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We will start our reflexion with a quotation of Emile de Vogu, which, at first glance, seems to object any possibility of a reflexion on the human being to Dostoyevsky : Honest Latin one makes what he wants of his mind, or at least he believes him; he does not doubt his power to check, to regulate and to run this subjected force. To the Russian of Dostoevski, she is unruly, their thought, unbound as a spring of machine which avoids the mechanic, goes about things by jumps and by bounds, with sudden transitions of tears in the laugh. But what Emile de Vogu conceives as being exclusively peculiar to the characters evolving in the novels of Dostoevski is in fact the place of the highlighting of unsuspected elements at the human being: As soon as a painter tries, in his work, to translate and to express a personal vision, this new aspect of nature that he offers us parried us paradoxical first, insincre us and almost monstrous [] I think that Dostoevski opens our eyes on some phenomena, which perhaps are the same rare steps but what simply we had not been able to point out. In front of the complexity which almost every human being introduces, look strives spontaneously and almost unconsciously for simplification. 1 Contrary to this "simplification", purpose of which is to return reason of all aspects of the individual, it is all thought founded on eternal and frozen norms that is implicated. The reflexion of Dostoyevsky comes to break the harmonious definition of the human being: This human rocking is what differentiates us [] For Dostoyevsky, nothing is more marvelous than the man, just because of this instability, of this possibility of the best and of the worst 2 But, since is highlights his aspect, a remark is obvious in view of the composition of the novels of Dostoyevsky: how is it possible to clear a consistent thought in this abundance of characters which this last offers us in these writings? This doubt thinks it is reinforced due to

1 2

A. Gide, Dostoevski, Paris, 1970, Gallimard, p. 153-154 J. Madaule, The Christianity of Dostoevski, Paris, 1939, Bloud et Gay, p. 180

the fact that, to Dostoyevsky, the characters give a very big difference of point of view, feelings and social positions. In it, we will answer that far from being an obstacle, these constituting characteristics of the originality of the novels of Dostoyevsky give us to the opposite the possibility of going up very close to his reflexion on the individual. Indeed, while being in intersection between the structure of its novels and of the speech advocated by this or that character Dostoyevsky opens us the ways of a specific model of representation of the human being, of the whole philosophy of the body and of the interindividual reports, through a romantic writing. The essential originality of Dostoyevsky is fond of the fact that it uses romantic form to express a very philosophical thought. Other authors as Rousseau can be considered to be novelist and philosopher. But, to this last, philosophical speech is inserted inside the romantic woof, he can therefore be extracted easily there, as for example The Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar in Emile. To Dostoyevsky, on the contrary, both romantic and philosophical speeches are absolutely inseparable: it is indoors even the structure of the novel, in the roles that the characters, in the reports hold which they maintain between them that the philosophical contents of the novel are. Where from the necessity to not detach the ideas of their context and of the whole novel where they set up, because otherwise they lose all their sense: His aesthetic ideas must be evaluated finally in their natural environment, in the artistic matrix of his novels. Her one perceives their contradictory unity, their reason to be. Dostoyevsky's philosophical ideas, when examined outside their natural environment, to lose both their vitality and tightens unity, strives to disintegrate. 3 It is therefore important to consider that all these elements implicate a choice reflected on behalf of the writer. In his writings, is present at it a romantic writing of the body, of the cheval glass. This specific inscription of the flesh of the characters is significant for the philosopher, and leaves shown through a philosophical conception of human phenomenon. It is in it that Dostoyevsky is with tremendous learning experience, this one offers an original "transcription" of the human being, he expresses in an unpublished way the perceptive, linguistic or ethical life of the man. It is therefore a question of deepening the philosophy of the "written world", and especially "written beings", since Dostoyevsky paints us of conscience independent and liberated at the farthest from traditional romantic necessities.

R.L. Jackson, Dostoievskys Quest for Form, New Haven and London, 1966, Yale University Press, p. 186

The novels of Dostoevski offers a reduced and every time unique vision of real life, in his novels takes place the picture of particular existence there where all spheres of experience mingle: perception, feelings, reflexion, actions. Nevertheless, the novel exceeds the practical life and restrained to a daily horizon, impossible to total, always delimited by the indecision of future and the ignorance of one. What he brings precisely a chance to grab a life in its wholeness, to synthesize the various aspects, perhaps to draw lessons from it, while remaining faithful to the sphere of what is lived. Philosophy must therefore disclose, within the text, a specific presentation of the human being. The novels of Dostoyevsky become so the place of analysis where romantic imagination constitutes a "fundamental philosophical ground". So, in a first part, we shall study the voice to show that the characters in Dostoyevskys novels have a polyphonic character. Then, in a second part, we shall treat connections between Dostoyevskys thought and the psychology of his time. To end on the reflexion of Dostoecski about the history.

I The voice in Dostoyevskys novels

An aspect of the writing of Dostoyevsky can allow us to begin disclosing its conception of subject. Indeed, striking detail, Dostoyevsky has a very particular way to represent its characters: there is, at home, an almost complete absence of physical descriptions. To Dostoyevsky a character far from being entirely defined in its physical objectivity, a voice resounds first in ears as: It is in your voice that I trust, when I am with you. I understand well that it will be never possible to be equal 4 Voice constitutes therefore the relay favoured between the characters but not only, because its role also consists in bringing to light the complex structure of the personality. The psychological depth of the character is illustrated by variations and wealth of voice. The characters of Dostoyevsky impose themselves by the feature of their voices, each has its way of speaking, inimitable: To Dostoyevsky, it is impossible to admit from the first words, not by the contents of the speech, but in the simple sound of voice, if it is Fiodor Pavlovitch Karamazov who speaks, or the father Zossima, Raskolnikov or Svidrigalov5 It is style, or rather as it should be said, the mixture of styles which makes exist the character. Proof is the face of Marmeladov in . This one cannot be defined by his place in a bit simple social classification, the one that the passers-by give him to explain the reason of its behaviour : It was allowed to fall on the bench, exhausted, without looking more at anybody, as though he had forgotten all that encircled him and it fell in a deep imagining. Its words had made impression; silence reigned one instant, but soon the laugh, swearwords and insults resumed. Here is the judge! got mixed up into his lie. Civil servant, goes! 6

4 5

. M. , D. Merejkovski, Tolsto and Dostoevski, Paris, 1903, p. 282 6 . M. ,

This last word in Russian "" has a very definite sense, and explains why the clients of the cabaret consider Marmeladov to belong to another class. All purpose of Dostoevski is therefore going to show the simplicity of this classification. Indeed, in speeches of Marmeladov, it is possible to identify sentences of official, administrative style, sentences of emotional novel, and many others. Marmeladov is therefore in the intersection of group almost loosened. The capacity to represent these groups, make it a typical character, dwindles therefore particularly. It is these characteristics which bring all their depth to the characters. This coexistence of numerous voice finds its explanation due to the fact that, to Dostoyevsky, voice is not the production of a subject which coincides with itself. It would be rather the distraught expression of a being that lost his truth and gets worried about the place of his programme: of the place of eloquent subject. The text of Dostoyevsky will come therefore as a confrontation of discursive authorities. He does not form a totalisable structure including an unit of subject and of sense. This tension constitutes the surrounding middle of the novels of Dostoyevsky, this one is as the metaphor of its internal conflict. Dostoyevsky goes therefore contrary to the notion of me unique who work to conceal underground exchanges and to erase the structure differentiated from alleged "subject". By putting numerous voices forward, Dostoyevsky displays the plural character of the human being. Numerous voices return Andr Gide to internal dialogue as the pointing out very just: Their voice parried us no already more foreign; what do I say? It is in us that we hear them to have talks. 7 With what heads mainly as well the voice of the characters as their relations is the unavoidable "conflict" of the body crossed by numerous forces. The flesh is a kind of living writing where force prints sound vibrations; sense fans out there and gets lost there as in a maze ways of which it draws itself. This polyphonic being returns directly to the heroes, these have so a numerous language, but also contradictory feelings and it simultaneously: It is minutes in the life of people where their physiognomy is very much difficult to describe. For example, I remember that near Nicolas Vsvolodovitch, Mary Timofievna, grabbed with fear, got up and linked hands as if to plead him; but at the same time, I also remember him, in its look an insane joy shone which corrupted almost its features, one of this huge joy which the man is often unable to support... I do not undertake to explain this coexistence of opposite feelings. Stavroguine, in his last letter, also demonstrates this coexistence of opposite feelings:

A. Gide, Dostoevski, op. cit., p.63

I am still capable, as I always was, of desiring to do something good, and of feeling pleasure from it; at the same time I desire evil and feel pleasure from that too.8 There is no more ideal unit, more speech without fault, but from everywhere the lively bones of lived contradictions: It [our inner, moral world] represent a boundless, bottomless ocean of emotions, imperatives and ideals, whose dynamics are so contradictory that Dostoyevsky gave up working out any unambiguous, single-value of positive ethics. 9 The discovery of depths makes appear an epoch filled with contradictions which did not leave appear everyday life. Instability, and disappointment are only discovered there to see that no revelation on oneself is possible. The more the human being approaches his bottom to Dostoyevsky and the more seems to him obvious decomposition and dispersion of his own picture; the more he approaches basic principles, the more he approaches the feeling of his absence to be. This is why preference is granted in the basic salary, in the stable: one thinks straightaway as multiplicity, as absence of identity to one, as pluralisation of error. This idea of a permanent similar identity in itself, entirely highlights returns in the possibility of a foreseeable subject, where from any uncertainty could be abolished. In Dostoyevsky relates this possibility through the man of the basement. This one in the course of his reflexion, comes from it to think that science will teach that the Man is a "key of piano", all that the human being will fullfill will not be dependent any more on its will, but will occur all alone, in accordance with the laws of science. It will just be enough to discover these laws and the man will not answer his acts anymore, life will become therefore extraordinarily easy: Science itself will teach man (though to my mind its a superfluous luxury) that he never has really had any caprice or will of his own, and that he himself is something of the nature of a piano-key or the stop of an organ, and that there are, besides, things called the laws of nature; so that everything he does is not done by his willing it, but is done of itself, by the laws of nature. Consequently we have only to discover these laws of nature, and man will no longer have to answer for his actions and life will become exceedingly easy for him. All human actions will then, of course, be tabulated according to these laws, mathematically, like tables of logarithms up to 108,000, and entered in an index; or, better still, there would be published certain edifying works of the nature of encyclopaedic lexicons, in which everything will be so
8 9

. M. , V. A. Kuvakin, A History of Russian Philosophy: From the Tenth to the Twentieth Centuries, Chapter 27 : Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Prometheus Books, p. 376

clearly calculated and explained that there will be no more incidents or adventures in the world. Thenthis is all what you saynew economic relations will be established, all ready-made and worked out with mathematical exactitude, so that every possible question will vanish in the twinkling of an eye, simply because every possible answer to it will be provided. Then the Palace of Crystal will be built. 10


. M. ,

II Dostoyevsky and the psychology of his time

Thanks to the purposes of the underground man, they understand better why Dostoyevsky goes contrary to the psychology in his/her time. Following the example of some science psychology gives an erroneously unifying and simplistic definition of the human being, while Dostoyevsky is anxious with avoiding all that could resemble what he would consider, according to the word of Bakhtine, as simplification of its characters, : Dostoyevsky disapproved of the psychology of the epoch, in literature as well artistic as scientific, as well as in judicial practice. He saw in her a humiliation of the man by the chosification of his soul, in contempt [] of his "infinity". 11 That is why he refutes the name of psychologist: By remaining entirely realistic, to find the man in the man. They say to me psychologist: it is wrong, I am only a realist in the best sense of word, that is to say I express all depths of human soul 12 This psychology is represented by Dmitri's judgement in . The judges, the prosecutor, the lawyer, the experts are also unable to approach, even from a distance, the not resolute and incomplete core of the personality of Dmitri. What is searched and visible in him, is the reified determination by its emotions and its actions entering diagrams and already defined notions. Authentic Dmitri stays except their judgement. However, he is only too clear that Dostoyevsky does not abandon the psychology, but this one could not be resolved in a determined psychology and especially determinist. To this one he prefers a psychology with holes, what means that he has recourse to the first one when token seems to him, but also whom he breaks with her, each time when it is suitable for him. He explains it besides at occasion, here or there, by the mouth of some of the most sensible of his characters, so, in , this word of Aglaa which makes a hole literally in the comment which Mychkine and she are led to make of the suicide missed Hippolyte: As for you, I think you are behaving very badly, because it is not right to judge a mans soul as you are judging Hippolytes. You have no gentleness, but only justiceso you are unjust. 13
11 12

M. Bakhtine, The poetics of Dostoevski, Paris, 1969, Seuil, p. 99 F. M. Dostoevski, Biography, letters of F. M. Dostoevski, Paris, 1883, p. 373 13 . M. ,


What is played is the report of the interiority of the characters in what takes place and in what they make. Lise, in , opposes similarly, in Aliocha who has just predicted that humiliated Snguirev, who tore and milled with feet on the money which was given him, well they could another time pick him up: Say to me, Alexi Fiodorovitch, isn't there in all our debate contempt for this poor person... because we dissect his soul with some height, he seems to me? 14 By there Aglaa and Lise, it is Dostoyevsky who does not want that his characters are in this point foreseeable. Dostoyevsky does not want that intrigue follows from their portrait. Where from the double postulation of worry to put down the psychology of each and to sever the drawing. His characters have a psychology, but the shadow makes a hole in it which she conceals, by the unconscious, by the unexpected and by the mystery which follows directly from the recognition of the depth of interiority : Dostoyevsky composes a picture where what matters especially and first, it is the sharing out of light. She emanates from the single home In a novel of Stendhal, of Tolstoy light is constant, equal, diffuse; all objects are lighted of the same way, they are also seen of all quoted; they have no shadow. And yet what matters especially in a book of Dostoyevsky, just as in a picture of Rembrandt, it is shadow. Dostoyevsky puts together his characters and his events, and casts on them an intense light, so that she hits them only on one side only. Each of his characters baths in shadow.15 Dostoyevsky, as Rembrandt does not "finish" their representation, they always leave a part of shadow: The unity and boundlessness of the world are such that they are also reflected in each of it separate parts, especially in man, who is both cosmic and chaotic at the same time. Dostoyevsky sometimes designated this special essence of man by the word secret or mystery. 16 It is this recalcitrant element in any argumentation that comes to mean the painter as well as the novelist or the philosopher. Freud will note later that the mental recollections of the pictures of the dream is not only made according to whites and omissions but with them. What we see always learns of what we do not see, and Dostoyevsky points out that there will always remain a part of unaccountable. This part of shadow allows him not to move aside what it is unstable, in the grip of riot and of future at the individual:
14 15

. M. , A. Gide, Dostoevski, op. cit., p.142 16 V. A. Kuvakin, A History of Russian Philosophy: From the Tenth to the Twentieth Centuries, op. cit., p. 374


The great figures of the foreground, him [Dostoyevsky] does not paint them, as one might say, but lets them paint a self-portrait themselves, everything in the course of the book, in a never finished, continuously changeable portrait. His main characters always stay in training, always badly clear of shadow as Rembrandt. 17 The great figures of the dostoevskian novels are individuals' history in future. In , Dostoyevsky puts this aspect forward particularly. History relates what it would be possible to call an "interlude" in the life of Veltchaninov and Troussotski. And it is not any more at all grotesque characters than they see evolving: Yes, he was there ; he fought now with upper reason, before, he would have never thought about it.18 This passage put at the beginning of work translates the reappraisal of Veltchaninov. Dostoevski describes us as a character haunted by the memory of the crossed errors. Veltchaninov lead puts to an individual in the grip of the change, which becomes aware of its complexity according to narration. This realization goes hand in hand with perception to other one - in this case Troussovski - of an interiority which he was far from suspecting. All the intrigue concentrates around these two characters, and shows that the interest of Dostoevski fronts door everything on individuals in the grip of change, complex as well in their report to themselves as in their relation to others. That is why at the end of the novel both characters sprung back, Veltchaninov is once again a man elegant and full of insurance, he "corrected itself ". Troussotski remarried to a lady dressed in a showy way and therefore apparently took back the situation of . The story can therefore end because there is nothing more to tell, because Dostoyevsky describes characters who change, evolve, thus different classic characters. But since they approached all complexity which conceals the human being to Dostoyevsky, another question immediately comes to settle: that to know if it is possible to live with? And if yes, how can it be possible to live with? Let us suppose that the thought of Dostoyevsky gives us possibilities of reflexion on this questioning: Dostoyevskys philosophy is not a system of proofs and answers. Its purport is to help man to live in the world of real contradictions, in the infinite world, never knowable completely, at once ordered and elemental and predictable [] The unity and boundlessness of the world are such that they are also reflected in each of it separate parts, especially in man, who is both cosmic and chaotic at the same time. 19
17 18

A. Gide, Dostoevski, op. cit., p.72 . M. , 19 V. A. Kuvakin, A History of Russian Philosophy: From the Tenth to the Twentieth Centuries, op. cit., p. 374


All the question is now to know how to control this "chaos".

III Dostoyevsky and (his) history


Dostoyevsky leaves this observation: there is not living subject unified, but fair a relating stability, always to win, unit is not precondition, base from which a subject can be formed as such. It goes contrary to idea that a subject, that his unit is something that it has in itself. It is therefore from the multiplicity that an individual can and must find a balance. It is in the report of all these entities which an individual can take form. It is the reason for which dialogue takes such a big importance in the Dostoyevskys novels. Dialogue is form under who Dostoyevsky can envisage a problem. He leans over a question by means of many characters whom he stages: Dostoyevsky is clumsy when he expresses himself in his proper name [] The ideas are almost never absolute; they remain almost always related to the characters who express them. 20 It is therefore with the intention of making speak what is deeper in him than, as one goes along his creation, this one multiplies characters, strong individualities, they are the place of its thought, the fruit of its personal history which it transposes in the space of the novel: , , - , ? , ; "", , , , . 21 This extract makes us understand that the characters that populate its novels are its different faces, and the novel the place of their confrontation. While scooping out in the bottom of himself, Dostoyevsky envisages a problem of the own history. And it is an adjournment of its past which Dostoyevsky performs and that gives body to all its reflexion. It is thanks to his personal experience that Dostoyevsky can write the books, all his characters are the product of its own examination. It is in this respect that comes out as being particularly interesting. Indeed, it is not insignificant that Dostoyevsky, in spite of the failure which meets this book declares: I have ever thrown nothing in literature more serious than this idea The adventures of Goliadkine, the "hero" of , prefigure some of the characters who populate the subsequent novels. And it is in a feeling of faintness that Dostoyevsky introduces us from the beginning of Goliadkine history :
20 21

A. Gide, Dostoevski, op. cit., p.133 . M. , , 1873, , , 2004, , . 409


From his bed he ran straight to a little round looking-glass that stood on his chest of drawers. Though the sleepy, short-sighted countenance and rather bald head reflected in the looking-glass were of such an insignificant type that at first sight they would certainly not have attracted particular attention in any one, yet the owner of the countenance was satisfied with all that he saw in the looking-glass. "What a thing it would be," said Mr. Golyadkin in an undertone, "what a thing it would be if I were not up to the mark today, if something were amiss, if some intrusive pimple had made its appearance, or anything else unpleasant had happened; so far, however, there's nothing wrong, so far everything's all right.22 Of the confident impression of an individual who receives as being always equal to himself in the mirror, the hero smells to break the feeling of "something" that comes to taint this too simple unit of subject. This confusion which takes over Goliadkine in front of its mirror is sign before runner of the perception of multiplicity which composes it. The Double relates the difficulty in being able to take the multiplicity of perspectives, the risks which includes this coexistence in the breast of an individual: I am advancing the idea, Anton Antonovitch, that persons who wear a mask have become far from uncommon, and that nowadays it is hard to recognize the man beneath the mask . . .23 What Goliadkine rejects, it is that he is the product of its "masks" himself. By rejecting these characteristics, it is itself that he ends up rejecting. The double of Goliadkine is therefore the sudden appearance of a different point of view, all the problem for the hero is that this other point of view will never be taken, what redraws us this history is the impossibility of taking this multiplicity. Goliadkine has many different viewpoints, but these do not make him a full individual. Far from being rich in his experiments, this one rejects them on the contrary. And it up to this point of no return where its different points of view acquire an autonomy, an independence which come to sap the coherence of the character. Dostoyevsky warns therefore against this "immobility" of thought with which every human being is confronted. But by narrating the misfortunes of Goliadkine, it is not only its reader whom he tells, but it is also itself. Because, important thing, it is necessary to underline that, just as "", Dostoyevsky does not consider Goliadkine to be an external face to its own personality. On the contrary, to be very close to the process of writing of the novelist, it is necessary to consider Goliadkine to be one of his facets, an aspect of himself whom he had to overcome. That is why in a letter to its brother of the beginning of September, 1845, Dostoyevsky called
22 23

. M. , . M. ,


himself a Goliadkine". Dostoyevsky shows that the attention carried to its own included history as uninterrupted modification of perspectives on self and on the world allows to emphasize the different interpretations which constituted so much stages for a personality. By what an individual passed allows to receive the different elements, sometimes even contradictory, which constituted him. An individual is a group of episodes linked in a consistent way and formed by a very big number of harmonised and controlled powerful and controversial tendencies. There is idea in Dostoyevsky where all that we made is also essential to who we are. So unit - very relating - of an individual is a continuous process of integration of features of character, habits and actions. Individuality can become visible and exist really only in time. It is this always renewed try by unification of past with its gift, a patient research work, job of development and of constant re-elaboration of an individual taken in future. This mastery passes by the capacity to accept the responsibility of all what we made and to suppose that all that we made constitutes each of our persons. The route of Nitochka Niezvanova in the eponymous novel of Dostoyevsky is significant of the history of the novelist and is situated as a counterpoint to the character of Goliadkine. This work can indeed be read as the novel of childhood and of ill-treated womanhood. It is by communication, by reflexion and writing that Nitochka overcomes the anxiety; it is by telling this story, main pathological episodes of which are his, that Dostoyevsky allows us to foresee one of the most significant stages of the route of men and of writer. In this dynamics there is the desire of recognizing and organizing all that was made, to constitute an individuality by accepting all the moments of our life, good or bad. This retrospective glance allows to become rather flexible to use all that we make and will make as elements inside a changeable, never completely finished individual. To accept the present it is to accept all which drove to it. The meaning of past lives lies in its relation with the future. The events of our past allow to realize something who inclines us to accept us entirely. The reconciliation with its past can be fulfilled only when they realized that the sense of past is based on its importance for future. We can take seriously a past event and try to admit it in a complex plan, in a life where this one will come to enrich the personality. If we succeed in melting it in a personality, if we succeed in seeing the things of past assembling to modify, then we can transform the melancholy and the sadness, the fury, the pain and the effort into experience and into knowledge to make the material of the future.




It is therefore possible to conclude from it that it is in a reflexion on one that invites us Dostoyevsky, included as a research of identity, an identity included to Dostoyevsky as "narrative identity". Subject must be built because identity is itself to construct in and by the story. Far from being able to settle as a precondition, it is the fruit of a life examined and told. While telling one succeeds in understanding, individually or collectively. Any constitution of an identity implies a "poetics" which does not aim the fiction but indeed the reality, and the narrative is the mediation necessary for our experience of time. So, no more than he has a direct access to the being, the subject has a direct access to himself. The narrative configuration shows the necessity of a mediation by the story and it's the same for the understanding of one : The narrative identity can include the change, the mutability, in the cohesion of a life. The subject can constitute himself at the same time as a reader and as a writer of its own life [...] The story of a life is transformed by all true or fictitious stories that a subject tells on itself. This reconfiguration makes life itself a tissue of told stories.24 In this research process, there is a subject which can understand himself better, or who can begin to understand himself. It is not only for Dostoyevsky to be read, but to act deeply on the reader, by communicating his thoughts, his personal experience, and to learn from it. It is in this reflection, in this work of recollection and of organization that Dostoyevsky shows all his talent.


P. Ricoeur, Time and Narrative 3, Paris, 1991, Seuil, p. 444-445