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Dostoevsky: The Miraculous Years, 1865-1871 (edition 1996)

by Joseph Frank

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Member:bhassel4
Title:Dostoevsky: The Miraculous Years, 1865-1871
Authors:Joseph Frank
Info:Princeton University Press (1996), Paperback, 539 pages
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Dostoevsky: The Miraculous Years, 1865-1871 by Joseph Frank

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In which he knuckles down to writing novels. He marries his stenographer who seems to be the doormat-type. Yes, but see the last instalment of his life; and he's absolutely desperate to deliver his novels by deadline. Guess what the forfeit is if he doesn't? Abrogation of his rights to any profit from future works for the next ten years. So he hired a stenographer to go faster... and kept her. Most of the rest of this book is crit on the novels. What else did he have time for?

D. writes: "I am convinced that not a single one of our writers, whether past or present, ever wrote under the conditions in which I am continuously forced to write. Turgenev would die at the very thought." He also wrote, "My epilepsy has worsened so much that if I work for a week without interruption I have an attack, and the next week I cannot work because the result of two or three attacks would be -- apoplexy. And yet I must finish. That's my situation."

I find Frank's crit on the turgid side, but he's made me think of the novels as "ideological tragedies". I always knew they were about people driven mad by ideas, ideas worse than the people are: I guess he’s getting me more specific, as I slog through 50 pages on Crime & Punishment. Since Frank details the ideologies bubbling at the time, you see how Dostoyevsky extrapolated or pursued ideas to consquences no-one else had seen. Obviously people objected to that. 'Excuse me, we don't believe in knocking pawnbrokers on the head.' But that's the novelist's eyes, beyond ideology to what used to be called the universal human, eh? And why he makes sense to me, vital sense, and seems to be about ideas I’ve struck or half-had in my life, not what he found in a newspaper in Russia 1866.
  Jakujin | Mar 15, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0691015872, Paperback)

This volume, the fourth of five planned in Joseph Frank's widely acclaimed biography of Dostoevsky, covers the six most remarkably productive years in the novelist's entire career. It was in this short span of time that Dostoevsky produced three of his greatest novels--Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, and The Devils--and two of his best novellas, The Gambler and The Eternal Husband. All these masterpieces were written in the midst of harrowing practical and economic circumstances, as Dostoevsky moved from place to place, frequently giving way to his passion for roulette. Having remarried and fled from Russia to escape importuning creditors and grasping dependents, he could not return for fear of being thrown into debtor's prison. He and his young bride, who twice made him a father, lived obscurely and penuriously in Switzerland, Germany, and Italy, as he toiled away at his writing, their only source of income. All the while, he worried that his recurrent epileptic attacks were impairing his literary capacities. His enforced exile intensified not only his love for his native land but also his abhorrence of the doctrines of Russian Nihilism--which he saw as an alien European importation infecting the Russian psyche. Two novels of this period were thus an attempt to conjure this looming spectre of moral-social disintegration, while The Idiot offered an image of Dostoevsky's conception of the Russian Christian ideal that he hoped would take its place.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:05 -0400)

A biography of Dostoevsky covering the six most productive years of his literary career, during which time he wrote Crime and punishment, The idiot, and The devils.

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