Restoring the Inner Heart: The Nous in Dostoevsky's Ridiculous Man

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Suddenly I dreamed that I picked up the gun and, sitting in my armchair, pointed it straight at my heart—at my heart, and not at my head.

--Fyodor Dostoevsky

“The Dream of a Ridiculous Man” is a tale of the transformation of the heart and of a journey from despair to joy: a joy that can be known by all through an experience of God that transcends a simply rational discourse.

In this eye opening literary study, Mary Naumenko uses the story as a springboard for a wider discourse on Christian spirituality and transformation. She examines the title character and his spiritual metamorphosis in light of the ancient concept of Nous as it has developed from the Greek philosophers to the Church Fathers. By comparing the “Ridiculous Man” to similar characters in Dostoevsky’s corpus the author shows how an Orthodox Christian understanding of how the nous underpins Dostoevsky’s own anthropology; in turn, his literary works guide the reader toward a truer vision of humanity.