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Abstract

The article examines F. M. Dostoevsky’s visit to London in the summer of 1862, in the course of his first trip abroad, which resulted in the writing of Winter Notes on Summer Impressions. A Summer-Long Feuilleton. The task to untangle the impact of numerous impressions on Dostoevsky’s creative process is initiated and the newly arisen circumstances that he encountered on his return to St. Petersburg highlighted. Winter Notes is viewed as a groundbreaking work in Dostoevsky’s canon that contains the seeds of future great works, though not primarily in accordance with the multiple ideologically based readings that have sought to define it. Instead Winter Notes is recognised for its author’s aesthetic explorations into poetics within the confines of Tsarist censorship which required that ‘Official Nationality’, the imperial ideological doctrine be upheld. Dostoevsky’s visit to the 1862 International Exhibition and its art galleries is addressed for the first time on the basis of his brother Mikhail’s letters and other evidence. The exhibition building and the works of William Hogarth, John Martin and J.M.W.Turner are singled out. Their imprint on Dostoevsky’s feuilleton is observed through the stages of impressions gained via intermedial interplay. It affirms that pre-existing notions in the ‘discourse of Englishness’ were absorbed and reinvented by Dostoevsky with the use of figurative language, clarifying the origin of metaphors used in the text, together with literary and biblical allusions. A list of Russian and British artists exhibiting in the International Exhibition of 1862 is included.

Open Access
In: The Dostoevsky Journal
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Adam Mickiewicz (1798 – 1855) was the greatest Polish Romantic poet, and one of the great intellectual and literary figures of the first half of the 19th century in Europe. Through his verses, as well as his efforts as a scholar, lecturer, political activist and literary celebrity, he sought to bridge the gap between the Slavic nations and the culture of Western Europe. This selection of 27 poems focuses on the poems within Mickiewicz’s oeuvre which might be described as metaphysical. These original, ingenious verses explore an astonishing range of religious, mystical, philosophical, and existential themes, inviting the reader to include Mickiewicz among the most eminent figures of early European Romanticism, including Coleridge, Wordsworth and Novalis, as well the American transcendentalists. Mickiewicz’s poetry and thought are the creation of a restlessly inventive mind: his vision was unorthodox, unpredictable and ever-developing. The book presents a bilingual edition (Polish-English) with a scholarly introduction and commentary, presenting Mickiewicz as a writer in the context of his times. The co-editors of the volume are Jerzy Fiećko, one of the eminent experts in the field of Mickiewicz studies, and Mateusz Stróżyński, an internationally recognized scholar of the Platonic tradition and Western mysticism.
In: Metaphysical Poems
In: Metaphysical Poems
Open Access
In: Metaphysical Poems

Abstract

The present paper reads The Idiot in the context of Hegel’s philosophy of history and subjectivity and finds that Dostoevsky’s avowed interest in Hegel led to a substantial absorption of Hegel’s thought in his own aesthetics.

Dostoevsky’s educated readers of the 1860s saw the novel as a moral history of the age, represented through an eccentric « new subject » (or the « new people »), embodied in marionette-like characters. The present paper explores this view further and finds that these marionette-like characters function as agents of the unconscious (and pre-empt the aesthetics of the theatre of the Absurd), which is the source of all subjectivity. Expressivity is the defining feature of subjectivity and is represented by means of pathological states – lying and self-destructive tendencies of the characters who display a pathological demeanour. Caprice (will power) is the prime mover of this subjectivity, which, in the context of Hegel’s philosophy of history, is the driver of the historical process and a direct expression of « Geist » or spirit of the people. This spirit comes to expression in different types of Russian national discourses, embodied in the myriad of embedded stories narrated by the characters on stage and off stage, and in stories within stories of episodic characters. These embedded episodic narratives, consisting of verbal pictures (or ekphrases), tell the story of Russia’s historical development from Peter Great’s time to Dostoevsky’s present of the 1860s. This is the story of the demise of the old « estate culture » of traditional Russia, with a « new Russia » emerging into history, which is grounded in an indeterminate subject of history, whose « pochva » (« soil ») is the groundless ground of language and an ethics of individual freedom. Both of these elements of subjectivity, which define the « new people », are negativities shaping a new dialectics, which is both form and content of the new self-conscious “world-historical individual” – Hegelian Man - through which spirit (Geist) manifests itself in the “present moment” of Dostoevsky’s Russia.

Open Access
In: The Dostoevsky Journal

Abstract

What gave rise to this Roundtable is the invasion by the Russian Federation of the sovereign state of Ukraine. This unprovoked act on the pretext of protecting Russian national security from a nato threat (as a result of Ukraine seeking membership) has shaken the existing post-Cold War world order. The question which arose shortly after the 24 February 2022 and which is still valid is: how do we read Russian literature against the background of the daily pictures of arbitrary carnage and destruction in the Donbas region and elsewhere in Ukraine? Is this a performance of a regressive Russian history in what Hegel termed the “world-historical” process? The question is answered by looking at Dostoevsky’s assimilation of Hegel’s concept of “national spirit” and the contradictory views about Europe this yielded in Dostoevsky’s aesthetics and polemical articles. It is this split vision which characterizes the civilizational paradox of the Russian Federation’s attitude to its European neighbors.

Open Access
In: The Dostoevsky Journal
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Abstracts

Some obscure connections that may have affected aspects of F.M. Dostoevsky’s life and works are explored and their implications delved into, with the intention of offering new insights into the forces and processes that encroached onto the dynamics of the writer’s artistic production. First translations into English of the documents are included.

Open Access
In: The Dostoevsky Journal
The Russian Symbolists in War and Revolution, 1914-1918
Author:
Now available in Open Access thanks to the support of the University of Helsinki. In Poets of Hope and Despair: The Russian Symbolists in War and Revolution (1914-1918), Ben Hellman examines the artistic responses and the philosophical and political attitudes of eight major Russian poets to the First World War and the revolutions of 1917. The historical cataclysms gave rise to apocalyptic premonitions and a thirst for a total spiritual metamorphosis. A major topic of discussion was the role of Russia in this process. Other issues raised were modern Germany, the future of a divided Poland, the occupation of Belgium, and the dilemma of the Russian Jews. In the wake of the military setbacks, hopes were mixed with feelings of fear and despair, all expressed in fictional as well as in nonfictional form.