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2023 Vol. 14 №2

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Dispute about Holbein as a dispute about faith: discussion around Fedor Dostoevsky’s novel ‘The Idiot’



The article is devoted to the controversy around the painting by Hans Holbein the Younger "Christ in the tomb" and the novel "The Idiot" by Fedor Dostoevsky, where this picture is the central ekphrasis. The aim of the study was to analyze the current trends in the interpretation of Holbein's painting and Dostoevsky's novel, in their relationship with Christian dogmatics, canonical requirements for depicting the image of Christ, the biblical context, and to establish existing and possible interpretive models, their boundaries and perspectives. The article discusses the controversy about the painting by Holbein before Dostoevsky (Karamzin, Zhukovsky, Gruner, Spazier, Lavater, Zschokke, Hegner) and its development in the novel "The Idiot" and in the disputes around it, presented by modern researchers of Holbein’s and Dostoevsky’s works. Particular attention is paid to the issue of kenosis, corruption and destruction, the significance of biblical allusions for understanding the meaning of the picture in the novel "The Idiot". The central argument of the article is that Holbein's painting actualizes the biblical context, carrying a provocative meaning that the crucified Christ himself had in the eyes of the world: "for the Jews a stumbling block and for the Greeks foolishness" (1 Cor. 1: 23).


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