Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. vii-x

List of Illustrations

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pp. xi-xii

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Preface: Dostoevsky: A Writer in His Time

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pp. xiii-xviii

Since the present volume is a condensation of the five that I have already published on the life and works of Dostoevsky, I should like to acquaint my new readers with the point of view from which they were written. My approach arose primarily from a troubling sense that important aspects of Dostoevsky’s work had been overlooked, or at least not accorded sufficient importance, in the considerable secondary literature devoted...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xix-xx

A few years after the publication of the fifth and final volume of my books on Dostoevsky (2002), the idea was broached of attempting to follow the model provided by Leon E del with his five-volume work on Henry James. This multivolumed text, shortened to one, has been highly praised and widely read; and it was suggested by Princeton University...

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Transliteration

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p. xxi

For R ussian words, I use the Library of C ongress system without diacritics, and I use -ya instead of -ia and -yu instead of -iu, the adjectival endings -yi and -ii are rendered by -y: yurodivy instead of yurodivyi, Dostoevsky instead of Dostoevskii. The soft sign is omitted in proper names: Gogol rather than Gogol’. Citations to Dostoevsky’s texts...

Abbreviations

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p. xxiii

PART I: The Seeds of Revolt, 1821–1849

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1 Prelude

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pp. 3-4

The last years of the reign of Alexander I were a troubled, uncertain, and gloomy time in Russian history. Alexander had come to the throne as the result of a palace revolution against his father, Paul I, whose increasingly erratic and insensate rule led his entourage to suspect madness. The coup was carried out with at least the implicit consent of Alexander...

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2 The Family

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pp. 5-22

Of all the great Russian writers of the first part of the nineteenth century— Pushkin, Lermontov, Gogol, Herzen, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Nekrasov—Dostoevsky was the only one who did not come from a family belonging to the landed gentry. This is a fact of great importance, and influenced the view he took of his own position as a writer. Comparing...

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3 The Religious and Cultural Background

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pp. 23-37

Dostoevsky’s contemporary, Alexander Herzen, remarks in his memoirs that “nowhere does religion play so modest a role in education as in Russia.” 1 Herzen was, of course, talking about the education of the male children of the landed or service aristocracy, whose parents had been raised for several generations on the culture of the French Enlightenment...

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4 The Academy of Military Engineers

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pp. 38-50

The death of Marya Feodorovna snapped the strongest emotional thread tying the young Dostoevsky to Moscow; but the inner conflict between his desire to leave and the bleakness of the prospect ahead may account for the mysterious illness that struck him down just before his departure for the Academy of Military Engineers. Without any apparent...

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5 The Two Romanticisms

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pp. 51-60

In addition to the mathematics and engineering requirements, the Academy of Military Engineers also provided a humanistic education for future officers of the Russian Army. For at least the first year or two of his studies Dostoevsky attended lectures on religion, history, civil architecture, Russian and French language and literature, and also lessons in German. The chair in Russian literature was held by V. T. Plaksin, who accepted...

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6 The Gogol Period

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pp. 61-75

At the beginning of 1840, Dostoevsky was still an obscure student of military engineering with vague ambitions for a literary career but with nothing to show that such ambitions would ever be realized. By 1845, however, he was being hailed by Belinsky—the most powerful critical force in Russian literature—as the newest revelation on...

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7 Poor Folk

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pp. 76-85

No début in Russian literature has been described more vividly than that of Dostoevsky, and few, in truth, created so widespread and sensational a stir. Dostoevsky’s account is well-known, though he considerably exaggerated and sentimentalized his own innocence and naïveté. “Early in the winter [of 1845], suddenly, I began to write...

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8 Dostoevsky and the Pléiade

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pp. 86-93

Belinsky’s excitement over the manuscript of Poor Folk quickly made Dostoevsky’s name a byword among his circle, and the fame of the new young author spread throughout the literary community even before the publication of the novel in January 1846. Panaev, who paid Dostoevsky the compliment of immediately beginning to imitate...

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9 Belinsky and Dostoevsky: I

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pp. 94-103

Belinsky’s age, as well as his authoritative position, excluded the intimate rivalry that pitted Dostoevsky against his contemporaries; and Dostoevsky, quite naturally, also felt an immense gratitude toward the man who had catapulted him to fame. Belinsky never joined in the persecution and openly expressed his disapproval; but despite all the good will...

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10 Feuilletons and Experiments

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pp. 104-118

Despite the wounding criticism from Belinsky and others, the besieged and struggling Dostoevsky nonetheless continued along his own path. Weary with the narrow stylistic range of the Natural School, he felt his shift to a new style and subject matter as an inner release. “I am writing my Landlady,” he tells Mikhail at the end of January...

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11 Belinsky and Dostoevsky: II

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pp. 119-128

To the public and literary aspects of their involvement must be added the asserted direct influence of the renowned critic on the formation of the young man’s convictions and beliefs. Thirty years later, Dostoevsky published two articles about Belinsky in his Diary of a Writer, and their burden is that Belinsky was the ideological mentor responsible...

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12 The Beketov and Petrashevsky Circles

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pp. 129-144

The first mention of Dostoevsky’s new acquaintances occurs in mid-September 1846—after the crisis induced by the failure of The Double. “I take my dinner with a group,” he writes Mikhail. “Six people . . . including Grigorovich and myself, have gotten together at Beketovs.”1 These were months when Dostoevsky was “almost in a panic of fear about...

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13 Dostoevsky and Speshnev

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pp. 145-160

Nikolay Speshnev—who unquestionably furnished Dostoevsky, twenty years later, with some of the inspiration for the character of Nikolay Stavrogin in Demons, stood out among the rather drab personages clustering around Petrashevsky as a bird of a more brilliant plumage. He was, in the first place, a very wealthy landowner. Like Petrashevsky...

PART II: The Years of Ordeal, 1850–1859

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14 The Peter-and-Paul Fortress

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pp. 163-184

“The whole city,” wrote Senator K. N. Lebedev in his diary, “is preoccupied with the detention of some young people (Petrashevsky, Golovinsky, Dostoevsky, Palm, Lamansky, Grigoryev, Mikhailov, and many others), who, it is said, reach the number of 60, and this number will no doubt increase with the uncovering of links with Moscow and other cities...

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15 Katorga

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pp. 185-195

In the four years he spent in prison camp, Dostoevsky had not received a single word from his family, and the complete loss of contact inspired him to compose a lengthy letter to Mikhail on February 22, 1854, just a week after being released. Picking up the thread of his life at the moment of departure for Siberia, it begins by recounting the impressions gathered...

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16 "Monsters in Their Misery"

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pp. 196-222

Dostoevsky’s views of his fellow convicts changed dramatically between his first days in prison camp and his last. Dostoevsky, the great psychologist, never analyzes his inner state of mind, never discusses the specific modality of his ideological evolution, his transformation from a philanthropic radical with Christian socialist leanings into a resolute...

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17 Private Dostoevsky

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pp. 223-242

Dostoevsky was released from the Omsk stockade on February 15, 1854, but the freedom for which he had waited so long was still minimal. As he remarked in his letter to Mme Fonvizina, “In the overcoat of a soldier, I am just as much of a prisoner as before.” 1 For reasons of health he was allowed to remain in Omsk for a month, and both he and Durov...

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18 A Russian Heart

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pp. 243-254

Thanks to the kindness of new friends like Wrangel and Yakushkin, who obligingly conveyed letters between Dostoevsky and his family and old circle of friends in Petersburg and Moscow, the novelist, though far removed from the centers of Russian social and cultural life, could still gain some sense of the ideas and tendencies now stirring the intelligentsia...

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19 The Siberian Novellas

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pp. 255-272

Once Dostoevsky had received his commission as an officer in March 1857, and once his rights as a nobleman had been restored in May 1857, we hear no more about his Letters on Art. Instead, all his energies are now concentrated on the various projects for novels and stories on which he had never ceased to work in the three years since his release from the...

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20 Homecoming

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pp. 273-278

The publication of Dostoevsky’s two Siberian novellas marks the end of his artistic exile and the beginning of his return to the center of Russian cultural life. These works appeared in print during 1859, and at the very end of this year, in mid-December, Dostoevsky finally realized his long-awaited dream of returning to St. Petersburg. This homecoming...

PART III: The Stir of Liberation, 1860–1865

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21 Into the Fray

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pp. 281-297

Dostoevsky’s presence in St. Petersburg was soon noticed by the larger literary fraternity in which he was so eager to resume his place. Just a few days after establishing residence, he was elected a member of the newly founded Society for Aid to Needy Writers and Scholars, usually called the Literary Fund. Dostoevsky lent his support to the activities of the fund...

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22 An Aesthetics of Transcendence

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pp. 298-316

It was rare for an issue of Time to appear without one of Dostoevsky’s articles or an installment from one of his works in progress, and his presence was also constantly felt in the form of introductions to translations, as well as editorial notes appended to the articles of other contributors. Understandably concerned over the impression that would be created...

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23 The Insulted and Injured

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pp. 317-329

Dostoevsky’s novel The Insulted and Injured (Unizhennye i oskorblennye), began to appear as a serial in the first issue of Time and ran through seven numbers of the journal. The work encountered a mixed critical reception, but it was read with avid attention and achieved its purpose of making readers impatient for the next installment. Dobrolyubov...

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24 The Era of Proclamations

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pp. 330-340

The one or two years following the liberation of the serfs on February 16, 1861 are known by Russian historians as “the era of proclamations.” For the first time since the Decembrist uprising in 1825, open agitation was carried on against the regime in the streets of Petersburg and Moscow. Inflammatory leaflets turned up everywhere—not only on doorhandles...

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25 Portrait of a Nihilist

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pp. 341-357

Despite the overheated expectations of the young radicals, there is no reliable evidence that the stability of the regime was ever seriously threatened. Peasant discontent with the terms of the liberation, at Bezdna and elsewhere, was remarkably peaceful, nonviolent except for a few isolated cases, and inspired by unbroken loyalty to the tsar; the violence came entirely from the government. Dostoevsky’s opinion on how the...

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26 Time: The Final Months

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pp. 358-371

On returning to Petersburg in the fall of 1862, both Dostoevsky and Strakhov took up their work on Time again with renewed vigor. Grigoryev had also returned from self-imposed exile in Orenburg and was once again a rallying presence. By mid-year, Time’s subscription list had gone over the four thousand mark, thus reaching the level of such...

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27 Winter Notes on Summer Impressions

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pp. 372-383

The last important work that Dostoevsky published in Time was Winter Notes on Summer Impressions (Zimnie zametki o letnikh vpechatleniyakh), a series of articles in which he launches a full-scale assault on the major pieties of the radical credo. Dostoevsky seizes the occasion of his first journey through Europe to explore the whole tangled history of the relationship...

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28 An Emancipated Woman, A Tormented Lover

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pp. 384-398

Despite the severity of the permanent interdiction of Time, its editors and contributors could not believe that the misunderstanding on which it was based would long continue. Strakhov, whose reputation was at stake, hurriedly wrote letters to Katkov and Ivan Aksakov explaining his loyalty to the Russian cause. The censorship would not allow...

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29 The Prison of Utopia

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pp. 399-412

All during the summer and fall, Mikhail had been writing endless petitions to the authorities for permission to resume publication, and in mid-November permission was given, not to revive Time, but to publish a new journal—on condition that it maintain an “irreproachable tendency.” 1 The loss of the previous name of the journal meant that...

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30 Notes from Underground

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pp. 413-440

Few works in modern literature are more widely read than Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground (Zapiski iz podpol’ya) or so often cited as a key text revelatory of the hidden depths of the sensibility of our time. The term “underground man” has become part of the vocabulary of contemporary culture, and this character has now achieved—like Hamlet, Don...

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31 The end of Epoch

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pp. 441-452

After the interment of Marya Dimitrievna, Dostoevsky returned to Petersburg at the end of April and once again began to take an active part in the editorial affairs of Epoch. To tide himself over financially, he obtained a loan from the Literary Fund, and, as if to signal the beginning of a new era in his life, he also ran up a substantial bill at a fashionable...

PART IV: The Miraculous Years, 1865–1871

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32 Khlestakov in Wiesbaden

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pp. 455-471

Dostoevsky was again eager to travel abroad because it was there that he could hope to meet his ex-mistress Apollinaria Suslova, the young feminist writer who had never been entirely out of his mind during the past two years and with whom he had carried on a secret correspondence even as his wife was dying. Suslova had remained in Europe when...

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33 From Novella to Novel

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pp. 472-482

The main outlines of Dostoevsky’s conception of Crime and Punishment were set early, but it was only as the work developed and expanded under his hands that it took on its multifaceted richness. In the splendid complete edition of Dostoevsky’s writings published by the Academy of Sciences of the former Soviet Union, the editors have reassembled...

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34 Crime and Punishment

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pp. 483-508

Crime and Punishment (Prestuplenie i nakazanie) is the first of the truly great novels of Dostoevsky’s mature period. The psychology of Raskolnikov is placed squarely at the center of the work and is carefully interwoven with the ideas ultimately responsible for his fatal transgression. Every other feature as well illuminates the agonizing dilemma in which...

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35 "A Little Diamond"

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pp. 509-520

The publication of Crime and Punishment, which created even more of a sensation than had House of the Dead five years earlier, marked a new era in Dostoevsky’s literary career. Once again he was in the forefront of Russian literature, and it was now clear that he, Turgenev, and Tolstoy were in competition for the palm as the greatest Russian novelist...

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36 The Gambler

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pp. 521-530

The first mention of gambling as a theme for a novella, we know, goes back to the summer of 1863, when Dostoevsky was traveling in Europe with his erstwhile mistress Apollinaria Suslova. Dostoevsky was gambling furiously all during this trip, and he thought of recouping his losses by turning them into literature. While in Rome he wrote to...

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37 Escape and Exile

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pp. 531-548

The days immediately following the wedding were filled with postnuptial celebrations, and Anna remarks that “I drank more goblets of champagne during those ten days than I did all the rest of my life.” So too did her husband, and those celebratory libations brought on Anna’s first encounter with the frightening physical manifestations of...

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38 In Search of a Novel

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pp. 549-563

The Dostoevskys arrived in Geneva on August 13/25, spending a day en route in Basel. In the short time afforded them, they hurried out to take in the sights, of which the Basel Museum alone merited Dostoevsky’s regard, or more precisely, two of the paintings displayed in the museum. Anna writes: There are only two really...

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39 An Inconsolable Father

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pp. 564-576

The publication of the first seven chapters of The Idiot in The Russian Messenger (January 1868) successfully crowned the months of torturing gestation that Dostoevsky had just lived through. But his uncertainties about the novel’s continuation were far from over. Dostoevsky was forced to create both a scenario and a final text for each new installment, remaining...

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40 The Idiot

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pp. 577-589

Writing to a correspondent more than ten years after finishing The Idiot, Dostoevsky remarks, “All those who have spoken of it as my best work have something special in their mental formation that has always struck and pleased me.” 1 The Idiot is the most personal of all his major works, the book in which he embodies his most intimate, cherished...

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41 The Pamphlet and the Poem

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pp. 590-600

The termination of The Idiot allowed Dostoevsky, who had been writing steadily for a year and a half, to catch his breath for a moment, but it also meant the end of the monthly stipend he had been receiving from Katkov. To make matters worse, Dostoevsky calculated that the amount of copy he had furnished still left him with a debt...

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42 Fathers, Sons, and Stavrogin

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pp. 601-615

At the end of May 1869, Katkov published an article in the Moscow Gazette dealing with the recent student disorders that had broken out in St. Petersburg and Moscow, and he designated among their leaders “a certain Nechaev.” He was described as a “very hardened Nihilist,” an “inflamer of youth,” who had been arrested but managed the unprecedented...

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43 Exile's Return

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pp. 616-625

On July 8, 1871, Dostoevsky and his family returned to Russia after four years of living abroad, making as unobtrusive a reentry as possible into the St. Petersburg he had quit presumably only for a summer vacation. Already published were all of Part I and two chapters of Part...

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44 History and Myth in Demons

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pp. 626-649

Dostoevsky had in the past created fictional characters who, as the embodiment of certain social-cultural ideas and attitudes, could be considered “historical” in a broad sense, but not until Demons (Besy) had he ever based himself on actual events that were a matter of public knowledge. Obviously, his novel is not limited to the actual, rather insignificant...

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45 The Book of the Impostors

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pp. 650-666

Demons, as we know, was initially begun as a “pamphlet-novel” in which Dostoevsky would unleash all his satirical fury against the Nihilists. It is thus not surprising that, of all his major works, it contains the greatest proportion of satirical caricature and ideological parody. This becomes immediately apparent in the rhetoric of the narrator’s account...

PART V: The Mantle of the Prophet, 1871–1881

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46 The Citizen

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pp. 669-681

The Dostoevskys had been living from hand to mouth on advances from Katkov, and with the conclusion of Demons, this source of income ceased to exist. Anna was determined to help her husband increase the family income, and the opportunity arose when Dostoevsky...

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47 Narodnichestvo: Russian Populism

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pp. 682-693

Dostoevsky’s surprising desire to offer his next novel to the leading Populist journal, Notes of the Fatherland—edited by the poet Nekrasov and the deadly satirist Saltykov-Shchedrin, who had mercilessly pilloried him in the 1860s—is a direct outcome of the young intelligentsia’s shift to an ideology known as narodnichestvo, or Russian Populism...

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48 Bad Ems

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pp. 694-705

Dostoevsky resigned from The Citizen in April 1874, and it was shortly afterward that an unexpected event occurred: Nekrasov called on his former friend. Anna was aware of their recent estrangement, and when her husband invited his visitor into his study she could not resist eavesdropping on their conversation. What she heard was an offer from...

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49 A Raw Youth

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pp. 706-722

The last chapters of A Raw Youth were published in Notes of the Fatherland in the winter of 1875. Written between Demons and The Brothers Karamazov, this curious hybrid of a novel is far from attaining the artistic stature of these two works, although its severest critics may have...

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50 A Public Figure

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pp. 723-737

With the completion of A Raw Youth, Dostoevsky was once again faced with the problem of what to undertake next. Although the publisher of several of his own works, he still had no regular source of income to provide for his family, recently increased to three children with the birth of a new son, Aleksey, on August 10, 1875. Now he returned to the...

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51 The Diary of a Writer, 1876–1877

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pp. 738-759

The ideas promulgated in the Diary of a Writer were already familiar from Dostoevsky’s earlier journalism, as well as from the ideological flights of his novels. But they are given new life and color by the constant parade of fresh examples drawn from his omnivorous reading of the current press, from his wide knowledge of history and literature...

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52 A New Novel

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pp. 760-778

The Diary of a Writer for October 1877 contained the announcement that, due to illness, Dostoevsky would suspend publication for two years. When this decision brought more than a hundred letters pleading with him to continue, he told his readers that “in the forthcoming year of rest from periodical publication, I expect, indeed, to engage in...

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53 The Great Debate

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pp. 779-787

The first installment of The Brothers Karamazov was published on February 1, 1879. A few days later the governor-general of Kharkov—a cousin of the anarchist revolutionary Peter Kropotkin—was killed, and in March an unsuccessful attempt was made on the life of the new head of the secret police, the successor of General Mezentsev, as he...

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54 Rebellion and the Grand Inquisitor

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pp. 788-803

Dostoevsky would remain at Staraya Russa until July 17, hard at work on his novel. He was then writing Book 5 of Part 2, “Pro and Contra,” which contains Ivan’s rebellion against God’s world and the Legend of the Grand Inquisitor. His life during this period was spent...

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55 Terror and Martial Law

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pp. 804-812

The new year 1880 began auspiciously for the Dostoevskys. On February 3, the members of the Slavic Benevolent Society selected him to write a congratulatory address to be presented to Alexander II on February 19, the twenty-fifth anniversary of his accession to the throne. Two...

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56 The Pushkin Festival

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pp. 813-834

The Moscow Pushkin festival in the spring of 1880 has been remembered by posterity largely because of the sensation created by Dostoevsky’s impassioned apotheosis of the great poet. At the time, however, the event assumed considerable importance because of the tense and ominous social-political climate in the country, which imparted a political...

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57 Controversies and Conclusions

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pp. 835-847

Back in Staraya Russa, Dostoevsky dispatched a letter to Countess Sofya Tolstaya, who, along with Vladimir Solovyev and the singer and composer Yulia Abaza, had signed a collective telegram congratulating him on his Pushkin success. He repeats in brief much...

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58 The Brothers Karamazov: Books 1–4

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pp. 848-866

The Brothers Karamazov (Brat’ya Karamazovy) achieves a classic expression of the great theme that had preoccupied Dostoevsky since Notes from Underground: the conflict between reason and Christian faith. The controlled and measured grandeur of the novel spontaneously...

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59 The Brothers Karamazov: Books 5–6

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pp. 867-885

The two set pieces of Book 5, Ivan’s “rebellion” and the Legend of the Grand Inquisitor, reach ideological heights for which there are few equals. In the nineteenth century one can think only perhaps of Balzac’s...

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60 The Brothers Karamazov: Books 7–12

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pp. 886-911

Ivan’s Legend and Zosima’s zhitie have established the polarities of the conflict between reason and faith, and each of the main characters will be confronted by a crisis that requires choosing between them. Faith of some kind will prevail in all of these climactic moments—not...

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61 Death and Transfiguration

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pp. 912-932

After the intense pressure under which he had been laboring for the past three years, Dostoevsky might well have felt a need to relax, rest, and recoup his strength. But now that the first volume of The Brothers Karamazov had been completed he threw himself, with his usual...

Editor's Note

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pp. 933-934

Index

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pp. 935-959