College of Arts and Sciences
Master of Arts in English (MA)
Carl C. Curtis
Dostoevsky, The Idiot, Henri Nouwen, Poetics, Fantastic Realism, Ministry
Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature
Decker, Richard A., "Originality, Decorum, and Fantastic Sight in Dostoevsky's The Idiot" (2020). Masters Theses. 649.
Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “fantastic realism” penetrates reality’s surface to reveal what he refers to as the “moral center” of reality and, in the process, transfigures readers. In Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, the novel’s main protagonist, Prince Lev Nikolaevich Myshkin, embodies this fantastic realism. This process provides Myshkin with a “fantastic sight” that allows him to see past the immorality of the manners—or “feigned decorum”—of Russian society as represented in the novel. In so doing, Myshkin serves his peers as a “Nouwenian minister,” classifying him as a “wounded healer” archetype as presented in Henri J. M. Nouwen’s The Wounded Healer. This thesis also draws from the writings of Robin Feuer Miller, Harriet Murav, Jessica Hooten Wilson, Liza Knapp, and Marshall Gregory in an effort to demonstrate that Myshkin, as a “Nouwenian minister,” also serves as a positive, Christ-like role model for readers. Readers, as they participate in Myshkin’s ministry through the act of reading the novel, are transfigured, discovering how they can serve as Nouwenian ministers to others.