Literary Icon

William Leatherbarrow makes the intriguing suggestion that Dostoevsky’s “non-Euclidian” response to the Inan’s Grand Inquisitor poem in the “Russian Monk” is part of “Dostoevsky’s professed desire to show his readers the way to the Church is shipwrecked on the inadequacy of the realistic novel as a vehicle for religious or moral persuasion. The strength of this genre lies in the subjecting of experience to analysis. The affirmation of faith and the presentation of the ideal require something quite different: the synthesis afforded by the poetic image.” The Russian Monk is thus an “artistic picture.”

In response to Ivan, Dostoevsky gives us not a competing argument, nor even a competing narrative, but an icon.

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