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Dostoevsky: Language, Faith, and Fiction (Making of the Christian Imagination) First Edition (US) First Printing Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1602581456
ISBN-10: 1602581452
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Reading Dostoevsky is like looking from a high peak at several mountain ranges, some brightly lit, others dark with mist, going back farther than the eye can see. In this breathtaking book, Rowan Williams takes us on a journey through literary art, the nature of fiction, psychological depths, historical and cultural setting and allusion, and beyond all else a world of faith and doubt, of philosophy and theology not dry on the page but moist with tears of compassion. We return to Dostoevsky with new insight and wide-ranging understanding and to real life with fresh perspectives on what it means to be human, to be under threat from the demonic, and above all to sense the dark and urgent presence of the living God. --N. T. Wright, Bishop of Durham

Combating the interpretation of Dostoevsky as preoccupied with the tension between belief and nonbelief, he argues the work is first and foremost a direct reflection of Dostoevsky's personal faith.... Recommended. --CHOICE

Rowan Williams here reveals the originality and daring that have made him such a controversial (and inspiring) leader of his church. The readings demonstrate an impressive grasp of current scholarly criticism of Dostoevsky. But this is not just another book about Dostoevsky. The literary interpretations are guided by an intense humanism that shares at points surprising parallels with radical leftist critiques. As author of a previous book of Sergej Bulgakov, Williams is at home in Russian philosophy, particularly the Orthodox emphasis on kenosis, the voluntary emptying out of Christ's divine attributes during his time on earth. This aspect of Russian thought was important for Bakhtin, who serves as a kind of dialogic third partner in Williams conversation with his reader. This is a work of learning and passion, a heteroglot blend of literary, ethical, and subtle theological argument that is full of surprising local triumphs of interpretation--and that most un-academic virtue, wisdom. --Michael Holquist, Professor Emeritus of Comparative and Slavic Literature, Yale University

Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury... has produced what is to date certainly one of the finest books on Dostoevsky's religious vision. Brilliantly, Williams demonstrates the connection between this vision, yes, even faith, and the art that Dostoevsky created. -- Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies 50 (2009)

Rowan Williams, in this study of Dostoevsky's characters, brings to attention the theological anthropology implicit in and generative of the narratives' dynamics. In his hands, theology becomes not a kind of explanation or completion but both a release, an opening of the narratives to the as yet unsaid, and a clarification of the continuities between the characters and the Orthodox Christianity of the setting. Crucial to this reading of Dostoevsky is an understanding of personal identity not as a possession but as a consequence of an ongoing relational process and an interweaving of freedom with a responsibility for others. As we no longer read Dostoevsky the way we did before reading Mikhail Bakhtin, so also, having read Williams, we no longer will read either Dostoevsky or Bakhtin as we once did. --Wesley A. Kort, Professor of Religion, Duke University

From the Inside Flap

Rowan Williams takes us on a journey through literary art... -N. T. Wright
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Product Details

  • Series: Making of the Christian Imagination
  • Hardcover: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Baylor University Press; First Edition (US) First Printing edition (July 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602581452
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602581456
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,315,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Roger S. Gottlieb on November 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is clear, intelligent and quite serious. The author writes more like a philosopher than a literary critic, appropriate for Dostoevsky's highly charged, philosophically oriented themes.
Along the way Williams present a profound account of the reality of spiritual life. While he and Dostoyevsky are tied into Christianity, a person with any kind of spiritual concern could learn a great deal from this.
(My own background in these matters includes several books and articles on contemporary religious life and spirituality.)
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This is an excellent read. It is my second copy to purchase ... for others to read. Rowan Williams excells in providing a wonderful window on Dostoevsky's reasons for writing. The dialogical engagement between characters and reader is intentional and demanding. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is a must read for those who wish to engage with Dostoevsky, for those who wish, who need, to be confronted by life and faith.
Thank you Archbishop Rowan Williams and Dostoevsky
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A critical review that's notable for it's compact depth, which can come only from a rich mind, and refreshing for its non-specialist style (the author is a former head of the Church of England). I rarely recommend a book unreservedly, but I do this one.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wanted to like this book, but I did not. I have read virtually all of Dostoevsky and a good deal of secondary literature. To follow this book, you have to not only have read the 4 big novels (BK, C&P, Demons & Idiot), but also remember them well enough to recall scenes on demand. I found the book too dense and diffuse to appreciate. Reading this book feels like swimming underwater. You have little sense of overview or where you are, and the thoughts keep coming with no let-up or chance to take a breath. The chapters felt more like separate papers, not like a developing process. There is a conclusion-chapter, which helped a bit. But it felt more to me like a post hoc and ad hoc attempt to tie things together. At the end, all I can really say about the content is that D. sees the construction of a novel as somewhat analogous to God's creation of the world, with similar issues of freedom within constraint. I would recommend this only to professional scholars of D. Not for enthusiastic amateurs.
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Dostoevsky teaches psycology better than any. This new book studies motives of child abuse, unmotivated violence,culture clash,national identity, still modern problems. R. Williams able to show that "belief and unbelief are alike rather than 'either' to conclude an argument or to take refuge in the unfathomable of subjectivity." Challenges are truth, freedom (possibility of choice) and responsibility of others.
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