Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about Russian History => Their World and Culture => Topic started by: zolishka on March 23, 2007, 03:14:13 PM

Title: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Post by: zolishka on March 23, 2007, 03:14:13 PM
I am very interested in literature, and in the 19th century russian literature in general. And I have a question related to Fyodor Dostoevsky...

Does anyone know if he was read by any of the Romanovs? I mean, he was convicted and nearly executed for revolutionary actions by Nicholas I in 1848. But he totaly changed after this episode and became a very religious man and many of his later works have some sort of religious or moral theme. But was Dostoevsky generally disliked by the royals becous of his previous political views? I´m curious.

Leo Tolstoj had a very high status among the royal, I read that Nicholas II read "War and Peace" alound for his wife Alexandra.
Title: Re: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Post by: RichC on March 23, 2007, 04:37:50 PM
I am very interested in literature, and in the 19th century russian literature in general. And I have a question related to Fyodor Dostoevsky...

Does anyone know if he was read by any of the Romanovs? I mean, he was convicted and nearly executed for revolutionary actions by Nicholas I in 1848. But he totaly changed after this episode and became a very religious man and many of his later works have some sort of religious or moral theme. But was Dostoevsky generally disliked by the royals becous of his previous political views? I´m curious.

Leo Tolstoj had a very high status among the royal, I read that Nicholas II read "War and Peace" alound for his wife Alexandra.

I thought that Dostoevsky was very much admired by members of the Royal family -- I believe I have read that he was a guest of Alexander II -- he was friendly with Podbedonotsev. 

However, I do not recall Tolstoy being so popular amoung the royal family.   GD Ella was "forbidden" by her husband to read Anna K, (possibly the greatest novel ever written) because of it's subject matter.  And I have read Nicholas II's comments to his mother on the occasion of Tolstoy's death  -- not very complimentary.  But yes, Nicholas did read "War and Peace" to Alexandra shortly after they were married.
Title: Re: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Post by: zolishka on March 23, 2007, 07:36:31 PM
Yes, now I remember. The subject of Anna Karenina is adultery so... Believe it was banned in several circles. But I agree, it is probably one of the greatest novels ever written, along with let´s say Crime & Punishment. Do you know what Nicholas II said about Tolstoy?
Title: Re: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Post by: dunya on March 23, 2007, 10:58:08 PM
I think they were reading Turgenyev often a lot, and Dostoyevsky and Turgenyev were sort of like enemies, and their writing & state of minds were too different, too. I guess they fancied Turgenyev better? Dostoyevsky is more like a ''common''man you know, perhaps that they felt Turgenyev closer to their life style and whatnot. I cant quite imagine a Tsar reading Crime and Punishment eventhough he's well educated.
Title: Re: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Post by: dunya on March 23, 2007, 10:59:58 PM
Oh I love Dostoyevsky however people like Turgenyev more in Russia even now. ( i really dont know why)



Title: Re: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Post by: zolishka on March 23, 2007, 11:02:11 PM
I cant imagen so myself, but I just started to wonder since Dostoyevsky is such a cult icon of literature history. As of today I mean, dont really know what his status was back in the 19th century...

I read that Nicholas was a fan of Pushkin though, does anyone have more details on this? His daugther Olga was a big reader, what did she read?
Title: Re: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Post by: zolishka on March 23, 2007, 11:04:59 PM
About the new popularity of Turgenyev in Russia, I dont really know much about it but I think there is alot to do about trends and reprints really. And booksales! Here in Sweden the february booksale is a huge thing with reprints of old books that makes a huge fuzz about old authors.
Title: Re: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Post by: dunya on March 23, 2007, 11:13:32 PM
I couldnt modify my post properly, sorry about that.

Btw if Im not mistaken in early 1900's Tolstoy sends a letter to the Tsar, warning that autocracy is doomed and he has to give the nation its freedom to avoid a civil war. Maybe thats why Nkolay was not very complimentary.

Title: Re: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Post by: RichC on March 24, 2007, 02:53:45 AM
Yes, now I remember. The subject of Anna Karenina is adultery so... Believe it was banned in several circles. But I agree, it is probably one of the greatest novels ever written, along with let´s say Crime & Punishment. Do you know what Nicholas II said about Tolstoy?

I'll look it up and post it sometime this week!
Title: Re: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Post by: Mike on March 24, 2007, 04:17:07 AM
This is what Nicholas II had written on the report of Tolstoy's death:
"I earnestly regret the death of a great writer who, at the time when his talent was blooming, had created in his works dear images of one of the most glorious periods of Russian life. May God be his gracious judge".

For those who might wish to translate it more finely, here's the Russian text:
"Душевно сожалею о кончине великого писателя, воплотившего, во времена рассвета своего дарования, в творениях своих родные образы одной из славнейших годин русской жизни. Господь Бог да будет ему Милостивым Судиёю".
Title: Re: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Post by: RichC on March 24, 2007, 10:36:19 AM
I am very interested in literature, and in the 19th century russian literature in general. And I have a question related to Fyodor Dostoevsky...

Does anyone know if he was read by any of the Romanovs? I mean, he was convicted and nearly executed for revolutionary actions by Nicholas I in 1848. But he totaly changed after this episode and became a very religious man and many of his later works have some sort of religious or moral theme. But was Dostoevsky generally disliked by the royals becous of his previous political views? I´m curious.

Leo Tolstoj had a very high status among the royal, I read that Nicholas II read "War and Peace" alound for his wife Alexandra.

I thought that Dostoevsky was very much admired by members of the Royal family -- I believe I have read that he was a guest of Alexander II -- he was friendly with Podbedonotsev. 

However, I do not recall Tolstoy being so popular amoung the royal family.   GD Ella was "forbidden" by her husband to read Anna K, (possibly the greatest novel ever written) because of it's subject matter.  And I have read Nicholas II's comments to his mother on the occasion of Tolstoy's death  -- not very complimentary.  But yes, Nicholas did read "War and Peace" to Alexandra shortly after they were married.

I have to go to the library and check it out but the book is called:

The letters of Tsar Nicholas and Empress Marie; being the confidential correspondence between Nicholas II, last of the tsars, and his mother, Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna

Editied by Edward J. Bing and published in 1937
Title: Re: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Post by: Lyss on March 24, 2007, 10:39:46 AM
I've heared that the story about GD Ella being forbidden to read Anna Karenina was made up, just like thes story about Marie Antoinette telling "let them eat cake" when there was no bread.
About Dostojevski, I wonder if anyone here has read his 'Devils'. It's that I'm reading it now, and have heared that this was his best book in which he predicted the coming of the revolution. I'm not that far yet, but if anyone has read it, what do you think?
Title: Re: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Post by: TheAce1918 on March 26, 2007, 03:11:37 PM
My favorite quote by him was

"A Russian cannot be godless.  As soon as he becomes godless,
he ceases to be Russian"

He is one of my favorite Russian authors next to Tolstoy and Pushkin.
Title: Re: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 26, 2007, 06:14:44 PM
One my personal favorites is:  “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons”. So true!

BTW, there is a Dostoevsky museum in St Petersburg in the building where he used to live just before his death, on - where else? - Dostoevsky Street... I will see if I can dig up the photos from my visit, as well as of his grave... 
Title: Re: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 26, 2007, 06:35:01 PM
Just as an aside about Dostoevsky...

Dostoevsky Museum in St Pbg (in his former residence where he wrote Brothers Karamazov):

(http://img132.imageshack.us/img132/8608/dostoevskymuseumms5.th.png) (http://img132.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dostoevskymuseumms5.png) (http://img258.imageshack.us/img258/4696/dostoevskyplaquexr8.th.png) (http://img258.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dostoevskyplaquexr8.png)

Dostoevsky's gravesite at Alexander Nevsky Lavra:

(http://img132.imageshack.us/img132/4057/dostoevskygravegb9.th.png) (http://img132.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dostoevskygravegb9.png)(http://img132.imageshack.us/img132/7416/dostoevskygrave2ry3.th.png) (http://img132.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dostoevskygrave2ry3.png)

Title: Re: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Post by: zolishka on March 28, 2007, 07:11:01 PM
great photos, thanks for posting :)
Title: Re: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Post by: zolishka on March 29, 2007, 08:57:23 AM
For more information about Dostoevsky, I truly recomend his wife Annas biography named "My life with Dostoevsky"

Title: Re: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Post by: TheAce1918 on March 29, 2007, 08:04:09 PM
Thanks for the info  ;)
Title: Re: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on March 01, 2011, 08:04:53 AM
I am surprised that it's not more widely acknowledged that Dostoyevsky foreshadowed the murder of the IF and the ensuing question of guilt in "Crime and Punishment": Raskolnikov is like Lenin, an idealistic fanatical with a social consciousness. The old pawnbroker he murders is like NII. Is it an evil sin to murder her, even if she represents an inherently evil system? Her innocent sister can be said to represent innocent collateral victims just like OTMAA.

I don't think it figures in the book itself, but in one of the movies based on it Raskolnikov made the telling confession: "Alyona [the pawn-broker] was my crime, Lizaveta [her good innocent sister] is my sin."
Title: Re: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Post by: Elisabeth on March 09, 2011, 12:47:20 PM
I am surprised that it's not more widely acknowledged that Dostoyevsky foreshadowed the murder of the IF and the ensuing question of guilt in "Crime and Punishment": Raskolnikov is like Lenin, an idealistic fanatical with a social consciousness. The old pawnbroker he murders is like NII. Is it an evil sin to murder her, even if she represents an inherently evil system? Her innocent sister can be said to represent innocent collateral victims just like OTMAA.

I don't think it figures in the book itself, but in one of the movies based on it Raskolnikov made the telling confession: "Alyona [the pawn-broker] was my crime, Lizaveta [her good innocent sister] is my sin."

Dostoevsky modeled Raskolnikov on the Napoleonic myth of genius, which I don't think interested Lenin much. (Herman, in Pushkin's "The Queen of Spades," was also modeled on this myth.) But more to the point, the confession you cite is one of those instances in which Raskolnikov unconsciously gives himself away as not yet fully conscious of his terrible sins. Because the fact of the matter is, he not only murdered the old pawnbroker and her sister, Lizaveta, but also Lizaveta's unborn child. Most readers (I think 99 percent of us the first time we read the novel) have forgotten this telling detail by the end of the story, if we ever even registered it to begin with. But yes, Lizaveta was pregnant when she was killed. This is significant in Orthodox terms because even (or especially) the life of an unborn child is considered precious. So as it turns out, Raskolnikov is a triple murderer.

I think, dear Fyodor Petrovich, that your analogy between Raskolnikov's murders and the murder of the IF is more than a little far-fetched. There is only a very rough similarity in terms of Dostoevsky's own ideology, which basically posited that without religion, everything is permitted and all hell will ensue. But this is and always has been pretty much the ideology of the Roman Catholic Church (see the novels of Piers Paul Read, a Catholic writer, albeit one heavily influenced by Dostoevsky, and you see exactly this same theme throughout). So I don't view Crime and Punishment as particularly pertinent to the IF's fate. Which is not to say, that Dostoevsky's novel Devils ("Besy," also frequently translated as The Possessed) is not an uncanny prophecy of revolutionary Russia under the Bolsheviks. It is precisely that... if for no other reason than that at the end of it, as at the end of Hamlet, everybody dies.
Title: Re: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on March 14, 2011, 07:58:01 AM
Dostoevsky modeled Raskolnikov on the Napoleonic myth of genius, which I don't think interested Lenin much.
But you can't deny the fact that the ideology of an elite vanguard party, i.e. a specifically non-mass party to lead the masses, has heavy parallells?

Because the fact of the matter is, he not only murdered the old pawnbroker and her sister, Lizaveta, but also Lizaveta's unborn child. Most readers (I think 99 percent of us the first time we read the novel) have forgotten this telling detail by the end of the story, if we ever even registered it to begin with.
Count me in there, I never noticed!

Quote
But yes, Lizaveta was pregnant when she was killed. This is significant in Orthodox terms because even (or especially) the life of an unborn child is considered precious. So as it turns out, Raskolnikov is a triple murderer.
Something which only makes him closer to the gang who murdered NAOTMAA.

Quote
I think, dear Fyodor Petrovich, that your analogy between Raskolnikov's murders and the murder of the IF is more than a little far-fetched.
I know, but being a synthesisist at heart I was very struck with how the most popular tales coming out of pre-Revolutionary Russia deals heavily with the same moral issues: Is it always wrong to kill a tyrant, who although not doing anything illegal per se nevertheless is a malevolent, exploiting influence. Or, in other words, does murder being illegal equal murder always being immoral and vice versa? And what about collateral damage? Does the end justify the means or will collateral damage curse the tyrannicide and the murderers?

My approach is from something we discussed in another thread, where you said you were fed up with people looking down on teens dealing with this and other moral Angst and Weltschmerz issues through a fascination with NAOTMAA. These teens are often female, perhaps from more conservative backgrounds. Compare them to the often male, more radical youngsters whose "rite of passage" often is reading "Crime and Punishment". It might seem like there is a huge gap between the romantic emo girl crying over NAOTMAA's fate and the Communist-posing Che Guevara-worshipping young male reading "Crime and Punishment" in a cloud of weed smoke, but if we look more closely they are actually reading about the same moral issues.

I'm from Norway where this "rite of passage" is quite common. Being more into German culture I read Thomas Mann instead of Dostoyevsky when I was young, angry and confused, but I was exposed to Lenin's story, as a positive story, in my teens, before NAOTMAA, which I only learned about later, here on this forum. I have never read Massie's "Nicholas and Alexandra" nor seen any of the movies it spawned, something I guess gives me a bit of a unique perspective, I guess.

BTW being a Thomas Mann fan fits perfectly with the first book by a Russian author I read (apart from some Soviet children's books) being "Au temps du fleuve Amour" (Norwegian title: Kjærlighet ved elven Amur; Love by the River Amur) by Andreï Makine. Yes, nostalgic emigré literature, but by an emigré from the Soviet Union, not Tsarist Russia.
Title: Re: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Post by: Elisabeth on March 16, 2011, 03:32:37 PM
You know, my dear F.P., I'm so out of practice with posting that I've actually forgotten how to do quotes from other people's posts. So here I am quoting what most struck me about your last post:


but being a synthesisist at heart I was very struck with how the most popular tales coming out of pre-Revolutionary Russia deals heavily with the same moral issues: Is it always wrong to kill a tyrant, who although not doing anything illegal per se nevertheless is a malevolent, exploiting influence. Or, in other words, does murder being illegal equal murder always being immoral and vice versa? And what about collateral damage? Does the end justify the means or will collateral damage curse the tyrannicide and the murderers?

My approach is from something we discussed in another thread, where you said you were fed up with people looking down on teens dealing with this and other moral Angst and Weltschmerz issues through a fascination with NAOTMAA. These teens are often female, perhaps from more conservative backgrounds. Compare them to the often male, more radical youngsters whose "rite of passage" often is reading "Crime and Punishment". It might seem like there is a huge gap between the romantic emo girl crying over NAOTMAA's fate and the Communist-posing Che Guevara-worshipping young male reading "Crime and Punishment" in a cloud of weed smoke, but if we look more closely they are actually reading about the same moral issues.


You are as always extraordinarily sensitive to the nuances. I think the "collateral damage" does deal, if not a death blow, more than a glancing one, to any revolutionary regime. I would like to say a death blow, after the terrible fates of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and their children, and NAOTMAA of course, but the fact of the matter is that the French Revolution which dealt the former their brutalization in captivity and the parents their ultimate deaths by violence is still celebrated every July 14th and isn't their very place of execution (not only of them but of many nobility and peasants as well) now a major thoroughfare and public venue for some of these very same celebrations?

Thanks for bringing up the teen Angst and Weltschmerz issues, as you put it, I do think they are relevant. I have to say that as a little girl in a very liberal (socialist, actually, my father was a big fan of Trotsky) household, NAOTMAA was a sort of crucible for me when I was, say 10 or 11 and first read Massie's book. But Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment was also a major, no doubt much more major, rite of passage, when I was considerably older, 17 or 18 (note, before college, I read it on my own, without any formal intermediaries, which surely accounts for the incredible, unadulterated impact it had on me, because it came as a complete intellectual and emotional shock at the time). When I read C&P I thought, this is everything a novel should be, this is life, this is death, this is violence and evil, it is the truth. I still believe that, for the most part.

So yeah, you've probably hit the nail on the head yet another time, we have been discussing the same moral issues all along, and maybe Dostoevsky even acted as a sort of catharsis for me. As an adult, the more I read Dostoevsky (and I think I've read just about everything of his, except Diary of a Writer and Winter Notes on Summer Impressions), the more I realize that he was absolutely obsessed with the human capacity for evil, which includes every kind of abuse humans are capable of inflicting on each other. "Collateral damage," in fact.