THE REVELATION ABOUT MAN
IN THE CREATIVITY
Thou didst take everything, that is unusual,
conjectural and indefinite, Thou didst take
everything that was beyond the powers of
people, and there didst behave as though
loving them not at all.
Legend of the Grand Inquisitor
Dostoevsky had one thing very inherent to him, an unprecedented regard for man and for his destiny — here is where it is necessary to see his pathos, here is with what is connected the uniqueness of his creative type. For Dostoevsky there is nothing and naught else than man, everything is revealed only in him, everything is subordinated only to him. N. Strakhov, who was close to him, noted: “All his attention was directed upon people, and he grasped at only their nature and character. He was interested by people, people exclusively, with their state of soul, with the manner of their lives, their feelings and thoughts”. In the journey abroad “Dostoevsky was especially occupied neither by nature, nor by historical memorials, nor works of art”. And this is attested to by all the creativity of Dostoevsky. No one ever had such an exclusive preoccupation with the theme of man. And no one had such a genius for revealing the mystery of human nature. Dostoevsky was, first of all, a great anthropologist, an investigator of human nature, its depth and its mystery. All his creativity — is of anthropological experiences and experiments. Dostoevsky — is not a realist as an artist, he is an experimentator, a creator of an experimential metaphysics of human nature. All the artistry of Dostoevsky is but a method of anthropological searchings and disclosings. He is not only beneathe Tolstoy as an artist, but also in the strict sense of this word, he cannot be termed an artist. That, which Dostoevsky writes, — is not a novel and it is not tragedy, it assumes no set form of artistic creativity. And this is ultimately some sort of a great artistry, wholly captivating, pulling one into its peculiar world, working magically. But it is impossible to approach this artistry with the usual criteria and demands. Nothing is easier, than to point out the artistic defects in the novels of Dostoevsky. In them there is no artistic catharsis, they are tormented, they always transgress the limits of art. The plots in the novels of Dostoevsky are improbable, the persons unreal, the collisions of all the influential persons at one place and at the same time — with always the impossible tension, strained beyond the purposes of the anthropological experiment, where all the heroes speak with one voice, at times very vulgar, and with several places bringing to mind the crime novels of less than lofty quality. And it is only through misunderstanding of these novel-tragedies that they can seem realistic. In these novels there is nothing epic in scope, there is no depiction of manner of life, there is no objective depiction of human and natural life. The novels of Tolstoy, perhaps the most perfect of all those ever written, give the sensation, as though cosmic life has disclosed them, as though the very soul of the world wrote them. In Dostoevsky it is impossible to find such, as snatched from life, real people of flesh and blood. All the heroes of Dostoevsky — are actually himself, the different sides of his particular spirit. The complexity of plot in his novels is a revealing of man in various aspects, from various sides. He discloses and depicts eternal elements of the human spirit. In the depth of human nature he reveals God and the devil and endless worlds, but always he reveals through man and from out of some sort of frenzied interest in man. In Dostoevsky there is no nature, there is no cosmic life, there are no things nor objects, everything is enveloped by man and the endless human world, everything is enclosed within man. Within mankind however there are at play frenzied, ecstatic, swirling elements. Dostoevsky exerts an allure, he pulls everything together into a sort of fiery atmosphere. And all else becomes insipid after one sojourns in the realm of Dostoevsky, he kills the taste for the reading of other writers. The artistry of Dostoevsky is altogether of a peculiar sort. He produced his anthropological investigations through artistry, whilst drawing on the mysterious depths of human nature. Within these depths always there is involved a frenzied and ecstatic whirlwind. And this whirlwind is a method of anthropological revealings. Everything written by Dostoevsky is of a whirlwind-like anthropology, everything there is revealed in an ecstatic-fiery atmosphere. Dostoevsky reveals a new mystical science of man. Access to this science is possible only for those, which have been drawn into the whirlwind. This is the path of initiation into the mystery-knowledge of Dostoevsky. In this science and its methods nothing is static, everything — is dynamic, everything is in motion, there is nothing congealed or petrified or at a standstill, this — is a torrent of red-hot lava. Everything is passionate, everything frenzied in the anthropology of Dostoevsky, everything goes beyond the boundaries and limits. To Dostoevsky was given to know man in his passionate, impetuous, frenzied stirrings. There is nothing of a noble aspect to the human persons revealed by Dostoevsky, none of that Tolstoyan nobleness, always detected at some static moment.
Here for example is the “Adolescent” (“Podrostok”), one of the most genius-endowed and as yet insufficiently esteemed works of Dostoevsky. Everything revolves around the image of Versilov, everything is saturated by an impassioned relationship to him, by the human attraction and repulsion of him. The story concerns an adolescent, the illegitimate son of Versilov. No one is occupied by any sort of work, no one has an otherwise organic place in the established order of life, everything is off the beaten track, off the paths of orderly life, everything is in an hysteria and frenzy. Yet all the same there is the sense that everyone is at some immense deed, infinitely serious, and that they will resolve very important tasks. What indeed is this deed, what is this task? About it fusses the adolescent from morning til evening, whither it is that he hastens, and why has he not a moment of respite nor rest? In the usual sense of the word the adolescent — is a complete idler, as is also his father Versilov, as also are almost all the active personages in the novels of Dostoevsky. But all the same, Dostoevsky gives the impression that an important, serious, Divine deed is transpiring. Man for Dostoevsky is higher than any deed, he is also himself the deed. There is posited the living enigma about Versilov, about man, about his destiny, about the Divine image within him. The resolution of these riddles is a great deed, the greatest of deeds. The adolescent wants to discover the mystery of Versilov. This mystery is hidden within the depths of man. All sense the significance of Versilov, all are struck by the contradictions of his nature, for all there is thrown into their gaze something deeply irrational in his character and in his life. The enigma of the complicated, contradictory, irrational character of Versilov with his strange fate, the riddle of an extraordinary man is for him a riddle about man in general. The whole complicated plot, the complex intrigue of the novel is but a means for the revealing of the man Versilov, for the revealing of complex human nature, about the antinomies of its passions. The mystery of the nature of man is disclosed most of all in the relations of men and women. And about love Dostoevsky happened to reveal something unprecedented in Russian and world literature, he had a fiery concept of love. The love of Versilov and Katerina Nikolaevna pulls in such an element of fiery passion, as nowhere and never existed. This fiery passion was concealed beneathe an outward appearance of calm. At times it seems, that Versilov — is the Vulcan of yore. But this impresses upon us also all the more sharply the image of Versilov’s love. Dostoevsky shows the contradiction, the polarity and the antinomy in the very nature of this fiery passion. Such a verymost intense love is unrealisable upon the earth, it is hopeless, desperately tragic, it begets death and destruction. Dostoevsky does not like to take man in the set living order of the world. He always shows us man in the desperately hopeless and tragic, in the contradictions, leading to the very depths. Such is the utmost type of man, manifest by Dostoevsky.
In the “Idiot”, perhaps the most artistically perfect of Dostoevsky’s works, everything likewise exhausts itself in the world of fiery human relationships. Prince Myshkin journeys to Peterburg and at once he is caught up in the red-hot ecstatic atmosphere of people’s relations, which takes hold of him completely and into which he brings his own tranquil ecstasy, evoking violent whirlwinds. The image of Myshkin — is a genuine revealing of a Christian Dionysianism. Myshkin does nothing, just as with all the heroes of Dostoevsky, he is not bothered with having to order his life. The immense and serious living task, which was set before him when he fell into the whirlwind of human relationships, — this is something pertaining to the destiny of every man, and first of all to two women — Nasta’ya Philippovna and Aglaya. In “The Adolescent” everything is concerned with but one man — with Versilov. In the “Idiot” one man — Myshkin — is concerned with everything. Both there and here transpires an exclusive absorption in the solving of human destinies. The antinomic duality of the nature of human love reveals itself in the “Idiot” at its utmost depth. Myshkin loves with a different love both Nastas’ya Philippovna and Aglaya, and this love cannot bring forth any sort of results. There is immediately a sense, that the love for Nastas’ya Philippovna is endlessly tragic and will lead to ruin. And Dostoevsky reveals here the nature of human love and its fate in this world. This — is not a piecemeal and ordinary narration, but rather anthropologic knowledge, revealed through ecstatic immersion of man in the fiery red-hot atmosphere, shown in depth. A passionate, fiery connection exists between Myshkin and Rogozhin. Dostoevsky perceived, that love for a single woman not only separates people, but also it unites them, binds them. Otherwise, in other tones, this bond, this connection is depicted in the “Eternal Husband” (“Vechnyi muzh”), one of the genius-endowed works of Dostoevsky. In the “Idiot” it is very clearly apparent, that Dostoevsky was entirely interested not by the objective order of life, the natural and the social, he was not interested in the epic event, the stasis of living forms, of attaining and evaluating the ordering of life, be it familial, social, cultural. What interested him only were the genius-endowed experiments over human nature. Everything remains with him in the depths, not on this plane, where the apparent life is manifest, but in a completely different dimension.
In the “Possessed” (or the “Devils”, “Besy”) everything is concentrated around Stavrogin, as in “The Adolescent” it was around Versilov. To define the relationship to Stavrogin, to resolve his character and his fate is a singularly vital matter, around which is concentrated the action. Everything is drawn towards him, everything is merely his fate, his emanation, effected from his demonic-possession. The destiny of man, issuing forth by his power into the infinitude of his yearnings, — here is what comprises the theme of the “Possessed”. The person, from whom the narrative proceeds, is totally absorbed by the world of human passions and the human demonic-possession, encircling round about Stavrogin. And in the “Possessed” there is nothing of value attained, no sort of building up, nothing of any sort organic realised in life. It is all indeed this riddle about man and the passionate thirst to resolve it. We are dragged into the fiery torrent, and in this torrent melt down and burn off all the congealed trappings, all the stable forms, all the chilled-down and established modalities of existence, impeding the revelation about man, about his depth, about his goings forth into the very depths of the contradictions. The depths of man for Dostoevsky are always shown as unexpressed, unmanifest, unrealised and unrealisable til the end. The revealing of the depths of man always leads to catastrophe, beyond the bounds and limits of the felicitous life of this world.
In the novel, the “Insulted and the Humiliated” (“Prestuplenii i nakazanii”) there is nothing, except the revealing of the inner life of man, his experimenting over his unique nature and human nature in general, besides the discovering of all the possibilities and impossibilities, situated within man. But the anthropological discovery in the “Insulted and the Humiliated” leads otherwise, than in the other novels, in it there is no such strained passionateness of human relations, there is no such revealing of a single human person through the human manifold. Of all the works of Dostoevsky, the “Insulted and the Humiliated” most of all brings to mind the experience of a new science of man.
The “Brothers Karamazov” — is the richest in content, abundant with thoughts of genius, though also not very perfective a work of Dostoevsky. Here again the problem about man is put into an impassioned and strained atmosphere of human multiplicity. Alyosha, — least successful of the depictions of Dostoevsky, — sees his singular vital task in having an active relationship with his brothers Ivan and Dmitrii, with the women connected with them — Grushen’ka and Katerina Ivanovna, and to the children. But he is not bothered with building a life. Drawn into the whirlwind of human passions, he goes now to one, now to another, to attempt to resolve the human enigma. Most of all does the enigma of his brother Ivan intrigue him. Ivan — is a worldly enigma, the problem of man in general. And everything, which in Dostoevsky is connected with Ivan Karamazov, is a profound metaphysics of man. The participation of Ivan Karamazov in the murder, done by Smerdyakov, — this his other half, the stinging conscience of Ivan, the conversation with the devil, — all this is anthropologic experiment, the discovery of the possibilities and impossibilities of human nature, its but with difficulty grasped, most subtle experiencings of an inward murder. Through a favourite device of Dostoevsky, Mitya is set betwixt two women, and the love of Mitya leads to ruination. Nothing that is possible is realised in the external order of life, everything possible transpires in the infinite, inexplicable depths. Dostoevsky thus also did not show the realising of a felicitous life by Alyosha, since indeed it was not very needful for the anthropological investigations. Positive felicity is given in the form of the discourse of Starets Zosima, and it is no accident that Dostoevsky has him die off near the very beginning of the novel. His further continued existence would merely have made maddening the revealing of all the contradictions and polarities of human nature. All the primary novels of Dostoevsky bespeak this, that what interests him only is man and human relations, that he but follows out human nature, and by his artistic-experimental method, so very revealing with him, he reveals all the contradictions of human nature, plunging it into a fiery and ecstatic atmosphere.
How profound the distinction between Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. In Tolstoy the human countenance sinks down into the organic elements. Multiplicity for him was merely modality, merely in the appearances of the organic array of life. As an artist and a thinker, Tolstoy — was a monist. The facelessness, the roundness of Platon Karataev is for him the highest attainment. Man for him does not go into the very depths, he — is always a phenomenon on the periphery of being. The question of man does not torture Tolstoy, only the question of God tortures him. For Dostoevsky however the question of God is connected with the question of man. Tolstoy is more the theologian, than is Dostoevsky. The matter of Raskol’nikov and the matter of Ivan Karamazov is a tormentive question about man, about the limits, set for man. And even when Myshkin sinks into a quiet mindlessness, it remains accurate, that the human countenance does not disappear into Divine ecstasy. Dostoevsky reveals to us the ecstasy of man, his whirlwind stirrings, but never and nowhere does man for him plunge away into cosmic infinitude, as for example, in the creativity of A. Bely. Ecstasy always is but a stirring in the depths of man. The exclusive interest of Dostoevsky towards transgressions was purely an anthropological interest. This — was an interest in the limits and boundaries of human nature. But even in transgression, which for Dostoevsky always is frenzy, man does not perish and he does not disappear, but rather is affirmed and reborn.
It is necessary still to stress one peculiarity of Dostoevsky. He is extraordinarily, diabolically skillful, his thoughts unusually acute, his dialectic terribly powerful. Dostoevsky — is a great thinker within his artistic creativity, and foremost of all he is an artist of thought. From the greatest artists in the world as regards strength of mind, there might in part compare together with him only Shakespeare, also a great investigator of human nature. The works of Shakespeare are fully pervaded by an acuity of mind, — of the Renaissance mind. The abyss of the mind, of a different but still more immense and pervasive aspect, is revealed by Dostoevsky. Merely but from the “Notes from the Underground” (“Zapiski iz podpol’ya”) and the “Legend of the Grand Inquisitor” is presented an enormous mental wealth. He was even too skillful for an artist, his mind impeded the attainment of artistic catharsis. And here it is necessary to note, that the Dionysianism and ecstacism of Dostoevsky did not quench his mind and thought, as often this occurs, it did not submerge the acuity of mind and thought into the mindlessness of a Divine intoxication. Dostoevsky the mystic, the enemy and unmasker of rationalism and intellectualism, adored thought, he was enamoured with dialectic. Dostoevsky presents an extraordinary manifestation of orgianism, of an ecstaticism of thought itself, he was intoxicated by the power of his mind. His thought is always whirlwind-like, orgiastically frenzied, but with this it does not diminish in strength and acuity. With the example of his creativity Dostoevsky showed, that the surmounting of rationalism and the disclosing of the irrationality of life is not invariably a diminution of mind, that the acuity of mind itself facilitates the revealing of irrationality. This original peculiarity of Dostoevsky is connected with the theme, that for him to the very end man remains, he is never dissolved into an impersonal oneness. Therefore he acutely knows the antithetical. In monism of the German type there is depth, but not an acuity, a pervasiveness of thought, yielding knowledge of antitheses, and everything instead sinks into oneness. Goethe was vastly endowed with genius, but it does not obtain to say for him, that he was vastly skilled, in his mind there was not the acuity, there was not the pervasive penetration into the antithetical. Dostoevsky always thought antithetically and by this he sharpened his thought. Monophysitism dulls the acuity of thought. Dostoevsky indeed always saw in the depths not only God, but man also, not only unity, but multiplicity also, not only the one, but also the antithetical to it. The acuity of his thoughts is in the polarisation of the thoughts. Dostoevsky — is a great, a greatest thinker foremost in his artistic creativity, in his novels. In the journalistic articles, however, the strength and acuity of his thought was weakened and dulled. Within his Slavophil agrarian and Orthodox ideology is missing that trait of the antithetical and the polarity, disclosed within his mind acute with genius. He was mediocre as a journalist, and when he began to preach, his level of thought lowered; his ideas simplified. Even his famed speech about Pushkin tended quite to exaggeration. The thoughts in this speech and the thoughts in the “Diary of a Writer” (“Dnevnik pisatelya”) are insipid and bland in comparison with the thoughts of Ivan Karamazov, of Versilov or Kirillov, in comparison with the thoughts of the “Legend of the Grand Inquisitor” or the “Notes from the Underground”.
Many a time already it has been noted, that Dostoevsky, as an artist, was tormented, that in him there was nothing of the artistic catharsic-cleansing and egress. This egress has been sought for in the positive ideas and setting of belief partly in the “Brothers Karamazov”, and partly in the “Diary of a Writer”. This reflects a false attitude towards Dostoevsky. He is in anguish, but never does he remain in darkness, in despair. With him there is always an ecstatic egress. He pulls with his whirlwind beyond all the boundaries, he rends the limits of every darkness. That ecstasy, which is experienced during the reading of Dostoevsky, is an egress already by itself. This egress mustneeds be searched out not in the doctrines and ideological constructs of Dostoevsky the preacher and the publicist, not in the “Diary of a Writer”, but in his tragedy novels, in that artistic gnosis, which is revealed in them. It would be a mistake to set forth a platform upon the not entirely successful image of Alyosha as a bright point of egress from the darkness of Ivan and Dmitrii and the earlier accumulated darkness of Raskol’nikov, Stavrogin, Versilov. This would be a doctrinal attitude to the creativity of Dostoevsky. The egress is without preaching and without moralising, in a great shining forth of ecstatic knowledge, in the very immersion into the fiery human element. Dostoevsky is poor in theology, he is rich however in his anthropological investigations. With Dostoevsky, only the question about man is profoundly put. Questions about society and the state were put by him, however, with not much originality. His preaching of theocracy is almost banal. But in him it is necessary to seek out his strength. The highest of all and first of all for Dostoevsky — is the human soul, it stands greater than all the kingdoms and all the worlds, than all world history, than all the reknown progress. In the process transpiring within Mitya Karamazov, Dostoevsky revealed the incommensurability of the cold, objective, unhuman civil realm in contrast to that of the soul of man, the incapacity of the civil realm to penetrate to the righteous truth of the soul. But he poorly perceived the nature of the civil realm. Dostoevsky is regarded as a criminalist in terms of his themes and interests. He dealt most of all with the revealing of the psychology of transgression. But this is merely the method, by which he carries out his investigation into the irrationality of human nature and its incompatibility with any sort of ordered life, — whether it be with any sort of rational civil realm, or with any sort of the tasks of history or of progress. Dostoevsky had a fiery religious nature and was a most Christian of writers. But he was a Christian first of all and most of all in his artistic revealings about man, and not in any sort of preachings or doctrines.
And Stavrogin speaks about the various attractions of the two antithetical poles, the Madonna ideal and the Sodomic ideal. This is not a simple struggle of good with evil in the human heart. In this it is also a matter, that for Dostoevsky the human heart at its most primary basis — is polarised, and this polarisation begets a fiery stirring, which does not permit of peace. Peace, having unity within the human heart, within the human soul, is seen not by those, which like Dostoevsky glance into the very depths, but rather by those, which fear to glance into the abyss and remain hence at the surface. With Dostoevsky to the very depths there was an antinomic attitude towards evil. He wants always to acknowledge the mystery of evil, and in this he was a gnostic, he did not push out evil into the sphere of the unknowable, nor did he discard it altogether. Evil was for him evil, evil blazed for him in the hellish fire, and he passionately strove for the victory over evil. But he wanted to do something with evil, to transform it into an handsome metal, onto an higher Divine being and by this to save evil, i.e. to genuinely conquer it, and not relegate it to the outer darkness. This — is a profoundly mystical motif in Dostoevsky, a revelation of his great heart, of his fiery love for man and for Christ. The falling away, the separation, the apostacy never appeared for Dostoevsky simply as sin, this was for him likewise — a pathway. He does not read morally over the living tragedies of Raskol’nikov, Stavrogin, Kirillov, Versilov, Dmitrii and Ivan Karamazov, he does not set opposite them any elementary catechism truths. Evil mustneeds be overcome and conquered, but it provides also an enriching experience, in division much is revealed, it enriches and provides knowledge. Evil likewise is a path also of man. And everyone, who has gone through Dostoevsky and experienced him, has recognised the mystery of dichotomy, has received the knowledge of the antithetical, is outfitted in the struggle with evil by a new mighty armour — by the knowledge of evil, has received the possibility to overcome it from within, and not merely externally to flee from it and cast it away, remaining powerless in the face of its dark element. Man makes his way through the progression of the heroes of Dostoevsky and attains to maturity, an inner freedom in relation to evil. But in Dostoevsky there is a separation of the dual and inverted likenesses to illusory being, of rejects upon the path of development. Suchlike are Svidrigalov, Peter Verkhovensky, the eternal husband, Smerdyakov. This — is but the chaff of straw, for they do not truly exist. These beings lead a vampire-like existence.
By theme and by the method of an immanent dialectic, Dostoevsky reveals the Divine foundation of man, the image of God in man, in the power of which not “everything is permissible”. This theme about whether all is permissible, i.e. of what are the limits and the possibilities of human nature, persistently was of interest to Dostoevsky, and he returns to it constantly. This — is the theme of Raskol’nikov and of Ivan Karamazov. Neither Raskol’nikov, a man of thought and action, nor Ivan Karamazov, exclusively a man of thought, were able to overstep the bounds, with all the tragedy of their lives they are forced to repudiate, that all is permissible. But wherefore indeed not permissible? Can it be said, that they took fright, that they sensed themselves ordinary people? The anthropologic dialectic of Dostoevsky suggests otherwise. Of the infinite value of every human soul, though it be the very least, of every human person he indicates, that it is not at all permissible, it is not permissible to scorn the human person, its conversion into a mere means is not permissible. The narrowed down of the scope of possibilities with him is drawn from the infinite expanse of the vast possibilities of every human soul. A transgressive enroachment upon man is an enroachment upon this infinity, upon the infinite possibilities. Dostoevsky always affirms the Divine infinite value of the human soul, of the human person against every enroachment, simultaneously both against transgression, and against theories of progress. This — is a sort of ecstatic sense of the person and personal destiny. It is admissible to think, that Dostoevsky was all his life most tormented by the question about the immortality of the soul. But the question about immortality was for him also a question about the nature of man and about human destiny. This — was an anthropological interest. Not only the question about immortality, but also the question about God was subjected in Dostoevsky to the question about man and his eternal destiny. God for him is revealed within the depths of man and through man. God and immortality are revealed through the love of people, the relationship of man to man. But man himself is audaciously exalted by him, lifted to an extraordinary height. The little tears of a child, the weeping of children — this is all a question about the human destiny, posited by love. Because of the fate of man in this world Dostoevsky was prepared not to accept the world of God. All the dialectic of Ivan Karamazov, and also other of the heroes, — is his own especial dialectic. But with Dostoevsky himself everything is more complex and richer than it is for his heroes, he knows more than them. The chief thing that Dostoevsky finds need to search out is not in humility (“be thou humbled, haughty man”), it is not in the consciousness of sin, but in the mystery of man, in freedom. With L. Tolstoy, man — is under the law. With Dostoevsky, man — is in grace, in freedom.
In this genius-endowed metaphysical poem, perhaps the greatest of all written by mankind, Dostoevsky reveals the struggle of two principles in the world — of Christ and of Anti-Christ, of freedom and of compulsion. The Grand Inquisitor speaks all the time as the enemy of freedom, scorning man, wanting to make happy though compulsion. But in this negative form Dostoevsky reveals his positive teaching about man, about his infinite worthiness, about his infinite freedom. That which was foreshadowed in negative form in the “Notes from the Underground”, now in a positive form is revealed in this poem. This — is a poem about the proud and lofty freedom of man, about the infinite height of his vocation, about the infinite abilities lodged within man. In this poem is situated a completely exclusive sensation of Christ. It is striking the similarity of the spirit of Christ with the spirit of Zarathustra. The Anti-Christ principle — is not Kirillov with his striving towards man-godhood, but rather the Grand Inquisitor with his striving to deprive people of freedom in the name of happiness. The Anti-Christ for Vl. Solov’ev possesses features, akin to the Grand Inquisitor. The spirit of Christ values freedom more than happiness, the spirit of Anti-Christ values happiness more than freedom. The higher, the God-image worthiness of man demands the right to arbitrary freedom and to suffering. Man — is a tragic being, and in this is a sign of his belonging not only to this, but also to another world. For a tragic being, containing infinity within him, the penultimate order, tranquility and happiness upon the earth is possible only by way of renunciation of freedom, of renunciation of the image of God within him. The thoughts of the underground man are transformed in the new Christian revelation, they proceed through the cleansing fire of all the tragedies of Dostoevsky. The “Legend of the Grand Inquisitor” is a revelation about man, set into an intimate connection with the revelation of Christ. This — is an aristocratic anthropology. The Anti-Christ can assume various and very contrary guises, from the very Catholic to the very socialistic, from the very much of Caesar to the very democratic. But the Anti-Christ principle always is hostile to man, destructive of the dignity of man. That blindingly inverted light, which falls from the demonic words of the Grand Inquisitor, comprises within itself more religious a revelation, than the discourse of Zosima, than the image of Alyosha. And herein it becomes necessary to search out the key to the great anthropological revelations of Dostoevsky, for his positive religious idea concerning man.
The creativity of Dostoevsky is in full not only a revelation about human nature in general, but also particular revelations about the nature of Russian man, about the Russian soul. And in this no one can compare with him. He penetrates into the profoundest metaphysics of the Russian spirit. Dostoevsky revealed the polarity of the Russian spirit as its profoundest peculiarity. What a distinctness there is in this Russian spirit from the monism of the German spirit! When a German plunges himself into the depths of his spirit, he finds Divineness in the depths, and all polarities and all contradictions dissipate. And therein it transpires, that for the German in the depths man is dissipated away, man exists merely on the periphery, only in appearance, and not in essence. Russian man is more contradictory and antinomic, than is the Western, within us is conjoined the soul of Asia and the soul of Europe, of East and West. This discloses great possibilities for Russian man. Man is less open and less active in Russia, than in the West, but he more complex and rich in his depths, in the inwardness of his life. The nature of man, of the human soul ought most of all to reveal itself in Russia. In Russia is possible a new religious anthropology. Separatism, the roving and wandering — are Russian traits. Western man is more of the soil, he is more faithful to traditions and more subject to norms. Russian man is expansive. Vastness, unboundedness, unlimitedness — is not only a material property of the Russian nature, but also its metaphysical and spiritual property, its more inward dimension. Dostoevsky displayed a dreadsome and fiery-passioned Russian element, which lay obscured for Tolstoy and the Populist writers. He artfully revealed within the cultural intelligentsia stratum that selfsame terrifying sensuous element, that among the people’s stratum found its expression in the Khlysty. This orgiastic ecstatic element lived within Dostoevsky himself, and to the depths he was a Russian in this element. He investigated the metaphysical hysteria of the Russian spirit. This hysteria is from the formlessness of the Russian spirit, a lack of subjection to limit and norm. Dostoevsky revealed, that Russian man always is needful of mercy and is himself sparing. In the order of Western life there is a mercilessness, connected with the subjection of man to discipline and norm. And Russian man is more human than Western man. With what Dostoevsky revealed about the nature of Russian man, is connected both the greatest possibilities, and the greatest dangers. The spirit still has not attained mastery over the soul element in Russian man. In Russian man the nature is less active, than in West, but in Russia there is inherent a greater human wealth, greater human possibilities, than in the measured-out and boundaried Europe. And in the Russian idea, Dostoevsky saw the “all-humanness” of Russian man, his infinite expanse and infinite possibilities. Dostoevsky constitutes everything from the contradictions, just like the soul of Russia. The way out, which is sensed from the readings of Dostoevsky, is by way of an egress through gnostic revelations about man. Dostoevsky created an extraordinary type of artistic-gnostic anthropology, his method is one of drawing into the depths of the human spirit through an ecstatic whirlwind. But the ecstatic whirlwinds of Dostoevsky are spiritual and therefore they never shatter the image of man. Dostoevsky alone did not fear, that in ecstasy and boundlessness man would disappear. The limits and forms of the human person are always connected with Apollonism. With Dostoevsky alone the form of ma, his eternal image remains also within spiritual Dionysianism. Even transgression does not annihilate man for him. And death is not terrifying for him, since for him eternity always is revealed in man. He — is an artist not in that impersonal abyss, in which there is no image of man, but of an human abyss, of human fathomlessness. In this he is foremost in the world of writers, of world geniuses, one of the foremost minds, as is seldom seen in history. This great mind was entirely in an active relationship to man, he revealed other worlds through man. Dostoevsky was like Russia, with all its darkness and light. And he — is the greatest contribution of Russia to the spiritual life of the whole world. Dostoevsky — is a most Christian writer, since at the centre for him stands man, stands human love and the disclosure of the human soul. He fully — is the revelation of the heart of the human being, the Heart of Jesus!
© 2002 by translator Fr. S. Janos
(1918 – 294 – en)
OTKROVENIE O CHELOVEKE V TVORCHESTVE DOSTOEVSKOGO. Published in Journal “Russkaya Mysl'”, March-April 1918, p. 39-61.
Article subsequently reprinted and included by YMCA Press Paris in 1989 in the Berdyaev Collection: “Tipy religioznoi mysli v Rossii”, (Tom III), p. 68-98.