Where Bobok is buried: The theosophical roots of Dostoevskii's "fantastic realism"

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In addition to examining the ideological and artistic origins of Fedor Dostoevskii's portrayal of the under-world in his short "cemetery story" "Bobok" (1873), Ilya Vinitsky probes the theosophical context of Dostoevskii's "fantastic realism." Vinitsky considers this story a programmatic "theosophical menippea" that artistically "voices" and "tests" Emanuel Swedenborg's doctrine of posthumous self-exposure of the wicked souls who are no longer restrained by "fear of the law, of the loss of reputation, of honor, and of life" and laugh shamelessly "at honesty and justice." Vinitsky argues that Dostoevskii was interested in Swedenborg's spiritual psychologism as an epistemological method and contends that Swedenborg's interpretation of devils as former humans, with their "earthly" consciousness, inner sufferings, and memories, perfectly corresponded to Dostoevskii's symbolic anthropology. Vinitsky also proposes that the comic narrator of "Bobok" can be seen as a literary mask of Dostoevskii himself, who employs philosophical irony as a means of conveying a metaphysical message in the age of positivism and disbelief.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)524-543
Number of pages20
JournalSlavic Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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