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The Image of Christ in Russian Literature
Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Bulgakov, Pasternak
“Givens seeks the role of Christ within the context of Russia’s iconic works, focusing on the paradox of humanity and divinity. The Image of Christ in Russian Literature is a compelling introduction and analysis for scholars from many literary traditions, not just Russian.” —Roy R. Robson, author of Old Believers in Modern Russia
Vladimir Nabokov complained about the number of Dostoevsky’s characters “sinning their way to Jesus.” In truth, Christ is an elusive figure not only in Dostoevsky’s novels, but in Russian literature as a whole. The rise of the historical critical method of biblical criticism in the nineteenth century and the growth of secularism it stimulated made an earnest affirmation of Jesus in literature highly problematic. If they affirmed Jesus too directly, writers paradoxically risked diminishing him, either by deploying faith explanations that no longer persuade in an age of skepticism or by reducing Christ to a mere argument in an ideological dispute.
May 2018 329 pp., 6x9
John Givens is associate professor of Russian and chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Rochester. He is the author of Prodigal Son: Vasilii Shukshin in Soviet Russian Culture, co-translator of Vasily Shukshin’s Stories from a Siberian Village (NIU Press, 1996), and former editor of Russian Studies in Literature.
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