Review by Choice Review
In the late 1980s, when political reforms in the Soviet Union led to greater public access to literary archives, Sekirin (Univ. of Toronto) spent six years there and uncovered a rich and impressive collection of rare materials that relate to Dostoevsky's life and work, including memoirs by friends, relatives, and contemporaries. Soviet censors had deleted portions of some materials, because Dostoevky's conversion from socialism to monarchism was considered politically reactionary; Sekirin has restored some materials to their original version. The overall picture of Dostoevsky in these memoirs is contradictory. On the one hand, he was consumed by hatred for the West (particularly Paris), plagued by financial debt and illness (epilepsy), prone to hysteria, morose, nervous, and suspicious; but he was also kind, friendly, charming, and solicitous. Sekirin quotes one French critic as noting that "this man was the reflection of the Russian national character," and Dostoevsky saw himself as a brother to the whole of humanity. This book may very well ratify the conclusions of Joseph Frank's magisterial four-volume study Dostoevsky (CH, Feb'77; May'84; Jan'87; 1995). Dostoevsky seems to be becoming less popular in "great books" courses, and this reviewer hopes that this valuable work will spawn new studies. All academic collections. V. D. Barooshian; Wells College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review
Born to a large family, the son of a doctor, Dostoevsky (1821-81) began his writing career with a highly successful novel, Poor People (1846). Around this time, he joined a Socialist literary organization and was eventually arrested and charged with treason. His original death sentence was commuted at the last moment by the czar, and Dostoevsky instead spent four years in Siberia. After prison, he joined the army and in a total reversal became an ardent monarchist (which he remained until his death). Dostoevsky scholar Sekirin has gathered memoirs, reviews, and personal recollections of almost everyone who came in contact with the authorno matter how brieflyand chronicles in detail his work habits, gambling, and bouts of debilitating epilepsy. The chapters are well organized and sources carefully documented. This is a good companion to Dostoevsky's A Writer's Diary (LJ 8/93). A first-rate work of scholarship; recommended for larger public and academic libraries.Diane G. Premo, Rochester P.L., N.Y. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.