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Dostoevsky and the Catholic Underground

Elizabeth A. Blake

Publication Year: 2014

While Dostoevsky’s relation to religion is well-trod ground, there exists no comprehensive study of Dostoevsky and Catholicism. Elizabeth Blake’s ambitious and learned Dostoevsky and the Catholic Underground fills this glaring omission in the scholarship. Previous commentators have traced a wide-ranging hostility in Dostoevsky’s understanding of Catholicism to his Slavophilism. Blake depicts a far more nuanced picture. Her close reading demonstrates that he is repelled and fascinated by Catholicism in all its medieval, Reformation, and modern manifestations. Dostoevsky saw in Catholicism not just an inspirational source for the Grand Inquisitor but a political force, an ideological wellspring, a unique mode of intellectual inquiry, and a source of cultural production. Blake’s insightful textual analysis is accompanied by an equally penetrating analysis of nineteenth-century European revolutionary history, from Paris to Siberia, that undoubtedly influenced the evolution of Dostoevsky’s thought.

Published by: Northwestern University Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

The current study is the culmination of research initially undertaken in Russia at the Pushkin House and the Dostoevsky Museum in St. Petersburg (with the aid of B. N. Tikhomirov) and in Poland at Jagiellonian University (with the support of Krzysztof Frysztacki) funded by a Fulbright- Hays dissertation...

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A Note on the Text

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pp. xiii-2

Although the Russian text in parentheses, notes, and bibliography has been transliterated according to the Library of Congress system, elsewhere the system has been modified. For example, names ending in – ii have been shortened to – y, thus rendering Dostoevsky rather than Dostoevskii, while the...

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pp. 3-20

Fedor Dostoevsky’s Association of Catholicism with revolutionary violence was encouraged by his regular encounters over the course of his lifetime with insurgents who participated in Catholic unrest in Italy, France, and Poland in the nineteenth century. This century witnessed the...

Part I: Contact with Catholics in the Journeys East and West

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Chapter One: Silencing Catholic Revolutionaries in House of the Dead

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pp. 23-53

Although Dostoevsky's House of the Dead was celebrated by his contemporaries for its realistic portrayals of the Russian convicts with whom he shared a four- year term in the Omsk prison fortress, the autobiographical novel also marks the germination of his association of...

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Chapter Two: The Generation of Dostoevsky’s Catholic Types in the 1860s

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pp. 54-82

In the narratives Winter Notes and The Gambler (Igrok, 1866), which Dostoevsky wrote about his experiences abroad, as well as in the novel The Idiot (which he wrote while living in the West), Dostoevsky presents an array of Catholic types from avaricious and seducer...

Part II: The Catholic Dimension to Dostoevsky’s Russian Revolutionaries

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Chapter Three: The Casuistry of Revolutionaries in Crime and Punishment

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pp. 85-113

Dostoevsky drew on his literary knowledge, encounters with Catholics, and discussions of the Roman church published in the aftermath of the Polish uprising to provide his most famous Napoleonic hero, Rodion Raskolnikov, with a casuistic dimension in Crime...

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Chapter Four: Dostoevsky’s Portrayal of Transnational Catholicism in Demons

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pp. 114-144

Depictions of Catholicism in Dostoevsky’s novel written abroad—Myshkin’s merging of socialism with the Roman faith, the near- seduction of Pavlishchev by the archetypal Jesuit Goureau, and Aglaya’s succumbing to an émigré count (along with his pater confessor...

Part III—The Catholic Reformation in The Brothers Karamazov

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Chapter Five; Old Catholicism and the Revolutionary Inquisitor

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pp. 147-171

In selecting an inquisitor for the main character of Ivan Karamazov’s poem (poėma), Dostoevsky was well aware of its political association with the tsarist government owing to its inquisitional legal system, linked by Herzen to the Petrine reforms: “Everything increasing...

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Chapter Six: Roman vs. Russian Justice in The Brothers Karamazov and the Diary

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pp. 172-197

References to the Jesuits, Hamlet, and Boris Godunov in The Brothers Karamazov suggest that the Reformation continues to haunt Dostoevsky’s narrative in which the Karamazovs, an embodiment of Russianness, repeatedly come into confl ict with Western values. Whereas...

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pp. 198-210

Dostoevsky shared with former political prisoners throughout nineteenth- century Europe the diffi culties of reestablishing his career and personal reputation after imprisonment and exile. His reading of literature about prison (Dumas’s Le Comte de Monte- Cristo or Dickens’s The...


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pp. 211-266


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pp. 267-284


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pp. 285-292

E-ISBN-13: 9780810167568
E-ISBN-10: 0810167565
Print-ISBN-13: 9780810129573
Print-ISBN-10: 0810129574

Page Count: 306
Illustrations: 282
Publication Year: 2014

Edition: 1

OCLC Number: 878130610
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Dostoevsky and the Catholic Underground

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Subject Headings

  • Catholic Church -- In literature.
  • Anti-Catholicism in literature.
  • Dostoyevsky, Fyodor, 1821-1881 -- Religion.
  • Dostoyevsky, Fyodor, 1821-1881 -- Criticism and interpretation.
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