Sunday, 14 September 2008

Dostoevsky and a theology of writing

“In writing fiction in which no formula is allowed unchallengeable victory, Dostoevsky has implicitly developed what might be called a theology of writing, specifically of narrative writing. Every fiction is at its most fictional in its endings, those pretences of closure and settlement. Every morally and religiously serious fiction has to project something beyond that ending or otherwise signal a level of incompletion…. The gratuity of fiction arises from the conviction that no kind of truth can be told if we speak or act as if history is over, as if the description of what contingently is becomes the sole possible account of language…. The novel ought to be a stout defender of the independence of eschatology in its most robust sense – that is, a defender of the apparently obvious but actually quite vulnerable conviction that the present does not possess the future.”

—From Rowan Williams’ extraordinary new book, Dostoevsky: Language, Faith, and Fiction (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2008), pp. 46, 60.

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