Friday, December 03, 2004



David Warren writes: "Dostoevsky is a moral, not a psychological writer." To Nietzsche, Dostoevsky was a master of psychological insight. In Twilight of the Idols (45, tr. Walter Kaufmann), Nietzsche wrote that Dostoevsky was "the only psychologist from which I had something to learn; he ranks among the most beautiful strokes of fortune in my life." Nietzsche gives more details about this stroke of fortune in a letter to Franz Overbeck (February 23, 1887, tr. Kaufmann):
I did not even know the name of Dostoevski just a few weeks ago -- uneducated person that I am, not reading any journals. An accidental reach of the arm in a bookstore brought to my attention L'esprit souterrain [Notes from Underground], a work just translated into French. (It was a similar accident with Schopenhauer in my 21st year and with Stendhal in my 35th.) The instinct of kinship (or how should I name it?) spoke up immediately; my joy was extraordinary.
Contra Warren, Nietzsche might have written, "Dostoevsky is a psychological, not a moral writer." The dichotomy is a false one. Dostoevsky is both a psychological and a moral writer.

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