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Author: Stephan Lipke
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Candidate of Philological Sciences, Director of St. Thomas Institute (Moscow).

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Lipke S. Dostoevsky’s Ambivalent Reception of a Lutheran Tradition: The Christmas Tree and Christmas Party as a Motif in the Writer’s Stories. Dostoevsky and World Culture. 2019. № 1(5). Pp. 116-126.

Issue: 2019 № 1(5)
Department: POETICS. CONTEXT
Pages: 116-126
DOI: 10.22455/2619-0311-2019-1-116-126
UDK: 821.161.1
BBK: 83+83.3(2=411.2)
Keywords: F. M. Dostoyevsky, “A Christmas Tree and a Wedding”, A Writer’s Diary, The Beggar Boy at Christ's Christmas Tree, Christmas, Lutheranism.

Abstract: This essay is dedicated to F.M. Dostoevsky’s reception of the Lutheran “Christmas tree”, particularly in the short stories “A Christmas Tree and a Wedding” (1848) and “The Beggar Boy at Christ's Christmas Tree” (“The Heavenly Christmas Tree”, 1876). Interpreting these stories in the context of Christmas, most of all, in the context of the Christmas tree, a tradition without direct ties to the mystery of God’s incarnation, we can see how harshly Dostoevsky criticizes the loss of spiritual values in the upper class of St Petersburg. From his point of view, this leads to an unequal marriage without love and to the beggar boy’s death from cold and hunger. And yet in the 1876 story Dostoevsky juxtaposes to this worldly way of celebrating Christmas the image of “Christ’s Christmas tree” from a poem by the Lutheran F. Rückert. This is a symbol of the Savior’s care for the poorest. Thus, our research shows Dostoevsky’s opinion on the Lutheran tradition of celebrating Christmas around a tree, which was introduced into the Russian culture recently. The writer sees it ambivalently; he sees both the risk of losing the Christian sense of Christmas and the chance of regaining it.

 

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