Dostoevsky: A Writer in His Time (Google eBook)
Joseph Frank's award-winning, five-volume Dostoevsky is widely recognized as the best biography of the writer in any language--and one of the greatest literary biographies of the past half-century. Now Frank's monumental, 2500-page work has been skillfully abridged and condensed in this single, highly readable volume with a new preface by the author. Carefully preserving the original work's acclaimed narrative style and combination of biography, intellectual history, and literary criticism, Dostoevsky: A Writer in His Time illuminates the writer's works--from his first novel Poor Folk to Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov--by setting them in their personal, historical, and above all ideological context. More than a biography in the usual sense, this is a cultural history of nineteenth-century Russia, providing both a rich picture of the world in which Dostoevsky lived and a major reinterpretation of his life and work.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
This is an almost perfect book: Frank combines fascinating history, insightful biography and above average literary criticism perfectly. I'm literally speechless; the only book I can think of to put beside this is MacDiarmid's 'Christianity: the first three thousand years,' which is similarly clear, stimulating, beautifully written and finely structured. Aside from giving us a model for literary biographies, Frank also manages (possibly without knowing it) to write a perfect guidebook for writing novels: combine a deep fascination with your own time, an interest in human psychology, deep moral convictions, and a concern for the Big Ideas of human life in general. Then work your butt off. I'd like to think someone out there has managed to do that without being quite the twat that Dostoevsky became (yes- Russia (and by 'Russia' he of course means 'Orthodox peasants') will save the world). But I have no evidence of that as yet. If you like Dostoevsky's novels at all, this is well worth the effort. Fun things that Dostoevsky said: "You feel that one must have perpetual spiritual resistance and negation so as not to surrender, not to submit to the impression, not to bow before the fact and deify Baal, that is, not to accept the existing as one's own ideal." (376) "The people are always the people.... but here you no longer see a people, but the systematic, submissive and induced lack of consciousness." (378) "It is necessary to assume as author someone omniscient and faultless, who holds up to the view of all one of hte members of hte new generation." (480) "'it is not worth doing good int eh world, for it is said, it will be destroyed.' There's something foolhardy and dishonest in this idea. Most of all, it's a very convenient idea for ordinary behavior: since everything is doomed, why exert oneself, why love to do good? Live for your paunch." (843)
Review: Dostoevsky: A Writer in His TimeUser Review - Goodreads
Seamless fusion of personal, historical, and political narratives. One of the best biographies I've ever read. Last paragraph (Solovyev's words spoken just before D's death): "Just as the highest ...