Ken writes:

I was scouring your blog for Fyodor Dostoevsky and was surprised to see no mentions. I was just wondering your thoughts on him. Currently reading the Brothers Karamazov and it’s fantastic.

Brothers Karamazov spent seven or so years as my favorite book, starting in high school.  I’m not suggesting it is juvenile, only that I find it hard to go back and enjoy things at lower levels than I did before (I also don’t like to eat in still-good but declining restaurants).  I no longer find Notes from Underground interesting, as I regard its questions as a dead end.  I’d sooner reread Pascal.  I never got through The Idiot or Demons in the first place.  About two years ago I read House of the Dead and liked it, though it felt like a respite from the more typical conception of Dostoyevsky.

How much can you like Dostoyevsky anyway?  My sense is that he is probably underrated as a pure writer (much of it comes across as garbage in English translation, but perhaps is quite biting or comic or interestingly manic), and overrated as a source of the “novel of ideas.”

If you enter “Dostoyevsky” into the search function of Twitter, you don’t come up with much interesting these days.


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