I have been at a prayer retreat this week and it has been a good time.
I decided to bring along a book and do some hardcore reading which I have been missing lately so I picked up Fyodor Dostoevsky’s book The Brothers Karamozov written between 1879-1880. This book has been sitting on my shelf for years and I have been avoiding it. I read Notes From Underground in university when I took Existential Lit. but that’s about it by D.
I highly recommend the Bantam Classics edition for the introduction alone, written by Konstantin Mochulsky. It is particularly helpful because it digs into the author’s background and historical context (you need to do this if you want to really understand an artist’s work I think) and a section that really resonated with me was the following:
“Dostoevsky saw history in the light of the Apocalypse; He predicted unheard of world catastophes. “The end of the world is coming,” he wrote. “The end of the century will be marked by a calamity, the likes of which has never yet occurred.’ The tragic world outlook of the author of The Devils was inaccessible to the positivists of the 19th century: has was a man of our catastophic epoch. But God’s abandonment is not the last word of Dostoevsky’s work; he depicted the “dark night,” but had presentiments of the dawn. He believed that the tragedy of history would be culminated in the transfiguration of the world, that after the Golgotha of mankind would follow the Second Advent of Christ and “there would resound the hymn of the new and last resurrection.”
I also greatly appreciate this comment Dostoevsky made about his faith in Christ – “my hosanna has passed through a great furnace of doubts…”
I will keep you appraised of my progress and thoughts on this book. I already know that I will like it and have a sense that perhaps our age is ready for Dostoevsky in a way that his own age was not – we shall see. I suspect we will start seeing his books translated to film again shortly.
P.S. Never in a million years as I grew would I have ever expected the name Cantelon to hold so much expectation in terms of ministry. So many people in ministry circles are familiar with people like Jim Cantelon, Brent Cantelon, Todd Cantelon, Homer Cantelon and others who have served faithfully in ministry. They are all cousins whom I have not met save for a couple of brief e-mails and through acquaintances. While I was at seminary my profs all new the last name. The president of Tyndale, Brian Stiller, was keen to see me connect with Jim Cantelon who is a personal friend of his. I never did.
As I look back into the family tree I find ministers going back to St. Thomas de Cantelupe of Hereford, England in the 13th century. I hope I live up to the pedigree.

One thought on “Dostoevsky

  1. I recently finished reading Brothers Karamazov and I really enjoyed it. If you haven\’t read them already, may I also suggest Crime and Punishment and The Idiot. He\’s one of my favourite authors but I don\’t know what to think of his very Russian brand of Christianity. His books have a recurrent theme of suffering as means of expiating one\’s sins, but Christ already suffered and died for our sins, we are already forgiven, so why do we need to suffer for them? Of course I understand the merits of suffering, but purposefully seeking it out and punishing ourselves for our sins doesn\’t make sense to me. But maybe my interpretation is wrong. I sure will be looking forward to reading your posts on Dostoyevsky.


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