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Abstract

In this paper I respond to Elżbieta Mikiciuk’s polemic with my article: The Brothers Karamazov: Dostoevsky’s Tainted Hosanna (“Slavia Orientalis” 2017, nr 1; the polemic was published in “Slavia Orientalis” 2017, nr 2). I use this opportunity to look at my article anew and restate my interpretative approach to Dostoevsky’s last novel as well as the line of argumentation I had decided to adopt. The substance of my response relies heavily on the point evoked several times by E. Mikiciuk, concerning my “biased” selection of citations from the novel which generates a “one-dimensional”, “manipulated”, and “false” image of Christianity as a religion that approves of an “economic” idea of God, a God from whom one has to “buy” a right to salvation. Recalling narrations of starets Zosima on the problem of involuntary suffering and death, and meditating on an indefi nite, unpredictable or highly ambiguous nature of such characters as Dymitr and Alyosha Karamazov or Smerdyakov, I emphasize the radical openness and polyphonic nature of Dostoevsky's text which allows for manifold, even contradictory readings and understandings of the same fragments of his complex works. Further, I develop a key thesis that both theological/religious interpretations of Dostoevsky’s oeuvre, as supported by Elżbieta Mikiciuk, and philosophical/ existential ones, as advanced by me, are feasible and valuable as long as they remain anchored in a close reading and do not lay claims to representing the one and only valid approach to his literary universe. The paper ends with a conclusion in which I encourage a mutually inspirational dialogue (the agon, if you will) between these two exegetic strategies. Such a dialogue seems essential for a reinvigoration of Dostoevsky’s literary work, against which one should continuously measure himself in a constant, even painful at times, sense of insuffi ciency of his/her interpretative insight facing a paradoxical, axiologically ambivalent, and strictly polyphonic oeuvre.
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Abstract

The article is a contribution to the methodology of reading and interpreting Dostoevsky’s famous novels. It owes its genesis to the refl ection upon the evolution of literary theory discourse in XX century and upon transformations in global (mainly Russian and Western) reception and modes of interpreting the oeuvre of the great Russian artist. The aim of the text is to prepare ground for reorienting Polish “dostoevskology” from the dominant reconstructive course onto the more creative, interpretative one. The order of my inquiries presents itself as follows. In the fi rst part of the article I focus on the questions of ideas, the protagonist and narrative techniques in Dostoevsky so that to highlight the specifi city of the writer’s approach to these issues. It will allow me to speak up for the minimum of methodological awareness which implies acknowledgment of the paradigm of polyphony, polysemy and complexity of Dostoevsky’s text. Perhaps it will also become possible to reveal some gaps in the hitherto existing state of research, debunk several stereotypes still functioning in Polish “dostoevskology”, and draw attention to still unrecognized interpretative clues in context of those crucial aspects of Dostoevsky’s work. In the second part I will reconstruct several most popular approaches to Dostoevsky’s text which differ in terms of understanding of what the relation between the reader and the text should comprise of. I will try to determine the benefi ts they can bring but also to sensitize to pitfalls they may entail. In the fi nal, third part of the study I will propose a project of a new interpretative approach which would rise to the challenge of Dostoevsky’s “spirit” as well as the spirit of his text the way it is construed by the most advanced contemporary critical studies and as I have learnt to perceive it.
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