Transcendent Love: Dostoevsky and the Search for a Global Ethic

University of Notre Dame Pess
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In Transcendent Love: Dostoevsky and the Search for a Global Ethic, Leonard G. Friesen ranges widely across Dostoevsky's stories, novels, journalism, notebooks, and correspondence to demonstrate how Dostoevsky engaged with ethical issues in his times and how those same issues continue to be relevant to today's ethical debates. Friesen contends that the Russian ethical voice, in particular Dostoevsky's voice, deserves careful consideration in an increasingly global discussion of moral philosophy and the ethical life. Friesen challenges the view that contemporary liberalism provides a religiously neutral foundation for a global ethic. He argues instead that Dostoevsky has much to offer when it comes to the search for a global ethic, an ethic that for Dostoevsky was necessarily grounded in a Christian concept of an active, extravagant, and transcendent love. Friesen also investigates Dostoevsky's response to those who claimed that contemporary European trends, most evident in the rising secularization of nineteenth-century society, provided a more viable foundation for a global ethic than one grounded in the One, whom Doestoevsky called simply "the Russian Christ." Throughout, Friesen captures a sense of the depth and sheer loveliness of Dostoevsky's canon.
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About the author

Leonard G. Friesen is associate professor of history at Wilfrid Laurier University. He is the author of Rural Revolutions in Southern Ukraine: Peasants, Nobles, and Colonists, 1774–1905.

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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Notre Dame Pess
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Published on
Apr 13, 2016
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Pages
240
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ISBN
9780268079857
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / Russian & Former Soviet Union
Philosophy / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
Religion / Christianity / Literature & the Arts
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In Secularization without End: Beckett, Mann, Coetzee, Vincent P. Pecora elaborates an alternative history of the twentieth-century Western novel that explains the resurgence of Christian theological ideas. Standard accounts of secularization in the novel assume the gradual disappearance of religious themes through processes typically described as rationalization: philosophy and science replace faith. Pecora shows, however, that in the modern novels he examines, "secularization" ceases to mean emancipation from the prescientific ignorance or enchantment commonly associated with belief and signifies instead the shameful state of a humanity bereft of grace and undeserving of redemption. His book focuses on the unpredictable and paradoxical rediscovery of theological perspectives in otherwise secular novels after 1945. The narratives he analyzes are all seemingly godless in their overt points of view, from Samuel Beckett’s Murphy to Thomas Mann’s Doktor Faustus to J. M. Coetzee’s The Childhood of Jesus. But, Pecora argues, these novels wind up producing varieties of religious doctrine drawn from Augustinian and Calvinist claims about primordial guilt and the impotence of human will. In the most artfully imaginative ways possible, Beckett, Mann, and Coetzee resist the apparently inevitable plot that so many others have constructed for the history of the novel, by which human existence is reduced to mundane and meaningless routines and nothing more. Instead, their writing invokes a religious past that turns secular modernity, and the novel itself, inside out.
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