Fyodor Dostoevsky  -     By: Peter Leithart
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Fyodor Dostoevsky

Thomas Nelson / 2011 / Paperback

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Product Description

In his twenties, Fyodor Dostoevsky faced a firing squad, but instead of meeting his death, he was exiled to Siberia. It was there that he learned his hardest and most memorable lessons about human nature that would impact his writing. This volume in the Christian Encounters Series looks at Dostoevsky's remarkable life and his deep Christian faith.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 240
Vendor: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 2011
Dimensions: 7.00 X 5.00 (inches)
ISBN: 1595550348
ISBN-13: 9781595550347
Availability: In Stock
Series: Christian Encounters

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Publisher's Description

In his twenties, Fydor Dostoevsky, son of a Moscow doctor, graduate of a military academy, and rising star of Russian literature, found himself standing in front of a firing squad, accused of subversive activities against the Russian Tsar. Then the drums rolled, signaling that instead he was to be exiled to the living death of Siberia.

Siberia was so cold the mercury froze in the thermometer. In prison, Dostoevsky was surrounded by murderers, thieves, parricides, and brigands who drank heavily, quarreled incessantly, and fought with horrible brutality. However, while "prisoners were piled on top of each other in the barracks, and the floor was matted with an inch of filth," Dostoevsky learned a great deal about the human condition that was to impact his writing as nothing had before.

To absorb Dostoevsky's remarkable life in these pages is to encounter a man who not only examined the quest of God, the problem of evil, and the suffering of innocents in his writing but also drew inspiration from his own deep Christian faith in giving voice to the common people of his nation... and ultimately the world.

Author Bio

Dr. Peter Leithart has taught Theology & Literature at New St. Andrews College since 1998, and has served as pastor of Trinity Reformed Church in Moscow, Idaho, since 2003. He received his Ph.D. at Cambridge in England. Dr. Leithart and his wife, Noel, have 10 children.

Product Reviews

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  1. Ph
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: male
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    very fascinating
    August 4, 2012
    Archie Isib
    Ph
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: male
    Quality: 3
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    "Christian Encounters Series." I took great pleasure in this interesting and captivating biography of Fyodor, and I heartily recommend it! This book helped me understand the man better and gave me resources to dig deeper if I want. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to get to know Fyodor! learning about life through the lives of others. Their experiences, their trials, their adventures become our schools, our chapels, our playground, Christian Encounters, a series of biographies from Thomas Nelson Publishers, highlights important lives from all ages and areas of the Church through prose as accessible and concise as it is personal and engaging is such a wonderful gift! Reading this book challenged me to pray for more geniuses and hard workers who will penetrate our culture with master pieces in music, the arts, inventions, all to the glory of God! Reading was a little bit choppy and sometimes tangential, but held my attention, because of the man he was writing about.
  2. Arkansas
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    2 Stars Out Of 5
    Leithart more philosophical than biographical
    April 13, 2012
    Bria
    Arkansas
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    Quality: 3
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 2
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky by Peter Leithart

    In ways Leithart's biography of Dostoyevsky is what I think a good biography ought to be. Leithart is conversant with Dostoyevsky's writings, letters, and his other biographers. This book is carefully documented. The footnotes at times become laborious, yet make a great case for historical reliability. Whether I theologically and morally agree or disagree (and often I did disagree), this was Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

    However, on the whole I cannot recommend this book. I found it to be focused on ideas like socialism, nihilism, and Pushkin the "omni-human" poet, rather than strictly a biography of Dostoyevsky's life. The ideas were too large for a book of this size, and too many mundane details were omitted. At one point I thought I could assign this to my ninth grade daughter, who will read "Crime and Punishment" next year. Then I became increasingly troubled by the rampant adultery portrayed. One particularly vivid scene is without any footnotes, leading me to believe it is a product of Leithart's imagination. I understand its role as a literary device, but the scene is offensive.

    I would love a carefully crafted, straight forward, explanatory, true to life biography of Dostoyevsky. I would love one that would lend genuine insight into the literary master, and an understanding of his theology and how it was lived out in his life. This is not that book.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Booksneeze.com. All views are my own.
  3. Linden, NC
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    Could have been better...
    March 6, 2012
    John Chancey
    Linden, NC
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    I must say that I knew very little about Dostoevsky the man - and after reading this biography, maybe that was a good thing. His books are powerful, acclaimed as classics (and rightly so). His influence on Russian culture and literature is undeniable. His life, however, was less admirable than his work.

    Dostoevsky was a Christian, at least in one sense. He affirmed that Christ should be the center of life for all men, but I am not sure how Biblical his Christology actually was - and the book doesn't really address that. It does state that Dostoevsky was apparently a part of the Orthodox church, so we can make a few deductions based on that information.

    Plagued with bad health for much of his life, Dostoevsky had some vices which were suprising to me for some reason: gambling, drinking, anger, and women. He had at least one very obvious mistress while his first wife was dying. But if there were one, there could also be others not so obvious. He wasted much of the little money he had on gambling. And he was quick to have fits of anger and shouting when conversing.

    My review, however, is not about Dostoevsky's life - but about this book. And I must say that the book had some vices as well. To begin with, there were at least four curse words used in the book. This was totally unnecessary. And, I might add, it was offensive to the (supposed) target audience of Christian readers. There was also a scene that was far too sensual in nature - and it, also, was unnecessary. That scene added absolutely nothing to my understanding of Dostoevsky's life. The last negative point I will make about the book was the lack of continuity. The book darts back and forth between different times in Dostoevsky's life, and it was not easy to remember which time frame fit where.

    Now for the positive notes. I really appreciated the book being written as an almost fictionalization of Dostoevsky's life. It made it much more interesting than the mere recitation of facts and dates. It also must have been very difficult to write an accurate biography in this way, so my respect goes to Mr. Leithart for his effort. He accomplished this task by basing many of the conversations in the book on actual writings of the people involved in the dialogue, and he footnotes them well.

    Because of the "fictionalized" nature of the book, it was difficult to know which parts were absolutely true and which were made up. However, the book did spark my interest in the life of Dostoevsky, and I will read his writings with a new appreciation for the man behind them.

    In all, I will give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

    I received this book free from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.
  4. Nevis, MN
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    Mixed reactions...
    February 25, 2012
    Lisa Richards
    Nevis, MN
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 2
    Value: 2
    Meets Expectations: 2
    As a book reviewer for Book Sneeze (Thomas Nelson Publishers) I recently read Fyodor Dostoevsky by Peter Leithart. For most of my life I've been aware of Dostoevsky's reputation as an author of great classics such as The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment, so I was excited to read about the man behind the reputation. I am a little uncertain, after reading this book, whether my admiration has been dampened by Mr. Dostoevsky's actual personality, or by the author's ability to portray that personality. The Fyodor I see in this biography seems to be a very self-centered and shallow person who occasionally looks outside of himself to care about others. He is shown to be a very driven individual, which I can well believe he was. His passionate nature was an asset as he strove, through his writings, to right the wrongs of the society he lived in, but it was a detriment where it concerned his personal relationships.

    The most memorable moment in the book, for me, was when Dostoevsky lost his little daughter. As a new grandmother of a little girl of about the same age, the description of his grieving process was very touching.

    My reaction to this book is mixed. I believe Dostoevsky's life could have been portrayed in a more interesting manner than Peter Leithart has shown it. Though he has caused me to wonder whether I would find Dostoevsky's novels interesting, I still plan to read the copy of The Brothers Karamazov that sits on my bookshelf. Perhaps I will find Dostoevsky's style more captivating than Mr. Leithart's.
  5. 2 Stars Out Of 5
    dissapointing
    January 23, 2012
    Mrs. Morrow
    Quality: 3
    Value: 3
    Meets Expectations: 1
    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

    If you don't recognize the name Fyodor Dostoevsky, he's the guy that wrote Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov and a bunch of others. I've heard of these, but haven't read them. Perhaps that is the problem...

    This biography is written in a "conversational style" which means that instead of just telling the story of Fyodor's life, it tells of Fyodor sitting up all night reminiscing with his friend(s). Occasionally we are brought back from the stories to witness a cough, a refill, or a reminder from the wife that it's time for bed. The book covers Dostoevsky's life from early boyhood to his death, in snippets - some as short as 2 or 3 sentences. Then at the end of the book, we suddenly have 10 full pages of a single quote, presumably the entire text of a speech given at a Pushkin festival. I admit that I skimmed over this speech, expecting at any minute to return to what I viewed as the story.

    I didn't notice any typos as such, but on page 147 the book says Fyodor published his diary for four years, and on the next page it says that he had to stop publishing after just two years. This was the only glaring error in the book.

    Overall, I was disappointed and frustrated with this book. I suppose the author, Peter Leithart, is knowledgeable of his subject, but he didn't do a good job conveying that knowledge. I felt, as other reviewers have said, that I came away from the book not knowing anything about Dostoevsky.

    Also, I was frustrated with Fyoder being held up as a great Christian thinker when he is presented as a gambling womanizer. Other than his insistence that Russian character is all one with Russian Orthodoxy, we hear very little of his theology, but we hear quite a lot about his infidelities.

    To end on a positive note, I now have a much greater interest in reading some of Dostoevsky's work than I had before. So I suppose on that point the book was successful.
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