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Resurrection from the Underground: Feodor Dostoevsky (Studies in Violence, Mimesis, & Culture) [Kindle Edition]

René Girard , James G. Williams , James Williams
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In a fascinating analysis of critical themes in Feodor Dostoevsky’s work, René Girard explores the implications of the Russian author’s “underground,” a site of isolation, alienation, and resentment. Brilliantly translated, this book is a testament to Girard’s remarkable engagement with Dostoevsky’s work, through which he discusses numerous aspects of the human condition, including desire, which Girard argues is “triangular” or “mimetic”—copied from models or mediators whose objects of desire become our own. Girard’s interdisciplinary approach allows him to shed new light on religion, spirituality, and redemption in Dostoevsky’s writing, culminating in a revelatory discussion of the author’s spiritual understanding and personal integration. Resurrection is an essential and thought-provoking companion to Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground.



Editorial Reviews

About the Author

René Girard is a member of the French Academy, Emeritus Professor at Stanford University, and the author of several books that have been translated widely. He is the recipient of the Modern Language Association's Lifetime Achievement Award (2008).


Product Details

  • File Size: 453 KB
  • Print Length: 122 pages
  • Publisher: Michigan State University Press; Tra edition (January 1, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007P56LG0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #643,694 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book on Dostoevsky and the art of the novel January 9, 2012
Format:Paperback
This short but rewarding essay on Dostoevsky is one of Girard's best works, and one of his least known and read. This re-issue of the original edition by Michigan State University Press, with an updated foreword by translator James Williams, should please those who wanted a copy of this book but didn't want to pay dearly to get their hands on one. Girard's essay was written just after he published his first book on five major European novelists (Dostoevsky included) and can be read as a companion piece to Deceit, Desire, and the Novel. It's an extended meditation on the interplay between an author's life and his writing, and the way Dostoevsky made use of life experiences, traumas, and love affairs, translating his personal anguish into masterful fiction. At the heart of this book is the idea that by comparing Dostoevsky's early work (now rarely read, even by literature professors) to his widely-known masterpieces, we can see that somewhere between The Insulted and the Injured and Notes from the Underground, something unexpected happened--rather than interpreting his own perversely jealous tendencies as magnanimous generosity, as he had done in such early works as White Nights, Dostoevsky suddenly became incredibly self-aware, and in satirical short novels such as Notes and The Eternal Husband as well as in his great masterpieces (Crime and Punishment, Demons, etc.) he gradually worked out the patterns and structures in which he had been imprisoned and exorcised demon after demon, ultimately triumphing over all Manichean temptations in his final, crowning novel, The Brothers Karamazov. Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dense and thought provoking February 6, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Although now an emeritus professor at Stanford, Girard published this work in 1963 in his native French. It was translated in 1996 by Williams, and now reissued in this edition.

There are introductions to both the original edition and this reissue by the translator, and these put me off a bit. They struck me as the overly tangled but ultimately empty prose that too often passes as literary criticism. Fortunately he didn't translate Girard into similar prose, but let the author's voice come through.

That is not to suggest for even a second that this book is an easy read. Girard is intense and thoughtful, and I may need to reread some of Dostoevsky to fully appreciate his arguments. By the way, if you have not read at least the major novels of Dostoevsky you will be lost in this book.

Dostoevsky's later works set up a succession of men trying to lay out a path to a life above the mundane, with failure as the general result. Girard ties these efforts back to the narrator of "Notes from the Underground". The problem Dostoevsky struggles with is how to escape from the "underground", how to avoid the snares that modern life sets for us. As he lays out Dostoevsky's struggle with this question he also explores the great author's struggle with his own beliefs.

An afterword by Girard briefly covers an additional thirty years of his thinking on the matter, and also notes how relevant the questions Dostoevsky wrestled with remain today.

While definitely a book for a hardcore Dostoevsky lover, it is a richly insightful one. Girard says more in fewer than ninety pages than some writers say in hundreds. This is not a book you can skim. These dense and thought provoking pages take time to ponder and digest.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bigger Picture July 5, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My knowleged of Dostoevsky was largely limited to "The Brothers Karamazov" which I've read and re-read many times over several decades. This book opened my eyes to the wider picture of Dostoevsky's literary work, and even his "evolution" as a writer. So the list of books to read before I die has become even longer, as I stop to pick up novels I've previously overlooked! Now to read more Dostoevsky AND more Girard!!!
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By Tina
Format:Paperback
This translation is pathetic. James Williams could barely speak French. There are some things that are very subtle in French that are so butchered here that it would be literally impossible for a reader to guess Girard's meaning without referring to the original French version of the book. Some of the lines come off so stilted and bizarre they barely seem like English. "In the universe structured by the Gospel revelation, individual existence remains basically imitative even, and above all, perhaps, when one rejects with horror any thought of imitation." Huh? Terrible hack job. A book about underground pride translated by someone apparently consumed by it. What a shame, too, because this is a great book about Dostoevsky by a great writer.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars we still mimic other copycat crimes December 14, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The analysis of character in the novels of Dostoevsky based on his life experiences in Russia and Germany remind me of how frequently law enforcement adopts absurd tactics of Russian nihilism. I was recently surprised to read that Dostoevsky's father had been killed by peasants crushing his testicles. Note 19 at the end of this book is about a rumor started by a landowner who wanted to buy the property of the deceased father of Dostoevsky. Dostoevsky's father was a medical man who acquired the property and died of apoplexy as anyone who was born with a brain in a Russian society was likely to do. If you don't believe me, try reading Lenin's Private War: The Voyage of the Philosophy Steamer and the Exile of the Intelligentsia.

Think and grin:

Americans have been most productive as a cartoon market for people raised by Mad Magazine. Dostoevsky found love and gambling as themes that could compete with crime and revolution for the kind of underground character who resents law enforcement based on an ethic that wants to slaughter animals as the scapegoat for things people do. Nobody who could not triumph over being considered a slave was of any interest to Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, or people who took lithium long enough to become apathetic and lethargic.
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