The Cambridge Companion to Dostoevskii (Cambridge Companions to Literature)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Key dimensions of Dostoevskii's writing and life are explored in this collection of specially commissioned essays. Contributors examine topics such as Dostoevskii's relationship to folk literature, money, religion, the family and science. The essays are enhanced by supplementary material, including a chronology of the period and detailed guides to further reading.
history, by specific times and places. The Pythagorean theorem is true no matter where, when or who states it; its meaning exists only as an object of pure abstract cognition. The Underground Man’s famous attack on the arithmetical formula ‘two times two equals four’ has become symbolic of human rebellion against the whole rationalist world-view: ‘twice two is four is no longer life, gentlemen, but the beginning of death [. . .] two times two is four is a most unbearable thing. Two times two is
road. There was no escape!’ ‘And did you survive?’ Dostoevskii therefore exploited the serialisation of his works to intensify the sense of presentness and open time. Serialisation is, of course, entirely compatible with structure, as we immediately see with Dickens and Trollope. But it is also understandable that Dostoevskii thought to exploit the dynamics of serialisation as a kind of processual form of publishing. He realised he could use it to signal that he knew no more of the characters’
Leatherbarrow Dostoevskii’s correspondence of the 1840s, and in particular the letters sent to his brother Mikhail, to whom he was especially close both emotionally and intellectually, disclose an individual acutely sensitive to his role as a budding author. On the most immediate level the letters reveal Dostoevskii’s keen awareness of the economic realities of the profession he has decided to adopt. References to money, indebtedness and publishers’ advances are everywhere, alongside the
almost utterly unknown forms’ (XXV, 35). The same forces of uncertainty, dissolution, re-creation and unpredictability were at work also in most other areas of Russian and European life, in Dostoevskii’s view. They manifested themselves in such political, social and cultural phenomena as the on-going processes of revolution, the rapidly changing social and economic order prompted by the industrial revolution and the rise of capitalism, the collapse or erosion of traditional unifying social
Chernyshevskii again, Dostoevskii also disparages eloquence as a flatulent liberal virtue: reporting on the practice of allowing liberal deputies representation in the French legislative assembly under Napoleon III, he dismisses their fine speeches as empty rhetoric, words which lead to no disturbance of the good order of the city (V, 86–7; Ch. 7). Nevertheless the polemical energy of the Winter Notes is directed as much at the contemporary radical camp and socialism as at the bourgeois order