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date: 21 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Portraying fictional ‘images’ of Christ in literature is not straightforward. The fictional Christ figure is a possible impossibility. Figures such as Dostoevsky’s Prince Myshkin in The Idiot show us more about what it is like not to be Christ than what it is like to be him, and tell us more through the gaps in their portrayal than in their success in ‘incarnating’ Christ in fiction. Works of magical realism such as Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita tell us, again, about Christ more by what they do not, than by what they do, say. Depicting Christ in fiction is akin to the portrayal of Christ in the Russian Orthodox icon, which does not aspire literally to capture the essence of Christ, but rather to show that it cannot be shown. There is that which exceeds our images of Christ, and the best post-figurations are those which fill presence with absence.

Keywords: literature, Christ-figure, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Mikhail Bulgakov, magical realism, images of Christ

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