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.
Frank has condensed his acclaimed five-volume biography, published between 1976 and 2002, of the literary giant Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky (1821-81) into this single volume with a new preface-still a daunting but rewarding read. Frank describes the scrim behind the life of Dostoyevsky and his writing-Mother Russia, specifically, the clashes between the intelligentsia and the ruling aristocrats, resulting in the revolution. In layered and detailed observations on Dostoyevsky's books and journalistic pieces, Frank illustrates the hallmarks of his writings, e.g., moral idealism, freedom, justice, social humanitarianism, and what is known as sentimental naturalism. Frank's expert analysis of Dostoyevsky's personal trials and triumphs reveals his contradictory moral impulses. He suffered from epilepsy, compulsive gambling, constant debt, the death of two of his four children, and an explosive and violent temper. Early on, his association with political dissidents resulted in deportation for several years in Siberia. Verdict Frank displays a brilliant command of Dostoyevsky's heroic endeavors, and his biography reads readily, especially for such a scholarly work. It compares nicely with Leon Edel's multivolume biography of Henry James. Highly recommended.-Robert Kelly, Fort Wayne Community Schs., IN Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
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Princeton University Press
November 07, 2009
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