By George Steiner
“Literary criticism,” writes Steiner, “should come up out of a debt of love.” Abiding by way of his personal rule, Tolstoy or Dostoevsky is an impassioned paintings, encouraged by way of Steiner’s conviction that the legacies of those Russian masters loom over Western literature. by means of explaining how Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky fluctuate from one another, Steiner demonstrates that after taken jointly, their paintings deals the main entire portrayal of lifestyles and the stress among the thirst for wisdom on one hand and the eager for secret at the different. An rapid vintage for students of Russian literature and informal readers alike, Tolstoy or Dostoevsky explores robust writers and their opposing modes of impending the realm, and the long-lasting legacies wrought by way of their works.
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Extra resources for Tolstoy or Dostoevsky: An Essay in the Old Criticism
More important, by quoting the opening words of Genesis— "In the Beginning"—he suggests that Paradise Lost is a reprise of that book and indeed of the entire Bible: whereas Moses the shepherd-poet first taught this subject, the Miltonic Bard does so now. And his reference to a "great Argument" in tended to "justify the ways of God to men" focuses attention upon the importance of rhetoric to the poem's overall design and to many of its episodes. Formally, the entire proem is an invocatory hymn.
The Muse is a figure for the artistic inspi ration traditionally seen as requisite for the creation of great I N S P I R A T I O N A N D LITERARY A R T poems on lofty themes: to achieve his Christian epic the Miltonic Bard recognizes his need for poetic inspiration from a Heavenly Muse who embodies the principles of sacred art. The Spirit of God is the source of illumination, providing spiritual understanding of divine truth which alone can enable the Bard to conceive his great argument. 12 But he explicitly dissociates her from Du Bartas' "heedful Muse"—restricted to the "Middle Region" of God's created universe lest she sin by presumption13—when he urges her cSvith no middle flight .
Yet for all that, the language and imagery of these proems resist full explication as does the topic they treat, the springs of Milton's poetic creativity. The Miltonic Bard invites us to recognize that such a gift is finally mysterious, and, in some meaning of the term, divine. Like the Miltonic Bard, the two subordinate narrators of Paradise Lost are also imagined as prophets and poets. 36 As prophets, they are charged to accommodate divine truths to others and, like the Miltonic Bard, they do so through literary art, inventing ideal forms of several literary genres so as to educate Adam and Eve, unfallen and fallen, in the values pertaining to those kinds.