Author: Tatyana V. Kovalevskaya
Information about the author:

Doctor of Philosophical Sciences, Docent, Full Professor, Foreign Languages Department of the School of International Relations and Regional Studies, Institute for History and Archives, Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow, Russia.

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For citation:

Kovalevskaya T.V. The Devils, “Distortion of Ideas”, and Dostoevsky’s Artistic Principles. Dostoevsky and World Culture. 2019. № 1(5). Pp. 55-81.

Issue: 2019 № 1(5)
Pages: 55-81
UDK: 821.161.1
BBK: 83.3(2)
Keywords: religious and philosophical anthropology, Rousseau, god-bearing people, freedom of choice, character and reader

Abstract: Shatov’s theory of a god-bearing people serves as an illustration of one of Dostoevsky’s key artistic principles, the “distortion of ideas,” i.e. the inclusion of his own ideas in his text, ideas that had been changed in their contents to their direct opposite while retaining outward likeness to Dostoevsky’s thought. Thus, Shatov’s theory of a god-bearing people appears, at first glance, to expound Dostoevsky’s own native-soil ideas, a first attempt to dwell on the concept of Russian people as the God-bearing people. Later, Dostoevsky would present this idea in A Writer’s diary and the starets Zosima will briefly mention it, too. In fact, Shatov’s theory takes to its logical conclusion the fragment on the evolution of the forms of governance in Jean Jacque Rousseau’s The Social Contract and of Rousseau’s ideas of war as a religious enterprise. “The distortion of ideas” is the artistic reflection of Dostoevsky’s religious and philosophical anthropology. The writer offers freedom of choice not only to his characters, but also to his readers. Dostoevsky affirms two cornerstones of his philosophical anthropology: human freedom and the recognition of the image and likeness of God reflected, in particular, in this freedom. Recurring to a sort of imitatio Dei, Dostoevsky gives freedom of thought and speech to his characters. However, via his characters and their statements, he also gives similar freedom to his readers allowing them to make a free choice. That does not cancel out Dostoevsky’s own message, just like human freedom does not cancel out the Providential plan. This freedom, however, makes humans human; therefore, the mutual recognition of universal humanity embodied in freedom that is divine in its quality is carried out in the very act of creating and reading Dostoevsky’s works.



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