DOSTOYEVSKY: His Life and Work by Ronald Hingley

DOSTOYEVSKY: His Life and Work

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After some wobbly foreshadowing at the outset (""Though Fyodor did not know it, he was never to set eyes on his father again""), Hingley's tone firms up to yield a fairly straightforward though unexciting prÉcis of Dostoyevsky's life. The epilepsy, the natural contentiousness (D.'s ""compulsive need to hate--not personally, but philosophically""), the political shift from radicalism to orthodoxy, the gambling, the flummoxing by a dastardly early publisher, and--throughout--the writings: about these, Hingley (A New Life of Anton Chekhov, The Russian Mind) is none too intense, but he does touch upon all the major points. To the good, too, he is willing to throw his lot in with one or another of the controversial theories--that Dr. Dostoyevsky, Fyodor's father, did not die at the hands of his ill-treated serfs (thus psychically presaging the father's death in Karamazov); that it was just possible that Dostoyevsky shared the pedophiliac urges of his characters Stavrogin and Svidrigaylov. Despite the sorties into controversy, however, the book moves us only marginally into the wind that Dostoyevsky's huge engine made. It will do as the veriest introduction (and is in fact indistinguishable, except for the slightly longer length, from one of the And His World volumes); but Joseph Frank's great and only partial Dostoyevsky: The Seeds of Revolt, 1821-1849 (1976) remains unchallenged as the most serious source.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Scribners