The classical Russian literature in the 19th century is acknowledged "christian" by many scholars like Auerbach, Mathewson, etc. However, such a common understanding of the modern Russian literature could veil the complicated reality, which includes m ...
The classical Russian literature in the 19th century is acknowledged "christian" by many scholars like Auerbach, Mathewson, etc. However, such a common understanding of the modern Russian literature could veil the complicated reality, which includes many diverse elements from different cultural traditions diachronically and synchronically. Actually from the viewpoint of biblical christianity, some aspects considered "christian" might prove far from christianity. So it is worthwhile to shed light on what is really christian and what is not in the Russian literature. This research has a significance in distinguishing the evitable self-contradiction and rift from the inevitable self-contradiction and rift in the modern Russian literature, centering on three writer from the viewpoint of biblical christianity: N. V. Gogol', M. F. Dostoevsky, and A. Chekhov.
The biblical christianity means the christian belief system based on the Bible, which is believed God's Word. The Bible, composed of the 39 Scriptures in the Old Testament and 27 Scriptures in the New Testament, is acknowledged the only reliable source of Truth. The biblical christianity states that God's "Chosen people" in the era of Christ are not defined by natural blood ties, but by each person's belief in and obedience to Jesus Christ So the boundary of Gods' people and those who are not is no more blood ties.
In that respect, the so-called christian works written by Gogol and Dostoevsky can not be defined as christian in the strict sense of christianity. In "Taras Bul'ba" Gogol' estimates "Russian spirit" as the highest spiritual entity in the world as the direct embodiment of Holy Spirit. In this sense he had a strong propensity for the Sublime. Such a mystification of Russian land and spirit does not change fundamentally in 4 years later in his last work "Perepiski with Friends," where the difference in the conception of national identity lies that the ideal type of Russians changes from Cossack to Bogatyr'. In addition, in the work, he states that humans could contact with God by mystical intuition through the mediation of holy artworks. And Gogol's self-ego as a writer seems the ancient Greek epic poet, Homer. So his project of creating the three-part epic with Dantes' "Divine Comedia" as a model, cannot help running into self-contradiction and dilemma from the viewpoint of biblical christianity.
This is also true of Dostoevsky, who searched for creating a national epic based on the Russian Orthodoxy. In "the brothers of the Karamazovs" Dostoevsky sanctifies the Russian land and people through the voice of the elder Zosima. And he puts as a mediation leading to God an epiphany, that is, mystical ecstasy through inspiration or intuition. Dmitrij, the eldest brother of the Karamazov is inclined to such a mystical ecstasy through embracing all things in the world with overflowing feelings.
Chekov is in the opposite line against Gogol''s and Dostoevksy's aesthetics of the Sublime, a mixture of Orthodoxy, romanticism, Baroque and other mystical traditions which are common in the eagerness of inspirational and emotional epiphany. Chekov distances himself from such a metaliterary tradition, trying to reveal the reality in everyday lives of common Russian people. Especially, the intelligentsia in Chekhov's works is usually tired of the meaninglessness of his life and boredom, resulting in suffering the melancholy, which is tied with the pensive Sublime. In the "Archbishop" the hero, Archbishop suffers from melancholy and feels freedom when he dies. Chekhov considers the christiantiy nothing but a mediation of poetic melancholy, which is vulnerable to external unfavorable provocation.
the modern Russian literature could not be called "purely christian" in the sense of biblical christianity. However, it should be highly estimated in that on the other han it reveals the inevitable self-contradiction and the rift between reality and sign.