Christic Mimesis in Dostoevsky's Apocalypticism

The ashes of the late world carried on the bleak and temporal winds to and fro in the void. Carried forth and scattered and carried forth again. Everything uncoupled from its shoring. Unsupported in the ashen air. Sustained by a breath, trembling and brief. If only my heart were stone.
--Cormac McCarthy

The artistic world of the mature Dostoevsky thinks the drama of modern humanity from within the apocalyptic event of the star Wormwood falling from the sky (Rev 8:10–11), poisoning “the wellsprings of life.”[1] This event intensely conjures in the character of Ippolit—that impassioned sickly youth from The Idiot—a line from a poem: “the sun resounded in the sky.” Ippolit cannot remember the author, nor give an exact rendering of the line. However, he is alluding to the “Prologue in Heaven” from Goethe’s magisterial Faust where it is written: “The sun resounds as of old / In rival-singing with his brothers spheres.” Ippolit continues: “Is the sun the wellspring of life? What are the wellsprings of life in the Apocalypse? Have you heard of ‘the star Wormwood,’ Prince?”

Within Ippolit’s seemingly incoherent rambling queries put to Prince Mýshkin can be discerned powerful symbolic suggestions that are able to act as ciphers into the apocalyptic artistry of the monumental period of Dostoevsky’s novelistic world. Such as the sun that resonates with the characters of Dostoevsky’s late novels is Faustian through and through and that this light is ever intoxicatingly mixed with the apocalyptic sign of the star Wormwood.[2] And I am suggesting that Dostoevsky’s visionary world is a world that is imagined within, and after, the event of Wormwood’s fall. This fall, like the Nietzschean sun of aphorism 125 of The Gay Science, has “unchained this earth from its sun”—poisoned metaphysical and spiritual waters where the central ingredient is the idea of God’s “decomposition.”[3] Within the visionary artistic world of Dostoevsky, the event of God’s death is swirlingly and ubiquitously present.

In this Faustian and Luciferian light, Dostoevsky depicts a drama where “it had long been day, yet it seemed that dawn had still not come.”[4] Within this ashen world of days measureless, poisoned, and bitter, wherein we undergo God’s death, we return to Ippolit’s questions: “Is the sun the wellspring of life? What are the wellsprings of life in the Apocalypse?” To answer Ippolit’s querying, yet suggestive symbolic associations, one only needs to turn to chapters twenty-one and twenty-two of the Apocalypse. “And I saw no temple therein. For the Lord God almighty and the Lamb are the temple thereof. And the city has no need of the sun or the moon to shine upon it. For the glory of God lights it up, and the Lamb is the lamp thereof” (Rev 21: 22–24) Further on, “And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the city street, on both sides of the river, was the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit according to each month, and the leaves for the healing of the nations” (Rev 22: 1–2).

Here the eschatological Lamb slain is given as the answer to Ippolit’s questions. For this slain victorious Lamb is the true and ultimate light, the source of every living spring which nourishes the “tree of life.” Yet this is a description of the New Jerusalem, the coming eschaton; it bespeaks that Sabbath “without evening” (Augustine, conclusion of City of God), the final apocalypsis where “there shall be time no longer” (Rev 10: 6)—Dostoevsky’s favored line from the Apocalypse.[5]

There is no doubt that Dostoevsky’s visionary novelistic genius is straining and pointing towards this final Christian unveiling wherein the resounding sun and the “wellsprings of life” converge in the slain Lamb whose victorious love is now the lamp of a recreated and restored cosmos. But Dostoevsky is not depicting this end. He is depicting the feverish intensity of the in media res of the modern drama of atheism and the struggle for belief in fleshed, interpersonal relations within the concrete flow of history’s rapid barrelling to this end.[6] Hence, in the dramatic and ever-moving world of Dostoevsky’s novels, numerous godless-bearing lanterns are still being lit, proffering only simulacra of light amidst an exhausted Christianity and a world increasingly enclosed by the mute “autistic” darkness (McCarthy) of God’s death and the noxious fall of Wormwood.[7]

Like Nietzsche’s tragic dreamscape, Dostoevsky’s artistic world concerns “tombs and sepulchres of God.”[8] And, with Nietzsche, God’s death casts, like the dead Buddha, “a tremendous, gruesome shadow” that is able to last “for thousands of years.”[9] This “shadow,” for Nietzsche and Dostoevsky, is not the death of a metaphysical “god” before whom one cannot dance as in Heidegger’s fanciful, semi-imaginative tale. The apocalyptic event of God’s death concerns, as Nietzsche prophetically understood, “that the belief in the Christian god has become unbelievable—is already beginning to cast its shadow over Europe.”[10] This shadow is the possible forking of desire’s tangled tongues in the struggle between unbelief and belief in the truth of the Christian evangelist. Dostoevsky’s artistic world, like Nietzsche’s dreamscape, is utterly Christ-haunted.[11]

In this dramatic struggle for belief after God’s death, the question of Christ ever remains. This haunting finds its profound artistic representation, for Dostoevsky, in Hans Holbein the Younger’s The Body of Christ in the Tomb (1520–2). This painting is arguably the focal point of The Idiot. But, at this point, it is also able to serve as a cipher for the place of Christ in Dostoevsky’s late novels. The specter of Christ’s mediation is present in the intermediations of Christianity, that is, in the words of Scripture, in dim yet still flickering icon lamps, and in characters of belief and half-belief. Christ's death is present, silently suffusing the characters of Dostoevsky that are undergoing God’s death (Raskolnikov, Ippolit, Stavrogin, Kirillov, and Ivan, to name the most famous). Christ cannot die—in the manner of a wholly transcendent God or idea—for he has already died.

This death is ever-reverberating, leaving with it an evocative historical memory, and living witnesses still, to the terrifying possibility of the Resurrection. A Resurrection that, if true, means that God himself has already definitively died upon the Cross. After God’s death, Christ alone remains. And hence remains the possibility of desire’s conversion and belief in the fleshed and crucified God-man who was, who is, and who will always be victorious over death and sin. And it is this never receding possibility that torments and ravages those nuanced and varied proclaimers of God’s death that our great tenebrist of the spirit so alluringly depicts.

I propose to look at the apocalyptic depiction of the struggle for and against Christic mimesis in Crime and Punishment (1866).[12] In doing, it will seek to bring to light the apocalyptic clash of imitative desire dramatically and novelistically depicted in Dostoevsky's artistic world in characters of belief, half-belief, or unbelief—often a mix of all three in this illumination of the umbrous underground of our humanity. What comes to light in this reading is what Rene Girard aptly terms an “underground metaphysics,” a metaphysics that is apocalyptically cast and Christocentric in focus, I will argue. My intention, then, in this essay is to weave together Dostoevsky’s “underground metaphysics” with his apocalyptic slant around the leitmotif of Christic mimesis.[13]

Allow me to unpack terms and say a few words as to how I am reading Dostoevsky. By “underground metaphysics” I mean the concrete, fleshed, and lived flow of the drama of desire(s) that is depicted in the artistic world of Dostoevsky’s characters. His depiction of desire is one of “desired Desires” in the words of Kojève or, in a Girardian sense, mimetic. That is, desire is ever and always mediated through the desire of others. Desire is never self-originating or monologic and can therefore even be read in a Bakhtinian direction of “multi-voicedness” where words are always already dialogical or polyphonic. The words of Dostoevsky’s characters are always othering words of desire’s circulation. What Dostoevsky shows in his “underground metaphysics” is a dynamic field of circulating and suggested desire that is never disengaged from the living concrete world of characters, and by implication, persons.

In this sense Bakhtin is profoundly correct to note: “Dostoevsky neither knows, nor perceives, nor represents the “idea in itself” in the Platonic sense, nor “ideal existence” as phenomenologists understand it. For Dostoevsky, there are no ideas, no thoughts, no positions that belong to no one, that exist “in themselves.” Even “truth in itself” he presents in the spirit of Christian ideology, as incarnated in Christ; that is, he presents it as a personality entering into relationship with other personalities.”[14] Dostoevsky’s “underground metaphysics” eschews a metaphysics of abstraction and is one of concrete fleshed desire that depicts the field and flow of desire’s mimetic relationality.

If one pushes the above quote from Bakhtin to its theological conclusion (what I am doing and what Bakhtin was unwilling to do), then the “underground metaphysics” of fleshed mimetic desire I am presenting can only exist post Christum natum, in relation to the possibility or impossibility that—in Christ—truth is fully incarnated. Said otherwise, Dostoevsky’s “underground metaphysics” dramatically rendered in novelistic form is a metaphysics of the possibility of desire’s conversion to the incarnated truth of Christianity.

Any true Christian metaphysics must be a metaphysics of the Incarnation and hence conversion—this Dostoevsky profoundly understood. This is the Johannine spirit of Dostoevsky’s Christianity that Berdyaev rightly stressed.[15] But to be fully Johannine one must also take into account the Apocalypse and this is precisely what Dostoevsky boldly does. As Berdyaev again rightly says, “Dostoevsky . . . belonged to a new era that was sensible of change and looked for his religion in the Book of the Apocalypse.”[16]

Dostoevsky is an apocalyptic novelist, and I am reading him as such. And he is apocalyptic for the following reasons. First, his privileged reference point for apocalyptic signs and scenarios is the canonical Book of the Apocalypse. Dostoevsky thus holds the Book of the Apocalypse as the analogatum princeps of Christian apocalyptic. Second, to hold the first point is to imply that Dostoevsky adheres to an implicit Christian theology or philosophy of history where the beginning and middle of the Christian story finds the fullness of its meaning in the fittingness of the conclusion. Third, this view of history likewise implies the related apocalyptic sense that history is intensifying and heading towards an impending catastrophe and final conflict between Christ and Antichrist as most famously intimated in the “Tale of the Grand Inquisitor.” His apocalyptic novels are clearly written from within the feeling and experience of history’s intensification.

This is further to sense that history is beholden to the apocalyptic structure of metaphysical desire. As Girard says, “To perceive the metaphysical structure of desire is to foresee its catastrophic conclusion. Apocalypse means development. The Dostoevskian apocalypse is a development that ends in the destruction of what it has developed.”[17] This is the law of development expressed in the lie of mimetic pride and its rivalrous, indeed, bloody escalation. All desire must end in death. Either the death of self-destruction in the lie offered by false mediators of self-deification—death in life. Or, the Christian Johannine death of desire’s conversion expressed in the verse “If the seed does not die after it is sown, it will remain alone, but if it dies it will bear much fruit.”—life in death (John 12:24). This is the meaning of the apocalypse of desire in its opening or closure to the mediation of Christic mimesis.

Lastly, as suggested above, Dostoevsky’s novels are apocalyptic insofar as they concern the theological, metaphysical, and socio-political reality of the event of the death of God. And this event I am suggesting is woven, in Dostoevsky’s apocalyptic artistry, with Wormwood’s descent; an event that should be understood as a fitting cipher and ensign for the world of his apocalyptic novels (Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, Demons, and The Brothers Karamazov). Dostoevsky’s novels concern the apocalyptic poisoning of the “wellspring of life” occurring in modernity’s brewing self-apotheosis as seen in the polyvalent event of the death of God. The final clash concerning the truth of desire’s mimetic mediation between the Man-god and the God-man.

All of these apocalyptic ingredients mix to form Dostoevsky’s artistic genius. And to ignore these ingredients would be to miss the source of his creativity which is thoroughly apocalyptic. Perhaps this is the meaning of that line from Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago: “All great, genuine art resembles and continues the Revelation of St. John: it always meditates on death and thus always creates life.”[18]

Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment is not soddened with references to the Apocalypse as are The Idiot, Demons, and The Brothers Karamazov. But there are two; the first of minimal interest, and the second of more significance for my reading. The first occurs in the context of Raskolnikov’s first meeting with Marmeladov where the latter references the image and mark of the beast in Apocalypse (13: 15–16). Here Marmeladov’s hope in a melodramatic universalism is expressed when he depicts Christ in merciful Judgment welcoming even those sealed by the beast. The second occurs in the pivotal conversation in Part Three. This is where Porfiry Petrovich and Raskolnikov are discussing the latter’s article on crime that appeared, unbeknownst to the author, two months before in Periodical Discourse.

Raskolnikov concludes his tirade where he is propounding his belief in a division of humanity between ordinary humanity and transgressive world historical figures such as Napoleon with—“vive la guerre eternelle—until the New Jerusalem, of course!”[19] To which Porfiry quips, “So you still believe in the New Jerusalem?” This is a reference to Apocalypse (21: 1–3). But it is also a clear reference to the rewriting of Christianity in the Saint-Simonians that held the utopian belief of the immanentizing of the eschaton—to use that famous phrase from Voegelin. These ideas were fashionable in Russia of the 1840s. And Raskolnikov is a disciple of this Faustian pact which seeks to make the apocalyptic city of the New Jerusalem an earthly reality led by his supermen that will show humanity its final goal of the Golden Era.

The tone or tenor of Crime and Punishment concerns the clash of rivaling visions of the apocalyptic kingdom and humanity’s concrete place therein. This is seen even more vividly when we turn to Part Two and Raskolnikov’s first silent encounter with the timid Sonya, “adorned in street fashion,” as she enters the death scene of her piteous father, Marmeladov.[20] After Marmeladov’s death, fittingly in the arms of his dear slight Sonya, Raskolnikov departs after having given Katerina Ivanova twenty roubles speaking briefly of the friendship he had recently formed with her now-deceased husband. At the bottom of the stairs, he is overrun by frail little Polenka, who is charged by Katrina and Sonya with obtaining the name of our good Samaritan hero—and double murderer. Raskolnikov senses that it was Sonya who, in a special manner, sent Polenka.

His desire is instantly drawn to Sonya in their first silent, and for her, nameless encounter. Presumably, his instantaneous pull of desire was mediated and ignited through Marmeladov’s drunkenly effusive relating of his prostituted daughter’s tragic story in the tavern. A short conversation is struck between Polenka and Raskolnikov about her family in which he curiously asks her, “And do you know how to pray?”[21] Ending the conversation with Polenka by saying “Pray for me too, sometimes: ‘and for the servant of God Rodion’—that’s all.”[22]

Five minutes later our hero is on a bridge, still in a prayerful atmosphere. But now the atmosphere is changing. The innocence of smiling Polenka is receding and the draw of Sonya is commingling with another force. Darkness mingles with light and is infinitely ambivalent. Raskolnikov cry’s and then prays:

‘Enough!’ . . . ‘Away with mirages, away with false fears, away with spectres! . . . There is life. Was I not alive just now? My life hasn’t died with the old crone! May the Lord remember her in His Kingdom and—enough, my dear, it’s time to go! Now is the kingdom of reason and light and . . . will and strength . . . and now we shall see! Now we shall cross swords!’ He added presumptuously, as if addressing some dark force and challenging it.[23]

This passage is extraordinary on multiple levels. First, “There is Life. Was I not alive just now?” This intense feeling of life and living must refer to his encounter with Marmeladov and his family. His supporting of the trampled drunk’s bloody head as he aids in his return home so he can die surrounded by his family and in the fleshed embrace of Sonya, the money given freely away to the worry-racked and now widowed consumptive Katrina, to the smiling innocence of Polenka. And, above all, to the life intimated in the mystery of his desire for Sonya’s sacrificial presence. It is this convergence that must have prompted his request for Polenka’s prayers and his subsequent prayer that the “old crone” be remembered in Christ’s kingdom.[24]

And then, the extraordinary split-second schizophrenic-like reversal of desire into a counter-prayer for a coming counter-kingdom. “Now is the kingdom of reason and light and . . . will and strength . . . and now we shall see!” The Luciferian nature of reason’s light-bearing will-to-power is perfectly evident in these conjuring words. In these words there is a clash between two kingdoms played out, not within the abstract engine of a speculative or materialist dialectic, but in the fleshed heart of the self’s mimetic pull to opposing mediators of desires, that is, the clash of desire’s ever-present choice between rivaling gods. In the subsequent paragraph we read:

Pride and self-confidence were growing in him every moment; with each succeeding moment he was no longer the man he had been before. What special thing was it, however, that had so turned him around? He himself did not know; like a man clutching at a straw, he suddenly fancied that he too, “could live, that there still was life, that his life had not died with the old crone.” . . . “I did ask her to remember the servant of God, Rodion, however,” suddenly flashed in his head. “Well, but that was . . . just in case!” he added, and laughed at once at his own schoolboy joke. He was in excellent spirits.[25]

This not knowing what “special thing” turned him around to the possibility of a new life after the murder of the “old crone” is the heart of an “underground metaphysics.” For the mimetic self is a homo abyssus and thus our hero is presented as a self in and through which the energy of other characters’ desires are always already circulating in rivaling intensity making discernment almost impossible. The circulation of Raskolinkov’s idea of the superman ever incarnated in the historical person of Napoleon whom he sought to emulate in his base crime, soon to be inflected in a more concrete manner when he encounters Svidrigailov—his alluring double pointing beyond good and evil.

And so, Raskolnikov’s self is a self stretched between two radically opposing possibilities of desire’s mediation. The first possibility is the kingdom of the false light of imitative pride and the promised lie of a life of self-coronation (in imitation of Napoleon again?) and power after the old crone’s death. The second possibility is the kingdom of desire’s redemption now conformed to a life of imitative self-abandoning love and thus the free acceptance of suffering after the old crone’s death. Raskolnikov is crossed and crisscrossed, rent and torn by these rivaling possibilities, expressed in loves, prayers, and the apocalyptic kingdoms in our drama of an “underground metaphysics,” so masterfully depicted by our tenebrist of the fleshed spirit.

The highpoint of Crime and Punishments “underground metaphysics” is unveiled when Christ is seen to be the center and turning point around which all desire is mediated and thus moved. The novel is Christocentric in focus and cast in a Johannine hue. This unveiling occurs in Part Four in that extraordinary first conversation—around “a bent copper candlestick”—between Raskolnikov and Sonya. This conversation pivots around Raskolnikov’s demand that Sonya read the account of the raising of Lazarus from the dead in John (11: 1­–45).[26] It is more than telling that before Raskolnikov demands that she read from the New Testament that he says to her, “But maybe there isn’t any God.”[27] The context of this insinuation occurs in Raskolnikov’s attempt to challenge Sonya’s faith and trust in God; namely, the trust that God will not permit little Polenka to end in a life of prostitution like herself. Raskolnikov’s horrifying cruelty and desire to torment Sonya is on full display.

But what is also displayed is the nature of Raskolnikov’s atheism—namely, he is a Christ-haunted atheist. And hence the one who cruelly insinuates to Sonya “But maybe there isn’t any God” is the same one who a few minutes later insists that she read the passage that contains the words, “I am the resurrection and the life.” This is desire’s doubling, which Christ’s life and death provokes. Even if God’s death is proclaimed one must still face the possibility that Christ’s death may have resulted in the Resurrection.

In the ordeal of God’s death being undergone by Dostoevsky’s rebels, Christ remains as the possibility of belief and resurrection. This pattern will reappear in nonidentical repetitions with Kirillov and Stavrogin in Demons and with Ivan in The Brothers Karamazov, and even with the strange ambiguity of the Prince’s faith in The Idiot. And this ordeal is ever tied with the mimetic mediation of Christic desire.

Returning to our present hero, the desirous belief in Christ is mediated in the written words of John that record the words of the Word, and further, the actions and words of the witnessing believers contained therein. Christ is mediated again in the living witness of Sonya who believes so intensely that Raskolnikov will be resurrected, like Lazarus. Dostoevsky shows in this extraordinary scene that the central drama of Christianity concerns the mediating mimesis and witnessing to Christ passed on through Scripture and through centuries of flowing Christic desire—enflaming and co-mediating the Mediator’s original agapeic desire. Christianity is the event of love’s intermediation centered around Christ who mediates between the love of the heavenly Father and humanity through the free-flowing Spirit.

Dostoevsky’s apocalyptic artistry of underground desire shows a battle for and against Christic mimesis, between the believing “harlot” and the unbelieving Christ-haunted atheist and “murderer”—a battle of folly. Raskolnikov, in his mind, calls Sonya a “holy fool” (yurodivyi) and remarking to himself further, “One might well become a holy fool oneself here! It’s catching!” Raskolnikov’s draw to Sonya, is the draw to her desire for Christ which he is so fiercely battling against.[28] This draw is powerful and “catching.” Timid Sonya’s faith-filled “secret” that sustains her in the life of prostitution is unveiled when she turns to the words of life.

And for a time—for a brief kairotic moment—this passive and suffering being is overcome and transformed by “a tormenting desire to read, in spite of all her anguish and apprehension, and precisely for him, so that he would hear it, and precisely now— ‘whatever might come of it afterwards.’”[29] When she reads there is “an iron ring in her voice” and the belief that “he too will believe.”[30] She reads, “as if she were seeing it with her own eyes”—the raising of Lazarus.[31]

Sonya’s desire, within this inspired kairotic moment reading the Fourth Gospel, is like Christ’s—wholly kenotic. The intensity of her reading is expressive of the agapeic essence of her desire spilling forth solely for Raskolnikov’s good, rooted in the belief of his coming conversion, resurrection. The potent living witness of Sonya’s weak strength is a mediation of faithful desire that shows Raskolnikov what he knows, but as of yet cannot comprehend. He says, “I need you, and so I’ve come to you.”[32] But he immediately usurps the frail truth of this need into the lie of his desire to transgress the frailty of his humanity by reading and co-opting Sonya’s life of prostitution as analogous to his own crime. That is, he wilfully interprets Sonya’s life of prostitution as a transgressive act akin to his (double) murder. Sonya too has transgressed, taken, and destroyed life—her own.

He is inviting her as a perverted and inverted transgressive companion on his peregrination to his coming “kingdom of reason and light and . . . will and strength.” In time, he tells her, she will eventually understand, “Freedom and power, but above all, power! Over all trembling creatures, over the whole antheap! . . . that is the goal! Remember it!”[33] She who was just looked upon as a simpleminded “holy fool” now looks upon “him as at a madman” proclaiming a kingdom of light-bearing reason and the lie of power’s transgressive self-deification. Dostoevsky’s apocalyptic artistry shows a clash of two kingdoms occurring in the fleshed underground of desire being pulled to the Christic center.

This artistry depicts a mimetic battle of the folly of the Cross, and the idiotic belief in Resurrection, against the madness of light-bearing reason blinded by the desire for power and its refusal to convert. So is the extraordinary confrontation between the holy foolery of Sonya, the faith-filled “harlot,” and Raskolnikov, the rationalistic double “murderer,” madly raving about the coming kingdom of “light,” “reason,” and “power.” After the Word’s descent into flesh, life is but desire’s choice between two forms of madness and which one will be imitated.

EDITORIAL NOTE: This reflection is related to the early stage of Philip Gonzales’s recent grant from Widening Horizons in Philosophical Theology run out of the University of St. Andrews and funded by Templeton Religion Trust. The title of his grant project is: “Analogical Metaphysics and Incarnate Mimetic Desire.”

[1] Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot, trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (New York: Everyman’s Library, 2002), 372.

[2] These are, of course, the opening words of Faust spoken by Raphael and thus bespeak something of the cosmic heavenly truth of reality that Gabriel and Michael echo in turn. But these words of praise are already haunted by Mephistopheles’s refusal to praise—for they are the opening lines of the ensuing drama of refusal and pact. Thus, when one cites them (as Ippolit does) they always already partly carry with them the whole context of what is to come.

[3] Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage Books, 1974), aphorism 125.

[4] Fyodor Dostoevsky, Demons, trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (New York: Everyman’s Library, 1994), 536.

[5] The Idiot, 227. Both the Prince and Ippolit make reference to this line. The Prince makes reference to it when relating to Rogozhin (in Moscow) the “mystical experience” of his falling sickness in that aura or moment before epileptic fits, Part Two,V, 227. Ippolit does it before reading “My Necessary Explanation” in a hysterical threat of suicide, Part Three, V, 383.

[6] As Girard rightly says, “Dostoevsky is the prophet of the whole series of deification of the individual which have been proclaimed since the end of the nineteenth century” (Girard, Deceit, Desire & the Novel trans. Yvonne Freccero [Baltimore, Maryland: The John Hopkins University Press, 1976], 278).

[7] Cormack McCarty, The Road (New York: Vintage Books, 2006), 15.

[8] The Gay Science, aphorism 125.

[9] Ibid., aphorism 108.

[10] Ibid., aphorism 343.

[11] Ibid., aphorism 343.

[12] The finished chapter will treat The Idiot (1868), Demons (1871–2), and The Brothers Karamazov (1879–80).

[13] For this phrase see René Girard, Resurrection from the Underground: Feodor Dostoevsky ed. and trans. by James G. Williams (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2012), especially, but not exclusively, chapter 3, “Underground Metaphysics,” 29–50.

[14] Mikhail Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics ed. and trans. by Caryl Emerson (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), 31–32.

[15] Nicholas Berdyaev, Dostoevsky an Interpretation trans. Donald Attwater (San Rafael, CA: Semantron Press,2009), 207.

[16] Ibid., 170.

[17] Deceit, Desire & the Novel, 288

[18] Cited in, David M. Bethea, The Shape of the Apocalypse in Modern Russian Fiction (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1989), 34.

[19] Crime and Punishment, 261

[20] Ibid., 183.

[21] Ibid., 187.

[22] Ibid., 188.

[23] Ibid., 188.

[24] It is more than curious that Lizaveta is absent in his prayer and this is most often the case in the novel when he is reflecting back on the murder.

[25] Ibid., 188.

[26] Ibid., 315.

[27] Ibid., 321.

[28] Metaphysically speaking, because Christ is the true Mediator of desire, Sonya’s imitation does not make her a copy of univocal undifferentiation, rather her conformity of desire to Christ frees her into her own singularity. Thus, Raskolnikov’s draw to Sonya is to Christ and to her non-identical repetition of him and thus her uniqueness.

[29] Crime and Punishment, 326.

[30] Ibid., 327.

[31] Ibid., 328.

[32] Ibid., 329.

[33] Ibid., 329–30.

Feature Image: Duccio, Calling of Peter and Andrew, 1308; Source: Wikimedia, PD-Old-100.


Philip Gonzales

Philip Gonzales is a Lecturer in Philosophy at the Pontifical University of St. Patrick's College Maynooth. He is the author of Reimagining the Analogia Entis: The Future of Erich Przywara's Christian Vision.

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