Dostoevsky and the Affirmation of Life

Overview

Dostoevsky’s philosophy of life is unfolded in this searching analysis of his five greatest works: Notes from the Underground, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Possessed, and The Brothers Karamazov. Predrag Cicovacki deals with a fundamental issue in Dostoevsky’s opus neglected by all of his commentators: How can we affirm life and preserve a healthy optimism in the face of an increasingly troublesome reality? This work displays the vital significance of Dostoevsky’s philosophy for understanding the human ...

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Overview

Dostoevsky’s philosophy of life is unfolded in this searching analysis of his five greatest works: Notes from the Underground, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Possessed, and The Brothers Karamazov. Predrag Cicovacki deals with a fundamental issue in Dostoevsky’s opus neglected by all of his commentators: How can we affirm life and preserve a healthy optimism in the face of an increasingly troublesome reality? This work displays the vital significance of Dostoevsky’s philosophy for understanding the human condition in the twenty-first century.

The main task of this insightful effort is to reconstruct and examine Dostoevsky’s "aesthetically" motivated affirmation of life, based on cycles of transgression and restoration. If life has no meaning, as his central figures claim, it is absurd to affirm life and pointless to live. Since Dostoevsky’s doubts concerning the meaning of life resonate so deeply in our own age of pessimism and relativism, the central question of this book, whether Dostoevsky can overcome the skepticism of his most brilliant creation, is innately relevant.

This volume includes a thorough literary analysis of Dostoevsky’s texts, yet even those who have not read all of these novels will find Cicovacki’s analysis interesting and enthralling. The reader will easily extrapolate Cicovacki’s own philosophical interpretation of Dostoevsky’s literary heritage.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"When reason is not enough to grasp the paradoxes and riddles of life, then faith must come to terms with them. It is both refreshing and liberating that Cicovacki, a professor of philosophy not literature, avoids the jargon and cant of literary studies and subsequently feels no need to bow before the altars of various distracting postmodern pieties. This is a solid work of scholarship and common sense… Recommended." —D. Pesta, Choice “Fedor Dostoevskii is commonly perceived as a gloomy writer who focused on the dark side of life, on crime, madness, injustice, and suffering. Predrag Cicovacki finds that, while Dostoevskii’s uncompromising realism led him to depict the manifest evil in the world, his optimistic faith that life has meaning is always discernible. . . . Cicovacki makes a thoughtful case for Dostoevskii’s optimism. . . . [H]e frequently interweaves his study with speculative connections between Dostoevskii’s fiction and numerous artists, writers, thinkers, and philosophers.” —Diane Oenning Thompson, Slavic Review “[A] lively and absorbing journey… Cicovacki’s discriminating and subtle criticism challenges many fixed assumptions about Dostoevsky’s writings and worldview” —Robert L. Jackson, author of Dostoevsky’s Quest for Form and Dialogues with Dostoevsky “This book is a philosophical investigation of a paradox: How does Dostoevsky succeed in uplifting people’s hearts by telling tales full of sound and fury? Predrag Cicovacki’s answer is an inspiring offer to read Dostoevsky’s classics a new, with a figure in the carpet woven by Hegel.” —Horst-Jürgen Gerigk, editor-in-chief of Dostoevsky Studies “[Q]uite possibly the best single volume written in English on the greatest writer of the Nineteenth Century.” —Nalin Ranasinghe, author of The Soul of Socrates and Socrates in the Underworld “[I]nteresting and enthralling.” —Ruben Apressyan, Head of the Department of Ethics at the Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences “No serious student of the writer can afford to overlook this penetrating, erudite and insightful study.” —Joseph Frank, author, Dostoevsky; Stanford University “Cicovacki summarizes Dostoevsky’s religious and moral positions and those of his characters in the light of later critics and earlier thinkers and artists. Whether one accepts or rejects the summaries, the book provokes serious thinking.” —Robert Belknap, professor emeritus and director of university seminars, Columbia University; author, The Genesis of The Brothers Karamazov: The Aesthetics, Ideology, and Psychology of Making a Text
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412853835
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/31/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Predrag Cicovacki is a professor of philosophy at the College of the Holy Cross. His research interests include Kant, violence and nonviolence, and problems of good and evil. He is the author or editor of numerous essays and books, including Destined for Evil?, Albert Schweitzer’s Ethical Vision, and Kant’s Legacy.

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Table of Contents

Prologue Part I Life without Meaning Introduction to Part I 1 Sorrow and Injustice: A World Delivered to Evil? 2 Notes from the Underground: Evil out of Spite? 3 Crime and Punishment: Victimizer or Victim? 4 The Possessed: Is Nothing Sacred? Part II Recovering Life’s Meaning Introduction to Part II 5 The Idiot: The Meaning of Christ’s Sacrifice 6 The Brothers Karamazov (I): The Gift of Life 7 The Brothers Karamazov (II): Meaningless Suffering 8 The Unwritten Novel: A Prodigal Son Returns Epilogue Acknowledgments Bibliography Index

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