Rowan Williams gives post Lambeth Conference interview, on Dostoevsky

Stuart Jeffries at The Guardian:

His job is to try to hold the Anglican church together through its darkest days for centuries. So why on earth did the Archbishop of Canterbury take last summer off to write about Dostoevsky?

I ask why Rowan Williams took three months off last summer to write this book.

he explains

why he cast off his duties to write about a Russian novelist. “Both my predecessors have taken short periods of sabbatical and the general feeling was that before we got into the run up to the Lambeth Conference it might be quite a good idea to take some time out. I’d been reading around Dostoevsky for years and I thought, ‘OK let’s give myself a task and write the book.'”

Jeffries’ article and audio of the interview can be accessed here.

The book review by Andrew Brown is here. An excerpt:

The archbishop’s mind is one of eternal fractal elaboration. Each thought produces its opposite; each qualification must be qualified; each pool of sense must be adulterated with a dash of nonsense. There were times when I wondered whether I was struggling through the worst prose ever written by a poet. Sometimes the thought disintegrates entirely, like a jellyfish dropped in a jacuzzi: “The absolute necessity for recognition in the exchanges of dialogue means that, while we can indeed at one level say what we please (that two and two are not four), the construction of a life requires that we discover how we can speak in a way that does not just repeat or reproduce what is given, yet is at the same time occupying the same world of thought and perception that others in their speech inhabit. Speech may be free but it needs to be bearable – otherwise it fails finally to be language at all.”

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