Dostoevsky in Love

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‘Combining equal parts fact and fiction with literary flair, Alex Christofi has crafted in Dostoevsky in Love a stunning, genre-bending work certain to captivate fans of Dostoevsky and the Russian classics. A daring and mesmerizing twist on the art of biography.’ – Douglas Smith, award-winning author of Rasputin: The Biography

‘A wonderfully readable account of one of the great, and difficult, figures in world literature, Dostoevsky in Love brings the subject brilliantly to life. Anyone who loves his novels will be fascinated by this book.’ – Sue Prideaux, award-winning author of I Am Dynamite!

‘A wonderfully written life of Dostoevsky, in which the boundaries that conventionally separate biography and autobiography are dissolved to revelatory effect.’ – Tom Holland, author of Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind

‘Whether you know everything or nothing about Dostoevsky, whether you love or hate him (and he was extremely annoying), this is the perfect modern biography. A celebration of human complexity which fuses surprising new information about the life of the writer with a passionate love for his books. Alex Christofi has created the most charismatic and engaging portrait of a tortured, brilliant man. Dostoevsky In Love is as entertaining as it is insightful.’ – Viv Groskop, author of The Anna Karenina Fix: Life Lessons from Russian Literature

‘Alex Christofi has created a dazzling hybrid, a narrative account of Dostoevsky’s life that blends the known facts with his letters and the most autobiographical elements of his fiction. The effect is like that of colourised film footage: the Dostoevsky that shambles through these pages possesses an immediacy and a realness that’s almost uncanny.’ – Chris Power, author of Mothers

Dostoevsky’s life was marked by brilliance and brutality. Sentenced to death as a young revolutionary, he survived mock execution and Siberian exile to live through a time of seismic change in Russia, eventually being accepted into the Tsar’s inner circle. He had three great love affairs, each overshadowed by debilitating epilepsy and addiction to gambling. Somehow, amidst all this, he found time to write short stories, journalism and novels such as Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov, works now recognised as among the finest ever written.

In Dostoevsky in Love Alex Christofi weaves carefully chosen excerpts of the author’s work with the historical context to form an illuminating and accessible whole. The result is a novelistic life that immerses the reader in a grand vista of Dostoevsky’s Russia: from the Siberian prison camp to the gambling halls of Europe; from the dank prison cells of the Tsar’s fortress to the refined salons of St Petersburg. Along the way, Christofi relates the stories of the three women whose lives were so deeply intertwined with Dostoevsky’s: the consumptive widow Maria; the impetuous Polina who had visions of assassinating the Tsar; and the faithful stenographer Anna, who did so much to secure his literary legacy.         

Reading between the lines of his fiction, Christofi reconstructs the memoir Dostoevsky might himself have written had life – and literary stardom – not intervened. He gives us a new portrait of the artist as never before seen: a shy but devoted lover, a friend of the people capable of great empathy, a loyal brother and friend, and a writer able to penetrate to the very depths of the human soul.

‘Christofi succeeds in revealing Dostoevsky’s personality in ways no ordinary biographical treatment could.’ – Publisher’s Weekly

‘This enthralling biography of the Russian novelist pushes brilliantly at the imaginative boundaries of what it is to retell the story of someone’s life.’ – The Bookseller, Editor’s Choice

‘In this probing life study, Christofi illuminates the formative power of the great novelist’s passionate love… assiduously researched… Literary scholarship laudably synthesizing insightful analysis with emotional empathy.’ – Booklist, starred review

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