Category Archives: Dostoevsky (Fyodor)

Does the GOP Love Big Brother?

Do Congressional Republicans flatter Trump Goneril-like out of convenience or do they “love Big Brother”? Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor may hold the key.

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Trump as Raskolnikov

Is Trump as Raskolnikov, unable to hide the fact that he’s committed a crime so that a relentless detective is able to track him down. But while Mueller may be a Porfiry, Trump isn’t deep enough to be a Dostoevskian hero.

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The Grand Inquisitor Was Right

To understand Donald Trump’s stunning victory, turn to Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor. The lure of an authoritarian leader and the challenges of a pluralistic and multicultural society can be found in Ivan Karamazov’s parable.

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#TrumpBookReports (in 140 characters)

For laughs, check out #TrumpBookReport on twitter. I’ve gathered some of the best renditions of Trump reviewing the classics.

Also posted in Bemelmans (Ludwig), Bronte (Charlotte), Bronte (Emily), Carroll (Lewis), Cervantes (Miguel de), Dickens (Charles), Dr. Seuss, Hawthorne (Nathaniel), Hemingway (Ernest), Homer, Hugo (Victor), Lee (Harper), Lewis (C. S.), Melville (Herman), Milne (A. A.), Rowling (J. K.), Salinger (J. D.), Shakespeare (William), Silverstein (Shel), Steinbeck (John), Stowe (Harriet Beecher), Styron (William), Tolstoy (Leo) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

I Am Lazarus Come Back from the Dead

I’ve just realized that the Lazarus mentioned in Eliot’s “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is a different once than I’ve been assuming. This makes me appreciate the poem even more.

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Dostoevsky Explains Trump’s Appeal

Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor helps explain Donald Trump’s popularity: people want certainty more than they want freedom of thought.

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ISIS and the Grand Inquisitor

Dostoevsky may provide a compelling explanation for the recruiting success of ISIS: young people want to escape from freedom.

Also posted in Houellebecq (Michel) | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Top 10 Hellish Child-Parent Relationships

Top 10 Literary Parent-Child Relationships from Hell.

Also posted in Aeschylus, Euripides, Lawrence (D. H.), O'Connor (Flannery), Plath (Sylvia), Roth (Philip K.), Shakespeare (William), Shelton (Richard), Sophocles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lit’s Ten Most Sensitive Guys

To match my 10 strongest literary women characters, here are my 10 most sensitive male characters.

Also posted in Austen (Jane), Baldwin (James), Dickens (Charles), Fielding (Henry), Fitzgerald (F. Scott), McCarthy (Cormac), Melville (Herman), Milton (John), Steinbeck (John) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Making a Fetish of Suffering

Ivan Karamazov attacks those Christians who rationalize suffering by finding a higher purpose in it.

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Great Political Novels Not Agenda Driven

Great political novels are rich in spiritual attitude. Poor ones are agenda driven.

Also posted in Conrad (Joseph), Ginzburg (Natalia), Gordimer (Nadine), James (Henry), Llosa (Vargas), Naipaul (V.S.), Pamuk (Orhan), Roth (Philip K.), Stendahl, Turgenev (Ivan), Yeats (William Butler) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Lit Explains Romney’s Off-Putting Laugh

Lewis Carroll, Kundera, and Dostoevsky help us understand why Mitt Romney’s laugh makes us nervous.

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“Harry, I Am Your Father” – Voldemort

Voldemort can be interpreted as the father in Harry Potter’s primal scene.

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Fed, Rafa, Djoker–A Sibling Drama

Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic are like the brothers in a Dostoevsky novel or a Grimm Brothers fairy tale: the two older brothers focus on each other and then the unassuming younger brother comes in and takes over.

Also posted in Aristotle, Ellison (Ralph), Grimm Brothers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Remembering My Son through Alyosha K

Spiritual Sunday Several times over the past few months I have rhapsodized over Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, feeling a little bit like Keats upon first reading Chapman’s Homer. “Then felt I like some watcher of the skies/When a new planet swims into its ken,” the poet writes, perfectly capturing the experience. One reason I like the novel is […]

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With Aging, Abundant Recompense

  In a follow-up to yesterday’s post where I talked about my cancer-ridden friend Alan, I examine another passage from The Brothers Karamazov. This one is focused on aging generally, not just death. If you ever find yourself getting depressed about getting old, check it out.   And check out as well William Wordsworth’s Intimations […]

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Life from the Vantage Point of a Deathbed

  I haven’t updated you for a while on my friends Alan and Jackie Paskow, former St. Mary’s colleagues. Alan has been suffering from terminal cancer for close to three years now, and Julia and I visit every Sunday night. Julia performs Reiki massage on Jackie while Alan and I talk. This past Sunday, while […]

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A Tiny Seed Can Save a Church

Spiritual Sunday       Like many mainline Protestant churches, our little Episcopalian congregation in St. Mary’s City, Maryland is having money difficulties.  The expense of aging buildings plus a recession that wiped out much of our endowment has forced us to hold fairly continuous fundraisers to balance the budget.    People have become testy and […]

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Alyosha Karamazov’s Plea for Straight Talk

Is it just because I’m an Obama supporter or has political rhetoric reached new levels of inanity? And the rhetoric I have in mind is not that of Tea Party supporters, which is not new. I saw such self-indulgent calls for revolution coming from the left in the early 1970’s. No, I’m thinking of the […]

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What Would Alyosha Karamazov Do?

I continue to turn to The Brothers Karamazov almost as a meditational practice to guide me through the turmoil I am experiencing over the Arizona shootings. Yesterday I quoted Zosima, the elder in the book, about how we must look to ourselves if we want others to change. I spoke approvingly of those who, rather than […]

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Dostoevsky and the Arizona Shootings

When I posted, on Saturday morning, my blog entry for Sunday, I little realized that I would be turning for help later in the day to the work I was discussing. Doestoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov is guiding my response to the horrific shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Judge John Ball, and 16 others, including a child. […]

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A Message of Love for Fractious Times

Spiritual Sunday In last Monday’s post a fascinating discussion was started when I applied a passage from Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov to the debate over whether society should step in and help out homeowners who can’t pay their mortgages. Zosima, a very spiritual character and an elder in the Russian Orthodox Church, warns his listeners that […]

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Dostoevsky’s Support for Troubled Homes

In debates about whether or not to help out troubled homeowners, Fyodor Dostoevsky would probably be in favor.  I am currently reading The Brothers Karamazov and am struck by how applicable it seems to the debate over foreclosures. The mortgage crisis, of course, pushed the world economy into recession, and foreclosures on homes are still […]

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Sotomayor and Latina “Bias”

I’m going to take a break from one political topic—the disillusion that some who voted for Barack Obama are experiencing or will experience (and the ability of Gulliver’s Travels to help idealists of all stripes to understand and work through disillusion)—to take on another. There is a (predictable) furor over President Obama’s choice of Sonia […]

Also posted in Blume (Judy), Nabokov (Vladimir) | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed


  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

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