This book is not only a major twentieth-century contribution to Dostoevsky’s studies, but also one of the most important theories of the novel produced in our century. As a modern reinterpretation of poetics, it bears comparison with Aristotle.
"If Bakhtin is right," Wayne C. Booth has said, "a very great deal of what we western critics have spent our time on is mistaken, or trivial, or both." In Literature and Spirit David Patterson proceeds from the premise that Bakhtin is right. Exploring Bakhtin's notions of spirit, responsibility, and dialogue, Patterson takes his reader from the narrow arena of literary criticism to the larger realm of human living and human loving. True to the spirit of Bakhtin, he draws the Russian into a vibrant dialogue with other thinkers, including Foucault, Berdyaev, Gide, Lacan, Levinas, and Heidegger. But he does not stop there. He engages Bakhtin in his own insightful and unique dialogue, meeting the responsibility and taking the risk summoned by dialogue. Literature and Spirit, therefore, is not a typically cool and detached exercise in academic curiosity. Instead, it is a passionate and penetrating endeavor to respond to literature and spirit as the links in life's attachment to life. The author demonstrates that in deciding something about literature, we decide something about the substance and meaning of our lives. Far from being a question of commentary or explication, he argues, our relation to literature is a matter of spiritual life and death. The reader who comes before a literary text encounters the human voice. And Patterson enables his reader to hear that voice in all its spiritual dimensions. Unique in its questions and in its quest, Literature and Spirit addresses an audience that goes beyond the ordinary academic categories. It appeals not only to students of literature, philosophy, and religion, but to anyone who seeks an understanding of spiritual presence and meaning in life. Through his affirmation of what is dear, Patterson responds to the needful question. And in his response he puts the question to his audience: Where are you? Literature and Spirit thus speaks to those who face the task of answering, "Here I am."
This innovative study brings the early writings of Mikhail Bakhtin into conversation with Max Scheler and Fyodor Dostoevsky to explore the question of what makes emotional co-experiencing ethically and spiritually productive. In Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics, Bakhtin's well-known concept of the dialogical partner expresses what he sees as the potential of human relationships in Dostoevsky's work. But his earlier reflections on the ethical and aesthetic uses of empathy, in part inspired by Scheler's philosophy, suggest a still more fundamental form of communication that operates as a basis for human togetherness in Dostoevsky. Applying this rich and previously neglected theoretical apparatus in a literary analysis, Wyman examines the obstacles to active empathy in Dostoevsky's fictional world, considers the limitations and excesses of empathy, addresses the problem of frustrated love in The Idiot and Notes from Underground, and provides a fresh interpretation of two of Dostoevsky's most iconic characters, Prince Myshkin and Alyosha Karamazov.
Considerations on the Man of Nature and Truth : and on His Proposed Reformation
Author: Kaitlin Anne Shirley
This dissertation focuses on confession, as both a theme and a practice, as key to mapping and understanding the narrative modalities in four Dostoevsky novels: Notes from Underground, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, and The Adolescent. At the core of my project is an attentiveness to the ways that Dostoevsky—unlike many other authors, particularly Russian authors—does not conflate the focalization in Rousseau’s work with Rousseau the man. Dostoevsky does not, like so many authors, like so many Russians, conflate the focalization in Rousseau’s work with Rousseau the man. The symmetrical projects of narrator and author are not the same in either case. Dostoevsky realizes this discrepancy in Rousseau, which is key to understanding how Dostoevsky’s voice is not autobiographical. His multiple narrative voices appear as part of an ongoing project of creating modalities of confession that are in dialogue with Rousseau and yet idiosyncratically his own. If we look at Dostoevsky’s work with a focus on confession then we can see his consistent preoccupation with the nature and flexibility of the confessional mode as his way of viewing Russian dialogical narrative. This preoccupation is particularly evident in The Adolescent, which is the main focus of my analysis. My project is heavily informed by Bakhtin’s concept of polyphony as outlined in The Dialogic Imagination and Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics. Based on Dostoevsky’s non-naïve view of the narrator, I argue that his diverse narratological practices create the shape of the modern Russian novel as understood by Bakhtin in his account of narrative dialogism
Ôe Kenzaburô was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1994. This critical study examines Ôe’s entire career from 1957 – 2006 and includes chapters on Ôe’s later novels not published in English. Through close readings at different points in Ôe’s career Yasuko Claremont establishes the spiritual path that he has taken in its three major phrases of nihilism, atonement, and salvation, all highlighted against a background of violence and suicidal despair that saturate his pages. Ôe uses myth in two distinct ways: to link mankind to the archetypal past, and as a critique of contemporary society. Equally, he depicts the great themes of redemption and salvation on two levels: that of the individual atoning for a particular act, and on a universal level of self-abnegation, dying for others. In the end it is Ôe’s ethical concerns that win out, as he turns to the children, the inheritors of the future, ‘new men in a new age’ who will have the power and desire to redress the ills besetting the world today. Essentially, Ôe is a moralist, a novelist of ideas whose fiction is densely packed with references from Western thought and poetry. This book is an important read for scholars of Ôe Kenzaburô’s work and those studying Japanese Literature and culture more generally.
Reading Lamentations as a Polyphony of Pain, Penitence, and Protest
Author: Miriam J. Bier
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Bier proposes here a strong new understanding of the Book of Lamentations, drawing on Bakhtinian ideas of multiple voices to analyse the poetic speaking voices within the text; examining their theological perspectives, and nuancing the interaction between them. Bier scrutinises interpretations of Lamentations, distinguishing between exegesis that reads Lamentations as a theodicy, in defense of God, and those that read it as an anti-theodicy, in defense of Zion. Rather than reductively adopting either of these approaches, this book advocates a dialogic approach to Lamentations, reading to hear the full polyphony of pain, penitence, and protest.
The Brothers Karamazov also translated as The Karamazov Brothers, is the final novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky. Dostoevsky spent nearly two years writing The Brothers Karamazov, which was published as a serial in The Russian Messenger from January 1879 to November 1880. Dostoevsky died less than four months after its publication.The Brothers Karamazov is a passionate philosophical novel set in 19th-century Russia, that enters deeply into the ethical debates of God, free will, and morality. It is a spiritual drama of moral struggles concerning faith, doubt, judgment, and reason, set against a modernizing Russia, with a plot which revolves around the subject of patricide. Dostoevsky composed much of the novel in Staraya Russa, which inspired the main setting. Since its publication, it has been acclaimed as one of the supreme achievements in world literature.Although written in the 19th century, The Brothers Karamazov displays a number of modern elements. Dostoevsky composed the book with a variety of literary techniques. Though privy to many of the thoughts and feelings of the protagonists, the narrator is a self-proclaimed writer; he discusses his own mannerisms and personal perceptions so often in the novel that he becomes a character. Through his descriptions, the narrator's voice merges imperceptibly into the tone of the people he is describing, often extending into the characters' most personal thoughts. There is no voice of authority in the story (see Mikhail Bakhtin's Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics for more on the relationship between Dostoevsky and his characters). In addition to the principal narrator there are several sections narrated by other characters entirely, such as the story of the Grand Inquisitor and Zosima's confessions. This technique enhances the theme of truth, making many aspects of the tale completely subjective.Dostoevsky uses individual styles of speech to express the inner personality of each person. For example, the attorney Fetyukovich (based on Vladimir Spasovich) is characterized by malapropisms (e.g. 'robbed' for 'stolen', and at one point declares possible suspects in the murder 'irresponsible' rather than innocent). Several plot digressions provide insight into other apparently minor characters. For example, the narrative in Book Six is almost entirely devoted to Zosima's biography, which contains a confession from a man whom he met many years before. Dostoevsky does not rely on a single source or a group of major characters to convey the themes of this book, but uses a variety of viewpoints, narratives and characters throughout.