Dostoevsky and the Affirmation of Life
Dostoevsky’s philosophy of life is unfolded in this searching analysis of his five greatest works: Notes from the Underground, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Possessed, and The Brothers Karamazov. Predrag Cicovacki deals with the fundamental issue in Dostoevsky’s opus neglected by all of his commentators: How can we affirm life and preserve a healthy optimism in the face of an increasingly troublesome reality? This work displays the vital significance of Dostoevsky’s philosophy for understanding the human condition in the twenty-first century.
The main task of this insightful effort is to reconstruct and examine Dostoevsky’s "aesthetically" motivated affirmation of life, based on cycles of transgression and restoration. His central figures claim that, if life has no meaning, it is absurd to affirm life and it is pointless to live. Since Dostoevsky’s doubts concerning the meaning of life resonate so deeply throughout our age of pessimism and relativism, the central question of this book is whether Dostoevsky can overcome the skepticism of his most brilliant creation.
This volume includes a thorough literary analysis of Dostoevsky’s texts, yet it proceeds in such a way that even those who have not read all of these novels will find Cicovacki’s analysis interesting and enthralling. The reader will easily extrapolate Cicovacki’s own philosophical interpretation of Dostoevsky’s literary heritage.
"When reason is not enough to grasp the paradoxes and riddles of life, then faith must come to terms with them. It is both refreshing and liberating that Cicovacki, a professor of philosophy not literature, avoids the jargon and cant of literary studies and subsequently feels no need to bow before the altars of various distracting postmodern pieties. This is a solid work of scholarship and common sense… Recommended."
—D. Pesta, Choice
“[A] lively and absorbing journey… Cicovacki’s discriminating and subtle criticism challenges many fixed assumptions about Dostoevsky’s writings and worldview”
—Robert L. Jackson, author of Dostoevsky’s Quest for Form and Dialogues with Dostoevsky
“This book is a philosophical investigation of a paradox: How does Dostoevsky succeed in uplifting people’s hearts by telling tales full of sound and fury? Predrag Cicovacki’s answer is an inspiring offer to read Dostoevsky’s classics a new, with a figure in the carpet woven by Hegel.”
—Horst-Jürgen Gerigk, editor-in-chief of Dostoevsky Studies
“[Q]uite possibly the best single volume written in English on the greatest writer of the Nineteenth Century.”
—Nalin Ranasinghe, author of The Soul of Socrates and Socrates in the Underworld
“[I]nteresting and enthralling.”
—Ruben Apressyan, Head of the Department of Ethics at the Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences
“Cicovacki’s Dostoevsky and the Affirmation of Life belongs to the best traditions of metaphysically and theologically informed criticism and interpretation. Rich in intellectual and spiritual insight, it makes a powerful and convincing case for Dostoevsky’s ‘positive philosophy of life’ . . . Cicovacki, a philosopher deeply versed in Dostoevsky’s work, takes the reader on a lively and absorbing.”
—Robert L. Jackson, Yale University
“No serious student of the writer can afford to overlook this penetrating, erudite and insightful study.”
—Joseph Frank, author, Dostoevsky; Stanford University
“Cicovacki summarizes Dostoevsky’s religious and moral positions and those of his characters in the light of later critics and earlier thinkers and artists. Whether one accepts or rejects the summaries, the book provokes serious thinking.”
—Robert Belknap, professor emeritus and director of university seminars, Columbia University; author, The Genesis of The Brothers Karamazov: The Aesthetics, Ideology, and Psychology of Making a Text