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The Existential Crisis in Pío Baroja and Fyodor Dostoevsky: The novel as the vehicle for the analysis of national and spiritual distress.


The Existential Crisis in Pío Baroja and Fyodor Dostoevsky: The novel as the vehicle for the analysis of national and spiritual distress contributes to the field of Spanish literature by analyzing the links between the works of two of the world’s most important novelists, Pío Baroja and Fyodor Dostoevsky, during moments of national and international crisis and transformation. As part of the examination into the utilization of the novel to address social, political, and individual crisis, my research addresses Pío Baroja and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s unique programs for individual totality within the context of an abundance of propositions for societal restoration. My study provides a historical background for both countries with respect to philosophical and social ideologies, including the movements of positivism, Krausism, and the introduction of La Institución Libre de Enseñanza in Spain, and feudalism, westernization, and the corresponding political developments in Russia. Both Dostoevsky and Baroja reject programs for societal remediation on the basis of an unrelenting preference for individualism, exemplified in many of the protagonists of their works. Baroja’s novels El árbol de la ciencia, Mala hierba, Camino de perfección (Pasión mística), Aurora roja, César o nada, and Zalacaín el aventurero, along with Dostoevsky’s novels The Gambler, Notes from the Underground, The Brothers Karamazov, and Crime and Punishment, denote a shared view of the impossibility of achieving total individual fulfillment in life, but they differ in their proposals to address this problem. Baroja suggests an amalgamation between reason and vitality, with preference given to individual vitality due to its power to sustain life and inspire action. Dostoevsky advances the acceptance of Jesus Christ as one’s savior, in accordance with his adherence to Eastern Orthodox Christianity, and an embrace of suffering to confirm one’s individuality. In addition to depicting their respective programs, their novels serve as a vehicle to penetrate the structure of dominant ideological systems. While researchers have established a general connection between Baroja and Dostoevsky, my research seeks to expand and develop the previous relevant literature by presenting a wholistic overview of their programs advanced in their novels.

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