DOSTOEVSKY: The Seeds of Revolt 1821-1849 by Joseph Frank
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DOSTOEVSKY: The Seeds of Revolt 1821-1849

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Nietzsche thought Dostoevsky ""the only psychologist"" from whom he had ""something to learn,"" a genius who rendered the criminal type in an altogether new way, as ""a strong human being made sick."" He was referring of course to the four years of penal servitude out of which the fiery fictions came. Though the first installment of Frank's monumental biography takes us only within a year of the Siberian experience, all the trails that led up to it are brilliantly explored--boyhood in Moscow, the murder of his father by one of the wealthy man's serfs (challengingly juxtaposed against Freud's famous essay on the subject), the various surgings and ebbings of literary fortune in the wake of Poor Folk, The Double, White Nights, and his fateful absorption in the radical group led by Belinsky. Frank's sober style is a bit academic but it doesn't seem to inhibit the facts of this volatile life: temperamental and insomaniacal, Dostoevsky had, among other fancies, a ""fear of failing into a lethargic sleep and being buried alive."" The scrupulous coverage-of his youthful immersion in the conflicting creeds and ideas of the day is subtly done, Frank bringing the adventurous mind into sharp focus and clearly surpassing the similar efforts of such recent biographers as Yarmolinsky and Grossman.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1976
ISBN: 0691013551
Publisher: Princeton Univ. Press