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Dostoevsky: Language, Faith and Fiction Paperback – 14 Dec 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum (14 Dec. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1441183884
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441183880
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 361,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

The Archbishop of Canterbury has written a book on Dostoevsky which illuminates the real operations of religion in human minds.... We need a guide who combines the gifts of a literary critic and a trained theologian to work out how far the novels of Dostoevsky can be used as vehicles for such explorations. We also need a guide who is deeply versed in the ethos and spiritual traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church to place Dostoevsky, and the tormented exchanges of his characters, within some intelligible historical framework. Luckily the Archbishop of Canterbury combines all these qualities, and more"" A. N. Wilson, Times Literary Supplement --A. N. Wilson, Times Literary Supplement

'He (Williams) is an excellent literary critic.' --A.S. Byatt in The Times Literary Supplement

'Although Rowan Williams is very modest about his credentials in writing an important book on Dostoevsky, it is difficult to think of anyone who is better qualified... a remarkable contribution to understanding not just Dostoevsky, but what it might involve to be a religious believer in the world today' --Richard Harries, Church Times

About the Author

The Rt. Hon. and Most Reverend Rowan Williams is Archbishop of Canterbury. He was formerly Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Oxford and Archbishop of Wales.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Mr. DM Hendtlass on 17 Feb. 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Overall this book is proving highly stimulating, helping me to see not only Dostoevsky's fiction more clearly but also my own. Often I have to read passages more than once to chase the meaning, but unlike John Jones's volume on the same subject the meaning does eventually give itself up. The argument steadily and convincingly advances, and my chief disagreement so far is with the author's portrayal of Prince Myshkin, which has prompted me to re-read The Idiot. Any lover of Dostoevsky's novels will find this a rewarding well of deep insights.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By P. MCCOLLUM on 23 May 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was recommended when I chose a book by Timothy Radcliffe. I thought that probably meant that it would be equivalent "weight". To be honest -- being a scientist with theological interests, rather than a person with literary skills and knowledge (particularly regarding Russian authors), I was often out of my depth.

I appreciate that that is my problem,and not necessarily the author's. I found that the book did raise profound issues, and it was interesting to see how much Doestoevsky was up to speed on theological matters of his day. I can't imagine an English author seeing as much space to exploring the consequences of being God-anchored or a convinced atheist, against the uncommitted stance. It was also interesting to see how Dostoevsky endeavoured to avoid both collectivism and individualism in exploring the "real".

If you like hard mental work, this might be the book for you! (Perhaps not for anyone looking for an entre to a Russian author.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Walton TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 28 April 2014
Format: Paperback
Like other reviewers, I was directed to this book by Timothy Radcliffe's excellent What Is the Point of Being a Christian?. I read - and greatly enjoyed - most of Dostoevsky's best-known works (Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, Devils, The Brothers Karamazov, and Notes from the Underground) a long time ago, but (or maybe hence) was a little hazy on the details of the plots and characters. Not like Rowan Williams, who's intimately familiar with the texts and the historical and academic literature about their author (he even steps in at one point (p45) to give his own translation of an significant phrase from Karamazov).

However, although it's essential for the reader of this book to have at least some familiarity with the stories (for example, the parable that Ivan Karamazov tells about the Grand Inquisitor's encounter with Christ), I wouldn't necessarily say it was crucial that they refresh their memories of all the details before tackling this, because the author works hard to tease out the ideas that he's interested in.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth Hunter on 11 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this study Archbishop Williams shows us he is a
literary critic of the highest order. A thorough
knowledge of the major novels is assumed. For those
who have this knowledge, there is insight on virtually
every page . In the course of close reading, the author
uses his knowledge of theology and the Christian east
to tease out Dostoevsky's evolving religious thinking.
Rowan Williams knows the secondary literature on
Dostoevsky in both Russian and English and engages with
this scholarship in fertile ways. For readers of Dostoevsky
the book is an essential study. A great book in the true
sense.
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