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New Letters of Dostoevsky

Translated from the Russian and Edited by S.S. Koteliansky

The whole year of 1878 Dostoevsky spent in writing "The Brothers Karamasov." The serial publication of the novel and continuous work on it took him another two years, 1879 and 1880.

"The Brothers Karamasov" was published in the Russky Vestnik (NN. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 and 11 of 1879; NN. 1, 4, 7, 9,10 and 11 of 1880). These hitherto unpublished letters were written during the years 1879-1881 to N. A. Lin-bimov, the associate editor of the Russky Vestnik.

Staraia Roussa, May 10, 1879.

 . . . This book, "Pro and Contra," is in my view the culminating point of the novel, and it must be finished with particular care. Its idea, as you will see from the text I have sent you, is the presentation of extreme blasphemy and of the seeds of the idea of destruction at present in Russia among the young generation that has torn itself away from reality. 

Personality and Demonic Possession

For modern blasphemy is merely a department of bad form: and just as, in countries which still possess a Crown, people are usually (and quite rightly) shocked by any public impertinence concerning any member of their Royal Family, they are still shocked by any public impertinence towards a Deity for whom they feel privately no respect at all; and both feelings are supported by the conservatism of those who have anything to lose by social changes.

Tower

This week they are painting
the North Gulfport water tower.

Believer

The house is in need of repair, but is—
for now, she says—still hers. After the storm,
she laid hands on what she could reclaim:

Exegesis

On Saturday, when I come to see
my brother, they call him, over loudspeaker,
to the tower—a small guardroom

Prodigal I

Once, I was a daughter of this place:
daughter of Gwen, granddaughter
of Leretta, great of Eugenia McGee.

Prodigal II

I wanted to say I have come home
to bear witness, to read the sign
emblazoned on the church marquee—

The Hinnom Valley, looking west from the Jerusalem’s Old City. (Ian W. Scott / CC BY-SA 2.0).

Looking for Judas

We had been looking for Hakeldama for close to an hour, wandering through deep, desertic, geological gouges stubbled with little merkins of shrubbery and low gray trees that look squashed and drained of chlorophyll. The sun did strange things to the landscape here, vivifying the dominating grays and sands, weakening the greens, and walling off thousands of hilltop and hillside houses behind shimmering heat-haze force fields. 

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