Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Joseph Frank, Dostoyevsky: The Years of Ordeal, 1850 - 1859

This is volume two of the five-volume biography, covering the years of Dostoyevsky's imprisonment in a hard labor camp in Siberia, followed by years of mandatory service in the Russian military, and concluding with his marriage, his return to St. Petersburg, and his attempts to revive his literary career with the publications of Uncle's Dream and The Village of Stepanchikovo.

One thing I especially like about Frank's work is his attention to Russian lifestyle and culture of the time period. Having not read much Dostoyevsky, I've always been intimidated by a certain culture gap between 19th century Russia and the much more familiar 19th century England, but Frank narrows that gap nicely through his depictions of life within the Siberian prison, as well as Dostoyevsky's appeals to the Tzar for his military retirement due to his epilepsy. Furthermore, the highlight of this volume for me was the discussion of Dostoyevsky's transformation of world vision as a direct result of his imprisonment, which sets up the remaining volumes as they discuss Dostoyevsky's important novels!

Although I need to take a brief hiatus from Frank so I can turn my attention to other reading obligations at the moment, I look forward to reading Volume Three!

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