[Harbin], 1929. , 88 pp. 26x18,5 cm. In publisher’s wrappers. The spine is rebacked with paper, some bleak stains on the front wrapper and a tiny tear, ink stamp on the t.p. (Russian Student Christian Group), staples with rust. Otherwise a very good copy.
First edition. Very rare provincial edition.
This pamphlet was written by Russian philosopher and writer
Alexander Gorsky (1886-1943; worked under aliases like Gornostaev).
After finishing Moscow Theological Academy and becoming close with
such philosophers like P.A. Florensky and Lev Shestov Gorsky discovered
Nikolay Fyodorov’s (1829-1903) teachings which influenced him a lot,
determined his attitude to the tasks of literary art, and in the end he
refused to get ordained. Gorsky dedicated a lot of his works to Fyodorov
and his philosophy, his philosophical and life contacts with such people
influenced by him like Tolstoy, Soloviev and, in this edition, Dostoevsky.
Indeed, their connection is one of the most interesting since
historians of literature discovered Dostoevsky writing this about
Fyodorov in his letter in 1878: “...essentially completely agree with
these thoughts. I read them as if for my own”. For Dostoevsky the
acquaintance with Fyodorov’s ideas became an important spiritual and
creative milestone. It was widely reflected in the novel “The Karamazov Brothers”, both in the drafts and in the final text. For Fyodorov, the letter
of Dostoevsky was the impetus for the systematic presentation of his
ideas, for the creation of the main work - «The question of brotherhood
or kinship, the causes of non-brotherly, unrelated, that is, non-peaceful,
state of the world and the means to restore kinship.» It can be said that
Fyodorov, as a thinker, entered culture with the unwitting submission of
Dostoevsky, who stimulated him with his questions to create a written
summary of the doctrine of the resurrection.
From Nikolay Berdiyaev’s review in 1929: “A.N. Gornostaev
appears evidently to be a chief representative of the Fyodorov
movement. In a recently appeared booklet, «Paradise on Earth», he
attempts to establish points of affinity between Dostoevsky and N.
Fyodorov. He wants to show, that in Dostoevsky there was already
the fundamental idea of N. Fyodorov, though insufficiently perceived.
His argument is bound up with the death of Ilyusha and makes a
connection with the boys in the «Brothers Karamazov» and with
Alyosha going off for action in the world after his experiencing a birth
into new life. According to Gornostaev, the time at present is «dostoino»,
i.e. «propitious». Gornostaev attempts to formulate a fundamental
theme of Russian literature and Russian religious thought: «The basic,
the perhaps singular theme of Russian religious thought -- is this, from
whence has all originated and towards what will it have returned, this
is the central axis point, around which has grown the impetus of motion
-- it is an ideational task, determining for itself the whole course of its
development -- wherein perhaps all of four words tend to signify it:
«GOD’S KINGDOM ON EARTH.» (p. 17) or otherwise «Paradise on Earth».
… Paradise is a blessing and a gift from God. The path however of
human creativity is tragic, it always presupposes a cross and suffering.
A. Gornostaev shrinks down the Russian idea. His booklet on Dostoevsky
and N. Fedorov is interesting and thought provoking, it is in line also
to certain of the Russian currents and trends, but it is impossible to
accept on faith the religious actions, to which it appeals. It remains
enormously unclear, how to initiate the religious action, what it is that
can be acknowledged as the start of the action, if from such action be
disregarded the ideological preaching. The thoughts of A. Gornostaev
merit a sense of sympathy, as a Russian searching for the realisation of
Christianity within life, as a creative movement within Orthodoxy. The
truth of Fedorov and Fedorovism consists first of all in this, that they do
not limit Christianity to the deed of a personal other-world salvation, that they see within Christianity a deed both social and cosmic. And this
is a Russian truth”.
Original paper copies located at University of North Carolina, Princeton
University and others. (A photocopy was made in Ann Arbor, it’s not always
stated whether the library holds an original or photocopy).