Friday, January 21, 2005

Well, it seems my desire to read Dostoevsky's Demons (aka The Possessed and/or The Devils) is more timely than I thought.

From The Guardian:

"One of the models of American leadership is that of Moses, leading God's chosen people - then the Jews, now the Americans - towards a promised land, following a pillar of fire. At one point, according to the Bible, Moses was shown a sign: 'Behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.'

"But the key fire passage in the Burning Bush speech - 'We have lit a fire as well; a fire in the minds of men' - actually has its origins in a novel by the 19th century Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Devils, about a group of terrorists' ineffectual struggle to bring down the tyrannical Tsarist regime.

"One of the characters declares that it is pointless to try to put out a fire started by terrorists: 'The fire is in the minds of men and not in the roofs of houses,' he says.

"The novel belongs to a period in Dostoevsky's life which the White House might find attractive, after he had been sent by the Tsar to a kind of Russian Guantánamo and emerged a deeply religious conservative.

"Nonetheless, it is not clear whether Bush is identifying here with the terrorists - or the tyrants."

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