THE POLEMICS AS A DIALOGUE: DOSTOEVSKY IN A CONTROVERSY WITH TOLSTOY Cover Image

ПОЛЕМИКА КАК ДИАЛОГ: ДОСТОЕВСКИЙ В СПОРЕ С ТОЛСТЫМ
THE POLEMICS AS A DIALOGUE: DOSTOEVSKY IN A CONTROVERSY WITH TOLSTOY

Author(s): Vladimir Zakharov
Subject(s): Language and Literature Studies, Literary Texts, Fiction, Studies of Literature, Russian Literature, Philology
Published by: Петрозаводский государственный университет
Keywords: Dostoyevsky; the Diary of a Writer; Leo Tolstoy; Anna Karenina;the Russo-Turkish war of 1877—1878; polemics; dialogue; literary criticism; Christian ideal;

Summary/Abstract: Dostoevsky was a writer who actively introduced literary criticism into his novels by adapting critical comments to the nature of the characters. The same principle of the novelization of criticism was used in his Diary of a Writer. Dostoevsky went beyond expressing his opinions about other people’s works, and used to develop “fictitious persons” of critics, to compose their dialogues, to carry on polemics with real and fantastic opponents. The novelization of literary criticism is natural in the poetics of the Diary of a Writer. In the Diary of a Writer of July-August 1877 Dostoevsky argues with Tolstoy about the eighth and the last part of the novel Anna Karenina, rejected by the publishers of The Russian Messenger and was soon published as a separate book. Dostoyevsky highly appreciated the literary value of the novel, the genius of its author, but did not accept his political assessments of the Russo-Turkish war. His polemics with Tolstoy is original: he levels criticism not at the author, but at the hero. Dostoevsky takes in the Christian pathos of Tolstoy, the didactic sense of the epigraph, but blames Levin for his isolation and turning away from Christ as well as for the fact that he refuses to empathize and help his neighbor in the name of abstract principles. Dostoevsky asks Tolstoy a rhetorical question which gives a new meaning to their polemics: what does the writer teach the readers? What does literature teach them about? The answer implies responsibility which the author of the Diary calls the author of Anna Karenina to. In the final dispute an unexpected effect arises: the polemics appear as a dialogue of two geniuses, in which the disagreement makes the opponents achieve consent in front of the truth of the people.

  • Issue Year: 11/2013
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 242-255
  • Page Count: 13
  • Language: English, Russian