Between Religion and Rationality: Essays in Russian by Joseph Frank

By Joseph Frank

During this publication, acclaimed Dostoevsky biographer Joseph Frank explores the most vital points of 19th and 20th century Russian tradition, literature, and heritage. Delving into the differences of the Russian novel in addition to the conflicts among the non secular peasant international and the trained Russian elite, "Between faith and Rationality" monitors the cogent reflections of 1 of the main unusual and flexible critics within the field.

Frank's essays offer a discriminating examine 4 of Dostoevsky's most renowned novels, talk about the controversy among J. M. Coetzee and Mario Vargas Llosa at the factor of Dostoevsky and evil, and confront Dostoevsky's anti-Semitism. the gathering additionally examines such themes as Orlando Figes's sweeping survey of the heritage of Russian tradition, the lifetime of Pushkin, and "Oblomov's" impression on Samuel Beckett. Investigating the omnipresent spiritual subject matter that runs all through Russian tradition, even within the antireligious Chekhov, Frank argues that no different significant eu literature was once as a lot preoccupied because the Russian with the tensions among faith and rationality. "Between faith and Rationality" highlights this exact caliber of Russian literature and tradition, supplying insights for common readers and specialists alike.

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Dostoevsky’s image of this world is painted in appalling colors. “Noise, uproar, laughter, swearing, the clank of chains, smoke and grime, shaven heads, branded faces, ragged clothes, everything degraded and defiled” (14). Dostoevsky sometimes fled to the hospital, even though not ill and despite the risk of infection, where friendly doctors allowed him to stay. “I was fleeing from the prison. Life was unbearable there, more unbearable than the hospital, morally unbearable” (214). POOR FOLK AND HOUSE OF THE DEAD 23 Nonetheless, after a certain amount of time, Dostoevsky’s revulsion against the prisoners and their world began to be altered by other impressions.

But finally he went and confessed to the authorities, despite all the tortures he knew would ensue, though he might simply have desisted without saying a word. From which Lebedev concludes that “there must have been an idea stronger than any misery, famine, torture, plague, leprosy and all that hell, which mankind could not have endured without that idea, which bound men together, guided their hearts . . show me anything like such a force in our age of vices and railways” (348). Despite such a disillusioned conclusion, Lebedev himself and all the other minor characters manifest the workings of the same force that is so sarcastically exalted in this harrowing tale.

All of them had been officially condemned to death and then pardoned. The ordeal of this mock execution is utilized again in Prince Myshkin’s scene with the Epanchin sisters, who at first tend to regard the unassuming prince as something of a pious fraud. Not only does Dostoevsky here reproduce the exact details of this lacerating event, but he also expresses sentiments similar to those he employed in a letter to his older brother Mikhail just after returning to prison. ”20 These are the very emotions that Prince Myshkin attributes to a condemned man who then was pardoned: “What if I could go back to life—what eternity!

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