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Dostoevsky, Filaret, and The Principles of Christian Teaching

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Personal Responsibility and the Corruption of Authority in ‘The Brothers Karamazov’

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The influence of a fundamental text and its author on Dostoevsky has been neglected in Dostoevsky scholarship. The text in question is Metropolitan Filaret’s (secular name Vasily Drozdov) catechism, Haчaтки xpиcтиaнcкoгo учeния [Principles of Christian Teaching]. Filaret was a leading religious presence on Dostoevsky’s cultural horizon throughout his life and the catechism, along with the Russian version of the New Testament Filaret helped translate, goes to the heart of the central religious issues Dostoevsky integrated into his fiction. Dostoevsky’s remark about the stench of Filaret’s corpse included in the notes to the Brothers Karamazov suggests the writer’s crucial themes of faith and disbelief played out in Zossima’s death as well as the issues of miracles, mystery, and authority to which he invites his readers.

Affiliations: 1: State University of New York, Stony Brook


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