Dostoevskii and Slavophilism : a new perspective on unity and brotherhood
The question of Dostoevskii's affinity with the Slavophiles has been remarked upon by many critics, but hitherto has not been explored in sufficient depth. It is proposed that an examination of his engagement with ideas central to Slavophilism offers a new understanding of Dostoevskii's ideological stance, of the key concepts of his fiction, of his faith, and of his artistry. This study selects the thinkers Khomiakov and Kireevskii as the proponents of the strand of Slavophilism to which Dostoevskii was closest; it focuses on sobornost', tsel'nost', wholeness and fragmentation as the essential concepts that have resonances in Dostoevskii. Dostoevskii' s career as a thinker is examined through the medium of his non-fiction, in order to establish where he stood in relation to contemporary thinkers and to determine his own interpretation of Slavophilism. Next his fiction is studied, and it is found that Khomiakov's scheme of a tension between the positive and negative categories of Iranianism and Kushitism may be mapped onto Dostoevskii's fiction, and that the principles of these categories correspond to fundamental principles shaping his work. Moreover, the emphasis in Iranianism on unity and brotherhood allows for a fresh perspective of Dostoevskii's faith and its position with regard to Orthodoxy. Finally, attention turns to Dostoevskii's artistry, so as to establish the manner in which unity and wholeness manifest themselves in the structure and composition of his works. It is found that by positing the existence of a Slavophile aesthetic, an alternative definition of form is possible according to which Dostoevskii's works, both fictional and non-fictional, are shown to possess a unity of form and idea. It is concluded that Dostoevskii is an important successor to the Slavophiles and that he developed their ideas in a more consistent fashion, thus broadening their moral and spiritual concerns into a more universal message.