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Fyodor, Anna, Leonid

Dan Jacobson: Leonid Tsypkin, 9 May 2002

Summer in Baden-Baden 
by Leonid Tsypkin, translated by Roger Keys and Angela Keys.
New Directions, 146 pp., $23.95, November 2001, 0 8112 1484 2
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... narrator has brought with him ‘especially for the journey’ is the Diary of Anna Grigorevna, Dostoevsky’s second wife. After describing its appearance he gives an account of how it came into his possession, how he had its pages cut and bound, how his hands shook as he opened it for the first time. Then he asks himself why the acquisition of the book ...

Rehabilitation

Donald Rayfield, 19 July 1984

Dostoevsky. Vol II: The Years of Ordeal 1850-1859 
by Joseph Frank.
Robson, 320 pp., £14.95, April 1984, 0 86051 242 8
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The Village of Stepanchikovo 
by Fyodor Dostoevsky and Ignat Avsey.
Angel, 255 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 946162 06 9
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... Dostoevsky in the 1840s, a caustic and iconoclastic rising star, was the subject of Joseph Frank’s first volume of biography and critique, The Seeds of Revolt. This volume stood out from many rival studies for the thoroughness of its research, the generosity of its approach (to Dostoevsky and to other critics), its intelligent judgment of Dostoevsky’s psychology and literary intentions, and, rarest quality of all in the Dostoevsky industry, for its sheer readability ...

Where little Fyodor played

Stephen Greenblatt, 24 January 1991

... the poles within which current critical thought in the Soviet Union are located. The first was the Dostoevsky Museum-Flat on the outskirts of Moscow, on Bozhedomka Street. This is located in the wing of a graceful Neoclassical building from the early 19th century, the building that became the Marinskaya Hospital for the Poor, where the novelist’s father ...

Inflamed

Joseph Frank, 2 December 1993

A Writer’s Diary. Vol. I: 1873-1876 
by Fyodor Dostoevsky, translated and annotated by Kenneth Lantz.
Northwestern, 805 pp., $49.95, July 1993, 0 8101 1094 6
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... Dostoevsky’s A Writer’s Diary is a huge grab-bag of a book, probably the least known of all his important works outside Russia – though in this regard his marvellous, semi-autobiographical prison-camp memoir, House of the Dead, runs it a close second. Read in the West only by professional Slavists and students of Dostoevsky, A Writer’s Diary allows us to see him at both his best and his worst ...

Waiting for the next move

John Bayley, 23 July 1987

Dostoevsky. The Stir of Liberation: 1860-1865 
by Joseph Frank.
Robson, 395 pp., £17.95, April 1987, 0 86051 242 8
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Selected Letters of Dostoevsky 
edited by Joseph Frank and David Goldstein.
Rutgers, 543 pp., $29.95, May 1987, 0 8135 1185 2
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... and good old serfdom. No Russian writer was so sensitive to current feeling and opinion as Dostoevsky – as his first biographer Strakhov put it, ‘he felt thought with unusual liveliness’ – or more adept at creating works of art out of his response to them, and one of the best features of Joseph Frank’s five-volume study is the erudition with ...

Tricky Minds

Michael Wood: Dostoevsky, 5 September 2002

DostoevskyThe Mantle of the Prophet 1871-81 
by Joseph Frank.
Princeton, 784 pp., £24.95, May 2002, 0 691 08665 6
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... The mind is a scoundrel,’ Dostoevsky wrote in his notes for The Brothers Karamazov, ‘but stupidity is straight and honest.’ This wasn’t what he himself thought, or rather, it was only one of the things he thought. In the novel the line is given to Ivan Karamazov, who explains to his younger brother Alyosha that he began their conversation about religion ‘as stupidly as possible ...

Ng

John Lanchester, 9 May 1991

The Redundancy of Courage 
by Timothy Mo.
Chatto, 408 pp., £13.99, April 1990, 0 7011 3748 7
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... can imagine comparable tips about USPs being given to other writers of the past and present. (‘Fyodor Mikhailovich,’ Dostoevsky would have been told, ‘my advice to you is, stick to nutters – they’re what you do best.’) If Timothy Mo doesn’t have what one would exactly call a USP – lots of good writers ...

In a Spa Town

James Wood: ‘A Hero of Our Time’, 11 February 2010

A Hero of Our Time 
by Mikhail Lermontov, translated by Natasha Randall.
Penguin, 174 pp., £8.99, August 2009, 978 0 14 310563 3
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... even more pointless duel than Lensky’s and Onegin’s fatal dance; Pechorin kills Grushnitsky. Dostoevsky’s great passion for Pushkin seems odd – they are such different writers – until one considers that, literary nationalism aside, what he probably liked about Eugene Onegin was its utter absence of rational motive. There is no good reason for ...

Aphrodite bends over Stalin

John Lloyd, 4 April 1996

... theatre, incomparable acting is confined very largely to productions of the classics – Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Ostrovsky – in studios or rehearsal rooms before restricted audiences. At the opera, the repertoire is (usually) sung well, though the sets were made thirty years ago. In avant-garde art, the main reference point remains Ilya Kabakov, whose ...

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