Author: Tatiana A. Kashina
Information about the author:

Russian State University for the Humanities (Moscow).

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For citation:

Kashina T.A. Felix Culpa: Salvific Sin in the Play The Satin Slipper and in the Novel The Brothers Karamazov. Dostoevsky and World Culture, Philological journal, 2020, No. 3(11), pp. 169-179.

Issue: 2020 no. 3 (11)
Pages: 169-179
UDK: 821.16.1+821.133.1
BBK: 83.3(2=411.2)+83.3(4)
Keywords: happy guilt, sin, salvation, human nature, paradise, freedom
Abstract: the article attempts to compare the soteriological ideas of the play The Satin Slipper and the novel The Brothers Karamazov, two texts in which the authors express themselves most fully as theologians. For both texts, the theme of sin and atonement is central. The epigraphs to Paul Claudel’s play are two statements about the saving potential of sin. In Dostoevsky’s novel, it can be seen how sin becomes the most important starting point for further positive spiritual change of heroes. However, in his play, Claudel not only shows the possibility for sin to become the starting point for the conversion of protagonists, but also shows that in a certain sense the salvation of the world needs sin. For example, the main characters of the Satin Slipper make a kind of symbolic escape from paradise (Don Rodrigo leaves the Jesuit novitiate, Dona Prouhèze escapes from the “Garden of Eden” planted for her by her husband) and this allows them to reveal themselves in fullness and to realize their vocation, which is salvific for the world. Mitya Karamazov at the end of Dostoevsky’s novel says that the “new man” in him “would never have come to the surface” if certain things had not happened (and what happened includes a series of Mitya’s sins). This reminds of the idea of “happy guilt”, a term from the Latin hymn Exultet, which refers to the need for sin for the redemption. However, as Claudel shows, even by the very name of his play (Dona Prouhèze, before making her escape, donates her satin slipper as a gift to the Mother of God so that the Blessed Virgin would prevent her from taking the path of evil) suggests that sin becomes salvation only thanks to human freedom.


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