Dostoevsky Studies     Volume 9, 1988

Dostoevsky and Natural Science

Michael R. Katz, University of Texas at Austin

The nineteenth century has often been characterized as an "age of revolution." Indeed, it was an age brimming over with revolutionary ideas of all sorts, as well as with political and social movements seeking to implement those ideas. The cast of revolutionary characters includes Marx and Engels, Darwin, Comte, and Freud; among major events -the French Revolutions, to name but a few.

The nineteenth century was also an age of scientific revolution -- not The Scientific Revolution, a designation traditionally reserved for the period of radical and innovative discoveries which occurred in the interval between Copernicus and Newton -- even though the nineteenth century continued along some of those same paths. Before Copernicus knowledge had been based on faith and insight, on reason and revelation; after him, the so-called "new science" discarded those ways of understanding nature and established experience -- i.e., observation and experimentation -- as the foundation and ultimate test of all knowledge. This Scientific Revolution produced a new kind of knowledge, a new method of obtaining it, and new institutions for its advancement and dissemination. It ultimately resulted in a new concept of science itself — conceived as a process of discovery, a never-ending search, a continuing revolution.

This scientific revolution continued well into the nineteenth century and made substantial progress in a variety of fields and disciplines. But as I. Bernard Cohen argues in


his comprehensive study entitled Revolution in Science the nineteenth century was also an "age of evolution." (3) Darwin's theory, the major new scientific concept of the period, not only changed the course of biology and influenced theory in fields ranging from sociology to literary criticism, but it also altered the current notions of how science itself progresses. As Cohen puts it:

It is a paradox that this dominant idea of evolution was put forth in the context of one of the greatest revolutions in science's history. (4)

The decade of the 1860's in Russia signalled an era of considerable material progress, social fermentation, and the exploration of new intellectual paths. It was also a period marked by a rapid growth of scientific thought, the extensive reorganization of social sciences on the model of the natural sciences, and by uncompromising attacks on metaphysics.

For the "new man" of the 1860's, the "nihilists" in particular, science was not just a body of applicable knowledge and theoretical principles, but also a point of view, a new Weltanschauung, even an ideological weapon. (5) Dobrolyubov, Chernyshevsky, and Pisarev wrote extensively in a concerted attempt to develop a new philosophy based on natural science; they argued in turn that science should be the source of models for the solution of all social and political problems.

This paper examines Dostoevsky's views on three of the most influential scientific thinkers of the mid-nineteenth century - Charles Lyell in geology, Charles Darwin in biology, and Claude Bernard in physiology - through a survey of Dostoevsky 's writings: first, his letters and Diary of a Writer, then, the imaginative reflection and extraordinary distortion of the thought of these three scientists' in his fiction, concentrating on his last novel, The Brothers Karamazov (1879-80). (6)

*    *    *

The very first comment to appear in the Russian press about the ideas being advanced in the West by Charles Darwin was published in 1860 in the conservative Journal of the Ministry of National Education, a periodical dedicated to the safeguarding of official ideology. It was an unsigned article consisting of a Russian translation of a paper by Charles Lyell, the English geologist, describing various artifacts found in post-Pliocene deposits. Lyell had completed his study before the appearance of Darwin's Origin of Species; in it he refers to the forthcoming publication of that work and to the scientific revolution that he expected to come in its wake.

According to Prince Odoevsky, the study of geology in Russia had made very little progress during the first half of the nineteenth century, largely as a result of a conflict between that science and the teachings of the Orthodox Church.


Nor was the subject included in the curriculum of Russian schools. Odoevsky reports:

No Russian book on the formation of the earth's crust could be published, while geological works in foreign languages were a source of headaches for perplexed censors. (7)

Official censors had to analyze all new geological theories and reconcile them with the account of creation conveyed in the Bible. As a result, Charles Lyell's seminal study The Principle of Geology (1830-33) was kept from reaching Russia until the 1860's.

In the first of his three volumes Lyell provides a historical sketch of the development of the new science, tracing the ideas of his ideological opponents, the so-called "catastrophists," back to their roots in 17th century cosmogeny. (8) They had argued that the history of the earth was short in time, apocalyptic in event, and produced by forces that lacked counterparts in modern geological processes. Thus, the theories of the catastrophists were in total agreement with religious accounts of creation, the flood, the second coming, and so forth. All of the main features of the earth's natural scenery could be attributed to sudden upheavals, accompanied by transient torrents -- recurrent disasters or "catastrophes."

Lyell, on the other hand, attempted in his Principles to "create a science" out of geology and to express the consequences of what he believed to be "uniformity" of nature in the history of the earth. He believed that those processes which have been actually observed to modify the face of the earth during historic time could be taken as a safe guide in interpreting the record of events dating from the long ages of the geological past. His detailed account of modern igneous and aqueous processes was intended "to explain the former changes of the earth's surface by reference to causes now in operation." Thus he postulated the principle of the uniformity of physical laws and of the course of nature throughout past geological ages.

The publication of Lyell's Principles was sufficient to lead most of the younger generation of English geologists away from the "catastrophists" and into the camp of the so-called "uniformitarians." On board the H.M.S. Beagle Charles Darwin had in his possession a copy of Lyell's Principles; he read it carefully and found it an indispensable guide for interpreting the geology of South America. Even more, he found confirmation of his own belief that the succession of life in earth-history should be ascribed, like all other geological phenomena, to "natural" causes.

In 1864 after the publication of the first Russian translation of Darwin's Origin of Species, Dmitry Pisarev wrote a lengthy essay on the idea of evolution as formulated by Darwin. Entitled "Progress in the Animal and Vegetable Worlds," it appeared in the popular journal The Russian Word. Pisarev wanted to introduce large numbers of Russian readers both to


Darwin's theory, as well as to Lyell's ideas on geology. He begins with a summary of catastrophe theory which postulated "several geological upheavels [geologicheskie perevoroty], each of which reduced all organic life to dust." Then he explains Lyell's uniformitarianism -- where "no accidents in nature" occur and "everything happens in accordance with laws." After Lyell, says Pisarev, the "theory of magic upheavals [perevoroty] began to lose its hold and fall into decay." Summarizing the achievement of Lyell's Principles, the critic argued that

Lyell had cleared science of geological miracles; other naturalists had to do the same with respect to the history of organic life;... (9)

Pisarev's anti-religious bias is evident: "accidents," "magic," and "miracles" had to be replaced by "natural laws." Geological catastrophes were seen as the product of primitive superstition and were now outmoded.

A thorough search through all of Dostoevsky's writings (including letters, diaries, and novels) has failed to turn up any mention of Lyell's name. However, I have identified what I believe to be a significant reference to Lyell's famous Principles and to the revolution in geology which the book produced.

In The Brothers Karamazov when the Devil appears to Ivan during the course of his remarkable nightmare, he taunts the young thinker by ridiculing his previous ideas and theories. (10) Ivan exclaims:

All of my stupid ideas -- outgrown, thrashed out long ago, and flung aside like a dead carcass -- you present to me as something new!

The Devil persists, mentioning an imaginative "poem" which Ivan had composed about a year ago:

'My dear fellow, I know a most charming and attractive young Russian gentleman, a young thinker and a great lover of literature and art, the author of a promising poem entitled "The Grand Inquisitor"....'

Ivan protests, forbidding the Devil to refer to that work. The Devil acquiesces (perhaps because we readers remember it all too well), and turns instead to another of Ivan's works, one that represents the latest formulation of the hero's most cherished ideas:

'And the "Geological Catastrophe" [Geologicheskii perevorot]? Do you remember? Now that was a poem!'

Ivan is outraged and even threatens to kill his interlocutor. But the Devil kindly provides us with a summary of Ivan's latest treatise:

'You'll kill me? No, excuse me, I will speak. I came to treat myself to that pleasure. Oh, I love the dreams of


my ardent young friends, quivering with eagerness for life! "There are new men," you decided last spring, when you were meaning to come here, "they propose to destroy everything and begin with cannibalism. Stupid fellows! They didn't ask my advice! I maintain that nothing need be destroyed, that we only need to destroy the idea of God in man, that's how we have to set to work. It's that, that we must begin with. Oh, blind race of men who have no understanding! As soon as men have all of them denied God -- and I believe that period, analogous with geological periods, will come to pass -- the old conception of the universe will fall of itself without cannibalism, and what's more, the old morality, and then everything will begin anew. Men will unite to take from life all it can give, but only for joy and happiness in the present world. Man will be lifted up with a spirit of divine Titanic pride and the man-god will appear. From hour to hour extending his conquest of nature infinitely by his will and his science, man will feel such lofty joy from hour to hour in doing it that it will make up for all his old dreams of the joys of heaven. Everyone will know that he is mortal and will accept death proudly and serenely like a god. His pride will teach him that it's useless for him to repine at life's being a moment, and he will love his brother without need of reward. Love will be sufficient only for a moment of life, but the very con­sciousness of its momentariness will intensify its fire, which is now dissipated in dreams of eternal love beyond the grave"... and so on and so forth in the same style. Charming!'  [my underlining]

It is my contention that Ivan's title is borrowed from Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology, probably through the intermediary of Pisarev's "Progress in the Animal and Vegetable Worlds." The commentary to the most recent edition of Dostoevsky's Complete Collected Works makes no mention of Lyell, and cites two other possible sources — Ernest Renan's Vie de Jésus(1863) and Heinrich Heine's lyric "Frieden" (1826) from his North Sea cycle; while both works are ideologically relevant, neither appears to be the immediate source of Ivan's poem." (11)

From the Devil's summary it appears that Ivan has not only understood Lyell's fundamental proposition, but has also extrapolated from the geological stages of the earth's development to the moral and spiritual evolution of its inhabitants -- i.e., precisely the outcome that Dostoevsky feared most from the new science. "Analagous with geological periods" -- the old morality would dissolve and mankind would begin anew. The man-god would appear, "extending his conquest of nature infinitely by his will and his science." Reason and science and their practical application to human life would inevitably result in the establishment of a godless Utopia. (12)

*     *     *

While Dostoevsky may not have known much about Charles Lyell


and, with the notable exception of the title and main argument of Ivan's poem, he never alluded directly either to the man or to his work, he did indeed know considerably more about Charles Darwin. He refers to him in several letters as well as in both his fiction and nonfiction.

Dostoevsky's general attitude towards Darwin is reflected in an article from his Diary of a Writer (1873) entitled "One of the Contemporaneous Falsehoods":

Please note, gentlemen, that all of these high European teachers, our light and our hope -- all those Mills, Darwins and Strausses — sometimes consider the moral obligations of modern man in a most astonishing manner. (13)

Dostoevsky characterizes Darwin as a "leader of European progressive thought," but one who remained unaware of the inferences which were being drawn from his own doctrine in Russia where the most "intelligent, enthusiastic and studious" young people were accepting Darwin's hypotheses as unshakable axioms. Darwinism is seen as intimately connected with the doctrine of nihilism and as one of the principle sources of the young nihilists' inspiration. Darwin is here grouped with John Stuart Mill, who, along with Jeremy Bentham, was one of the main exponents of the philosophy of utilitarianism, and with David Friedrich Strauss, the philosopher-cum-theologian, responsible for the application of historical methods to Biblical study, whose Life of Jesus (1835) attempted to analyze the events of the central "myth" of Christianity. This distinguished "company" is significant. Darwin's evolution is seen as part and parcel of "European progressive thought;" its implications spill over the boundaries of biology into philosophy and religion. Mill's utilitarianism and Strauss' secular historicism are categorized as extentions of the new science.

In a letter to V. A. Alekseev written in June, 1876, Dostoevsky makes this argument in even more dramatic terms:

By the way: remember the contemporary theories of Darwin and others concerning the descent of man from monkeys. Without engaging in any theories, Christ explicitly declares that in man, in addition to an animal world, there is also a spiritual world. And what of it? What difference does it make where man is descended from..., God still breathed the breath of life into him. (14)

This extraordinary statement reveals the author's sophisticated accommodation both to the discoveries of science and to the overwhelming evidence in support of Darwin's theories. On the other hand, Dostoevsky's fictional works do not reveal the same kind if tolerant attitude; there Darwin's name is mentioned almost exclusively in negative terms.

As indicated above, the first reference to Darwin in Russia appeared in 1860 in the unsigned comment on Lyell's paper. One year later, the conservative journal, The Library for


Reading, published a summary of Darwin's theory. While the anonymous critic disagrees with some of the theory's philosophical implications, he provides a careful and balanced survey of the author's main arguments.

The first complete Russian translation of Origin of Species was published in 1864 by a professor of plant physiology at Moscow University, S. A. Rachinsky. (15) Pisarev's long article in The Russian Word (1864) actually purports to be a review of this translation; the critic complains about the absence of what is now called a "critical apparatus" -- introduction, afterword, commentary. The reviewer points to several errors in the translation and to numerous infelicities of expression. He goes on in his own essay to provide a much more popular account of Darwin's theory and to impress upon his readers its revolutionary significance.

While Pisarev was undoubtedly one of Darwin's greatest supporters and popularizers, Nikolai Strakhov was quick to recognize potential dangers inherent in the theory and expressed them in his own review of the Rachinsky translation. He praised the work for its thoroughness and rejoiced in the evidence that man constituted the highest stage of organic development; but then he went on to argue that by moving into questions of philosophy and theology, the Darwinists were exceeding the limits of scientific evidence. He strenuously objected to drawing moral and social conclusions from any discoveries whatsoever in the natural sciences. Comparisons between man and animals were necessarily incomplete; man may indeed be a part of nature, but at the same time he also constitutes something more. (16)

A new edition of Darwin's writings in 1871 prompted Strakhov to return to his subject; he wrote an essay issuing a strong warning against any unconditional acceptance of Darwin's theory. In particular, he argued against the doctrine of pure chance as the single operative factor in evolution. Strakhov maintained that chance could not explain how species change: "Man proceeds from the ape; but how is he different from the ape?"

Much like Dostoevsky in the letter to Alekseev cited above, Strakhov seems able to reconcile himself to Darwin's scientific argument for the origin of the species; he finds, however, that the theory fails to answer every question about the nature of man, nor does the theory exclude the necessity for belief in God.

The loquacious narrator in Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground (1864) launches his attack on Darwinism in no uncer­tain terms:

As soon as they prove you, for instance, that you are descended from a monkey, then it's no use scowling, you just have to accept it. (17)

But, as has been pointed out in a recent study of Dostoevsky, the Underground man does not accept it. Darwin remains a special target of attack inasmuch as his whole system for


explaining man's place in nature is totally unacceptable. Michael Holquist writes:

The underground man rejects Darwin because the evolutionary plot is too neat, is too homogeneous, for him. Darwin may, with his system, be able to write the biography for the underground man; he cannot account for the sense of unique selfhood that is the underground man's curse and pride. (18)

In Crime and Punishment (1866) the Darwinian overtones inherent in Raskolnikov's theory of the extraordinary man are unmistakable. He describes the mechanism of "natural selection," where, according to the laws of nature, by the crossing of races and types, a "genius" would eventually emerge. Darwin's evolutionary theory would substantiate these ideas by suggesting the possibility of perfecting mankind at some time in the future.

A similar theme is sounded in Kirillov's theory of the mangod in The Possessed (1871-72). There the possibility of the further development of the human race is carried out to its logical absurdity. Kirillov concludes that he must face death and overcome it (or the fear of death) so that a new generation of [Darwinian] supermen could supercede him.

In addition to these (and other) Darwinian themes, the biologist's name occurs in a number of other fictional works by Dostoevsky in a variety of contexts. In Crime and Punishment Lebezyatnikov tries to explain both Fourier's system and Darwin's theory to Peter Luzhin; the "pupil" responds with sarcasm and even begins to jeer at his "tutor." Clearly Luzhin has reached the conclusion that Lebezyatnikov is a fraud.

In a fragment dating from the period 1864-73 entitled "The Struggle of Nihilism with Honesty" (or "The Officer and the Nihilist") we find the following mysterious line:

The [young female] nihilist explains herself in stupid terms, although completely in accordance with Darwin. (19)

Karmazinov in The Possessed is accused by the narrator of borrowing certain ideas, using antitheses, and arriving at puns in a Darwinian fashion in his own attempts to analyze the nihilist movement.

Finally in Dostoevsky's notebooks for The Brothers Karamazov, in what was originally intended to be part of the dialogue between Kolya Krasotkin and Alyosha in Book X ("The Boys"), Kolya declares:

I don't believe Darwin. The origin of the dragonfly. On the other hand take even God — all that is hypothesis. -- One would have to invent him. (20)

In the final version this explicit reference to Darwin has been omitted.  When Alyosha asks Kolya if he believes in God,


the lad replies:

Oh, I've nothing against God. Of course, God is only a hypothesis, but... I admit that He is needed... for the order of the universe and all that... if there were not God, He would have to be invented. (21)

It is clear from the above that in his fictional works Dostoevsky associates Darwin exclusively with "negative" characters -- i.e., "nihilists" of all shapes and sizes: the Underground man, Raskolnikov, Lebezyatnikov, Kirillov, Karmazinov's pals, the anonymous nigilistka, and finally Kolya Krasotkin. Some of these characters will be redeemed; others will remain trapped within the confines of their insidious ideology. For Dostoevsky-the-writer Darwin means the extension of natural science, its method and conclusions, beyond its appropriate limits and into the realm of human spirituality and morality. The results were potentially disastrous: his fictional heroes could be saved only by love and faith.

*    *    *

Claude Bernard's most influential treatise, An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine, was published in 1865. Its expressed aim was to apply the principles of experimental science to medicine. The first part consists of an essay on the experimental method and a rationale for scientific discovery; the second, an exposition on the principle of scientific determinism in its application to physiology; and the third, of illustrations from the author's own laboratory. Throughout the work Bernard insists on the importance of the "experimental idea" or hypothesis in scientific investigation: based on observation and verified by experimentation, it was an essential component of any discovery. Furthermore, he believed in the absolute determinism of natural science; in his words: "the conditions of a phenomenon once known and fulfilled, the phenomenon must occur." (22)

In 1866 Strakhov published a Russian translation of this treatise prefaced by a long analytical essay. In spite of his later more conservative position with regard to the new science, here Strakhov declares his approval of Bernard's methodology, particularly his insistence on the importance of the "experimental idea."

Bernard's impact on literature is a subject of considerable controversy. Emile Zola made use of his theory (or found in it confirmation of his own ideas) as the foundation of the so-called "experimental novel" which became the predominant genre of the French naturalist school. Turgenev's Bazarov has frequently been described as the prototypical physiologist in fiction. (23) Chernyshevsky's "new people" are all pursuing the study of medicine (even Vera Pavlovna forsakes her sewing cooperative to follow the example set by the "new men" Lopukhov and Kirsanov); his "superior person," Rakhmetov, on the other hand, seems to have advanced far beyond the limits of modern medicine, and boldly seeks to apply Bernard's experimental method to each and every one of


life's problems.

In march, 1877 Dostoevsky sent a revealing letter to a young woman, A. F. Gerasimova, who had written to ask him for advice. She wanted to do something useful with her life and was therefore planning to enter the Medical High School for Women in Petersburg. Dostoevsky cautioned her against it, suggesting instead that she devote herself to general education in order to prepare herself for a career which would be "a hundred times more useful than the obscure and insignificant role of a sick-nurse, a mid-wife, or a woman doctor." He continues:

Just look at all of our specialists (even the university professors); why are they all suffering so, and why do they harm their profession and their calling (instead of doing good)? It is simply because the majority of our specialists are badly educated. It is not at all like that in Europe. There one can meet a Humboldt, a Claude Bernard, or other people -- with grand ideas, broad education and knowledge, not only in their own specialty. But here [in Russia] even people with great talent (Sechenov, for example) are fundamentally uneducated and know very little outside their own subject. (24)

However, once again Dostoevsky's own genuine admiration for Bernard's "broad education and knowledge," is not reflected in the numerous references to him by a fictional character in The Brothers Karamazov. There his name becomes a symbol for the radical, free-thinking, scientific, deterministic approach that the author unconditionally opposes. It is Dmitry who has been chosen to convey this attitude as he repeatedly heaps scorn and ridicule on those who would treat him as matter for some kind of scientific experiment. So, for example, he refers to Rakitin (on several occasions), to the lawyer who thinks he is guilty, and to the prosecutor after his final speech, all as "Bernards." Similarily, during the trial, the narrator observes that the doctor from Moscow uses language to describe Dmitry which is very characteristic of Claude Bernard.

But by far the most fascinating passage occurs in Book 11, Chapter iv, "A Hymn and a Secret," in a conversation between Dmitry and Alyosha. On the eve of the trial the opportunistic Rakitin visits Dmitry's cell in order to collect some information for an article which he is writing, one that he hopes will establish his career. Alyosha's arrival hastens Rakitin's departure. Thereupon Dmitry suddenly asks his brother, "Who was Karl Bernard?" Alyosha can't answer, even after Dmitry gets the name (and the nationality) right. Dmitry replies:

'Well, damn him, then! I don't know either... A scoundrel of some sort, most likely. They are all scoundrels. And Rakitin will make his way. Rakitin will get on anywhere; he is another Bernard. Ugh, these Bernards! They are all over the place.'


Dmitry is obviously upset by Rakitin's intention to capitalize on his trial,- although he recognizes the man's intelligence, he also knows that he is a scoundrel:

‘I said to him just now: "The Karamazovs are not scoundrels, but philosophers, because all genuine Russians are philosophers, and although you have studied, you are not a philosopher, but a peasant [smerd]."'

There follows an extended passage in which Dmitry eloquently explains to Alyosha why it is that he "feels so sorry for God" [Boga zhalko]:

'Just imagine: inside here, in the nerves, inside the head, that is, these nerves are inside the brain (devil take them!)... there are a kind of little tails, the nerves have little tails, and as soon as they begin to quiver... that is, you see, say that I look at something with my eyes, like so, and they start to quiver, these little tails... and as soon as they do, then an image appears, not immediately, but after an instant or so, a second passes, and there appears something like a moment, that is not a moment (devil take the moment) --but an image, that is an object or an event, devil take 'em, and that's why I perceive and then think... because of those little tails, and not because I have a soul or that I am some sort of image and likeness — all that's nonsense! Mikhail [Rakitin] explained all of this to me yesterday, and it really overwhelmed me. It's magnificent, Alyosha, this science! A new man is emerging — that I understand... And yet, I feel sorry for God.' (25)

This is a brilliant and complex passage. (26) Dmitry appears to be completely persuaded by Rakitin's rhetoric ("It's chemistry, brother, all chemistry! What can you do?... move over a bit and make room for chemistry!") The vision appears to be magnificent: science is the future and a new man will emerge. Here Dmitry echoes the rhetoric of the enemy -- for Rakitin is in the same camp with the Devil, Brother Ivan, Kolya Krasotkin, and a host of others. Indeed, the passage reaches a climax not unlike that in Ivan's nightmare described above where it was Lyell's geology instead of Bernard's physiology which was threatening the idea of God, the soul, and immortality (man as "image and likeness") and which would result in the emergence of the new man, the mangod, destined to rule the earth through science and will. Dmitry has arrived at exactly the same conclusion, having come under the spell of the new ideology through Rakitin's original interpretation of Claude Bernard's physiology.

*    *    *

Dostoevsky's quarrel is not with science per se, but with "scientism" -- that is, the eagerness to extend the implications of the new scientific theories (and their method) to encompass all fields of investigation. The anonymous narrator of Notes from Underground had expressed this point in the clearest possible terms:




I... want to live in order to satisfy all my capacities for life, and not simply my capacity for life... The conclusions of reason and arithmetic [i.e., science] may be the law of logic, but not the law of humanity. (27)

And what of the Devil's provocative recapitulation of Ivan's article? Another example of what one critic has called the "rhetoric of an ideological novel." In a perceptive article Robert Belknap argues that Dostoevsky aims to manipulate his reader -- to lead him through a genuine experience of what it meant to be a Russian radical and to implicate his reader in "the feeling of guilt, self-consciousness, stupidity, and even savagery to which he makes radicalism lead..." (28) Thus, by tempting his own readers as the Devil tempted Christ, Dostoevsky intended to dazzle them with the "magnificent" vision which the new sciences (geology, biology, and physiology) had to offer, but one which they had to recognize and ultimately to reject. His last and greatest novel was a means of propagating Father Zosima's "active grace" as the only force capable of providing man's life with genuine meaning.



  1. D.I. Pisarev, Selected Philosophical, Social and Political Essays. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1958, p. 305.
  2. Quoted in Stephen Jay Gould, Ever Since Darwin. Reflections in Natural History. New York: Norton and Co., 1979, p. 26.
  3. I. Bernard Cohen, Revolution in Science. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985, pp. 273-74.
  4. Ibid., p. 274.
  5. Alexander Vucinich, Science in Russian  Culture, 1861-1917. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1970, pp.
  6. For an enlightening discussion of Dostoevsky's views on epilepsy in particular and on medicine in general see James L. Rice, Dostoevsky and the Healing  Art, An Essay in Literary and Medical History. Ann Arbor, MI: Ardis, 1985.
  7. Vucinich, Science in Russian Culture, A History to 1860. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1963, Vol. 1, p. 343.
  8. Charles Lyell, Principles of  Geology. New York: Johnson Reprint Corp., 1969, Vol. 1, p. 1.
  9. Pisarev, Selected Essays, p. 303.
  10. F. M. Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov. New York: Nor-


    ton and Co., 1976, pp. 615-16.
  11. Dostoevsky, Polnoe  sobranie  sochinenii   (henceforth, PSS). Leningrad: Nauka, 1976, p. 595. See also Victor Terras, A Karamazov Companion. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1981, pp. 395-96.
  12. Curiously Lyell himself had experienced considerable difficulty in accepting the implications of his own theory when they were extended beyond the realm of geology.  Sir Edward Bailey, one of Lyell's biographers writes:
    ...he consistently taught that all geological events, but not the origin of the species, have been governed by laws of nature which are open to investigation at the present day. He thus prepared the way for Darwin's explanation of the origin of species by natural selection, though he himself accepted this extension of his theses with very great reluctance.
    Lyell took a long time to reconcile himself to Darwin's theory; he was clearly repulsed by the notion that man was descended from animals. Finally, in 1864 he announced his own change of heart and declared that now he too accepted Darwin's explanation for the origin of man. In an intimate autobiography intended to be read only by his own children, Darwin noted:
    Lyell was thoroughly liberal in his religious beliefs, or rather disbeliefs; but he was a strong theist.
    Indeed, Lyell's theism is remarkable indeed, given the overwhelming evidence with which he was being assaulted.

  13. Dostoevsky, The Diary of a Writer, trans. B. Brasol. New York: George Braziller, 1954, p. 140.
  14. Dostoevsky, Pis'ma, ed. A. S. Dolinin. Moscow-Leningrad, Academia, Vol. 3, pp. 212-13.
  15. See Vucinich, Science in Russian Culture, Vol. 2, pp. 104-107.
  16. See Linda Gerstein, Nikolai Strakhov.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, pp. 148-158.
  17. Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground and The Grand Inquisitor, trans. R. E. Matlaw. New York: Dutton, 1960, p. 12.
  18. Michael Holquist, Dostoevsky and the  Novel, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1977, p. 58.
  19. Dostoevsky, PSS, Vol. 17, p. 16.
  20. Ibid., Vol. 15, p. 307.

  21. 76

  22. Ibid., Vol. 14, p. 499.
  23. Reino Virtanen, Claude Bernard and His Place in the History of Ideas. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska, 1960, p. 19.
  24. See Virtanen, Claude Bernard, pp. 13-14, 118-19.
  25. Dostoevsky, Pis'ma, vol. 3, p. 259.
  26. Dostoevsky, PSS, vol. 15, p. 28.
  27. Nina Perlina has called my attention to the humorous connection between Claude Bernard and St. Bernard (senbernar) with his large tail, as well as the frequent repetition of the word devil (chert) in this passage with his characteristic tail.
  28. Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground, pp. 25, 29.
  29. Robert L. Belknap, "The Rhetoric of an Ideological Novel," in Literature and Society in Imperial Russia, 1800-1914, ed. W. M. Todd. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 1978, 201.
University of Toronto