The Archbishop of Canterbury on Dostoevsky, "personalism" and how the story of Christ reminds him of Russian idealsby Lesley Chamberlain / May 26, 2007 / Leave a comment
Published in May 2007 issue of Prospect Magazine
LC Fifty years ago, it was hard to have a decent western education without coming away with a notion of the great Russian soul. One read Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, steeped oneself in Kazimir Malevich and the Russian experiment in art, listened to Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and tried to link that whole explosion of modern creativity over 50 years, from around 1870, to the hopes raised by the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. Archbishop, both you and I went through that kind of initiation—in the same home town, Swansea, as it happens—and your deep interest in Russia is well known. Tell me about how that interest first converged with the development of your faith.
Rowan Williams It began in my teens. I read the great Russian novels, listened to the great composers, watched Eisenstein’s films. I became intensely aware of an alien cultural presence on the other side of Europe which had a hinterland of imagery both odd and seductive. I moved from music and literature inexorably to Russian religious philosophy.