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For the intelligentsia this was the age of the vanquished. The Pushkin Speech carries many ideas that Dostoevskii held on Russian attitudes towards European culture that he expressed on numerous occasions in other works. He would immediately recognize the transitory nature of such achievements which Europe had to pay for in a form of revolutionary violence.


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He would foresee an apocalyptic and pessimistic conclusion of the European culture […]. Therefore he would not be able to join Europe in this struggle for survival because it could not lead to a universal happiness. He sees him as longing for the past and lamenting the lost sense of wholeness, manifested through the notion of a bond with nature or of brotherhood. Dostoevskii describes Onegin and his followers as educated dreamers who belong to aristocratic culture but who contemplate the establishment of a world order in accordance with their abstract vision of an imagined community based on the ideas of European eighteenth- and nineteenth-century socialist thinkers.

This was informed by the example of Petr Chaadaev whose paradoxical worldview anticipated many of the concerns of Dostoevskii and his contemporaries.

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According to Robert MacMaster, Danilevskii and Spengler utilized the doctrine of homology rooted in the biological theories of Goethe and Karl Ernst von Baer in order to predict the future of living cultures. In Slavophile manner, Danilevskii also expresses his fear of the possibility of Germano-Roman culture dominating world history, suggesting that its ruthlessly rationalistic single-minded outlook could slow the process of cultural interchange.

These new elements could invigorate the established course of a world history rooted in ancient cultural spaces.

He presents this world course of history in metaphorical terms as a stream running through Egypt, Palestine and Byzantium and merging with another stream with two branches of culture and politics related to Ancient Greece and the Roman empire and other European countries. Danilevskii is opposed to the positivist thinking that promoted radical individualism in the name of progress in private and public life such as international affairs and interpersonal communication.

He feared that the manifestation of individualism, whether national or personal, as an absolute rule of human activity could reinforce monological thinking and the mechanical reproduction of artefacts. He called for the application of utilitarian principles in order to tame such individuals: they needed moral guidance in order that their actions might benefit the majority.

Dostoevskii emphasizes the fact that the type of modern man Onegin represents is linked to a peculiar sense of estrangement: In a remote place, in the heart of his mother country, he is of course an exile in a foreign land. He does not know what to do and is somehow conscious of his own quest. Afterwards, wandering over his native country and over foreign lands, he, beyond doubt clever and sincere, feels himself among strangers, still more a stranger to himself.

Having absorbed various cultural traditions, Dostoevskii presents Tatiana as a perfect individual capable of synthesizing various influences creatively.


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Dostoevskii invests Pushkin with qualities that constitute the creative principle that could synthesize cultural trends and ensure the survival of Russian literature. Dostoevskii writes: There have been in the literatures of Europe men of colossal artistic genius - a Shakespeare, a Cervantes, a Schiller. But show me one of these great geniuses who possessed such a capacity for universal sympathy as our Pushkin. The greatest of European poets could never so powerfully embody in themselves the genius of a foreign, even a neighbouring, people, its spirit in all its hidden depth, and all its yearning after its appointed end, as Pushkin could.

On the contrary, when they turned to foreign nations European poets most often made them one with their own people, and understood them after their own fashion.

Alain Toumayan suggests that Levinas was especially obsessed with quoting from The Brothers Karamazov. Toumayan explains: In interviews in Entre nous and Ethics and Infinity, and in an extended interview with Francois Poirie, Levinas alternates the notions of guilt, answerability, and responsibility within this formula while preserving its basic expression of asymmetry and nonreciprocity.

Dostoevskii writes: Can one build happiness on the unhappiness of another? Happiness is not in the delights of love alone, but also in the spirit of highest harmony. How could the spirit be appeased if behind it stood a dishonourable, merciless, inhuman action?

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Should she run away merely because her happiness lay therein? Imagine that you yourself are building a palace of human destiny for the final end of making all men happy, and of giving them peace and rest at last. Dostoevskii continues: Would you consent to be the architect on this condition? That is the question. Can you for one moment admit the thought that those for whom the building had been built would agree to receive that happiness from you, if its foundation was suffering, the suffering of an insignificant being perhaps, but one who had been cruelly and unjustly put to death, even if, when they had attained that happiness, they should be happy for ever?

According to Dostoevskii, Evgenii Onegin demonstrates an awareness of the fact that the necessity of codes does not preclude an open-minded individual from encompassing life as a rich source of creative possibilities. As Gary Gutting explains: According to Levinas, the self is free not for the sake of enjoyment but for the sake of the other. I see the face of the other, but not as an object contained in my world my interiority , available for my enjoyment.

Blok advocates the view that the poet is a son of harmony whose mission is to participate in the creative process of world culture and who expresses the sense of unity with Logos through his poems. Blok entwines creative process with ethical concerns. Iconophiles saw the icon as a revelation of divine truth.

Similarly Dostoevskii and Blok perceived Pushkin as an iconic image whose worshippers could gain intuitive apprehension of its real spiritual essence. Such an approach forms an essential aspect of Russian thought and is based on the notion that the human being is able to comprehend divinity through the intuitive grasp of reality in its essence.

Tsvetaeva moulds Tatiana into a truly Levinasean figure able to serve others and empathize with their suffering. Tsvetaeva uncovers in Tatiana an existential thinker in love who chooses not to be loved on conditions she finds unacceptable. Faubion, ed. Robert Hurley et al. Bem, A.

Dostoevskii's Overcoat: Influence, Comparison, and Transposition

Bem, ed. Translations from the Russian, here and elsewhere, are my own.

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Quoted in English in Leatherbarrow, p. Fritzsche, p. Marcus C. Vucinic, East European Monographs, Boulder, , pp. See A.

SEEJ Table of Contents

Savodnik, vypusk V: Vzgliad na russkuiu literaturu so smerti Pushkina, I. Pages: 27— By: Michael Pursglove. Pages: 39— By: Eric de Haard. Pages: 63— By: Richard Freeborn. Pages: 87— By: Claire Whitehead. Pages: — By: Alexandra Smith. By: Michael Basker. By: Henrietta Mondry. By: Andrzej Dudek. By: Neil Cornwell. By: Cynthia Marsh.

By: Deborah A. By: Robert Reid. By: Andrea Hacker. By: Olga Peters Hasty.