From André Gide’s Dostoevsky

Telegraph Books, June 1981

“Dostoevsky remains steadfast in the belief that between nationalism and europeanism, individualism and self-abnegation, the contradiction is apparent only. He holds that because each understands but one aspect of this vital question, the opposing parties remain uniformly remote from the truth. One more quotation: it will, I am sure, throw more light on Dostyoevsky’s position than any commentary. “To be happy must one be impersonal? Does salvation lie in self-effacement? Far from it, I should say. Not only must there be no self-effacement, but one must become a personality, even in a degree beyond what is possible in the West. Be clear to my meaning: voluntary sacrifice, offered consciously and without constraint, sacrifice of the individual for the good of mankind, is, to my mind, the mark of personality in its noblest and highest development, of perfect self-control… the absolute expression of will. A strongly developed personality, conscious of its right to be such, having cast out fear, cannot use itself, cannot be used, except in sacrifice for others, that these may become, like unto itself, self-determining and happy personalities. It is Nature’s law, and mankind tends to reach it.”