Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Zombie Jesus

My wife happens to be reading Dostoevsky's The Idiot right now. For those curious (as I was), here's the passage that refers to the Holbein painting of Christ's rotting corpse we looked at today:

"Over the door of the next room there hung a picture of a rather curious shape, about four feet wide and no more than ten and a half inches high. It showed our Saviour, who had just been taken from the cross. The prince threw a cursory glance at it as if trying to remember something and was about to pass into the other room without stopping. He felt very depressed and was anxious to get out of this house as soon as possible. But Rhogozin suddenly stopped before the picture:
'All these here pictures,' he said, 'were bought by my dad at auctions for a rouble or two. He liked them. An art dealer examined them all. A lot of rubbish, he said. But this picture here, over here, also bought for two roubles, isn't rubbish, he said. One fellow offered my dad three hundred and fifty roubles for it, and Ivan Dmitrich Savelyev, a merchant and a great picture-lover, offered as much as four hundred for it, and last week he raised his offer to my brother to five hundred. But I've kept it for myself.'


'Tell me, prince, I've long wanted to ask you, do you believe in god?' Rogozhin suddenly broke into speech after walking a few steps.
'How strangely you speak and - look!' the prince observed involuntarily.
'I like looking at that picture,' Rogozhin muttered after a short pause, as though he had forgotten his question.
'At that picture!' the prince exclaimed, struck by a sudden thought. 'At that picture! Why, some people may lose their faith by looking at that picture!'
'Aye, that may also be lost,' Rogozhin assented unexpectedly."


Jennif said...

Thanks for posting this. I have been searching for this to use on my midterm. Such an intriguing piece of work, both the painting and anything by Dostoevsky.