Dostoevsky was an Anti-Semite

2271 Words Jun 20th, 2018 10 Pages
Dostoevsky was an Anti-Semite

Literary anti-Semitism is as old as Western culture itself. A full listing of writers who have expressed hostility toward Jews and/or Judaism--from Shakespeare to T.S. Eliot, from Pushkin to Pasternak, etc.--would add up to a Who's Who of Western literature.1 Undoubtedly, Dostoevsky follows in this tradition.

It is disparaging, however, that as the true novelist of ideas and Christian love, Dostoevsky could harbor such ill will towards the Jews. Does this not discredit everything he has written? This paper will address Dostoevsky's anti-Semitism through an examination of Isay Fomitch Bumstein in The House of the Dead, the Messianic idea in The Devils, and 'the little demon' in The Brothers Karamazov.
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In addition to writing Notes from the Underground, and The House of the Dead, Dostoevsky completes Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and in 1871, he finishes The Devils. In addition, this decade is marked by personal tragedy, gambling, and debts. Beginning in 1862, Dostoevsky makes the first of several sojourns to Europe and his prolonged stay (from 1867-1871), no doubt, significantly influences his belief in the Great Russian Messianism.8

The Russian Messianic idea found its most virulent expression in The Devils, where, in a conversation with Stavrogin, Shatov states:

Reduce God to the attribute of nationality?...On the contrary, I elevate the nation to God...The people is the body of God. Every nation is a nation only so long as it has its own particular God, excluding all other gods on earth without any possible

reconciliation, so long as it believes that by its own God it will conquer and drive all other gods off the face of the earth. At least that's what all great nations have believed since the beginning of time, all those remarkable in any way, those standing in the vanguard of humanity...The Jews lived solely in expectation of the

true God, and they left this true God to the world...A nation which loses faith is no

longer a nation. But there is only one truth; consequently, only one nation
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