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    Another aside: Wasn't Stalin a published poet, in his previous life? He may not have been a poetic genius, but (although I've never read his poetry) he was apparently a decent poet (unlike Hitler who was a rank amateur as a painter). Stalin's literary skills led him to run Pravda -- which is how he got involved with politics.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    Another aside: Wasn't Stalin a published poet, in his previous life? He may not have been a poetic genius, but (although I've never read his poetry) he was apparently a decent poet (unlike Hitler who was a rank amateur as a painter). Stalin's literary skills led him to run Pravda -- which is how he got involved with politics.
    I think he wrote poetry as a young man and as a seminarian (yes, Joseph Stalin, seminarian from hell). At the time it wasn't that unusual for a young Russian (or Georgian) to write poetry. But I don't think he wrote any after the revolution. Mao did, though.*

    *Mao's poetry was once described by Arthur Waley as better than Hitler's paintings but worse than Churchill's. If MANICHAEAN will forgive me, that's a pretty low bar.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 12-04-2017 at 10:46 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Like I said, you have to remove the religious interpretation there. Of course, at any point Jesus preaches against what the Devil causes, but if you see the characteres who are adressed by Jesus (the Devil is often absent as a character, Jesus has to find others to dialogue - not to mention Jesus is very good to talk by himself, about his virtues, which are the virtues of humankind to bring the best out of people. He is a bad politician in a way to humanize Satan as his enemy.), his "antagonists" in his main momments are others. He found more tangible targets after the mystical time in the desert. Even for example the great momments in the Getsami prior to his prision, who he talks with? Himself and God. Only that bad movie of Mel Gibson felt the need to place satan near him that momment. In a way, Jesus can be ambiguous and the gospels are hardly prone to manicheism. Jesus is quite good to find good in bad. In fact, he loves it. If I am being confusing, I would think the difference of the characters in Revelation, when the enemy is pretty clear, it was a different time and purpose also.
    No, you are not being confusing, but I think we are approaching the subject from different perspectives (and I don't mean sacred vs secular). My training, prehistoric though it is now, was in ancient languages and historical text criticism. This is how I learned to approach ancient texts, including the Greek Bible (although I was also raised in the church--the son of a liberal Protestant minister). I'm betting that you were raised in a Catholic environment and subsequently studied Biblical text from a "Bible as literature" perspective. I have never done so (I'm sure it has been obvious to you for some time that where literature is concerned I am an autodidact). I really don't look at Biblical as a harmonized literary product--at least not in its intentional form. The synoptic Gospels (the first three) are similar enough to be considered variations on the same general story (although each is composed of discrete units that its editor/redactor has placed in a certain context to make a historical or theological point. It is therefore important that all three of these redactors place the confrontation with the devil at the outset of Jesus' ministry. It means that the synoptic view--the more or less common view of these three traditions--is that Jesus' story involved a cosmic drama superseding the kind of interpersonal conflict you mention. This cosmic drama is played out (somewhat humorously in my view) by the demons Jesus runs into in the Synoptics. Human beings mystified and befuddled by Jesus ("What kind of man is this?" they ask rather stupidly); but the demons get it from the start: "We know who you are, Jesus of Nazareth," they say, "the Holy One of God!" The struggle is given literary symmetry in the Lukan passage I mentioned in which the devil reappears to Judas Iscariot to mark the end of Jesus' ministry and the beginning of his Passion. It doesn't matter that you and I and Ivan Karamazov don't much go for this devil stuff anymore. The synoptic Evangelists did and wrote their Gospels accordingly. That's a critical point of view and not a religious one.

    It's not that there aren't also human conflicts in the Synoptics, but to make your argument you really have to conflate those Gospels with the Gospel of John (where, for example, Jesus' conflict with the Jewish leaders Caiaphas and Annas occurs). That's easy enough to do from a Bible as Literature perspective but a mortal sin (just kidding ) in historical-critical analysis. There John is seen in a sharply separate context from the synoptic Gospels --one in which there is much more inter-religious (or intra-Jewish) conflict. To employ a consistent comparison, Jesus' ministry in John does not begin with a cosmic confrontation with the devil but with Jesus starting a riot in the great Jewish Temple in Jerusalem (and even beating people with a whip). A less violent version of the story also occurs in the Synoptic tradition, but there it is placed much later in the narrative. John puts it at the beginning because his Gospel is all about conflict with Judaism and the leaders of Judaism. But that doesn't mean the synoptic Gospels see it that way. And (just to make it more confusing) none of this implies that John does not see cosmic elements in Jesus's earthly struggle; but they are understood differently than in the Synoptics.

    But ifthat is too dense, let me try to put it simply. While it is true that I am a Christian, and a faithful Christian, that is not the reason I see the synoptic Gospels as primarily depicting a cosmic conflict between God and the devil. Critical text study convinces me of it, and I place that before an analysis of the four Gospels as a harmonized literary unit.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    You are taking my use of pleasure in a very literal way I would suggest that as much the idea trobled him in personal terms, even at aesthetical level he enjoyed the idea and adopted it a lot of times for his purposes.
    I couldn't agree with you more.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Oh, I do not think Dostoievisky shared any love for Blake or Yan Ying (Enough orientalism with Tolstoy), I was just repeating your own analogy. Your following idea (or Paul Tilich) is what I think Dostoievisky worked with. Duality is not always a form to put things to clash, but to enhance the strength of the oposite. (Narrative wise).
    Again we agree. And I apologize for not being clearer before. I didn't mean that you were suggesting Dostoyevsky followed Blake or the Tao. I had introduced those as examples of dualism, but then I wanted to assert that Dostoyevsky's perspective was different--that in the case of Myshkin and Rogozhin it was pathetic if not tragic.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Well, I haven't read Fenimore Cooper. I do not feel like it. But I guess Stalin liking a popular novel about a strong individual bringing civilization to a bunch of wildlings in a midst of a conflict? Sounds that strange?
    Yes, I suppose it's possible. But I have a feeling there was more of a fantastic element for him--reading about the Indians the way someone in the West might read the Arabian Nights. I imagine even mass murderers need to dream like children sometimes.

    Okay, okay, Gogol tomorrow.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    No, you are not being confusing, but I think we are approaching the subject from different perspectives (and I don't mean sacred vs secular). My training, prehistoric though it is now, was in ancient languages and historical text criticism. This is how I learned to approach ancient texts, including the Greek Bible (although I was also raised in the church--the son of a liberal Protestant minister). I'm betting that you were raised in a Catholic environment and subsequently studied Biblical text from a "Bible as literature" perspective. I have never done so (I'm sure it has been obvious to you for some time that where literature is concerned I am an autodidact). I really don't look at Biblical as a harmonized literary product--at least not in its intentional form. The synoptic Gospels (the first three) are similar enough to be considered variations on the same general story (although each is composed of discrete units that its editor/redactor has placed in a certain context to make a historical or theological point. It is therefore important that all three of these redactors place the confrontation with the devil at the outset of Jesus' ministry. It means that the synoptic view--the more or less common view of these three traditions--is that Jesus' story involved a cosmic drama superseding the kind of interpersonal conflict you mention. This cosmic drama is played out (somewhat humorously in my view) by the demons Jesus runs into in the Synoptics. Human beings mystified and befuddled by Jesus ("What kind of man is this?" they ask rather stupidly); but the demons get it from the start: "We know who you are, Jesus of Nazareth," they say, "the Holy One of God!" The struggle is given literary symmetry in the Lukan passage I mentioned in which the devil reappears to Judas Iscariot to mark the end of Jesus' ministry and the beginning of his Passion. It doesn't matter that you and I and Ivan Karamazov don't much go for this devil stuff anymore. The synoptic Evangelists did and wrote their Gospels accordingly. That's a critical point of view and not a religious one.

    It's not that there aren't also human conflicts in the Synoptics, but to make your argument you really have to conflate those Gospels with the Gospel of John (where, for example, Jesus' conflict with the Jewish leaders Caiaphas and Annas occurs). That's easy enough to do from a Bible as Literature perspective but a mortal sin (just kidding ) in historical-critical analysis. There John is seen in a sharply separate context from the synoptic Gospels --one in which there is much more inter-religious (or intra-Jewish) conflict. To employ a consistent comparison, Jesus' ministry in John does not begin with a cosmic confrontation with the devil but with Jesus starting a riot in the great Jewish Temple in Jerusalem (and even beating people with a whip). A less violent version of the story also occurs in the Synoptic tradition, but there it is placed much later in the narrative. John puts it at the beginning because his Gospel is all about conflict with Judaism and the leaders of Judaism. But that doesn't mean the synoptic Gospels see it that way. And (just to make it more confusing) none of this implies that John does not see cosmic elements in Jesus's earthly struggle; but they are understood differently than in the Synoptics.

    But ifthat is too dense, let me try to put it simply. While it is true that I am a Christian, and a faithful Christian, that is not the reason I see the synoptic Gospels as primarily depicting a cosmic conflict between God and the devil. Critical text study convinces me of it, and I place that before an analysis of the four Gospels as a harmonized literary unit.
    I also agree that the main theme of the gospels is Good vs.Evil (or God vs.Devil, as for a christian, all good come from God, all evil from the devil. Yaveh didnt harden the heart of Judas for the sake of his design, like he did with the pharoh. It was the devil ). I am also aware that John Gospels builds a more clear cut antagonism between Christian and Jews because by then, the separation between both groups was quite clear, even if in Mathew and cia. Jesus, as a reformist, target specific groups and pratices inside the jewish community. I am also not tempted to make those interpretations that see Jesus as a hippie/first commie, despite the implication of some of his acts (like choosing followers among unclean people), I think his primary motivation was religious (he is rescuing the faith/relation with god, so he is rescuing people, etc.) and not a social/economic ideal.

    This exercise is a bit of fantasy, there is no such thing as "forget the religious part", I know. The literary structure, even the aesthetic is deeply linked to the religious/moral structure of a text (as Dante would agree), perhaps it is even working for it. But for the fantasy sake, and because we were talking about a literary character, I was trying to specify those points. So, I was thinking how Satan as character is relevant for Rogozhim.

    Take Judas. He is pretty much satan by proxy, no doubt. But Jesus reveals the betrayal, what he does? Calls the devil by the name? Pratices an exorcism (he did once or while, albeit the demons he meet are not exactly Satan, but I think it was something that had to be in his "Profile" and are as relevant as the other miracles, despite of course, each miracle has a mystery on their own)? No, he confronts Judas. In a way, this humanizes the evil (and that just after we have Getsami scene, where Jesus humanizes himself a bit, it is notable). I am not sure the Gospels intentions are those, but I think for Dostoievisky psychological creation this was relevant. For him the idea Satan is "part of every human is a great idea. Rogozhim is, of course, not part of Myshkin, but we know they have a dynamic on their own. He is hardly what causes more trouble to the prince, but he is there, present-absent. He enchances Myshkin moral (and perhaps, tells us for once he is not an idiot. Rogozhim understands Myshkin in a way better than anyone else, maybe this fits with the fact the demons - not satan per si - reckon Jesus. They "communicate" in the same level that the poor fishermen couldnt).

    Well, even if Dostoievisky is religious, he is not exactly mysical as the closer Blake example, so the literary aspects are very atractive to him. I do not think he allow himself the portray a great Satan character (great in power, incluence), as Milton had to do to have a remarkable antagonist in Paradise Lost. Perhaps Dostoievisky was too self-aware of his flawed life, but his Satans are a bit pathetic (which maybe another voltairean influence, as Voltaire loved to portray his rivals highlighting elements for ridiculue and leaving aside anything that could be used to understood the target ideas), even Rogozhim is a bit pitiable. Perhaps his best finished take on theme, The Great Inquisitor, works because Satan is removed from the scene, replaced by a proxy (some sort of Caifas) to target Catholic Church. So, we have again the individual character replaced by a bigger social structure. Unlike others, The Great Inquisitor is not pathetic, albeit human, even reasonable. Ivan cannt even doubt of this, even if it is way clear to him that it was a fiction.

    Well, I do not think we disagree that much, as pretty much the conclusions are similar, but you couldn't call a ramble without a bit a rambling.


    Again we agree. And I apologize for not being clearer before. I didn't mean that you were suggesting Dostoyevsky followed Blake or the Tao. I had introduced those as examples of dualism, but then I wanted to assert that Dostoyevsky's perspective was different--that in the case of Myshkin and Rogozhin it was pathetic if not tragic.
    Yeah, I think I addressed already, perhaps what makes Brothers K a superior book (in my opinion of course) is that the balance of strength between Myshkin and Rogozhin is not so even to give us a clear idea of redemption in the end. Myshkin is a much more lively character, dynamic...



    Yes, I suppose it's possible. But I have a feeling there was more of a fantastic element for him--reading about the Indians the way someone in the West might read the Arabian Nights. I imagine even mass murderers need to dream like children sometimes.

    Okay, okay, Gogol tomorrow.
    I think anyone who grows up that moustache has a great "sense of destiny" about himself.

    Side snip, unrelated to dead and souls, i think the arabians luke-wark reception of Arabian Nights has little to do with the facts is a fantasy they are used with it. They were well aware and they have a culture that appreciate it. (Muhammad of all people liked it), but the language. It was popular, "bad written" by the scholatisc style (and you know, they are quite academic about writting), an unfinished product and vulgar. Our translators pretty much improved the text in many ways.
    Last edited by JCamilo; 12-05-2017 at 08:26 AM.
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    (Despite appearances, the following paragraph contains no spoilers).

    For several hours after finishing Dead Souls I believed, wrongly, that I did not like the ending. Chichikov's career as a fraud had been ended by a lengthy conservative screed that had convinced him to go straight and settle down. He sank into sleep on the final page with visions of landownership dancing in his head like sugarplums in the poem about Christmas Eve. No, no, Chichikov, I thought, you are too wonderful a fly-but-night huckster for this. You deserve--well you deserve to get caught. And you, Nikolai Gogol, how could you have concluded such a brilliant premise with an ending worthy of Ayn Rand at her worst? And if feudal landlordism is so moral, how come Chichikov gets to bankroll it with his ill-gotten gains? How come he is planning on cheating a neighbor even as he falls, as you say, into oblivion? Are you kidding? That's it?

    I need not have fussed. A little later, while looking through a collection of Gogol's works, I discovered that the ebook I had been reading somehow omitted the final chapter of Dead Souls. (It was the Feedbooks edition--if anyone else is following this thread, BE WARNED). And so, after a heartfelt apology to Gogol and Chichikov, I read on. As it turns out, the final chapter of Dead Souls contains multiple ellipses (which the editor assures me are lengthy) and ends in mid-sentence. While Chichikov has further trials to endure (and to inflict on others), he is at least spared the "oblivion" into which Feedbooks cast him. Some loose ends are left (presumably they fell into the ellipses), but Chichikov's story in any case is resolved. Were the missing parts eaten by mice, perforated by paper parasites, or ripped out by some dead-souled commissar? Who knows? What time has taken it has taken. You just have to read on.

    My impression of Dead Souls as a (somewhat) whole novel is that the second part is more beautifully written than the first, but the first contains better satire--largely because it does not scruple to be grotesque. For Gogol, this seems to have everything to do with place. Part one is set in a vast, flat, ugly scrubland, owned by even uglier provincial landlords. Part Two moves to a gorgeous landscape of conifers and birch where the landowners (some anyways) become wise. While neither section quite approximates a picaresque novel, the first part comes closest with its parade of outlandish provincial nobodies. The second part is more of a conventional novel (by modern standards), but its fragmented state makes it hard to tell for sure.

    I prefer the ugly part. Admittedly, after the first few landowners I began to worry. I get it, I thought, they are dirty and crude and paranoid and cheap and they will haggle over anything. But what makes Gogol a great writer is that grotesqueries go well beyond class stereotypes. He is like Dickens in that way: each caricature, however grotesque, is an individual. My favorites were the plainspoken, bear-like Sobakevich, and Plushkin, the wizened miser who wept for joy at having been sucked into Chichikov's shady dealings.

    But Gogol's greatest creation is Chichikov himself--the epitome of the middling man, but one who has stumbled upon the comically grim plan of (SPOILER, I guess, but not really) buying the names of dead serfs to be used as collateral against a massive loan. This can be defaulted on in time--and let his creditors try to recoup their (dead) losses! The dead serfs--called souls in the idiom of the times--account for the black comedy's odd title. But surely Gogol is also referring to the dead-souled landlords who would sell even their dead serfs' memories; and no less to Chichikov himself. Though Gogol defends "our hero" in the closing pages of part one as no worse than the next man, he is, I suspect, speaking with irony. And Chichikov only gets worse in part two.

    My greatest regret about Dead Souls (besides the fragmentation of the last chapter) is that the character of Nozdrev does not come along for the second part of the novel. Nozdrev is one of the petty landlords--a braggart and a real a ss. At first he seems too foolish to be much of a problem, but once he gets his teeth into Chichikov, he is able to make real trouble for him. It would have increased dramatic tension and provided greater continuity between the two sections if Nozdrev had pursued Chichikov into the richer countryside. Perhaps he could have turned out to be a dangerous psychotic (not much of a leap) and to have played a role in Chichikov's fate. But Nozdrev, alas, is left behind with the rest of the uglies, and Chichikov makes his own fate.

    This hints at the only real problem with Dead Souls. There is so little continuity between the two parts that the second seems like another book. Since the sequel (to look at it in those terms) is somewhat fragmented, the author's intent can be difficult to gauge. I'm still not sure whether the conservative landowners' credo that ended my first "reading" of Dead Souls was intended to be ironic. The surviving final chapter seems more conserved with Christian values as a solution for one of Chichikov's victims. Chichikov himself does manage to get his comeuppance, though it doesn't last long. It's hard to keep a bad man down--even a mediocrity like Chichikov--and Gogol knows better than to try.

    I recommend Dead Souls unreservedly. Just don't read the Feedbooks edition.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 12-05-2017 at 10:00 PM.
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  6. #36
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Well, I do not think we disagree that much, as pretty much the conclusions are similar, but you couldn't call a ramble without a bit a rambling.
    Yes, it's all about the ramble.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    I also agree that the main theme of the gospels is Good vs.Evil (or God vs.Devil, as for a christian, all good come from God, all evil from the devil. Yaveh didnt harden the heart of Judas for the sake of his design, like he did with the pharoh. It was the devil ).
    Or at least that there is a true dichotomy (duality?) between good and evil and not a relative one as my Buddhist wife tells me. But I think most Christians understand that the human heart contains both (and perhaps more bad than good). That is where the devils need to be confronted. And you were right to say that the Gospels abound in examples of God embracing the imperfect. We really aren't Manichaeans.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    I am also aware that John Gospels builds a more clear cut antagonism between Christian and Jews because by then, the separation between both groups was quite clear, even if in Mathew and cia. Jesus, as a reformist, target specific groups and pratices inside the jewish community.
    Yes, that's still the consensus scholarly opinion, although it doesn't really make sense that the separation would have been complete so early. A few dissenters (with whom I am sympathetic) suggest that the conflict in John was largely intra-Jewish since oi Iudaioi can just mean the Judeans (as opposed, for example, to the Galileans) and may refer to a religious faction rather than the Jews as a whole. But that's a can of worms we don't need to get into here. For our purposes it is enough to note that the conflict in John has shifted away from the vision of the synoptic Gospels. Rather than confronting o diabolos in person, Jesus now has to contend with human beings: "He came to the world, but the world knew him not; he came to his own, and his own received him not." Slapping down the devil in the wilderness was easy by comparison.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    I am also not tempted to make those interpretations that see Jesus as a hippie/first commie, despite the implication of some of his acts (like choosing followers among unclean people), I think his primary motivation was religious (he is rescuing the faith/relation with god, so he is rescuing people, etc.) and not a social/economic ideal.
    I agree to an extent, but just as there is no way (as you say below) to "forget the religious part," it is virtually impossible to grasp Jesus' context (or in my opinion his ministry) without understanding the social and economic desperation of those to whom he ministered. But again, this is a big subject and we were really talking about something else.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    This exercise is a bit of fantasy, there is no such thing as "forget the religious part", I know. The literary structure, even the aesthetic is deeply linked to the religious/moral structure of a text (as Dante would agree), perhaps it is even working for it. But for the fantasy sake, and because we were talking about a literary character, I was trying to specify those points. So, I was thinking how Satan as character is relevant for Rogozhim.

    Take Judas. He is pretty much satan by proxy, no doubt. But Jesus reveals the betrayal, what he does? Calls the devil by the name? Pratices an exorcism (he did once or while, albeit the demons he meet are not exactly Satan, but I think it was something that had to be in his "Profile" and are as relevant as the other miracles, despite of course, each miracle has a mystery on their own)? No, he confronts Judas. In a way, this humanizes the evil (and that just after we have Getsami scene, where Jesus humanizes himself a bit, it is notable). I am not sure the Gospels intentions are those, but I think for Dostoievisky psychological creation this was relevant. For him the idea Satan is "part of every human is a great idea. Rogozhim is, of course, not part of Myshkin, but we know they have a dynamic on their own.
    Ah, but does Rogozhin have a part in Myshkin? That is what I was getting at with the idea of Myshkin having a fatal flaw. Again, Trinitarianism (including Russian Orthodoxy) insists that Jesus was fully divine and fully human. Isn't Dostoyevsky saying something like, Yes, but all humans have some bad in them too; if we make Jesus into an all-good human, aren't we stripping him of a true human nature? This, I think, is what is so shocking about that image of Myshkin and Rogozhin together like the Yin-Yang: they are opposing forces, but they are also a unity.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    He is hardly what causes more trouble to the prince
    Well, he does try to kill him. And he ends by killing the woman each was trying to "save" from the other. He is certainly an opponent.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    but he is there, present-absent. He enchances Myshkin moral (and perhaps, tells us for once he is not an idiot. Rogozhim understands Myshkin in a way better than anyone else, maybe this fits with the fact the demons - not satan per si - reckon Jesus. They "communicate" in the same level that the poor fishermen couldnt).
    Yes, I think Dostoyevsky conceives of them as a duality--opposing forces who are ultimately on the same team. It's utterly different from the synoptic view of Christ in the wilderness, but I think quite comprehensible. Or not--it seems to have driven Myshkin back to imbecility.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Well, even if Dostoievisky is religious, he is not exactly mysical as the closer Blake example, so the literary aspects are very atractive to him. I do not think he allow himself the portray a great Satan character (great in power, incluence), as Milton had to do to have a remarkable antagonist in Paradise Lost. Perhaps Dostoievisky was too self-aware of his flawed life, but his Satans are a bit pathetic (which maybe another voltairean influence, as Voltaire loved to portray his rivals highlighting elements for ridiculue and leaving aside anything that could be used to understood the target ideas), even Rogozhim is a bit pitiable.
    Yes, the devil for Dostoyevsky is the poor relation who haunted Ivan Karamazov. And yes, Rogozhin is a thoroughly neurotic character. I don't know if Dostoyevsky is getting that from Voltaire, but it's possible. Which reminds me of my favorite Voltaire quote, which like the Stalin quote is almost certainly apocryphal. On his deathbed, Voltaire is supposed to have been asked by a priest whether he renounced Satan, to which he purportedly replied: "Why make enemies now?"

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Perhaps his best finished take on theme, The Great Inquisitor, works because Satan is removed from the scene, replaced by a proxy (some sort of Caifas) to target Catholic Church. So, we have again the individual character replaced by a bigger social structure. Unlike others, The Great Inquisitor is not pathetic, albeit human, even reasonable. Ivan cannt even doubt of this, even if it is way clear to him that it was a fiction.
    I think what bothers Ivan is the idea that human beings are not worthy of free choice because most of them will choose to do evil. The anxiety may even touch the idea of Myshkin/Jesus' human nature necessarily having some bad in it. I imagine Dostoyevsky found these ideas unsettling.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    I think anyone who grows up that moustache has a great "sense of destiny" about himself.
    I wonder if Stalin had bad mustache days. You know, like ladies (okay, men too, I guess) sometimes have bad hair days? It could explain a lot about the 1930s...

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Side snip, unrelated to dead and souls, i think the arabians luke-wark reception of Arabian Nights has little to do with the facts is a fantasy they are used with it. They were well aware and they have a culture that appreciate it. (Muhammad of all people liked it), but the language. It was popular, "bad written" by the scholatisc style (and you know, they are quite academic about writting), an unfinished product and vulgar. Our translators pretty much improved the text in many ways.
    That very likely explains it. I've sometimes wondered if the Western appetite for the Arabian Nights was what led to its middling reputation. An Arab friend once told me that it's really just a collection of stories for children. (That made me think that he had never actually read it, since you would be arrested if you showed some of those stories to children over here). But the exacting nature of Muslim scholasticism probably does more to explain its reputation.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 12-05-2017 at 10:21 PM.
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    My greatest regret about Dead Souls (besides the fragmentation of the last chapter) is that the character of Nozdrev does not come along for the second part of the novel. Nozdrev is one of the petty landlords--a braggart and a real a ss. At first he seems too foolish to be much of a problem, but once he gets his teeth into Chichikov, he is able to make real trouble for him. It would have increased dramatic tension and provided greater continuity between the two sections if Nozdrev pursued Chichikov into the richer countryside. Perhaps he could have turned out to be a dangerous psychotic (not much of a leap) and to have played a role in Chichikov's fate. But Nozdrev, alas, is left behind with the rest of uglies, and Chichikov makes his own fate.
    I felt exactly the same way -- except that the fragmentation of the book's 2nd half is what pissed me off more.

    SPOILER -- Gogol was convinced to save his soul to burn this work Dead Souls. Part one was salvaged. Part two was pieced together with notes and drafts and tidbits, thus the fragmentation.

    I felt so darn ripped off...
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    I had no idea! That's so tragic--like Botticelli burning his paintings in Savonarola's bonfire. No, I didn't feel cheated, but now I wonder how much there was in that second part. Maybe Nozdrev returned after all!
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 12-05-2017 at 10:53 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    Yes, that's still the consensus scholarly opinion, although it doesn't really make sense that the separation would have been complete so early. A few dissenters (with whom I am sympathetic) suggest that the conflict in John was largely intra-Jewish since oi Iudaioi can just mean the Judeans (as opposed, for example, to the Galileans) and may refer to a religious faction rather than the Jews as a whole. But that's a can of worms we don't need to get into here. For our purposes it is enough to note that the conflict in John has shifted away from the vision of the synoptic Gospels. Rather than confronting o diabolos in person, Jesus now has to contend with human beings: "He came to the world, but the world knew him not; he came to his own, and his own received him not." Slapping down the devil in the wilderness was easy by comparison.
    Yeah, Auerbach when analysing realism in literature since the begining compares Jesus to Ulysses to show a shift on the Gospels which shows Jesus more close to humanity (despite in the end, he being more close to divinity, but he is talking from literary point of view), which is a signal of the gospels inovation and movement from the tragic/epic tradition, because the gospels do seem to use their time to show the small drama of very human characters around Jesus which are not usually topic for such serious and sublime (his words, but in the sense Jesus obviously is in a way something elevated) but for comic stuff, such as Peter three betrayals little drama (it was his example and Peter was full of those momments, no wonder it became a tradition to have stories about him and Jesus wandering around and he playng the comic part, but I am pretty sure Mary and Joseph angst when Jesus was 12 and "lost" in Jerusalem would count too, Thomas skeptcism - I think he missed a great oportunity comparing the servant reckogning Ulysses when he returns home and Thomas). Obviously, making things more human than alegorical may have more impact on more people.

    I agree to an extent, but just as there is no way (as you say below) to "forget the religious part," it is virtually impossible to grasp Jesus' context (or in my opinion his ministry) without understanding the social and economic desperation of those to whom he ministered. But again, this is a big subject and we were really talking about something else.
    Oh, sure. There is a lot of pratical sense in why he is with those popular classes, just mean his main aim is religious and not political.



    Ah, but does Rogozhin have a part in Myshkin? That is what I was getting at with the idea of Myshkin having a fatal flaw. Again, Trinitarianism (including Russian Orthodoxy) insists that Jesus was fully divine and fully human. Isn't Dostoyevsky saying something like, Yes, but all humans have some bad in them too; if we make Jesus into an all-good human, aren't we stripping him of a true human nature? This, I think, is what is so shocking about that image of Myshkin and Rogozhin together like the Yin-Yang: they are opposing forces, but they are also a unity.
    Well, yes. Like I said before, Dostoievisky main strategy is to place two characters with different ideas so they could build up a single something (because I think saying a single concept is actually misleading, as if Dostoievisky was explaining something in a socratic way, while I think he derivates from the socratic way to build the idea, but his aim is not find the truth in a philosophical way, but find the human). Just to note, maybe even you would agree, that Myshkin - Rogozhin being two and forming one, there is no Rogozhin in Myshkin or Myshkin in Rogozhin (but rather there is an absence of Rogozhin in Myshkin). Perhaps it was an allegory of trinity (not sure, since this is game Dostoievisky develops in his novels), but I would say they have a necessary dynamic. I think, because Myshkin is not modeled in Jesus only, the Dynamic of Quixote-Sancho.


    Well, he does try to kill him. And he ends by killing the woman each was trying to "save" from the other. He is certainly an opponent.
    I am not sure I would call him an opponent, but this may be just semantics between us. I don't feel Myshkin ever attempt to react against Rogozhin (In fact, he was too docile to really act against anyone, in this he is much more Quixote than Jesus) and they even seem to keep their bond together with Natásya death (bond in successful failure?) and how much Natasya is itself a cause of more troubles to Myshkin? Anyways, if we think the duo is sometimes one thing, Rogozhin is acting against him as much as against Myshkin, no? And in the end, they share some sort of similar fate (both end locked and apart society, because both are not fit for it).

    Yes, I think Dostoyevsky conceives of them as a duality--opposing forces who are ultimately on the same team. It's utterly different from the synoptic view of Christ in the wilderness, but I think quite comprehensible. Or not--it seems to have driven Myshkin back to imbecility.
    Honest, we can say that Myshkin and Rogozhin (because i do not think imbecility is a right word. Gladys would agree) are moving towards some sort of madness (or the simple capacity to live in normal society) before her death. In fact, the wedding, Rogozhin murder, are all actions that lack a bit of good sense, an extreme sittuation. Well, Quixote in the end is sane, Myshkin in the end is back to isolation.



    Yes, the devil for Dostoyevsky is the poor relation who haunted Ivan Karamazov. And yes, Rogozhin is a thoroughly neurotic character. I don't know if Dostoyevsky is getting that from Voltaire, but it's possible. Which reminds me of my favorite Voltaire quote, which like the Stalin quote is almost certainly apocryphal. On his deathbed, Voltaire is supposed to have been asked by a priest whether he renounced Satan, to which he purportedly replied: "Why make enemies now?"
    Heard this anedocte quite a lot, albeit with a bit more of Voltaire character, a smile, a tap in the priet's hand and a "now, now my good man, it is not time to make new enemies". Suits well the idea that even dying the old man had time to be witty, mock something powerful and be coy.

    I think what bothers Ivan is the idea that human beings are not worthy of free choice because most of them will choose to do evil. The anxiety may even touch the idea of Myshkin/Jesus' human nature necessarily having some bad in it. I imagine Dostoyevsky found these ideas unsettling.
    I think that is what bothers Dostoievisky He expressed once or while the need of God and Devil to control our actions in life, indeed. I don't think Dostoievisky could cope with Rousseau's natural good (aha, point for Voltaire) and he was too bleak for romantic ideas (we started this somewhere with Wuthering Heights, I think, if Dostoievisky knew the novel and knew another dark romaticism twist, Moby Dick, he would approve both of them. Of course, he would probally be deeply jealous of Moby, since even the duality and religious stress are in the book, unlike in the Bronte's), and of course, Dostoievisky own life may have helped it.


    I wonder if Stalin had bad mustache days. You know, like ladies (okay, men too, I guess) sometimes have bad hair days? It could explain a lot about the 1930s...
    Meh, My moustache is nowhere as massive and if i do not get careful (and I am careless), I will end eating moustache every time. Stalin, alive, wouldn't need Putin macho attics to get the russian women (or even place them in jobs in the governament). The guy, had followed his writer path, would certainly be popular on his looks only.



    That very likely explains it. I've sometimes wondered if the Western appetite for the Arabian Nights was what led to its middling reputation. An Arab friend once told me that it's really just a collection of stories for children. (That made me think that he had never actually read it, since you would be arrested if you showed some of those stories to children over here). But the exacting nature of Muslim scholasticism probably does more to explain its reputation.
    Yeah, but he probally never heard an original arabian 1001 nights either. The book history is fascinating as one of the tales. Of course, fables and such aren't children stories there at all, just like they werent for us. They were used for moral teachings and entertainment, considered a minor genre than poetry, quoranic texts and hadiths (the islamic culture had a big concern with canonical texts already too). Of course, they had a big tradition for parables and they are worried with truth in literature. That is how 1001 Nights was born.

    Once a genre is considered minor and pure entertainment, far from academical control, what happens? Became popular and in popular literature the more comic aspects are introduced and enhanced. So we have more feelings, pathetic scenes, mundane sittuations and characters, language, violence, etc. That is the text Galand translated in an age french court was already open to bring fables and popular tales - with the huge influence born from Bocaccio and the whole italian novelino - home. That is when you see those people talking about how the faery tales werent sugary in the original (which is funny, since obviously, perrault didnt had any original version of those stories at all). It is the french age of Voltaire (we have a lot of sex jokes, violence, etc in his tales after all and Sade). Between translations from here to there (some censoring the most violent and sexual parts, some exagerating it like Burton's translations), XIX century realism made all fantasy and faery tales be for children. So, the sugary versions are born.

    What happens is that arabic countries after the opening in XIX century noticed the european "lust" for storytellers like 1001 night and what they did? They noticed it was just something they had and adapted it for the visitors. So, the arabians have mostly a version they got back from europe. I have a friend from Egypt and she has no idea about the most sexual and violent elements of 1001 nights. And of course, the textual nature of 1001 nights (it is a very complicated reading, it was not meant to be actually used as oral storytelling as such, as the tales are broken in several tales in a way that you have not a narrative line to follow) make that everywhere, most editions, edit this to make the stories be like a collection of tales and not a labyrinth.
    #foratemer

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    I had no idea! That's so tragic--like Botticelli burning his paintings in Savonarola's bonfire. No, I didn't feel cheated, but now I wonder how much there was in that second part. Maybe Nozdrev returned after all!
    Guess we'll never know. Unless, of course, someone decides to 'finish it' as a fan fiction...

    And as for Botticelli burning his paintings ... what is with these geniuses burning everything?? Botticelli, Gogol, and Chopin -- who demanded that his sister burn and destroy all the works that were in his home at the time of his death... a deathbed statement that was not followed (thank gawd). Many virtuoso pieces were printed posthumously.
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    The modern world sees the Medecis as the heroes of the Renaissance, and Savonarola as the villain. I suppose that since what remains of that era is those paintings not cast onto Savonarola's bonfire, this seems reasonable. Historians of the Florentine Renaissance were probably attracted to study it by their interest in art. Nonetheless, the great Florentine Republican should (it seems to me) have some support among those who favor Democracy.

    Here's G.K. Chesterton's superb essay on the subject (I love the last line):

    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/14203...htm#SAVONAROLA

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    Quote Originally Posted by kiz_paws View Post
    And as for Botticelli burning his paintings ... what is with these geniuses burning everything?? Botticelli, Gogol, and Chopin -- who demanded that his sister burn and destroy all the works that were in his home at the time of his death... a deathbed statement that was not followed (thank gawd). Many virtuoso pieces were printed posthumously.
    I think Kafka asked for his writings to be burned, too. Sometimes we just have to thank God for the non-geniuses who know better.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    The modern world sees the Medecis as the heroes of the Renaissance, and Savonarola as the villain. I suppose that since what remains of that era is those paintings not cast onto Savonarola's bonfire, this seems reasonable. Historians of the Florentine Renaissance were probably attracted to study it by their interest in art. Nonetheless, the great Florentine Republican should (it seems to me) have some support among those who favor Democracy.

    Here's G.K. Chesterton's superb essay on the subject (I love the last line):

    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/14203...htm#SAVONAROLA
    My father and I went to the same university though obviously years apart. He was taught that Savonarola was a proto-democratic figure. I was taught almost exclusively about his religious fanaticism. Years later, when his name came up in conversation, it took us a while to understand that we were talking about the same man.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Yeah, Auerbach when analysing realism in literature since the begining compares Jesus to Ulysses to show a shift on the Gospels which shows Jesus more close to humanity (despite in the end, he being more close to divinity, but he is talking from literary point of view), which is a signal of the gospels inovation and movement from the tragic/epic tradition
    I'm sometimes inclined to see the sort of analysis you mention as artificially imposed between cultures (like Tacitus' Germania which can only understand Germanic culture in terms of a Roman model). But I cannot get away with that sort of skepticism with the Gospels. They appeared in the context of a Hellenistic Levant, so Greek literary models may have played some role in them. The author of Luke-Acts, for example, badly wants to be Thucydides. It's not like the Jews didn't know about the Greeks, and Hellenistic civilization was nothing if not the marriage of Hellenism to local cultures.

    That said, I am cautious about applying the models of epic or tragedy to the Gospels. The Greco-Roman yoke did not sit easily on 1st-century Jews. In Jesus' time, a bloody rebellion was just over the horizon, and the Canonical Gospels were written in its wake. I will go as far as to say that Hellenized Jews and sympathetic Greeks ("God fearers") hearing the Gospels would not have batted an eye at the idea of a man with superhuman powers and a divine parent (in other words, a hero on the Greek model). But I would cautious about seeing John as the result of a movement from mythic to human over time. There is just not enough time between Gospels for that to have happened. It is more likely that differences are the result of distance in space. The John community did things their way with little attention to the synoptic view (the exception being the Passion Narrative to which all canonical Gospels share a literary relationship). The synoptic communities did it their ways, each with its own theological/literary emphasis. But the idea that these groups were closely linked or evolved a literary tradition over time is (in my opinion) illusory. After Jesus came chaos--then competition.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    because the gospels do seem to use their time to show the small drama of very human characters around Jesus which are not usually topic for such serious and sublime (his words, but in the sense Jesus obviously is in a way something elevated) but for comic stuff, such as Peter three betrayals little drama (it was his example and Peter was full of those momments, no wonder it became a tradition to have stories about him and Jesus wandering around and he playng the comic part, but I am pretty sure Mary and Joseph angst when Jesus was 12 and "lost" in Jerusalem would count too, Thomas skeptcism - I think he missed a great oportunity comparing the servant reckogning Ulysses when he returns home and Thomas). Obviously, making things more human than alegorical may have more impact on more people.
    However comical it seems to us, the story of little boy Jesus lost in Jerusalem and ending up teaching in the Second Temple was serious in intent since it asserted a Christian-Jewish takeover of the Judean power structure. There may be a Romanish comical element in Jesus subsequently wising off to his father (Terrance and Plautus loved Bart Simpson types though they typically were slaves getting the better of masters). But that story is from Luke so it wouldn't fit the hypothesis of a literary movement from Synoptic to Johannine tradition. Peter's denial is in John, but it's also in Luke and Mark (Mark being the earliest Gospel), so that doesn't help the argument either. The story of Thomas' skepticism is from John alone. The comparison to the recognition scene in the Odyssey is clever and rather ingenious. I find it interesting speculation.

    But what I really suspect about the Thomas and Peter stories (and others in which Jesus' disciples are shown to be seriously flawed) is that they emerged early in the marketplace of competing Christian communities where they were used polemically rather than comically. In other words, a community founded on Thomist authority might warn prospective members off of a community founded on Petrine authority by repeating the story of how Peter had denied Jesus three times. Likewise the Petrine community might tell the story of how the risen Jesus had had to call Thomas out on his intransigent and impious doubt. These stories were collected (along with many others) by the Canonical Gospel writers and used for their own theological purposes (no longer polemical). In time, the stories came to represent how all are flawed and require God's forgiveness and Grace. (If other faithful Christians are reading this, please note that I have not claimed that the events never occurred or that their eventual interpretation--the universal need for forgiveness and Grace--was not the correct one. I just don't think that's how it played out historically.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Oh, sure. There is a lot of pratical sense in why he is with those popular classes, just mean his main aim is religious and not political.
    I appreciate the distinction, though a 1st-century Jew (or Roman) might not. In fact the ambiguity is probably what sent Jesus to Golgotha. You can only say the Kingdom of God is at hand so many times before a Roman decides to nail you to a stick.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Well, yes. Like I said before, Dostoievisky main strategy is to place two characters with different ideas so they could build up a single something (because I think saying a single concept is actually misleading, as if Dostoievisky was explaining something in a socratic way, while I think he derivates from the socratic way to build the idea, but his aim is not find the truth in a philosophical way, but find the human). Just to note, maybe even you would agree, that Myshkin - Rogozhin being two and forming one, there is no Rogozhin in Myshkin or Myshkin in Rogozhin (but rather there is an absence of Rogozhin in Myshkin). Perhaps it was an allegory of trinity (not sure, since this is game Dostoievisky develops in his novels), but I would say they have a necessary dynamic. I think, because Myshkin is not modeled in Jesus only, the Dynamic of Quixote-Sancho.
    Okay, Dostoyevsky is interested in finding the human--I agree. I think of a duality as opposing forces in the same integer but I don't really know how he saw it. As an aside, the small dots of opposite color in the Yin-Yang are supposed to imply an element of the opposing force within each side. I just mention it to suggest that various interpretations of duality are possible.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    I am not sure I would call him an opponent, but this may be just semantics between us. I don't feel Myshkin ever attempt to react against Rogozhin (In fact, he was too docile to really act against anyone, in this he is much more Quixote than Jesus) and they even seem to keep their bond together with Natásya death (bond in successful failure?) and how much Natasya is itself a cause of more troubles to Myshkin? Anyways, if we think the duo is sometimes one thing, Rogozhin is acting against him as much as against Myshkin, no? And in the end, they share some sort of similar fate (both end locked and apart society, because both are not fit for it).
    Yes, I'd say their bond is most manifest when (SPOILER) the dead Nastasya lies before them. And as you point out, there is a continuing a symmetry in their fates. They are even incarcerated in similar climes: Rogozhin in Siberia and Myshkin in an Alpine sanitarium. Did the shared cold suggest unity in a kind of living death?

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    I think that is what bothers Dostoievisky He expressed once or while the need of God and Devil to control our actions in life, indeed. I don't think Dostoievisky could cope with Rousseau's natural good (aha, point for Voltaire)
    Me neither--point for Dostoyevsky!


    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    and he was too bleak for romantic ideas (we started this somewhere with Wuthering Heights, I think, if Dostoievisky knew the novel and knew another dark romaticism twist, Moby Dick, he would approve both of them. Of course, he would probally be deeply jealous of Moby, since even the duality and religious stress are in the book, unlike in the Bronte's), and of course, Dostoievisky own life may have helped it.
    If Dostoyevsky had written Moby Dick--well, he could have got the Myshkin and Rogozhin bed together scene out of the way at the Spouter Inn, though they would have had to have kept their sanity for another 800 pages. On the plus side, Ahab's already crazy. He wouldn't even need The Grand Inquisitor to drive him over the edge.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Meh, My moustache is nowhere as massive and if i do not get careful (and I am careless), I will end eating moustache every time. Stalin, alive, wouldn't need Putin macho attics to get the russian women (or even place them in jobs in the governament). The guy, had followed his writer path, would certainly be popular on his looks only.
    My mustache, alas, is a bit grizzled these days. Worse, it is doomed. I grew it during my wife's visit with her mother in Taiwan. When she comes back, I promise you, her first words are going to be: "No kissing until you shave that thing off!" And I'll do it because I prefer kissing to mustaches. Life is all about compromise.

    Anyway, despite their carefully managed sex appeal, Stalin and Putin were/are relatively short. Putin is 5' 7" and Stalin was only 5' 6". And since Stalin was reputed to have shot his first wife (not for a political crime--he just shot her), I'm not sure how much the ladies wanted to be with him. Nikita Khrushchev, now there was a chick magnet.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Once a genre is considered minor and pure entertainment, far from academical control, what happens? Became popular and in popular literature the more comic aspects are introduced and enhanced. So we have more feelings, pathetic scenes, mundane sittuations and characters, language, violence, etc. That is the text Galand translated in an age french court was already open to bring fables and popular tales - with the huge influence born from Bocaccio and the whole italian novelino - home. That is when you see those people talking about how the faery tales werent sugary in the original (which is funny, since obviously, perrault didnt had any original version of those stories at all). It is the french age of Voltaire (we have a lot of sex jokes, violence, etc in his tales after all and Sade). Between translations from here to there (some censoring the most violent and sexual parts, some exagerating it like Burton's translations), XIX century realism made all fantasy and faery tales be for children. So, the sugary versions are born.
    Did you ever hear of the Child Ballads? It's a massive collection of Scottish and English popular ballads recovered in multiple versions by Francis James Child, a Harvard professor who traveled through 19th-century rural Britain recording everything he could find. Unforgivably, he took no note of the accompanying music, but ballad meter is usually simple and any number of standard tunes can be applied to it. Some of the ballads go back to the 16th century and a few are even older. Many are about ghosts and fairies (the nasty, scary kind, not the precious miniature ones), but there are also legends of King Arthur and Robin Hood, funny or somewhat risqué stories, murder ballads, and violence, violence, violence. This corpus, which it seems to me contains a great popular literature, is almost completely neglected today.

    I mention this because it seems to me that westerners have treated the Child Ballads a little like some Arabs treat the Arabian Nights. Fairy stories? Please! And to make it worse, The Child Ballads (as they are usually called), makes it sound like they were intended for children--which they were not. I think their reputation also suffered (unfairly) from the rejection of Pre-Raphaelite romanticism by the likes of Conrad, Ford Madox Ford, and eventually Hemingway. I'm rambling a bit (good place for it), but I guess my point is that most Arabs have at least heard of the Arabian Nights--even if they had it sold back to them by Western Orientalists. Who in the West has heard of the Child Ballads? Who even wants to hear about them? Cultures seem to lack appreciation for their own oral literature.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 12-06-2017 at 11:20 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    I'm sometimes inclined to see the sort of analysis you mention as artificially imposed between cultures (like Tacitus' Germania which can only understand Germanic culture in terms of a Roman model). But I cannot get away with that sort of skepticism with the Gospels. They appeared in the context of a Hellenistic Levant, so Greek literary models may have played some role in them. The author of Luke-Acts, for example, badly wants to be Thucydides. It's not like the Jews didn't know about the Greeks, and Hellenistic civilization was nothing if not the marriage of Hellenism to local cultures.

    That said, I am cautious about applying the models of epic or tragedy to the Gospels. The Greco-Roman yoke did not sit easily on 1st-century Jews. In Jesus' time, a bloody rebellion was just over the horizon, and the Canonical Gospels were written in its wake. I will go as far as to say that Hellenized Jews and sympathetic Greeks ("God fearers") hearing the Gospels would not have batted an eye at the idea of a man with superhuman powers and a divine parent (in other words, a hero on the Greek model). But I would cautious about seeing John as the result of a movement from mythic to human over time. There is just not enough time between Gospels for that to have happened. It is more likely that differences are the result of distance in space. The John community did things their way with little attention to the synoptic view (the exception being the Passion Narrative to which all canonical Gospels share a literary relationship). The synoptic communities did it their ways, each with its own theological/literary emphasis. But the idea that these groups were closely linked or evolved a literary tradition over time is (in my opinion) illusory. After Jesus came chaos--then competition.
    Competition is a link no? While you are right, there is enough difference, they are closer than Boccacio and Chaucer for example. But anyways, I do not think Auerbach was trying to imply a movement in the sense of romanticism, modernism, etc. He works more with genres, because he elaborates more than I did here, in a sense he is using what he considers universal traits, not an specific school. In fact, I kind like his writting skill, so I suggest reading him, but in no way I agree with all his stuff. In fact, I find him sometimes to be a bit biased towards the Gospels in perhaps, a religious bias. For example, when he do an analyse of the time used in both texts, he mentions Homer is always in present and relates this (correctly) to the oral storytelling tradition. Once a storyteller starts, it is happening now. He see the gospels as more elaborate, action happening is sequence, giving to the text a historical shape, so it was more believeable. While, ok, Gospels do look more close to a chronicle (specially, as you mention Luke), i find funny he would think Homer texts were only entertainment and the belief in the events, gods, heroes would only exist while some suspension of disbelief was present. That is a bias from him, imposing the idea one was story and another history and both cultures may not even had this notion (albeit of course, there was already plenty of discussion about it already). Of course, as you mention, it is easy to see differences between texts so far apart (time and space) and I am sure we would see those differences between Moses texts and the Gospels as well (to be fair, he does compare for the same effect with Abraham sacrifice text).


    However comical it seems to us, the story of little boy Jesus lost in Jerusalem and ending up teaching in the Second Temple was serious in intent since it asserted a Christian-Jewish takeover of the Judean power structure. There may be a Romanish comical element in Jesus subsequently wising off to his father (Terrance and Plautus loved Bart Simpson types though they typically were slaves getting the better of masters). But that story is from Luke so it wouldn't fit the hypothesis of a literary movement from Synoptic to Johannine tradition. Peter's denial is in John, but it's also in Luke and Mark (Mark being the earliest Gospel), so that doesn't help the argument either. The story of Thomas' skepticism is from John alone. The comparison to the recognition scene in the Odyssey is clever and rather ingenious. I find it interesting speculation.
    Well, that was my idea and mostly because this would probally made him challenge his own theory,after all both sittuations show a minor character doubting the identidy of the protagonist and finding out because of a scar. I am not trying to suggest it was a derivation of the scene (albeit nice, I think 3 nights does not make up for 10 years, but hey, both were sailors).

    The comic here is not the haha comic. It is more like how the hero in tragic tradition is often shown (they have fragility) in a dignified way. The story may deal with strong emotions (love, rage, etc) but this was not exploited, the character was a bit protected and we do not see a deep turmoil, as he suggested the Peter denial show to us. Jesus is, of course, over dignified, all the time and there is plenty of momments we could get in the best tragedy (Pilates whole washing hands in John for example and the arc of John Baptist but we are dealing with aristocratic characters, so it is easier to see less popular reactions). Even when subject of tortune or humiliation (another element he claims is more from comic source, because the hero is, if hurt, damanged, etc, not exposed and Jesus is painfully exposed to us), but we do find around the characters near him who are more deep, perhaps what you feel in Dostoievisky books while compared to Dickens? Of course, this is something that already happened also with the greek text when adapted by Romans, who also are less "classical" and have more violence, etc. So, Auerbach may be digging on circunstancial facts to just ramble. Understandable, no?

    I wonder if the fact Peter and cia. were closer (alive and kicking around) the time of those traditions that became the gospels started to form helped to make them that more understandable or human, closer to the audience, while Jesus was more fit to the religious model they wanted to use.

    But what I really suspect about the Thomas and Peter stories (and others in which Jesus' disciples are shown to be seriously flawed) is that they emerged early in the marketplace of competing Christian communities where they were used polemically rather than comically. In other words, a community founded on Petrine authority might warn prospective members off of a community founded on Thomist authority by repeating the story of how Peter had denied Jesus three times. Likewise the Petrine community might tell the story of how the risen Jesus had had to call Thomas out on his intransigent and impious doubt. These stories were collected (along with many others) by the Canonical Gospel writers and used for their own theological purposes (no longer polemical). In time, the stories came to represent how all are flawed and require God's forgiveness and Grace. (If other faithful Christians are reading this, please note that I have not claimed that the events never occurred or that their eventual interpretation--the universal need for forgiveness and Grace--was not the correct one. I just don't think that's how it played out historically.
    Yeah, if both in the end have a bit of similar moral, which is the need of faith on Jesus and Peter kind ended with a better storyline in the end. Luckily for him, he kind became a Sancho for Jesus in the oral stories about them traveling around.


    I appreciate the distinction, though a 1st-century Jew (or Roman might not. In fact the ambiguity is probably what sent Jesus to Golgotha. You can only say the Kingdom of God is at hand so many times before a Roman decides to nail you to a stick.
    Oh, yeah, of course, albeit Jesus was very clear once or while about the distinction (the give to cesar or my kingdom is not from here), but I guess it was kind like a sit bealt because the context made the romans be a bigger problem and the resistense against them pointless.


    Okay, Dostoyevsky is interested in finding the human--I agree. I think of a duality as opposing forces in the same integer but I don't really know how he saw it. As an aside, the small dots of opposite color in the Yin-Yang are supposed to imply an element of the opposing force within each side. I just mention it to suggest that various interpretations of duality are possible.
    How Dostoievisky saw it? I believe in the "duality inside a single person", how he made it in the book? Each of them apart and their dynamic to give us the whole thing.


    Yes, I'd say their bond is most manifest when (SPOILER) the dead Nastasya lies before them. And as you point out, there is a continuing a symmetry in their fates. They are even incarcerated in similar climes: Rogozhin in Siberia and Myshkin in an Alpine sanitarium. Did the shared cold suggest unity in a kind of living death?
    Well, they were in Russia. It is not like they had many warmer options Seriously, I think we may seeing a bit more here in Dostoievisky. He is not that poetic, this kind of natural symbolism may be something we would "aha, something is up there" in Melville or Conrad. I think for Dostoievisk is enough their shared destiny is a life apart of society (almost as if they chose it, can we say Rogozhin choose to be arrest?) and of course, this means, Society chose to alienate them.

    If Dostoyevsky had written Moby Dick--well, he could have got the Myshkin and Rogozhin bed together scene out of the way at the Spouter Inn, though they would have had to have kept their sanity for another 800 pages. On the plus side, Ahab's already crazy. He wouldn't even need The Grand Inquisitor to drive him over the edge.
    To write that scene, Dostoievisky would need to be a sailor, I think.



    My mustache, alas, is a bit grizzled these days. Worse, it is doomed. I grew it during my wife's visit with her mother in Taiwan. When she comes back, I promise you, her first words are going to be: "No kissing until you shave that thing off!" And I'll do it because I prefer kissing to mustaches. Life is all about compromise.

    Anyway, despite their carefully managed sex appeal, Stalin and Putin were/are relatively short. Putin is 5' 7" and Stalin was only 5' 6". And since Stalin was reputed to have shot his first wife (not for a political crime--he just shot her), I'm not sure how much the ladies wanted to be with him. Nikita Khrushchev, now there was a chick magnet.
    Get a look at Stalin young pictures. The guy could fit in Paris sallons, reciting... I think he loved to recite Walk Whitman. I tell you, he had a thing for destiny manifest.



    Did you ever hear of the Child Ballads? It's a massive collection of Scottish and English popular ballads recovered in multiple versions by Francis James Child, a Harvard professor who traveled through 19th-century rural Britain recording everything he could find. Unforgivably, he took no note of the accompanying music, but ballad meter is usually simple and any number of standard tunes can be applied to it. Some of the ballads go back to the 16th century and a few are even older. Many are about ghosts and fairies (the nasty, scary kind, not the precious miniature ones), but there are also legends of King Arthur and Robin Hood, funny or somewhat risqué stories, murder ballads, and violence, violence, violence. This corpus, which it seems to me contains a great popular literature, is almost completely neglected today.

    I mention this because it seems to me that westerners have treated the Child Ballads a little like some Arabs treat the Arabian Nights. Fairy stories? Please! And to make it worse, The Child Ballads (as they are usually called), makes it sound like they were intended for children--which they were not. I think their reputation also suffered (unfairly) from the rejection of Pre-Raphaelite romanticism by the likes of Conrad, Ford Madox Ford, and eventually Hemingway. I'm rambling a bit (good place for it), but I guess my point is that most Arabs have at least heard of the Arabian Nights--even if they had it sold back to them by Western Orientalists. Who in the West has heard of the Child Ballads? Who even wants to hear about them? Cultures seem to lack appreciation for their own oral literature.
    Yes, I know about them. In a way, yeah, they share a similar fate, to be labeled as children stuff, mostly because the XIX century (the whoe realism thing and great literature is something serious french authors) and because brothers grimm made all folklore stuff be something for education and thus children. But I think you consider them with 1001 nights and not the faery tales is because you may be mislead about the 1001 nights. Not sure. They are not a collection of oral stories, they are part of a literary form popular in the region, derivated from a narrative device (the frame story) originated from India. It is a literary text more similar to Bocaccio, hence the mention of italian novelino (and of course, Perrault is far from the first author of faery tales, it was all italian, with strong influence from Apulleio and Petronio) and they had a strong moralist and pedagogical intention. Some studies show the stories get less violent and the women less wicked as the stories move ahead, as if Sheherazade was tempering with Sharyar anger. Also, this kind of stories was meant to be used in the court, entertainment and mostly women, which is funny enough how it was used in France centuries after it. The arabs just dont have the amazing story of 1001 nights like we do (every translation be different with different stories, the battle between translators, etc), so it is way less charming to them as an original text.
    Last edited by JCamilo; 12-06-2017 at 09:48 PM.
    #foratemer

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