Date of Award
Languages & Literature
Critical analysis of Dostoyevsky usually verges upon philosophy. This is a difficult task, for Dostoyevsky, like Shakespeare, presents human beings in all their complexity. He rarely takes sides in his artistic work, and his personal thought wavers between opposite opinions on many basic subjects. An oft-quoted statement from his notebook reads, ’’They call me a psychologist, It is not true. I am only a realist In the higher sense; that is, I portray all the depths of the human soul."
What he sees in these depths is a complex spectrum of qualities which in their totality represent the unchanging universal portion of man as man. But this totality of qualities is not susceptible to that distillation to the most basic which lies at the heart of philosophy. We cannot meaningfully express the myriad of basic qualities of man by the use of one tern or one set of terns.
Furthermore, that reality found within man Is always composed to some extent of conflicts between drives — conflicts which are never fully resolved In the life of an individual. Often it is not a matter of simple conflict between two drives which we have napped out and named, but a maze of qualities, drives, memories and reasoning processes all competing for the central position in the mind, the position from which the person will act. These are the raw materials with which Dostoyevsky dealt.
DeFlyer, Joseph, "A Critical Study Of Dostoyevsky - Self, Chaos, and The Saving Feature" (1966). Languages and Literature Undergraduate Theses. 128.