitly homophilic relationship has received considerable critical attention: that is the dramatic scene between Myshkin and Rogozhin at the end of The Idiot (Part IV, chapter xi), when the Prince returns to Rogozhin’s house and comes upon Nastasya Filippovna’s corpse. After this discovery and Myshkin’s painful realization of what actually happened, Rogozhin invites him to spend the night together in a vigil over her body. He even insists on making up a bed so the two men can be together, i.e. lie down together, side by side—Dostoevsky emphasizes all these details. Rogozhin takes the Prince by the arm and leads him “tenderly and rapturously” to the improvised double bed. [Instead of marrying Myshkin, Natasha flees to Rogozhin who then stabs her to death. Since neither “suitor” gets to sleep with her, they go to bed with each other.] That night Rogozhin has disturbing dreams during which he emits piercing screams and strange bursts of laughter. The Prince responds by stretching out his own trembling hand and gently stroking Rogozhin’s hair and cheeks. Finally: “[Myshkin] presses his face against Rogozhin’s pale and motionless face; tears flowed from his eyes onto Rogozhin’s cheeks, but perhaps he no longer even noticed his own tears and knew nothing about them…”

    Gender asymmetry in erotic triangles has been treated both by Rene Girard in Deceit, Desire and the Novel and by Eve Sedgwick in Between Men. Girard argues that the bond between rivals in such a triangle is even stronger, more heavily determinant of actions and choices, than anything in the bond between either of the two lovers and their beloved. Psychoanalytic critics have argued that the “real” reason Dostoevsky has Myshkin and Rogozhin cling to each other after Nastasya’s death is not that they have both lost their chance to sleep with her, but rather that their attraction to each other needs to be contained and re-channelled. Whether or not one agrees, it is clear that the author is portraying sympathetically the existence of a strong homophilic and/or homoerotic bond between these two male characters, just as he had done between two women in Netochka Nezvanova and two men in Notes from the House of the Dead.


    While the narrator’s attitude in Notes from the House of the Dead appears as a naïve, non-judgmental, almost tolerant acceptance of Petrov’s attentions and a warm reciprocation of Aley’s affection, in Notes from Underground (1864) this attitude is transformed into a powerful, negative rejection of such an intimate relationship. There it is the servant Apollon who represents the embodiment of the author’s homosexual stereotype, but one where Dostoevsky’s homophobic, rather than homophilic impulse prevails. Apollon is introduced to the reader as the “bane of [the Underground Man’s] existence,” “a punishment inflicted on [him] by Providence”. He is succinctly described as an elderly dignified gentleman who also works as a tailor. He has a distinctive appearance: his flaxen hair is slicked down with vegetable oil and a single lock is brushed over his forehead. His mouth is drawn up in the shape of an izhitsa, the triangular, final letter of the pre-Revolutionary Russian alphabet: in other words, his lips are constantly pursed. [The Russian phrase “propisat’ izhitsu” is an idiom meaning “to lecture or give a good lesson”.] Apollon’s mouth also houses an abnormally large tongue which produces a lisp and hiss of which the speaker is inordinately proud, convinced that it affords him great dignity. Indeed, the narrator characterizes Apollon as a pedant in possession of enormous self-esteem and majestic self-assurance.

    Other details of Apollon’s appearance and behavior confirm the stereotype: he is “in love with every one of his buttons and every one of his fingernails;” “his gait alone would throw me into convulsions;” he speaks in “slow, measured tones” and would read the Psalter behind his partition in a steady, sing-song voice, “as if chanting over the dead”. The narrator describes his connection with Apollon as a strange organic bond: it is “as if [Apollon] were chemically linked with my existence”. This bizarre relationship lasts seven long years, during which the two, master and servant bicker and squabble non-stop, but they are inseparable.

    First and foremost Dostoevsky’s Apollon, whose namesake is, of course, the Greek god of light, music, and poetry, has here in the underground been transformed into a high priest of darkness, death, and dying. Apollon spends his time reading psalms and ultimately hires himself out to recite over the dead; as if that weren’t macabre enough, he exterminates rats and makes shoe polish. In addition to this mythological inversion, there is the perversion of normality in Apollon’s physical appearance: the phallic tongue which causes lisping and hissing; the slow, measured tone of voice; his strange gait, pursed lips, single greased lock of hair. While the narrator describes this appearance as repulsive, we are informed that Apollon is narcissistically “in love” with himself. At the same time he seems unaware of the impact he has on others—particularly on the narrator.

    There is, of course, an obvious inversion of the power relationship between master and servant, victim and victimizer. The intense love-hate which exists between the two provides further evidence of the irrationality of human nature, one of the main themes of the underground man’s vitriolic polemic. The essence of this bond introduces one of Dostoevsky’s most disturbing psychological insights about human nature and interpersonal relationships in general. The narrator is driven to reveal his own repressed homicidal impulse, first directed at Apollon: “I’ll kill him, I’ll kill him, I shrieked… You don’t understand, Liza, what this executioner is doing to me…” It is this violent impulse, which later recurs with respect to Liza in the narrator’s imagination (“A terrible anger against her suddenly welled up in my heart; I think I could have killed her”), that eventually finds its artistic representation in the numerous murders committed in Dostoevsky’s subsequent novels.

    To some extent the scene with Apollon provides the narrator with a brief moment of comic relief, a respite before the final denouement with Liza. The ridiculous argument over Apollon’s withheld wages, the power struggle between the two, and the narrator’s absurd demand that his servant summon a policeman to have himself arrested, provides a diversion that is both splendidly ridiculous, and also allows Liza to enter: “I never even heard the door from the hallway open at that very moment, quietly and slowly, or that someone walked in, stopped, and began to examine us in bewilderment. I glanced up, almost died from shame, and ran back into my own room”.

    In an article entitled “Verbal Pollution in The Brothers Karamazov”, Gary Saul Morson describes the crucial role of the so-called “gatekeepers” in that novel: “Power therefore belongs to the gatekeepers; trust must be placed in those who mediate”. Apollon plays the role of just such a gatekeeper in Notes from Underground: it is he who admits or denies entrance to visitors. For the hero there is only one visitor, female, whose presence is both desired and feared. Although she slips into the apartment unnoticed during the argument between master and servant, it is Apollon who enters the narrator’s room to announce her: “ ‘There’s some woman asking for you’, he said, staring at me with particular severity; then he stood aside and let her in—it was Liza. He didn’t want to leave and scrutinized us mockingly”. Not only does Apollon serve as the actual gatekeeper who admits or denies entrance, he also serves as a symbolic gatekeeper, i.e. someone who prepares and/or delivers food. In a study by anthropologist Mary Douglas entitled Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo, a cook is characterized as a symbolic gatekeeper who selects clean items and transforms raw ones into the assimilable. Although Apollon does not actually prepare the hero’s food, it is he who fulfils this conventionally female role. He is asked to fetch tea and rusks when Liza arrives and delivers the refreshments just as the conversation takes a turn for the worse.

    Finally, I would argue that Apollon represents an inversion of yet another sort: viewed solely in the context of Dostoevsky’s characterizations, he is a dramatic example of gender inversion and “perverted” sexuality. His emotional attachment to the underground man, his appearance and behavior, his role as literal (admitting the woman) and symbolic gatekeeper (and his association with the kitchen from which refreshments are procured), lead to the conclusion that Apollon is an extreme variation on the stereotype of the male homosexual first described in Notes from the House of the Dead. But, whereas the portrayal of Petrov was fundamentally neutral, and that of Aley, unequivocally positive, Apollon’s is extremely unfavorable.

    But even Apollon pales when compared to his confrere in The Brothers Karamazov. It is the lackey Smerdyakov who represents the final and fullest exploration of the male homosexual stereotype in Dostoevsky’s fiction. [In the American Imago article “Dostoevsky: Epilepsy, Mysticism, and Homosexuality”, J. R. Maze mentions Smerdyakov’s “emasculated… homosexual attitude that might be thrust on one by an overbearing father”.] And, as usual, the author brings to bear on this brilliant characterization, no matter how despicable, all the powers of his creative imagination. In the Notebooks for The Brothers Karamazov we find this intriguing unattributed exchange:

    —About Smerdyakov (he has been tormenting himself very much)

    —Does Smerdyakov interest you?

    —Yes—
    (p. 71)


    Even Smerdyakov’s origins are suspicious: we are told with more or less certainty who his mother was—the village idiot, “Stinking Lizaveta”, who has more than a touch of the holy fool. After she dies in childbirth, Grigory’s wife Martha becomes the unfortunate lad’s “proxy” mother. Identifying Smerdyakov’s father proves to be more difficult. Fyodor Karamazov is alleged to be the most likely culprit. He seems only too willing to take credit or accept the blame, but the unsavoury convict Karp is also mentioned as a possible suspect and the ambiguity is never resolved. Two other paternal figures are cited: Grigory plays the role of “proxy” father and actually brings up Smerdyakov; and the Devil himself is referred to as the lad’s real spiritual father. If this complex genealogy does not resolve all questions, a Russian proverb hurled by Grigory at Smerdyakov might: “You sprang up from the mildew in the bathhouse”—suggesting, as Morson quips, the possibility of some sort of non-human, “spontaneous vegetative mutation”.

    While the issue of his paternity is left unresolved, the location of his birth is clearly specified: Smerdyakov was born in a bathhouse, a traditional location for such events, and one that also recalls Notes from the House of the Dead where Goryanchikov first encountered the unwanted attentions of Petrov. Meanwhile a resemblance to Apollon from Notes from Underground is suggested by the extraordinary account of Smerdyakov’s childhood: “… he was fond of hanging cats and burying them with great ceremony. He used to dress up in a sheet as though it were a surplice, sing, and wave some object over the dead cat as though it were a censer”. Apollon, we recall, chants from the Psalter “as if over the dead”, and then winds up doing just that. The vignette from Smerdyakov’s childhood suggests a strange affinity between these two sadistic necrophiliacs.

    When it comes to Smerdyakov’s appearance and character, numerous details suggest his inverted sexuality. He is said to be extremely fastidious and tidy: as a result Fyodor decides to make Smerdyakov his cook (symbolic gatekeeper) and sends him to Moscow for culinary training. When he returns to assume his post in Fyodor’s kitchen, as well as to serve as his master’s actual gatekeeper, Smerdyakov is said to look old for his age (unlike Petrov). His face is wrinkled and yellow and he has “begun to resemble a eunuch”. Nevertheless, he dresses very well: he always sports a clean coat and fresh linen; he brushes his clothes scrupulously and is fond of cleaning his calfskin boots with special English shoe polish. Although Smerdyakov spends all his money on enhancing his physical appearance—clothes, pomades, and perfumes—we are assured that he has nothing but contempt for the female sex. In fact when Fyodor once asks him if he ever wants to get married, “…Smerdyakov turned pale with anger, and made no reply. Fyodor Pavlovich gave it up and left him alone”.

    Smerdyakov is, of course, one of Ivan Karamazov’s “doubles” and, as such, is extraordinarily attached to his intellectual mentor. The lackey is always eager for his teacher’s attention and affection; in fact, Ivan’s approval seems to be the primary motivating force for many of Smerdyakov’s words and deeds, including the murder of Fyodor. The intimate nature of their relationship is revealed most clearly in the series of interviews in Book XI. After taking his final leave from Ivan after their third meeting, Smerdyakov is replaced by another of Ivan’s many doubles, the nightmarish Devil with whom both characters have been so closely linked.

    Dostoevsky offers us Smerdyakov’s sexual inversion as a stark contrast to the more “normal, healthy” heterosexuality of the three full-blooded Karamazovs. Each brother is either intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and/or physically involved with one or more women: Ivan with Katerina; Dmitry with Katerina and Grushenka; Alyosha with Grushenka and Liza Khokhlakova. [Alyosha’s relations with women are more problematic; at the conclusion of the novel his “non-sexual affinities still lie with pre-adolescent males (The Boys).] Smerdyakov is also provided with a partner, but his relationship with her must be viewed as a broad parody of a heterosexual courtship. Book V includes the chapter “Smerdyakov with a Guitar” which depicts the lackey’s “romance” with Marya Kondratyevna: “the daughter of the household, who has just come back from Moscow, the one who wears the dress with a train and goes to Martha for soup”. That dress with the train receives special attention in Dostoevsky’s notebooks for The Brothers Karamazov; although eventually omitted from the final version, there he reveals the extent of Smerdyakov’s curious fixation: “[he] took a liking to two of her [Marya’s] dresses, one with a train, and to her manner of shifting that train. At first he got angry with the train, but later… he took a great liking to it” (Notebooks for the Brothers Karamazov, 69). The train is obviously a symbol of feminine sexuality; Smerdyakov is attracted by it, though not aroused by it, except to a feeling of envy: as he wants one, too, and he wants to be able to “shift” it seductively.

    Dressed to the nines, boots polished, hair pomaded (perhaps even curled), Smerdyakov serenades his “sweetheart” in an effeminate “sugary falsetto”. He whispers his version of ever-so-clever sweet nothings into his “intended’s” ear, telling her how much he hates Russia (“the French should have conquered us”), and the Russian people (they “deserve a good beating”); he concludes by saying he would even have sanctioned being killed “before he was ever born”. Note that it is not Smerdyakov who makes the advances in this strange courtship: it is his “intended”, Marya Kondratyevna, speaking with a lisp and wearing a dress with a long train, who is the aggressor. The physical details of Smerdyakov’s appearance and apparel, his high-pitched voice, his fixation on the train of Marya’s dress, the passive role he plays, and the nature of his conversation, confirm that this is no authentic romance at all, but a striking inversion of the standard conventions of heterosexual courtship. [It has been suggested that Grushenka’s Polish suitor deserves attention in this connection with his “tiny nose and very thin, pointed, dyed and impudent looking mustache”, his “absurd wig made in Siberia”, and his “lovelocks foolishly combed forward over the temples”; Mitya muses blissfully and enigmatically: “I suppose it’s all right since he wears a wig”.]

    The assembled evidence supports and confirms Karlinsky’s extraordinary and counter-intuitive conclusion: in spite of his perceptive exploration of the human psyche, Dostoevsky appears to have remained unaware of the existence of homosexuality. Nevertheless, that lack of awareness did not prevent him from possessing what Simon Lesser has called that “unconscious understanding” that enabled him to depict a range of homophilic and homophobic relationships in his fiction. Petrov and Aley in Notes from the House of the Dead both provide an early illustration of homophilic gender inversion. Katya and the heroine of Netochka Nezvanova, and Myshkin and Rogozhin from The Idiot provide examples of strong, affectionate homoerotic relationships. On the other hand, in the characters of Apollon in Notes from Underground and, to a much greater extent, Smerdyakov in The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky takes gender inversion to its extreme. These two figures give full vent to the author’s homophobic attitudes and reveal how powerfully he pathologized, even demonized, this fundamental aspect of human sexuality.



    - from Discovering Sexuality in Dostoevsky by Susanne Fusso (“Dostoevsky’s Comely Boy: Homoerotic Desire and Aesthetic Strageties in A Raw Youth”):

    . . . In his 1862 pseudo-autobiography Notes from the House of the Dead, based on his experiences in a Siberian prison, Dostoevsky explains how prisoners deal with their sexual needs. One method is to bribe guards to take the prisoner not to his work site but to a secluded hut for a tryst with a prostitute. But such expeditions, since they are expensive and risky, are extremely rare; as the narrator tells us, “lovers of the fair sex resort to other means, which are completely safe”. In what seems to be a digression but really isn’t, the narrator goes on to describe the prisoner Sirotkin, whom he calls “pretty boy” twice in the space of one paragraph. Sirotkin does not ply any of the prisoners’ moneymaking trades, but he always seems to have sums of ready cash and new clothes, gifts from other prisoners. One can only conclude that Sirotkin represents that “other means” of satisfying sexual desire—male prostitution. Our narrator is curious about Sirotkin and his “comrades,” and promises to describe them more extensively: “If circumstances permit, I will say something in more detail about this whole gang”.

    This promise is not kept in House of the Dead, but over ten years later in A Raw Youth, Dostoevsky created a character similar to Sirotkin and explored the phenomenon of homoerotic desire in much more detail than he was willing or able to do in 1862. The character Trishatov, also a “pretty boy” dependent on male admirers for nice clothes and pocket money, makes a brief but telling appearance in the novel and serves to elucidate the experimental and unorthodox aesthetics of this most challenging of Dostoevsky’s works. Despite its substantial size and its appearance between the masterworks The Devils and The Brothers Karamazov, “A Raw Youth” has been largely ignored by readers and critics . . . Jacques Catteau has aptly characterized the novel as “the most ‘mad’ and so the most neglected book in the canon.” As he says, “It is a concentration of all those elements of the Dostoyevskian novel which are most irritating to the Euclidean mind.”


    . . . In the third and last part of A Raw Youth, the narrator Arkady Dolgoruky encounters Petia Trishatov, a mysterious but strangely appealing figure. Trishatov appears in only a few scenes but plays an important role both in the novel’s plot and in its aesthetic system. Trishatov, a member of a gang of blackmailers headed by Arkady’s school chum and tormentor Lambert, is about twenty years old, but nineteen-year-old Arkady almost always refers to him as “boy”: “the comely boy,” “the strange boy,” “my boy”. Unlike his companion Andreev, whose hands and clothes are filthy, Trishatov is beautifully dressed and impeccably groomed. Yet Lambert’s mistress Alphonsine is repelled by him and refuses to let him touch her: “Oh, you nasty little boy! . . . don’t come near me, don’t get me dirty”. Lambert tells Arkady that Trishatov is a general’s son, but “his family is ashamed of him, I got him out of being prosecuted, I saved him”. Indeed, Lambert appears to have a rather intimate relationship with Trishatov, buying him expensive presents like an elk-fur coat and a gold watch. The mystery of Trishatov is easily solved. Numerous hints in the text of A Raw Youth, plus the very fact that Lambert does not name Trishatov’s crime, help us understand why Alphonsine shuns him and why he was to be prosecuted: for the crime covered by Article 995 of the criminal code, “men lying with men”, punishable by loss of civil rights and exile to Siberia. [On the history of legal punishment for homosexuality in Russia, see Engelstein, Keys to Happiness, 57-64; and Healey, Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia, 21-22, 79-81. Healey points out that Article 995 was only episodically enforced (78).]

    . . . There are not one but many plots in A Raw Youth. It is a psychological mystery novel, in which Arkady seeks to solve the riddle of his complex and enigmatic biological father. It is a bildungsroman, in which the young man tries out several designs for living, including miserly accumulation of capital, the dissipated gambling life of a young aristocrat, and the holy quest for “blagoobrazie” (“blessed form”) inspired by his legal father Makar.*

    *In her interesting chapter on A Raw Youth, Olga Meerson argues that the novel traces Arkadii’s progress from being an emotional exhibitionist who fails to respect the secrets of others (what she calls “zero-tabooing”) to being a person who is expert in tabooing, who “has no choice but to keep silent about the scandalousness of this fallen world and of himself in it” (Dostoevsky’s Taboos, 165).


    Simon Karlinsky has claimed that Dostoevsky, “one of the most perceptive explorers of the human psyche that literature has known, does not seem to have been aware of the existence of gayness.” Karlinsky, an incisive and astute critic of Russian literature, the man who opened our eyes to the homoerotic dimension of Gogol’s work, betrays an unaccountable blind spot here. It is inconceivable that Dostoevsky, to whom nothing human was alien, who was passionately interested in all the twists and turns of human desire, could have been unaware of the existence of same-sex desire. On the contrary, although homosexuality is not one of his major themes (and probably could not have been, considering the censorship), it does play an important role in many of his works, as Michael R. Katz has recently argued for House of the Dead, Notes from Underground, and The Brothers Karamazov. Despite the evidence he adduces of homoerotic themes in Dostoevsky’s work, Katz still agrees with Karlinsky’s statement, believing that Dostoevsky was consciously unaware of homosexuality, but had an “intuitive knowledge” or “unconscious understanding” of it. In fact, there is both textual and extratextual evidence that Dostoevsky was quite consciously aware of the phenomenon of homosexuality.

    What might Dostoevsky have known about homosexuality at the time of writing A Raw Youth? Leaving aside his earlier experience in a Siberian prison, there are two obvious sources of information and inspiration. One was his professional relationship with Prince Vladimir Meshchersky, whose homosexuality was well known in Russian society. The other was the growing body of scientific and forensic research on homosexuality.

    Meshchersky, the archconservative owner of the journal The Citizen, of which Dostoevsky served as editor from January 1873 to April 1874, used his considerable influence with Tsar Alexander III (and later with Nicholas II) to promote the careers of his lovers, whom he called his “spiritual sons”. Count S. Iu. Witte, Meshcherskii’s former protégé, even implied in a special appendix to his memoirs that Meshchersky was the lover of Alexander III (and the procurer of a male lover for Nicholas II).

    The prevalence of homosexuality in Russian high aristocratic circles, as reflected in Meshchersky’s career, is also reflected, if only obliquely, in the text of A Raw Youth, most significantly in the hero’s name. Arkady is, as I mentioned, the illegitimate son of the nobleman Versilov and a peasant woman, but his legal father is the former serf Makar Dolgoruky. The Dolgoruky/Dolgorukov family was one of the most ancient Russian princely clans (the two versions of the name were interchangeable in the nineteenth century). Arkady suffers greatly from the bitter irony of bearing this glittering name without a right to the princely status it implies. Every time Arkadii introduces himself he is met by the question, “Prince Dolgoruky?” to which he must give the humiliating reply, “No, just Dolgoruky”. Arkady says that “few people could be so furious at their own last name as I have been throughout my life”.


    Arkady’s name, and his repudiation of it, have another, less obvious significance. One of the most famous bearers of the Dolgoruky/Dolgorukov name was Prince Pyotr Vladimirovich Dolgorukov, who in the nineteenth century was believed to have been the author of the anonymous letters that precipitated Pushkin’s fatal duel. The question of Dolgorukov’s responsibility for circulating the “Order of the Cuckold” was raised in the Russian-language press several times in the decade preceding the writing of A Raw Youth. The anonymous letters and other documents relating to the duel were first published in Herzen’s Polar Star in 1861; the accusation of Dolgorukov first appeared in print in 1863; and the accusation was repeated in the journal Russian Archive in 1872. Although scholars have recently cast doubt on Dolgorukov’s involvement, in the 1870s he was widely believed to have sent the letters and thus to have played a role in Pushkin’s death. As Stella Abramovich has pointed out, Dolgorukov’s homosexuality served as the psychological basis reinforcing suspicions of his guilt, since it seemed to unite him in a kind of conspiratorial union with Pushkin’s killer Georges D’Anthes and his probable lover Baron Heeckeren. Pushkin is a guiding literary spirit for Arkady; works like The Covetous Knight and “The Queen of Spades” serve the young man as vital points of orientation in a disintegrating world. When he angrily denies that he is “Prince Dolgorukii,” he is denying participation in a plot of homosexual aristocrats to destroy Pushkin. Although there is no indication in the text that Arkady is aware of the connection, Dostoevsky and his audience would be, thanks to the discussions of the scandal in the Russian press in the 1860s and 1870s.

    Thus in the 1870s the examples of Meshchersky and Dolgorukov were available to bring the question of homosexual desire within Dostoevsky’s ken. The larger society around him would also have been a valuable source of information, of course. Dan Healey has shown that it was in the 1870s that a modern homosexual subculture emerged in Russian cities, “against the backdrop of rapid urbanization and the accelerated introduction of market relationships.” It was also a time of growing scientific interest in the phenomenon of homosexuality. Dostoevsky was always interested in the opinions of scientists and medical experts on social issues (even if he at times disagreed with them). In the second half of the nineteenth century Russian science was forming a more detailed theoretical and clinical picture of homosexuality, under the influence of Western European researchers . . . Two sources would have been available to Dostoevsky at the time of writing A Raw Youth: Merzheevsky’s 1872 adaptation and translation of Johann Casper’s handbook of forensic medicine and Tarnovsky’s Perversion of the Sexual Feeling, which was published only in 1885, but the theories it summarizes were no doubt in the discussion by the 1870s.




    . . . It is precisely Arkady’s lack of a “normal” heterosexual development that makes him such a compelling figure. Moreover, since the reader has developed an imaginative sympathy with Arkady, when he expresses homoerotic feelings they become universal human feelings, not something alien and threatening.

    One reason Dostoevsky can label his nineteen-year-old narrator a “podrostok” (literally, “adolescent”) is that Arkady is, at least physically, a virgin; he tells us that he learned about sex from his comrades at boarding school, but “only words, not the deed”. Part of the plot of A Raw Youth is the story of Arkady’s sometimes painful sexual education. In boarding school, a prime location for same-sex experimentation, Arkady came under the influence of Lambert, a bigger, stronger, physically abusive classmate who used Arkady “not just for taking off his boots”. It is clear that Arkady has been verbally seduced by Lambert at a young age, as a memory of his childhood reveals. A conversation with Lambert about pistols and sabers takes a less innocent turn: “Lambert moved to his favorite conversation about a certain revolting subject, and although I was secretly amazed at myself, I really liked to hear it”.

    One of Arkady’s confessions to the old Prince marks him as a textbook case of incipient homosexuality, according to the medical opinion of his time. A symptom of what Tarnovsky calls “congenital pederasty” is disgust at the sight of a naked woman: “For the congenital pederast all arousal disappears in the presence of women. The sight of an undressed young woman leaves him indifferent.” We learn early in the novel that Arkady experiences a similar feeling; he amazes the old Prince by announcing, “When I was thirteen years old I saw female nakedness, the whole thing; since then I’ve been disgusted by it”. Not surprisingly, here again Lambert is involved. Arkady tells of a day of dissipation spent with Lambert, during which Lambert accuses his own mother of sleeping with a priest, steals money from her, buys a canary and a rifle and blows the canary to bits, and finally brings Arkady to a hotel and hires a prostitute: “That’s when I saw all that . . . what I told you about”. When Lambert begins to beat the woman with a whip, Arkady intervenes and Lambert stabs him with a fork. “Since then it’s made me sick to think about nakedness; believe me, she was a beauty”.

    With his usual frankness, Arkady tells the reader of a much more recent experience that also has a homoerotic coloration. The incident took place a few months before the time of narration. Returning to Moscow on the train from the suburbs, Arkady is strangely attracted to an unkempt young “former student” who spends the trip drinking vodka with lackeys and merchants. Arkady quickly strikes up an acquaintance with the young man and they make a date to meet on Tverskoi Boulevard. Here they engage in a form of molestation that goes beyond normal male bonding to form a strong homoerotic connection between the two male participants. They choose an unaccompanied, respectable-looking woman and begin walking on either side of her. Their behavior is designed to torment her while denying her existence:

    With the utmost calm, as if we didn’t notice her at all, we would begin to converse with each other in the most obscene way. We called things by their real names, with an air of utter serenity, as though it were quite proper, and we got into such subtleties, explaining various nasty and swinish activities, that the filthiest imagination of the filthiest debauchee couldn’t have thought them up.

    It is not clear what is more important here: embarrassing the female victim or using her to heighten the excitement of the two men’s sexual discourse. Soon Arkady suggests an escalation in the game that graduates from words to deeds: “I told the student that Jean-Jacques Rousseau admits in his Confessions that when he was a youth he liked to hide behind a corner, expose the usually hidden parts of the body, and lie in wait for passing women in that state”. The student shows no interest in this new technique, and Arkady soon breaks with him.

    The episode with the student is a crude example of a particular sort of relationship that is typical for A Raw Youth. The configuration is a triangle consisting of two men and a woman, in which the most complex and emotionally charged relationship is between the two men; the woman serves merely as a pretext for intimate psychological games between the men. Rene Girard has of course explored in detail the phenomenon of triangular desire in his Deceit, Desire, and the Novel, which devotes sustained attention to Dostoevsky; Eve Sedgwick has emphasized the gender relations inherent in such triangles, examining among other things “the use of women as exchangeable, perhaps symbolic, property for the primary purpose of cementing the bonds of men with men.” To take as an example the classic triangle of Pechorin, Grushnitsky, and Princess Mary in Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time, a Girardian analysis would point out that Pechorin’s desire for Mary is ignited by his knowledge that Grushnitsky desires her; his relationship with Grushnitsky the mediator is more intense than his conventional courtship of the Princess. An analysis based on Sedgwick would go one step further to focus on the implicitly homoerotic bond that is thus formed between the two men in the erotic triangle. The most important such relationship in A Raw Youth is among Arkady, his father Versilov, and Katerina Nikolaevna, but other male characters like Lambert also intervene to siphon off emotional and sexual energy from the female object of Arkady’s desire. Such triangles are fairly common in nineteenth-century Russian literature, and Dostoevsky himself used them before A Raw Youth. But in no other Dostoevsky novel is the male-female connection as perfunctory, as vestigial, and as unconvincing as Arkady’s relationship with Katerina Nikolaevna. In fact, most of his meetings with her are not even narrated for us but merely summarized. By the end of A Raw Youth, Arkady hints at a serious developing relationship with Katerina Nikolaevna. The description of that relationship, however, much like Raskolnikov’s rather unconvincing Christian conversion, is deferred to “another story, a completely new story”. And just before this “happy” denouement Arkady has a tender and highly significant encounter with Trishatov.



    The presentation of Trishatov’s character is another instance of Dostoevsky’s ambivalent attitude toward homosexuality in this novel. In some ways his portrayal of Trishatov adheres to the stereotypes of his time, and in other ways it departs from them strikingly. Alphonsine’s disgust is what nineteenth-century Russian medical science considered to be the natural feminine reaction to a homosexual man. According to Tarnovsky, the homosexual “condemns himself to the greatest deprivation in life, not only to the deprivation of the love and attachment of women, but also to their complete loathing, contempt, and the arousal in them of a feeling of disgust.” But in his appearance Trishatov does not fit the stereotyped image promulgated by nineteenth-century Russian researchers. According to them, the typical homosexual man affects an excessively feminine appearance, with long ringlets, perfume, bracelets, cinched-in waist, and a hip-swinging walk. Trishatov is “pretty” and “comely,” but nothing in his dress, grooming, or walk is unmasculine. Dostoevsky excised an epithet that appears in the drafts, probably because it conformed too slavishly to the stereotyped image of the homosexual, who according to Tarnovsky is marked by “well-developed hips.” In Dostoevsky’s notebooks the prototype of Trishatov is called “the fat-assed little prince”; in the final text there is no such epithet, not even a euphemism. Michel Foucault has discussed the way in which the nineteenth-century stereotypical portrait of the homosexual portrayed him as “a life form, and a morphology, with an indiscreet anatomy and possibly a mysterious physiology.” Homosexuality was “written immodestly on his face and body because it was a secret that always gave itself away.” In the final text of A Raw Youth, Dostoevsky resists marking Trishatov with any “indiscreet” anatomical features, despite what the scientists of his time considered to be typical. Ultimately he seems to have relied on his personal experience, as reflected in the figure of Sirotkin, rather than on the stereotype. This is perhaps why Trishatov’s homosexuality has escaped the notice of most Russian and Western scholars. [As far as I can determine, Zohrab is the first scholar to discuss Trishatov’s homosexuality. In a personal communication, Liia Mikhailovna Rozenblium, editor of the drafts of A Raw Youth for Literaturnoe nasledstvo, expressed her concurrence in my opinion that the character of Trishatov is meant to be a portrait of a homosexual man.]

    Dostoevsky’s presentation of Trishatov also eludes stereotype by enlisting the reader’s sympathy for the character. When a homosexual couple appears in the officers’ mess in Leo Tolstoy’s 1874-77 novel Anna Karenina, Vronsky, the character through whom the scene is focalized, reacts with “a grimace of disgust”; nothing in the text indicates that the narrator does not share that disgust. But in A Raw Youth, the narrator Arkadii, with whom the reader feels an imaginative sympathy, is instantly attracted to Trishatov and treats him with an affectionate respect that wars with Trishatov’s self-loathing. Arkady’s attraction to Trishatov inevitably communicates itself to the reader. And Alphonsine’s digust only enhances the reader’s affinity for Trishatov, since she is perhaps the novel’s most loathsome character. Her revulsion redounds to Trishatov’s credit in our eyes.

    When Arkady meets Trishatov, the very linguistic texture of his narrative tells us that he is strongly attracted to the young man. He admires Trishatov’s beauty repeatedly, and uses affectionate diminutives like “golosok,” “lichiko,” and “pal’chiki” (affectionate diminutives of “voice,” “face,” and “fingers”) to describe him. [Compare the description of Sirotkin in Notes from the House of the Dead: “lichiko chisten’koe, nezhnoe” (“a clean, tender little face”). Variants of the text of A Raw Youth show that Dostoevsky worked carefully on the epithets used to describe Trishatov.] Lambert takes Arkady, Trishatov, and Trishatov’s inseparable companion Andreev to a restaurant, where they meet a sinister figure referred to only as “riaboi” (“the pockmarked man”). Arkady, despite his attraction to Trishatov, is uneasy about being seen in the “zagadochnaia kompaniia” (“enigmatic company”) of Lambert’s friends: “[The pockmarked man] could take me for one of the blackmailers accompanying Lambert”; “The thought that he would take me for one of Lambert’s employees enraged me again”. But the evening soon develops into a tête-à-tête between Arkady and Trishatov. Andreev causes a public scandal and Lambert drags him out of the restaurant. Arkady says, “Trishatov started to run after them, but looked at me and stayed . . . He took his cup of coffee and moved from his place to sit next to me”. Arkady is not at all averse to what amounts to an open flirtation. When Trishatov asks if Arkady would receive him in his home, he replies, “O, prikhodite, ia vas dazhe liubliu” (“Oh, do come, I even like you a lot [or “love you”]. After some personal conversation, Trishatov offers Arkady two extraordinary literary fantasies, on Goethe’s Faust and Dickens’s Old Curiosity Shop. The climax of their encounter, when Trishatov’s sad, champagne-enhanced memories get the better of him, is a moment of tenderness the likes of which we have not witnessed between Arkady and Katerina Nikolaevna: “ ‘Oh, Dolgorukii, you know, everyone has his memories!’ And suddenly he lay his pretty little head on my shoulder and began to cry. I was very, very sorry for him.”



    . . . Arkady’s experiments with nonstandard sexuality might seem at first to be yet another example of the novel’s obsession with the disorder that threatens the Russian familial and social structure. Dostoevsky speaks in the notebooks of “decomposition” as the “main visible idea of the novel”: “In everything is the idea of decomposition, because everyone is separate and there are no bonds remaining not only in the Russian family, but even simply among people”. The novel explores all the forces of disorder at work in the modern world, with the disintegrative force of capitalism at the root of them all. As one might expect, Dostoevsky does seem to regard homosexuality as one of the forces of “decomposition” in the modern world, as the episodes of the old Prince, of Lambert, and of the molestation game suggest. Yet in A Raw Youth, homosexuality is not prosecuted with the same fury as adultery, capitalism, and child abandonment. The only clearly homosexual character, Trishatov, is treated with tact, sympathy, and an admirable effort to avoid stereotype. The moments of tender friendship and concern between Trishatov and Andreev or Trishatov and Arkady stand out from the generally bleak landscape of human relationships in A Raw Youth. Homosexuality can lead to the creation of “accidental families” in the best sense, families based on elective affinities, not on blood. Thus homosexuality should not, in my view, be classed only with the forces of disorder in A Raw Youth.


    - from A Karamazov Companion by Victor Terras; p. 187:

    Dostoevsky is one of the first Russian writers to describe female homoeroticism in physical terms. In his early novel Netochka Nezvanova there is an episode of torrid lovemaking by two young girls. One of the two girls is named Katia and is obviously the first version of the character of which Katerina Ivanovna is the last. A homoerotic tendency fits well into the general picture of Katerina Ivanovna’s personality.






    - from Dialogues With Dostoevsky by Robert Louis Jackson; p. 147-8 (“Dostoevsky and the Marquis de Sade”):

    Sade’s name appears in Dostoevsky’s writings with significant frequency. Some of Dostoevsky’s references to Sade come up in connection with characters in his works (Prince Valkovsky, Stavrogin, Fyodor Karamazov) who behave, philosophize, and even look like some of the denizens of Sade’s fictional world.* Prince Valkovsky, in The Insulted and Injured, mentions the French writer in his confrontation with Ivan Petrovich: “My lady’s sensuality was such that even the marquis de Sade might have learned from her.” This remark is echoed in The Devils where Shatov asks Stavrogin: “Is it true that the marquis de Sade might have learned from you?” In this same conversation Shatov asks Stavrogin whether he had in fact affirmed that he “knew no difference in beauty between some sensual, beastial jest and some act of heroism, such as sacrificing one’s life for mankind.”

    In his discussion of Pushkin’s “Egyptian Nights,” Dostoevsky observes that the “hyena Cleopatra knew all the mysteries of love and pleasure; compared to her, perhaps, the marquis de Sade might have seemed a child.” Pushkin’s Cleopatra in Dostoevsky’s conception is not merely a corrupt human being, but the representative of a decadent, stagnant society whose foundations had long ago begun to crumble.


    “All faith has been already lost; hope seems a useless deceit; thought is paling and disappearing; the divine fire has left it; society has lost its sense of direction and in cold despair senses an abyss ahead of it and is ready to topple into it. Life is suffocating through lack of a goal. The future offers nothing; one must demand everything from the present, one must fill one’s life only with the necessities of the moment. Everything passes into the body, everything is used up in physical debauchery, and in order to compensate for the higher spiritual impressions which are lacking, people aggravate their nerves, their whole body with whatever is capable of arousing sensations. The most monstrous perversions, the most abnormal phenomena, gradually are taken for granted. Even the feeling of self-preservation disappears. Cleoptra is the representative of this society.”


    Debauchery is characteristically understood and depicted by Dostoevsky not merely as erotic excess or perversion, but as a signal and symptom of the breakdown of society. Cleopatra, like the marquis de Sade, is the representative of a decadent, stagnant society without faith or morals. There is no “goal,” that is, no social, spiritual, or religious ideal. For want of a spiritual life, all energies are directed to material things, “the necessities of the moment”; “everything passes into the body.” Such a state of affairs is suicidal and can only end in destruction and self-destruction. Erotic excess, then, is only the “last expression” of the decline of a materialistic civilization. Thus, the narrator in “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man,” speaking of the corruption of man and history after the “fall,” notes that “the feeling of self-preservation rapidly began to weaken, proud men and sensualists appeared who bluntly demanded all or nothing.”

    *Where looks are concerned, one is struck by a certain resemblance between Dostoevsky’s general portrait of Stavrogin and Sade’s depiction of Dolmance in Philosophy in the Bedroom. “Dolmance, my dear sister, has just turned 36; he is tall, extremely handsome, eyes very alive and very intelligent, but all the same there is some suspicion of hardness and a trace of wickedness in his features; he has the whitest teeth in the world, a shade of softness about his figure and in his attitude, doubtless owing to his habit of taking on effeminate airs so often; he is extremely elegant, has a pretty voice, many talents, and above all else an exceedingly philosophic bent to his mind. . . . He is the most notorious atheist, the most immoral fellow. . . . His is the most complete and thoroughgoing corruption, and he the most evil individual, the greatest scoundrel in the world.” See Sade, Justine, in Philosophy in the Bedroom and Other Writings compiled and translated by Richard Seaver and Austryn Wainhouse, p. 187-88.




    Last edited by HERO; 11-11-2016 at 03:22 PM.

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    Crime and punishment was an awesome read, it got me hooked... He's surely enneagram 4 and I think he is Beta NF.
    like someone said, I get the albert camus vibe from him or franz kafka...I think he is Ni ego.

  34. #34
    WE'RE ALL GOING HOME HERO's Avatar
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    I think Dostoyevsky might have been Fi-ENFp (IEE) [Normalizing? subtype].

    Alternative typings: Ti-ESTp or Ni-ENFj
    Last edited by HERO; 11-12-2017 at 08:24 AM.

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