Dostoevsky: A Collection of Critical Essays (Twentieth by Rene Wellek

By Rene Wellek

Serious assessment of Fyodor Dostoevsky has been marked via sharp and violently sour extremes. Rene Wellek has assembled a large spectrum of those various serious attitudes towards the works of the good Russian "tragedian of ideas." Dostoevsky's paintings is noticeable from psychoanalytical, existential, theological, and Marxist issues of view. Professor Wellek's advent sketches the historical past of Dostoevsky feedback and impact in all major countries--a activity by no means sooner than tried.

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The fact is that no coincidence copied from life can make in the least plausible the kind of coincidences, even the minor ones, you find in Crime and Punishment, such as the prosperous and respectable bourgeois Luzhin turning up in the same slum-lodging with the starving Manneladov family or Svidrigailov, a rich man, finding no better place to stay in Petersburg than in the very same house where Sonya lives, a house in which his flat adjoins the room where she practices her trade and conducts those incredible conversations with Raskolnikov upon which he eavesdrops with the greatest relish.

Svidrigailov exemplifies a distinct charactertype in Dostoevsky, die type of the nihilist in the realm of sensuality. He is a more elaborate and refined version of the rather coarse-grained libertine Valkovsky in The Insulted and Injured and he anticipates the figures of Stavrogin and the elder Karamazov in the later novels (like Stavrogin he is guilty of outraging a little girl). In this character-type, sensuality becomes a flight from the vertiginous consciousness of freedom and from a kind of ennui which has gone beyond the psychological and has acquired a metaphysical status.

Physically too, the description of the invalid girl has in common with that of Sonya. Yet, for all his living in the present, Raskolnikov wills and acts with his whole past back of him; and it is for a very good reason that we are not permitted to gain a privileged understanding of his past in the sense of entering a series of his mental states anterior to the action. By denying us such intimacy the author effectively prevents us from rationalizing the much mystery of the crime and its motive the mystery which is^ never really solved but toward the solution in the novel 'con_pf whi^eveTyfliing verges.

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