Ivan Karamazov as a Philosophical Type—But Which One and in What Ways?

A Narratological Reading of a Philosophical Novel

Authors

  • Kåre Johan Mjør University of Bergen

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.7557/6.5895

Keywords:

philosophy and literature, reported speech, Bakhtin, nihilism, ethics

Abstract

The article analyzes a set of philosophical statements made by and attributed to Ivan Karamazov in The Brothers Karamazov, in order to answer the question as to what kind of philosophy Ivan may be said to express in the novel. This close reading reveals that there is a significant distinction between, on the one hand, Ivan's most radical statements, that is his rational egoism and the idea that "everything is permitted," which are always given in reported speech, and on the other the Ivan of direct speech, who is characterized by a stronger moral sensibility. On the basis of these findings the article seeks to bring together two traditions in the reception of Dostoevsky – the philosophical and the narratological. By letting these approaches inform each other it shows that the structural organization of the text is itself a bearer of philosophical meaning. Moreover, the article takes seriously Bakhtin's claim that Dostoevsky's heroes are not merely stable representations of ideas, but engage with them through dialogue, as exemplified by Ivan Karamazov himself as well as by other characters in their responses to his statements. 

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Published

2021-12-03

How to Cite

Mjør, Kåre Johan. 2021. “Ivan Karamazov As a Philosophical Type—But Which One and in What Ways? A Narratological Reading of a Philosophical Novel”. Poljarnyj Vestnik 24 (December):54-75. https://doi.org/10.7557/6.5895.

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Articles (peer reviewed)