Although now an emeritus professor at Stanford, Girard published this work in 1963 in his native French. It was translated in 1996 by Williams, and now reissued in this edition.
There are introductions to both the original edition and this reissue by the translator, and these put me off a bit. They struck me as the overly tangled but ultimately empty prose that too often passes as literary criticism. Fortunately he didn't translate Girard into similar prose, but let the author's voice come through.
That is not to suggest for even a second that this book is an easy read. Girard is intense and thoughtful, and I may need to reread some of Dostoevsky to fully appreciate his arguments. By the way, if you have not read at least the major novels of Dostoevsky you will be lost in this book.
Dostoevsky's later works set up a succession of men trying to lay out a path to a life above the mundane, with failure as the general result. Girard ties these efforts back to the narrator of "Notes from the Underground". The problem Dostoevsky struggles with is how to escape from the "underground", how to avoid the snares that modern life sets for us. As he lays out Dostoevsky's struggle with this question he also explores the great author's struggle with his own beliefs.
An afterword by Girard briefly covers an additional thirty years of his thinking on the matter, and also notes how relevant the questions Dostoevsky wrestled with remain today.
While definitely a book for a hardcore Dostoevsky lover, it is a richly insightful one. Girard says more in fewer than ninety pages than some writers say in hundreds. This is not a book you can skim. These dense and thought provoking pages take time to ponder and digest.