If you, just like me, are a fan of Dostoevsky’s work, you will definitely enjoy Dostoevsky in Love:An Intimate Life. And even if you haven’t read any of his books, you’ll learn about what it felt like living in 19th century Russia (and other European countries), and I am certain that upon reading this, you’ll go and grab one of Dostoevsky’s books.
Dostoevsky in Love: An Intimate Life is a detailed biography of the life of Dostoevsky, mixed with a bit of creative freedom. Alex Christofi tells the story of Dostoevsky’s life using quotes from Dostoevsky’s books, as well as from letters and diaries.
It’s not very often I read biographies. If I read a biography, it has to be from someone I know a lot about and am curious about. I was going to say that it’s also from people I really admire, but I love reading biographies about serial killers, so maybe that’s not the best statement to put in words. However, from all the biographies I’ve read, this one certainly jumps at the top of my list, firstly because of its uniqueness. Alex Christofi not only shows us the life of Dostoevsky and his works, but he digs much deeper than that. We get to know Dostoevsky on a very personal level, able to read his thoughts, re-live his experiences and witness his many tragedies in life and few of his moments of happiness.
Starting with his mock execution, we immediately get a glimpse of the terror Dostoevsky goes through. I can only imagine how that experience can leave a mark on you – for life. Then we follow his years in prison, his illness, his romantic life and his gambling addiction. The joy he experiences when his first child is born, and the pain he suffers when many people he loves keep dying around him.
“Suffering and pain are always mandatory for broad minds and deep hearts. Truly great people, it seems to me, should feel great sadness on this earth.”
I went into Dostoevsky in Love: An Intimate Life with only a basic knowledge of Dostoevsky’s life, but a more broader knowledge of his works.
And I know now, where this genius has come from.
He always had the truly remarkable gift to be able to write, but his experiences in life certainly made him understand pain, grief, human psychology and interaction on such a deeper level, in a way that not many people can truly comprehend. This biography not only made me much more understanding of his life, but also made me eager to re-read all his works now, knowing what I know about his life. And not only his life, but also the period he lived in as well, the politics, the social groups of authors and people’s interactions with one another.
“Everywhere in Russia there have always been, and always will be certain strange individuals who, while humble and by no means lazy, are destined to be broke for ever.”
I admire Alex Christofi for his detailed research and the work he put into this book.
He was able to combine extracts from Dostoevsky’s books into experiences that Dostoevsky lived through. And connect the events with when the books were written. I had mixed feelings on this creative freedom at first, but very soon I started to enjoy it, and it brought the writer and the works closer together in my world. We can feel moments, when an event would happen to Dostoevsky, and how this reflects in his books. How it inspired him to start a book, how a character matches a person from his life. I really wished that we read more about the time he was writing “Crime and Punishment”. It was mentioned a lot of times, but it never was associated with any moment in his life. I am wondering about how this book came to be, and the initial response it received from the public.
There’s a reason why Dostoevsky is such an important person in the world literature. Why many of his books are classics and are being read and studied in schools even today. He has brought a view on psychology and sociology through fiction. There is yet an author to try and create something as remarkable as what Dostoevsky did in his time.
“If we take the trouble to honour the dead, perhaps one day someone will remember us.”