Socio-Religious And Historiographic Aspects Of The Dostoevsky F.M. Heritage For Future Generations


The article examines Dostoevsky's socio-religious heritage for historical science. Particular attention is drawn to the spirituality of the Russian people, which, in Dostoevsky's opinion, forms moral values and relations. It is shown that in Dostoevsky's novels the values of the Orthodox faith determine the destiny of an entire nation. The scientific problem solved in the article will give an opportunity to evaluate Dostoevsky's legacy in the light of deep spiritual experience in his works, which allows us to speak about the further development of science. Dostoevsky's works represent a cultural and historical significance that revives the religious, dialogic and socio-psychological aspects of understanding reality. The article generalizes the significance of FM Dostoevsky not only as a writer, but also as a metaphysician and an ideologist. His ideological views in the religious sphere are consistent with many of today's search for Russian historical and cultural identity. The hard life of the writer is extremely important, since Dostoevsky, with all the utopian views on the national idea of Russia, remained a realist.

Keywords: Churchfaithpriestcultureorthodoxy


The relevance of the article is connected with increased attention to the socio-religious and historiographical aspects of studying Dostoevsky's legacy. The works left by the author showed that changing the values of any people can lead to its destruction. Therefore, Dostoevsky's religious ideas, their generalization, can become the locomotive of modern reality, evoking a sense of pride in the minds of people. But at present these ideas can not always come to life, because the factors that reduce the sense of responsibility among people prevail. Among them, we can name envy, anger and inter-ethnic strife. Only a deep spiritual experience will allow talking about the future development of man (Altman, 1975).

In the works of Dostoevsky, historical episodes from the Bible are inextricably linked with reality, which contributes to the formation of a special world order. Thus, Dostoevsky points not only to the awareness of modernity in terms of the Orthodox faith, but also makes it clear that the Church and faith are important stimulating factors of stability in society.

Dostoevsky's appeal to Orthodox dogmas is expressed in several close subjects, where the personality of a person comes to the fore, associated with the perception of the world outlook of citizens and clergy, and the second plot is connected with the transpersonal understanding of people's traditions.

An appeal to the modern understanding of the history of the Orthodox Church will make it possible to clarify the distinctiveness and significance of religious motives in the historical legacy of Dostoevsky's works for future generations.

Problem Statement

The first wave of research and interest in Dostoevsky's religious views was related to the Orthodox revival in Russia. Thus, V.V. Rozanov in his work showed the historical combination of spiritual and philosophical synthesis in the works of Dostoyevsky, where the civilized personality came to the fore, which lost the ability to adequately perceive modern reality. Another researcher V.I. Ivanov combined the problem of spiritual and aesthetic, while affirming that in Dostoevsky's novels the views of people penetrating deeply into the realistic picture of the world are identical (Rozanov, 1990).

You can also note the historical and literary study of the Soviet scientist Pokrovsky, where Dostoevsky is represented as a thinker, who initiated the religious worldview. The author claims that in the sphere of religion Dostoevsky finally introduced the notion of "mysticism" into Russian history and literature, which made him the conductor of the nascent bourgeoisie in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (Pokrovsky, 1929).

Zenkovsky, Florovsky (Florovsky, 1990) wrote valuable information about Dostoevsky in emigration (Pokrovsky, 1929). The study of religious and creative activity of the writer after the end of World War II was engaged in Mochulsky (1947). A more detailed description of Dostoevsky's religious outlook can be emphasized from the works of Lossky (1991). One of the main judgments of this author is that Dostoevsky was serious about the Orthodox faith and tried to reflect its foundations in his works. This is confirmed by the facts of the frequent prayers of the writer, who are the guiding thread through his literary works.

L.A. Zander studied the problems of good in Dostoevsky's literary works. N. Arseniev, M.N. Gavrilov, etc. has left small in volume researches. According to N. Arsenyev, the Orthodox faith and its immediate closeness to people "in the person of God" is mentioned many times in the works of Dostoevsky.

In the 1950-1970-s there were a rapid interest to the creativity of F.M. Dostoevsky, however, new researchers preferred primarily the analysis of artistic methods in the writer's works. In the 1950's the fundamental works devoted to the consideration of Dostoevsky's religious outlook came out, where it was stated that all human history passes through the stages connected with the struggle for the attainment of divine truths and every individual person is the heir of the Orthodox Church.

At present, there is a huge bibliographic base for research, far exceeding the analysis of pre-revolutionary and emigrant work. Among the scientists who dealt with this problem are Kasatkin, Zakharov (1994), Dunaev (2002).

We should particularly mention the B.N. Tikhomirov’s study. For this work, Tikhomirov has used material from the novel "Crime and Punishment". The author raises the problem of inaccurate interpretation of sacred texts in the novel of Dostoevsky rather sharply. At the same time, Tikhomirov concludes that the more complex the understanding of sacred sources, the more difficult is the comprehension of theological truths in Dostoevsky's literary works (Tikhomirov, 1994).

All Russian people are well aware of the importance of Dostoevsky's heritage in the national history and culture. In 2016, the President of Russia V.V. Putin signed an order "On the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of F.M. Dostoevsky ". The order says: "Recognizing Dostoyevsky's phenomenal contribution to the history of Russian culture and in connection with the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the writer's birth in 2021 ... it is necessary to take measures for the proper celebration of this landmark date. The Government of Russia has to form an organizational commission for holding ceremonial events and approve its composition; to monitor the approval of planned key events to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of F.M. Dostoevsky. The executive authorities in the subjects of the Russian Federation have to submit a schedule of events dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the birth of Dostoevsky (Kontsevich, 1995).

Thus, summing up the historiographical review, we can conclude that the most scientists have differently assessed Dostoevsky's contribution to the history of world culture, but his religious views, according to many researchers, were an indicator of genuine spiritual serving for the good of our country.

Research Questions

The study of the spiritual heritage of Dostoevsky is relevant because of the high degree of social activity. Accepting these religious ideas of Dostoevsky as a basis, it is possible to form a new modern spiritual and moral national idea of Russia, which will become the basis for future generations.

Dostoevsky's texts should be perceived as a spiritual and moral paradigm for the formation of personality, which includes the features and principles of Dostoevsky's judgments.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study in the article is to reveal the Christian theme in the main literary works of the writer. "All the novels of Dostoevsky after 1865 are books about Jesus Christ. It is in these books that the modern reader often finds for the first time words about love and faith about Christ, "wrote S. I. Fudel.

Research Methods

The article uses the methods of contextual synthesis connected with the study of Dostoevsky's diaries, as well as reference materials.

In the general context of the article, methodological basis was made by methods of hermeneutic interpretation. The article uses an ontological method that involves ways to interpret key laws in historical development.

Along with the general methods for this article, the significance and particular theories and approaches of Soviet scientists, the modern and the latest recommendations of researchers in the field of historical knowledge, were important.

In addition, the article uses methods of historical analysis and generalization, contextual systematization, the comparison of general and particular problems in Dostoevsky's world outlook and his view of the Orthodox faith. A new methodological base is used in modern science: historiographical approaches that examine the revealing of facts from the biography of the writer and his personal preferences.


The first novel in the series of "Christian novels" of Dostoevsky is the novel "Crime and Punishment". The writer in his diary as «an Orthodox view, in which there is Orthodoxy», described his idea. This is the author's task to himself. This idea had to be embodied in this work.

Initially, Dostoevsky intended to provoke Raskolnikov's repentance by the direct appearance of Christ to him, which would be too straightforward. But later he made it thinner - through Sonya Marmeladova. So, she read to Rodion the scene of the resurrection of Lazarus. This narrative is skilfully woven into the plot line of the novel.

It is worth to note that the resurrection of Lazarus occurred on the fourth day, and the heroine has read the resurrection scene on the fourth day after the Raskolnikov murder. Therefore, the identification of the murderer with his victim took place (Ivanov, 1995).

Dostoevsky was waiting for the spiritual resurrection of Raskolnikov. Like Lazarus, the hero of Crime and Punishment must rise again for good deeds and serving people. The resurrection of Lazarus is an important event in Christianity: after the appearance of this miracle, Christ was recognized as the Messiah.

Sonya and Rodion found the original support and source of light in their dark life, in love for each other. But they intuitively understood that it is not enough for them to have one earthly love for "resurrection". Rodion came to Sonia and asked to read the Gospel. And he realized that Marmeladova was in about the same position as he was. "I myself was Lazarus deceased, and Christ raised me up." Raskolnikov noticed the transformation of Sonya at the time of reading the Holy text and, imbued with what he had seen and heard, "all of a sudden he leaned over and, having fallen to the floor, kissed her foot." He realized the value of human suffering: "I did not bow to you, I bowed to all the suffering mankind".

Sonya, in accordance with the Christian canons, saw in the murderer a light through which there is an opportunity to bring him back to normal life. She realized that it was not Raskolnikov - an evil murderer, this external evil penetrated into his soul and made to commit a crime. There are also good qualities in Rodion: he helps the Marmeladov family, the girl on the boulevard, the university friend and his father, rescues children in a fire (Gagaev, 2001).

Incredibly difficult is the image of the protagonist - Sonya Marmeladova. She makes a living for the family (for children) by prostitution. But the author presents her personality and image as chaste and pure. It seems that Sonya is a forked character: her body shell "lives" apart from the soul. Despite the terrible circumstances that Sonya got into, she continues to believe in God and, in addition, leads to Raskolnikov's faith. "Holy Fool" - this is how Raskolnikov thought about her (Kotelnikov, 1994).

In the image of Sonya, the image of Mary Magdalene is openly read. But Mary "came" to God through repentance. Sonya does not repent. She initially knows that this is a sin, is ashamed of its "activity", but does not identify itself with it. Through her kindness, mercy, faith and love of God, she rises above the forced sin; in her example the spiritual principle triumphs over the bodily principle.

The gospel description of Satan is very close to the description of the reality surrounding Raskolnikov: "the spirit of the" dumb and deaf "is diffused throughout this panorama. I do not know how to express myself, but there is not even a deadness, because only what was alive was dead ... ».

G.K. Schennikov revealed the symbolic meaning of this image: "Compare the definition of Satan in the Gospel: "The spirit is dumb and deaf".

The main hero of many Dostoevsky's literary works is the city, mostly often Petersburg. The author did not condemn the city itself, he condemned the vices prevalent in the city - money-grubbing, lust for profit, self-love and pride that flourished under the influence of the Western idea, which was expressed in an attempt to withdraw God from human existence. The city was an expression of modern reality (not only modern Dostoevsky, who is so brilliant that he foresaw our time). Western trends "allow" a person to decide for others, to imagine himself a "Napoleon", to destroy evil at his discretion. However, man cannot take upon himself the functions of God. This is one of Dostoevsky's main allegations in his great novel «Crime and Punishment» (Ershov, 2013).

R. Pletnev noted another interesting detail demonstrating the connection between the Gospel and the novel of Fedor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky. He noted the unusual name of the tailor, who lives Sonia - Capernaumov. Capernaum is a city that is mentioned in all four Gospels where Christ preached and from which He was expelled, not believing in Him. In pre-revolutionary Russia, the word "kapernaum" was used in the meaning of "tavern", "brothel", which echoes how Sonya earns for a living.

In the novel "Crime and Punishment" Dostoevsky used the method of confession. The heroes of the novel confess to each other: Svidrigailov before Raskolnikov, the schismatics before Sonya. Confession helps not only to penetrate deeper into the inner world of images, but also sets off the religious moods of the work. The openness of the soul helps to remove sin, to weaken the state of internal tension, in which the heroes are (Mikhailovsky, 1957).

G.S. Pomerants wrote: "Every Dostoevsky novel is a confession. He does not convict Raskolnikov, Rogozhin, Stavrogin; he, along with them, makes a painful journey from thought to crime - and together with them, he seeks a road to repentance. I think that this is the basis for Dostoevsky's world significance".

It is worth remembering the dreams that permeate the narrative of the novel. Through dreams, Dostoevsky shows the inner state of the hero, his torment and emotional throwing. Raskolnikov's dream, given in the epilogue, echoes the texts of the Apocalypse. This dream reflects the theory of Raskolnikov, only "napoleons" were all people who decided that "they have the right." But since everyone thinks of himself as the only "one who has the right", the struggle for the right to be "the main" begins. People, falling into insanity, kill each other: "Some new Trichinas appeared, the beings are microscopic, they have settled into the bodies of people (Sorokin, 1990). But these beings were spirits, gifted with the mind and will. People who took them into themselves became immediately demoniac and crazy. But never, never have people considered themselves as intelligent and unshakable in the truth, as the infected thought. Everyone thought that in him the truth lies in one and tormented, looking at others, he beat himself in the chest, cried and broke his arms" (Maciejna, 1990).

Being a subtle psychologist, Dostoevsky did not give Raskolnikov an instant "insight" and transformation, thereby preserving the realism of the narrative. He had to get to this himself, through a difficult way of repentance. Let us recall the last lines of the novel: "But here begins a new history, the history of the gradual renewal of a person, the history of its gradual transformation, a gradual transition from one world to another, acquaintance with a new, hitherto completely unknown reality".

The "Great Pentateuch" of Dostoevsky is based on the Christian canon: "the creation - the fall of man - the resurrection". In "Crime and Punishment," he focused on the Fall of man and only gave a hint of resurrection. But even just a hint contributed to the embodiment of the main idea of the novel. "True Dostoevsky ... a fearless seeker of divine and satanic depths ... began with "Crime and Punishment,"- wrote critic D.S. Merezhkovsky.

In the epilogue to the novel, the writer speaks of how much faith was among the prisoners: they wanted to kill Raskolnikov as an atheist. However, Christian motives did not receive detailed coverage in the novel, but only began to be understood. In "Crime and Punishment" Dostoevsky only approached the disclosure of Christian problems in his creativity of the writer. This topic was continued and developed in subsequent works of the writer.

"The novel "Crime and Punishment", - writes T.A. Kasatkina, - is considered to be a masterpiece even among the five great novels of F.M. Dostoevsky. He is - as it were, a kind of epicentre of his creativity, it contains the seeds of all those ideas that will be developed in more detail in his other literary works.

It is difficult to agree with Dostoevsky's approach to Christian war assessments. Justifying his own positive attitude towards the war, the thinker Dostoevsky referred to the fact that "Christianity itself recognizes the fact of war and prophesies that the sword will not go to the end of the world: it is very remarkable and amazing".

Comparing Russia and the West, Dostoevsky drew attention primarily to the nature of man, in the disclosure of which he inevitably met the Western religion - Catholicism. Its main defect, he saw in the oblivion of man himself, in betraying Christ for material benefits, earthly benefits. In Catholicism, the writer did not see strong, stable religious and moral beliefs. Western Christians acted, in his opinion, depending on the conjuncture, at the base of their activities having wealth and power (Perevozchikova et al, 2017).

According to Dostoevsky, the deformation of Western civilization began with Western Christianity, which gave a deformed, distorted form of faith. Almost all researchers drew attention to the fact that the writer began to express his critical attitude to the West after returning from exile. He criticized both the ideas of the Enlightenment and the foundations of Western Christianity (primarily Catholicism, and to a lesser extent Protestantism). Dostoevsky "rejects the Western ways of solving the problem of the individual and society," writes Justin, "rejects Catholicism and its creations - socialism, anarchism, science, civilization, culture. First, Catholicism mechanized the personality almost to destruction... Socialism does not allow anyone to be a person. It requires complete impersonality".

Perhaps the origins of this attitude toward Catholicism (as well as the emergence of an interest in him as a writer) lie in the years of hard labour, or rather, in the surroundings of Dostoevsky in those years. At this time, along with him, the Poles - participants in the uprisings of 1830-1831, served their terms. Relations between the Poles and Russians in history have always been not the easiest. In the conditions of confinement, these relations only intensified. Frankly satiristically portrayed the writer of the Poles in the novel "The Brothers Karamazov", showing them far from the best human traits. This, of course, is only one of the reasons for the writer's negative perception of Catholicism.

On penal servitude, Dostoevsky encountered different characters of different nationalities. Among them are the Poles mentioned above, Kalmyks, Gypsies, representatives of the Caucasian peoples, Jews. In addition to different nationalities, they were also representatives of various religious movements (Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism). Dostoevsky was subsequently proud to have known the people "from within", which, of course, further enriched his inner world. This was also facilitated by Dostoevsky's acquaintance with Ch. Valikhanov - a Kazakh scientist who synthesized the culture of the East and the West (Volkova, 2016).

After his liberation from penal servitude, while in the service, Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky asked his brother to send him a very interesting collection of religious literature (mainly ecclesiastical), including the Koran. "Dostoevsky had a specific interest in the Koran, which is mentioned several times in his works, in particular in "Crime and Punishment" and in "The Idiot".

The theme of the Qur'an and Muslim motifs in the writer's work is very little studied in the scientific literature. But according to the researches of a number of authors (Tochieva and others) one can come to the conclusion that Islamic motifs were also present in the writer's literary work. Dostoevsky spoke of "importance", "simple-hearted majesty" (26, 146) of Islam, calling it one of the "spiritual jewels." According to Dostoevsky, the Muslim religion expresses the "moral sense of the people, and its needs, and its desires, and its ideals, and the goals of its aspirations," "thirst for the ideals of civilians," "the need to integrate in accordance with Ideal and moral confessions".

Why, respecting Islam, a different faith for Christians, Dostoevsky showed open intolerance towards Catholicism? He accepted other religions, considering them different ways of people to God, an expression of "moral feeling and ideal" of different people, showed religious tolerance and loyalty. But concerning the Catholic religion, Dostoevsky has a lot of pejorative and negative assessments and statements, both direct ("Diary of the writer", correspondence), and through his heroes (Myshkin, Shatov).

In the political life of Russia in the 1860s and 1870s, two trends emerged that took Russia's ideological basis for Russia's attitude to the West: Westernism and Slavophilism. In the 1840s-1850s, they became entrenched in Russian culture as a cultural and political opposition to the ideology and philosophy of the Enlightenment and the Great French Revolution. By the time Dostoevsky criticized the West and Western values, this phenomenon has become more widespread. Of course, the ideas of Slavophilism, like those of Dostoevsky, were not limited only to criticism (Florensky, 1991).

In opposition to the West, Dostoevsky, like the other Slavophiles, extolled Russian traditions, the national character of the Russian people and Orthodoxy. K.P. Pobedonostsev was preoccupied with the unorthodoxality of Dostoevsky's faith. In a letter about the fifth book of «The Karamazov’s Brothers», «Pro and Contra», he was forced to warn the writer that the power of denying God is so strong that he is afraid that Dostoevsky will find enough reason in favour of faith. Indeed, Dostoevsky wrote the sixth book "Russian monk" with great excitement, but also with enthusiasm. However, many people did not accept the positive Zosima’s program - it seemed eclectic, vague, abstract-mystical.

Dostoevsky reflected in his works the crisis of the religious consciousness of his contemporaries, the struggle of God and the devil in their souls and the search for the moral foundations of being. His own religiosity was not of a traditional nature. It is no accident that the Russian Orthodox Church met Dostoevsky’s religious pursuits with distrust. For Tolstoy, this ended in excommunication, for Dostoevsky everything was all right, but we indicated earlier what was really happening.

Dostoevsky's critical attitude toward the West, towards Catholicism as an organic part of the Western way of life, spirituality was primarily associated with the negative perception of Westernism as a phenomenon, imitation of the West, the imposition of Western European standards on the foundations of Russian life. From these positions, the thinker historically condemned Westernism and Western politicians (Peter I, for example). It was during the era of profound transformations of Russian society that Dostoevsky intensified criticism of Westerners, which sometimes sounded not fair in everything (for example, criticism of Chaadaev).

Dostoevsky strove with his criticism of the West, the idealization of the Russian people to wake up the forces that had been dormant in the Russian people, to prove, with reference to historical examples, the ability of the Russian people to move along the path of progress in the vanguard of other European peoples. As applied to the first half of the 1860s, Dostoevsky's position was largely justified (Zander, 1963).

Dostoevsky's religious views were not fixed, unchanged. Dostoevsky as the thinker deeply studied religion throughout all his life, deepened and expanded his faith in God. These trends are clearly traced in his fiction and journalistic literary works.


Thus, Dostoevsky's social and religious heritage was based on the understanding of the human soul. This is its exceptional importance. Future generations of writers for the most part connected their creative ideas with Dostoevsky's spiritual views, which were close to the original Orthodox faith. Often the call of scholars studying the history of the Church to Dostoevsky's worldview has always been associated with the spiritual traditions of our country.

Orthodox faith in various aspects shaped the creative nature of Dostoevsky, his character, way of life and creative path. Especially close to Dostoevsky were the traditions of Orthodox hermits (for example, Seraphim of Sarov), who embodied in spiritual images. FM Dostoevsky always felt an easy form of Christianity, based on religious meekness and love, which opened the way to the salvation of the soul.

Dostoevsky F.M. He was a unique person, and his artistic realism was closely intertwined with biblical subjects. This gave birth to mythological views on reality, acting as one of the features of its textual narrative. Religious subjects, manners, facts, associations Dostoevsky introduced through hints. He was a knowledgeable and knowledgeable writer, and readers of his works could appreciate his ideas, understand the position. Religious themes were realized, as a rule, through dialogues performed by heroes of Dostoevsky's novels, so the reader could understand his spiritual views (Zakharov, 1994).

Dostoevsky's novels were part of the Orthodox culture. In his anthropological views, Dostoevsky proceeded from the idea of the image of God, believing that the correct idea of the human soul, about the Church can’t be created without studying and understanding the religious life of each person. This life permeated all the dogmas of our existence, illuminated all that is necessary for man. The religious presence in the person of Dostoevsky was the source of the meaning of our daily life. As a result, historians who study Dostoevsky's heritage rightly noted that people are the owners of religious life, but our vanity, our thirst for vanity, often overshadowed the constant streams of spiritual prosperity. These flows were not determined by the peculiarity of the religious faith, they enlightened people with the idea of unanimity, which will be understood by future generations of scientists.


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16 April 2018

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Cite this article as:

Perevozchikova, L., Ershov, B. A., Ashmarov, I., Volkova, E. A., & Tonkih, V. (2018). Socio-Religious And Historiographic Aspects Of The Dostoevsky F.M. Heritage For Future Generations. In F. Casati, G. А. Barysheva, & W. Krieger (Eds.), Lifelong Wellbeing in the World - WELLSO 2017, vol 38. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 151-160). Future Academy.