Dostoevsky: The Mantle of the Prophet, 1871-1881 by Joseph Frank

By Joseph Frank

This 5th and ultimate quantity of Joseph Frank's justly celebrated literary and cultural biography of Dostoevsky renders with an extraordinary intelligence and beauty the decade of the writer's lifestyles, the years during which he wrote A uncooked early life, Diary of a Writer, and his crowning triumph: The Brothers Karamazov.

Dostoevsky's ultimate years ultimately gained him the common approval towards which he had constantly aspired. whereas describing his idiosyncratic dating to the Russian nation, Frank additionally information Doestoevsky's carrying on with rivalries with Turgenev and Tolstoy. Dostoevsky's visual appeal on the Pushkin competition in June 1880, which preceded his demise by means of 365 days, marked the apotheosis of his career--and of his existence as a spokesman for the Russian spirit. There he introduced his well-known speech on Pushkin prior to an viewers stirred to a feverish emotional pitch: "Ours is universality attained now not through the sword, yet through the strength of brotherhood and of our brotherly striving towards the reunification of mankind." this is often the Dostoevsky who has entered the patrimony of worldwide literature, although he was once no longer regularly able to dwelling as much as such exalted ideals.

The writer's dying in St. Petersburg in January of 1881 concludes this unheard of literary biography--one actually worthwhile of Dostoevsky's genius and of the amazing time and position during which he lived.

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21:14). " The Russian people feel unworthy, this voice explains, of the power that has been thrust upon them (which in fact shows how worthy they really are to receive such power); and they thus pardon, out of fear of the very authority accorded them as a gift. "We have been frightened," this voice imagines them feeling collectively, "by this dreadful power over human fate, over the fates of our brethren, and until we mature into our citizenship, we will show mercy.... " Dostoevsky finds the utterances of this voice to be "consoling," and there can be no doubt, though he does not intervene directly, that he thoroughly agrees with another speculation of this speaker.

And this "doctrine of environment is the very opposite of Christianity, which, while accepting the pressure of environment and proclaiming mercy toward sinners, insists nonetheless on the moral obligation of humankind to struggle against environment, insists on the limit at which environment ends and moral obligation begins. By declaring man responsible, Christianity in this way recognizes his freedom" (21:16). Dostoevsky's position is clear enough, but he reinforces it by appealing to his own past.

But this compassion does not mean, Dostoevsky insists, that criminals escape the consequences of their crimes out of such Christian feelings of mutual sinfulness. Rather, it should lead to the opposite result: Russian jurors should accept the pain of their own guilt, "while speaking the truth and calling evil by its name.... if this pain is genuine and powerful, it will purify us and make us better. And becoming better ourselves, we improve the environment and make it better" (21:15). " And this "doctrine of environment is the very opposite of Christianity, which, while accepting the pressure of environment and proclaiming mercy toward sinners, insists nonetheless on the moral obligation of humankind to struggle against environment, insists on the limit at which environment ends and moral obligation begins.

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