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Archive for October, 2011

Fyodor Dostoevsky by Peter Leithart

Posted by Remy on October 6, 2011

Biography is a troublesome genre in that it requires reducing a life to its lifeless chronology, pinning the influences upon the writer like labels to the appendages of a butterfly. The default setting of most biographers is to introduce the anxieties and trauma of a writer’s childhood so that the ensuing monuments of literature look to be the inevitable result of such a life, but the new biography of Dostoevsky by Peter Leithart (Thomas Nelson, 2011) avoids both the pitfalls of dreary biographical recap and the tenuous prospect of connecting an author’s psyche with his scholarship by artfully framing vignettes to develop the very themes Dostoevsky reflects upon in his novels. Drawing from Dostoevsky’s letters he constructs conversations as a novelist might to convey the person and his motives.

These biographical vignettes, rigorously researched and footnoted, are ordered by Dr. Leithart with a poets precision and timing. While no doubt a popular biography, Dr. Leithart’s “Fyodor Dostoevsky” nonetheless accomplishes a full vision of this great Russian novelist that a scholarly tome would spend hundreds more pages attaining.

A review copy was provided by the publisher Thomas Nelson, via Booksneeze.

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Pope Benedict on Art

Posted by Remy on October 6, 2011

“The only really effective apologia for Christianity comes down to two arguments, namely, the saints the Church has produced and the art which has grown in her womb. Better witness is borne to the Lord by the splendor of holiness and art which have arisen in the community of believers than by the clever excuses which apologetics has come up with to justify the dark sides which, sadly, are so frequent in the Church’s human history. If the Church is to continue to transform and humanize the world, how can she dispense with beauty in her liturgies, that beauty which is so closely linked with love and with the radiance of the Resurrection? No, Christians must not be too easily satisfied. They must make their Church into a place where beauty — and truth — is at home. Without this the world will become the first circle of hell…. A theologian who does not love art, poetry, music and nature can be dangerous. Blindness and deafness toward the beautiful are not incidental: they necessarily are reflected in his theology.”

– Joseph Ratzinger (1985)

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