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Kanzer, M. (1951). The Vision of Father Zossina from the Brothers Karamazov. Am. Imago, 8(4):329-335.

(1951). American Imago, 8(4):329-335

The Vision of Father Zossina from the Brothers Karamazov

Mark Kanzer, M.D.

Dostoyevsky'S “The Brothers Karamazov” was used by Freud himself as a paradigm of the parricidal drives involved in the Oedipus complex (1). In the present study, an effort will be made to illuminate further this universal tendency as it is manifested in the Russian novel, particularly with respect to the formation of religious phantasies as defenses against such impulses.

Actually, Dostoyevsky's tale describes two fathers: the sensual and despicable Fyodor Karamazov, the actual parent, and the monk, Zossima, who is the spiritual father of the youth Alyosha. The murder of Fyodor by his presumptive offspring, Smerdyakov, becomes the occasion for the author's thesis that all men harbor parricidal wishes and therefore share, in a measure, the burden of guilt for such a crime. Alyosha alone escapes responsibility since he has already turned to religion and has therefore cleansed himself of such inclinations

The details of the process by which is is accomplished are indicated in the book, yet will not be apparent in their full significance without the application of psychoanalytic insight. A review of the voluminous literary and psychological commentaries on this famous novel also fails to disclose evidence that the obvious relationship between the deaths of Father Zossima and old Karamazov has been recognized. Actually, these two men meet their ends on successive nights, and the recital of events that occur between the two tragedies contains the key to their inherent psychological relationship and to Alyosha's escape from sharing the responsibility for parricide with his brothers.

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