Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book Review: Fyodor Dostoevsky

Fyodor Dostoevsky is one of the great writers of all time with novels such as Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov. One of the most famous passages, "The Grand Inquisitor", in The Brothers Karamazov, is a profound parable where an Inquisitor tries to show the returned Christ how his presence on earth is interfering with the mission of the Church. I've read all of these except Crime and Punishment which is on my to-read list. But until reading Peter Leithart's Fyodor Dostoevsky I knew next to nothing about the man.
Leithart, in a brief 200 pages introduces Dostoevsky using a fictionalised dialogue between Dostoevsky and a close friend near the end of his life. The dialogues are based on writings by Dostoevsky and other sources with a few speculative ones to round out the story.
Dostoevsky was a deeply flawed man (as we all are) but produced some profound literature and was a very popular social figure in Russia in his time. He was also deeply religious and believed that Christ was the answer to Russia's problems in the 19th century.
Leithart's book is a reasonably interesting introduction to Dostoevsky but doesn't really become engaging until about halfway through the book when Dostoevsky starts to write his major works and engage in public life. I'm not convinced that the novelized dialogue is the best approach for a biography - the conversations are often stilted and artificial relying, as they do, on written material. But if you don't know much about Dostoevsky it's not a bad place to start. It's easy to read and I ended up knowing more about Dostoevsky than I did before. I'm also motivated to read Crime and Punishment!
Peter Leithar (2011), Fyodor Dostoevsky. Chrisitian Encounters Series. Thomas Nelson.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

1 comment:

  1. I would do some more research on Mr. Dostoevsky's novels before you introduce him as the the great writer who wrote "Anna Karenina."