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Dostoevsky: The Years of Ordeal, 1850-1859 (Dostoevsky (Frank, Joseph)) Hardcover – January 21, 1984

5 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"[A]nother impressive installment in one of modern scholarship's largest biographical achievements."--Kirkus Reviews

"In its scale and scholarly care, Frank's study, even at this preliminary stage, has no rival throughout the extensive critical and biographical literature on Dostoevsky."--George Steiner, New Yorker

About the Author

Joseph Frank is Professor of Comparative Literature Emeritus at Princeton University and Professor of Comparative Literature and Slavic Languages and Literature Emeritus at Stanford University. Previous volumes of Dostoevsky have received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography, two Christian Gauss Awards, two James Russell Lowell Awards, a Los Angeles Book prize and other honours. In addition to the previous volumes of Dostoevsky, Frank is author of Through the Russian Prism: Essays on Literature and Culture. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Series: Dostoevsky (Frank, Joseph)
  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (January 21, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691065764
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691065762
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #990,188 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The first volume in this series was superb, and I was a little worried about the second volume. "The Years of Ordeal" were years when Dostoevsky wrote just about nothing at all (a few letters excepted) so I was worried that it might be tedious reading.

Not a bit of it! We get detailed discussion of the investigation --- Dostoevsky at 27 was on trial for his life and supposedly condemned to death. In this book you will find out exactly what happened and how Dostoevsky was shipped off for four years of hard labor in Sibera, and how he came brutally and abruptly face-to-face with the moral horror of the Russian peasantry in prison. Their behavior --- drunkenness, habitual theft, constant fighting, etc. --- was bad enough, but Dostoevsky learned something worse right off the bat: they hated him and everybody from his class. Much to his surprise, after his rose-colored glasses were smashed to bits, he found himself hating them right back --- and out went the Christian socialism he had almost committed treason for. Dostoevsky was still a Christian, however, and this experience of fierce hatred for a class he had previously romanticized led to a genuine "conversion experience" and the foundation of the firm convictions which served him for the rest of his life --- although he took "a long, long time" to completely work through his conversion experience.

All is this is developed and told by Joseph Frank in a completely fascinating way. It may not be as thrilling as "Crime & Punishment," but it sure beats a lot of modern novels in holding reader interest!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you didn't pick this book out of the blue from a book shelf, you already know that this book is second in the five book series of Joseph Frank's work on Dostoevsky.

Like the first book, this book is well researched and well written and details the years of Dostoevsky's life between 1850 and 1859; from the time he was convicted & Exiled to the time he came back to St. Petersburg in December 1859. The book narrates story of Dostoevsky's detention, his trial in Russia, his self-defense, his exile including four years in prison and time served in the army, his first love and first marriage, his brief literary career in Siberia and finally his home coming.

Among all the details, the most promising part of the book is Joseph Frank's explanation of what lead to transformation of Dostoevsky in these years. The book's title ('Years of Ordeal') is justified as Joseph Frank devotes a considerable part of the book to not only portraying a detailed picture of Dostoevsky's physical and mental struggle but also to the impact of that struggle on his believes and vision. The role that these years played in Dostoevsky's transformation as a writer as well as in his development as an astute observer of human psychology is clear in explanation of his life in these nine years.

A few of Dostoevsky's work are referenced in the book, namely, ' Lives of the saints', 'Diary of a writer', 'House of the dead', 'Uncle's dream', 'The village of Stepanchikovo', 'The insulted and the injured' and 'The Devils'.

This book is relatively smaller that other four books in the series (~300 pages) and contains indispensable material to understand Dostoevsky as a writer.
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Format: Paperback
Frank has written a magisterial series on Dostoevsky, a life's work. The books move through the social, political, biographical and literary world of Dostoevsky. This reader was thrilled.
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