Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-x

This book was initially conceived while I was teaching at the College of Wooster, and I’d like to thank Matthew Mariola, Beth Ann Muellner, Mareike Herrmann, and Peter Pozefsky, among many others, for their warm collegiality and friendship. It was completed over three years in the department of World Languages & Literatures at Boston University, where I’ve had the great fortune to be mentored and befriended by William Waters, who has helped this book along with advice, encouragement, and keen editorial suggestions. I am very grateful to my departmental colleagues who make...

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Introduction

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pp. 3-15

DOSTOEVSKY WAS FASCINATED by the dynamics of human closeness. His characters are known for their participation in convulsive, irrational, and even supernatural forms of intimacy that often surpass the bounds of love or friendship in any traditional sense. In the midst of a dramatic scene, they suddenly freeze and gaze into each other’s eyes silently for extended periods of time; they echo and adopt each other’s ideas and intonations; they sense each other’s presences within themselves; and, in apparent violation of the rules of psychological realism (to which Dostoevsky...

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Chapter One. On the Dangers of Intimacy (The Vasia Shumkov Paradigm)

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pp. 16-29

Among studies of Dostoevsky’s conception of personality, two largely incompatible and equally influential schools of thought can be discerned. On the one hand, Dostoevsky has been read as a neo- romantic “expressivist” who situated the roots of the personality, and of the world itself, in the inexhaustible depths of the “human soul.”1 The elder Zosima’s teaching in The Brothers Karamazov on the organic nature of the personality whose roots “touch other worlds” provides an illustration of this view: Zosima describes our “secret innermost sensation” of a “connection with [...] a celestial...

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Chapter Two. Amnesia and the Collective Personality in the Early Works

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pp. 30-50

When Bakhtin noted the absence of memory in Dostoevsky’s characters, he was describing a new form of poetics: the bestowal of unprecedented freedom upon fictional characters, the refusal to barge into a protagonist’s unconscious life or to constrain that character’s discourse with the manacles of social typology or personal biography.1 Standing always on the “threshold,” in the “living present,” Dostoevsky’s characters, for Bakhtin, are remarkably free from the influences of “external forces,” among which he included the unconscious mind, with its distant memories and deterministic...

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Chapter Three. Transparency and Trauma in The Insulted and Injured

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pp. 51-67

Prior to the emergence of the scientific study of trauma in Europe in the 1870s and 1880s, Dostoevsky had spent decades exploring the effects of distressing and frightening memory upon the self. He articulated some of his thoughts on this topic in his Diary of a Writer for 1877, where he described the impact of “unhealed” childhood “wounds” upon the life and art of the then recently deceased poet Nikolai Nekrasov. During intimate conversations with Nekrasov in the early days of their literary careers, Dostoevsky, according to his account, had managed to observe the “most essential and...

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Chapter Four. Beyond the Dispersed Self in The Idiot

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pp. 68-85

Of all Dostoevsky’s protagonists, Prince Myshkin appears to be the one who most mystified his creator. Having decided “to portray a positively beautiful (or good) person” (28.2:251), Dostoevsky, during the difficult and constrained conception process of The Idiot, continually deferred reckoning with his hero’s psychology. In March 1868, after publishing the first part of the novel, Dostoevsky toyed in his notebooks with the idea of “convey[ing] the prince’s personality [litso] enigmatically throughout the whole novel” and then “suddenly explain[ing] his personality at the end” (9:220; Dostoevsky’s...

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Chapter Five. On the Education of Demons and Unfinished Selves

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pp. 86-103

Demons (1871– 72) has often been read as the most dramatic example of Dostoevsky’s inclination to “sacrifice verisimilitude” in pursuit of a more expansive, metaphysical subject matter.1 The impression noted in criticism of the novel’s “mythical,” “otherworldly” space-time conditions emanates principally from the figure of Nikolai Stavrogin and from the host of seemingly mesmerized interlocutors who encircle him as extensions or echoes of his being. In his depiction of Stavrogin’s enchanted circle, Dostoevsky has been said to push beyond the limits of psychological realism, dismantling...

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Chapter Six. The Hiding Places of the Self in The Adolescent

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pp. 104-119

In his memoirs, Carl Gustav Jung tells the story of how, as a child, he once placed a small figurine and a stone into a pencil case, which he then hid in the forbidden attic of his house. “All this was a great secret,” Jung recalls. “In all difficult situations, whenever I had done something wrong or my feelings had been hurt, [...] I thought of my carefully bedded- down and wrapped- up manikin. [...] It was an inviolable secret, which must never be betrayed, for the safety of my life depended on it.”1 As Jung discovered later in life when studying the “soul- stones” of ancient peoples, his impulse to transfer...

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Chapter Seven. The Apprenticeship of the Self in The Brothers Karamazov

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pp. 120-141

The Brothers Karamazov (1880) is Dostoevsky’s most comprehensive study of the collective self. The dissolution of the self into others and the need to subsist upon an external mind are pervasive phenomena in the novel, appearing in widely divergent forms that call attention to the extreme ambivalence of Dostoevsky’s views with regard to collective personhood. In his plans for humanity, the Grand Inquisitor of Ivan’s poema proposes a vision of the state as a vast all- embracing collective in which the weak are annexed and, thus, liberated from their suffering by the strong. The many, he predicts, will be grateful...

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Conclusion

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pp. 142-150

DOSTOEVSKY’S FICTIONAL WORLD is populated almost entirely by carriers of unnamed psychic wounds accrued in a distant, inaccessible narrative prehistory. Barred from the elements of the interior life, these characters find themselves trapped in the world of external relations, compelled to disperse themselves in the “whirlwind” of social connections and to constitute their inwardly collapsed personalities externally, through turning others into facets of their collapsed selves, and, in turn, becoming subsumed by the personalities of others. This book has...

Notes

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pp. 151-214

Bibliography

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pp. 215-230

Index

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pp. 231-238