Poor Myshkin

Dostoevsky’s Failed Fool-in-Christ

by Steven Faulkner

One afternoon last May I invited a good friend of mine to come over and discuss something that had been needling me about the writings of Dostoevsky. I had been reading Dostoevsky and wrestling with the problem of portraying the good man, the saintly man—not just the naive simpleton who sometimes passes for an innocent man. I found the questions presented intriguing and compelling, not only artistically and intellectually, but spiritually. What is it to be innocent? In the Russian religious tradition, there is what is called a fool-in-Christ, a person who appears as a fool to . . .

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Steven Faulkner teaches creative writing at Longwood University in southern Virginia. He is the author of Waterwalk: A Passage of Ghosts (2007) and Bitterroot: Echoes of Beauty and Loss (2016). Both books are memoirs of father-son journeys that followed the paths of missionary priests: Marquette (in Waterwalk) and De Smet (in Bitterroot).

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