Mar 09

Fyodor Dostoevsky, by Peter Leithart ★★★

Fyodor Dostoevsky was read on Kindle. This book is a biography written as a fictional novel. Peter Leithart desired to hold relative historical accuracy, and did this by including numerous references to particular  Dostoevsky quotes. The style of historical presentation is through a fictitious dialogue, and thus one wasn’t sure exactly what was fiction and what was truth about Dostoevsky may have actually said and did. It is not a bad way to present a complex historical character, yet one was always left wondering where Leithart was actually quoting Dostoevsky, and where he was taking artistic license. This book works best if one is quite familiar with the life and writings of Dostoevsky. Since I have just started reading his works (Crime and Punishment, and Brothers Karamazov so far), I can grasp stories taken from those novels, but left clueless during the book dialogues that reflect other works. Leithart leaves Dostoevsky as a most fascinating, and in ways most admirable character in spite of his numerous flaws. This book is best read after the reader has gained moderate familiarity with the works of Dostoevsky. The dialogues will explain the thinking and philosophy of Dostoevsky, and this is most interesting, because that is how Dostoevsky presents concepts in his novels–through the dialogue of different characters.

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