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Paul J. Contino

Jun 4, 2021

Dostoevsky's Incarnational Realism

Finding Christ among the Karamazovs

Cascade Books 2020

Paul Contino’s Catholic reading of Dostoevsky’s final masterwork, premised on the novel’s “powerful capacity to inspire readers to be better people”, follows hero Alyosha Karamazov’s spiritual maturation as a “monk in the world”, his ministry to his brothers, and his ultimate message of hope. In Dostoevsky's Incarnational Realism: Finding Christ among the Karamazovs (Cascade Books, 2020), Contino argues that Alyosha exemplifies incarnational realism – a theologically-informed way of life in which the human being apprehends reality in the light of Christ’s incarnation and acts upon it – in his relationships with those around him, resisting totalization in favor off attentiveness to the particularities of human experience. In this interview we discuss the theological underpinnings of Dostoevsky’s narrative, the relationship between characters Alyosha and The Idiot’s Prince Myshkin as two attempts to portray Christian love in action, the recurring problem of theodicy in Dostoevsky’s oeuvre, squaring Dostoevsky’s criticism of Catholicism with a Catholic reading of his novel, teaching The Brothers Karamazov, and reading Dostoevsky counter-culturally.

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