Dostoyevsky and a Literature of Terrorism:

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The power of Dostoyevsky’s imagination comes together to tie mysticism and socialism, whereas motifs such as Tsarism, religeon, sex, violence, and transcendence are intertwined as indivisible entities in his novels. In this article, Hiroki Azuma and scholar of Russian literature, Yoko Ueda, together with Russian literature expert Ikuo Kameyama, whose new translation of The Brothers Karamazov(2006-07) became a best-seller, rethink the meaning of Dostoyevsky’s literature in the contemporary age. Kameyama’s creative writing debut, The New Brothers Karamazov (2015), is a novel based on Dostoyevsky.

According to Kameyama, in addition to Demons, a novel focusing on terrorism, both Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov feature characters with terroristic aspects to them. The terrorism depicted by Dostoyevsky, Kameyama claims, is reminiscent of religious sects, such as the underground Khlyst cult, which was associated with Spiritual Christians and attempted to unify the self with God through self-flagellation. In response to this, Azuma notes that Dostoyevsky referred to violence as an inevitability, tying the topic together with modern terrorist organizations such as ISIL in the current day or Aum Shinrikyo in the 20th century, and encouraging us to rethink the definition of “terrorism.”

As Aum Shinrikyo had many offices and training centers in Russia, it is important for us to confront the link between the imaginative powers of terrorism and art. Ueda concludes the discussion by reminding us that we must consider both the role and power of art, as well as the responsibility borne by authors and artists.