Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bearded bloke writes about bearded bloke

Rowan Williams, author of a recent book on Dostoevsky.

Fyodor Dostoevsky, subject of a recent book by Rowan Williams.

In honour of this wonderful event, I have grown a beard. Photo will appear soon.

Seriously, though, the book - Dostoevsky: Language, Faith and Fiction - sounds fascinating. I have to admit that I did not know Rowan Williams was an authority on Dostoevsky. He speaks Russian too, which is very impressive.

Here's the blurb from amazon:

This is an extraordinary book, which through the lens of Dostoevsky's novels enables the reader to consider the nature of God in the 21st Century - a societal landscape fraught with tensions and social inequalities.When an Archbishop of Canterbury takes time off to write a book about Dostoevsky, this is a sign of great hope and encouragement for The Church of England and for all those who seek God.The current rash of books hostile to religious faith will one day be an interesting subject for some sociological analysis. But to counter such work, is a book of the profoundest kind about the nature and purpose of religious belief. Terrorism, child abuse, absent fathers and the fragmentation of the family, the secularisation and the sexualisation of culture, the future of liberal democracy, the clash of cultures and the nature of national identity - so many of the anxieties that we think of as being quintessentially features of the early twenty first century and on, are present in the work of Dostoevsky - in his letters, his journalism and above all in his fiction.The world we inhabit as readers of his novels is one in which the question of what human beings owe to each other is left painfully and shockingly open and there is no place to stand from which we can construct a clear moral landscape. But the novels of Dostoevsky continually press home what else might be possible if we - characters and readers - saw the world in another light, the light provided by faith. In order to respond to such a challenge the novels invite us to imagine precisely those extremes of failure, suffering and desolation.There is an unresolved tension in Dostoevsky's novels - a tension between believing and not believing in the existence of God. In "The Brothers Karamazov", we can all receive Ivan with a terrible kind of delight. Ivan's picture of himself we immediately recognise as self-portrait. The god that is dead for him is dead for us. This Karamazov God of tension and terror is often the only one we are able to find. This extraordinary book will speak to our generation like few others.

About the Author
The Rt. Hon. and Most Reverend Rowan Williams is Archbishop of Canterbury. He was formerly Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Oxford and Archbishop of Wales.

When I told my wife this news she suggested I should get a copy of either A Gentle Axe or A Vengeful Longing to him for a quote. Well, it worked with Lorraine Kelly, another fan of Dostoevsky! (That sounds like a good pub quiz question, doesn't it? What connects TV presenter Lorraine Kelly and Archbishop Rowan Williams? They are both fans of Dostoevsky.)

This is a very lazy blog post, I admit - although surely I deserve some credit for working in both Rowan Williams and Lorraine Kelly. My excuse is I'm desperately trying to finish my latest novel. I really am nearing the end, which is making me incredibly tense and bad-tempered. I feel like it could all fall apart in my hands. There is the faint hope that it might not.

One more winner to announce

All the winners' books have gone off now, including one to Fiona Robyn, who I forgot to mention in my last post, and who is also running a FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY MADNESS FRENZY FEVER type thing on her own blog.

No comments: