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Title: Dostoevsky via Kierkegaard: Interrelations of the Aesthetic, the Ethical, and the Religious
Authors: Parlin, Maxwell
Advisors: Chances, Ellen B
Contributors: Slavic Languages and Literatures Department
Keywords: 19th Century
Literature and Philosophy
Literature and Religion
Russian Literature
Subjects: Slavic literature
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation interprets Dostoevsky through the lens of Kierkegaard. The overarching claim is that Kierkegaard conceptualizes much of the enigmatic material in Dostoevsky’s fiction and thus clarifies the scholarly controversies that it has generated. Specifically, Kierkegaard elucidates the paradoxical interrelation of the aesthetic, the ethical, and the religious in Dostoevsky, an interrelation often misconstrued in the scholarship. Ultimately, this interrelation boils down to the interrelation between heaven and earth, time and eternity, God and man, the absolute and the relative. In a word, heaven simultaneously nullifies and sanctifies earth. Heaven and earth are unified by faith, but in a way that – paradoxically – accentuates the distinction. Kierkegaard is particularly helpful because he conceptualizes this interrelation, this “paradox dialectic,” in relation to other dialectical forms that scholars ascribe to Dostoevsky, namely synthesis and separation. Basically, the tragic or nihilistic reading of Dostoevsky claims that his works envision a separation of heaven and earth. In contrast, the idealist reading claims that his works envision a synthesis of heaven and earth. Both readings account for undeniable aspects of Dostoevsky, but he ultimately abandons both dialectical modes in favor of an alternative: neither synthesis nor separation but paradox, a paradoxical unity that accentuates difference. Several scholars have approximated this dynamic, but Kierkegaard provides further nuance. Elaborating the paradox dialectic of faith in relation to both tragedy and German Idealism, Kierkegaard helps us understand the circuitous journey of Dostoevsky’s fiction from “Athens” to “Jerusalem,” from “reason” to “revelation,” from Hellenic categories natural to the human mind to Hebraic or biblical categories of faith.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Slavic Languages and Literatures

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