Unorthodox confession, orthodox conscience: Aesthetic authority in the underground

Studies in East European Thought 59 (1-2):65 - 168 (2007)
Abstract
Dostoevskij’s underground parody of confession paradoxically recovers an Orthodox morality by constructing an unorthodox model of authority and authorship. The authenticity and authority of underground discourse are both contingent on self-conscious parody, which also mediates Orthodox community or sobornost’. This essay critically reconsiders ethical, aesthetic and cultural dimensions of the self-conscious interpolation of literary and religious discourses in Dostoevskij’s Notes from Underground. Arguing with and against Bakhtinian readings, it re-examines the underground narrator’s secularized, Romanticized sensibilities, cynical critique of humanism, sacrilegious modes of laughter, usurpation of authority, internalization of dialogue, literary stylization and parody, aesthetic and moral self-critique, and, finally, insistence on “a new word.”
Keywords Underground  Parody  Confession  Orthodox  Carnival  Dialogue
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