In Dostoevsky as Suicidologist, Amy D. Ronner illustrates how self-homicide in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s fiction prefigures Emile Durkheim’s etiology in Suicide as well as theories of other prominent suicidologists. This book not only fills a lacuna in Dostoevsky scholarship, but provides fresh readings of Dostoevsky’s major works, including Notes from The House of the Dead, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, Demons, and The Brothers Karamazov. Ronner provides an exegesis of how Dostoevsky’s implicit awareness of fatalistic, altruistic, egoistic, and anomic modes of self-destruction helped shape not only his philosophy, but also his craft as a writer. In this study, Ronner contributes to the field of suicidology by anatomizing both self-destructive behavior and suicidal ideation while offering ways to think about prevention. But most expansively, Ronner tackles the formidable task of forging a ligature between artistic creation and the pluripresent social fact of self-annihilation.
Amy D. Ronner is professor emeritus of law at St. Thomas University and author of Dostoevsky and the Law.
Chapter 1: Introduction: Suicide as a Social Fact
Chapter 2: Fatalistic Convulsions in Notes From the House of the Dead
Chapter 3: Egoistic Self-Deceminantion in Crime and Punishment and The Idiot
Chapter 4: Anomy in Demons and The Brothers Karamazov
Chapter 5: Conclusion: The Antonymous Creative Process
About the Author
The book adds a valuable perspective to our knowledge of Dostoevsky’s novels. A law professor, holding a Ph.D. in English literature, Ronner writes with passion, eloquence, and erudition. The abundance of footnotes bears evidence to her painstaking work. The central thrust of her study is compelling and convincing. It vindicates the idea that being an accurate “tool” for understanding people’s behavior, great literature often anticipates the discoveries of sociology, anthropology, and psychology. The book reminds us that Dostoevsky recognized the importance of familial, religious, and social ties, and demonstrated the negative impact of individualism, egoism, and nihilism.
Dostoevsky is much too capacious and universally inspiring to be the property of narrow specialists. For some time, Russian scholars have admired law professor Amy D. Ronner’s ability to set Dostoevsky’s works in conversation with contemporary legal issues. This new book brings out in full measure her brilliance as literary critic and scholar. The centrality of suicide in Dostoevsky’s work has not escaped notice, but this is the first book devoted entirely to the problem, and it does so with a dazzlingly multidisciplinary framework. But most impressive is her rigorous, unfailingly insightful close reading of Dostoevsky’s post-exile writing. This book is accessible and unjargonated. It is highly recommended for anyone who would more deeply understand Dostoevsky’s fiction and aesthetics.
Of all the sins committed by Dostoevsky’s characters, murder is surely the most horrifying and, of all murders, self-murder the most shocking. In this groundbreaking new study, Amy D. Ronner provides us with a theoretical lens through which to penetrate suicide’s mysteries and find purpose within its seeming purposelessness. This is a foundational book that makes a major contribution to Dostoevsky studies while simultaneously illuminating a dark spot within the culture of nineteenth-century Russia as a whole.
In her sixth book, Dostoevsky as Suicidologist, Amy D. Ronner brings her razor-sharp legal mind to bear on the incalculable mystery of suicide and Dostoevsky’s many representations of it. Through the lens of Durkheim’s classic work, Suicide, but also with reference to the works of many other theorists and social thinkers, Ronner expands our understanding of Dostoevsky’s oeuvre in unexpected ways while deepening our general knowledge about the nature of suicide.
4/28/21 - Bloggers Karamazov: The Official Blog of the North American Dostoevsky Society interviewed author Amy Ronner about the book. Link: https://bloggerskaramazov.com/2021/04/28/a-chat-with-amy-ronner-about-dostoevsky-as-suicidologist/