Christian Encounters, "Fyodor Dostoevsky"

Author: Peter Leithart
Genre: Biography
Series: Christian Encounters
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

I read this book over Thanksgiving after a long haul of nothing but fiction (time to get back to reality for a while, I figured). Interestingly, I discovered that in spite of the fact that this book is a non-fiction biography, it is written in such a way that it reads like a novel. In the author's notes he explains that this is for an easier, less dry reading experience, which sounds great in theory. However, I personally found that it made the facts of Dostoevsky's life more difficult to pick out - the dates, places, people, etc. The enormous and ever-changing cast of characters became confusing too, especially in light of the author's constant jumping back and forth in time, from Dostoevsky reminiscing with a friend, to flashbacks of his early life.
However, this book did provide a window into the heart behind Dostoevsky's work, and his desire to profoundly effect the Russian culture and people he loved so much. The thought behind his passion for the common people, as well as the symbolism and analogy woven into his writings becomes much easier to see through this book.
I do have to note that his 'deep Christian faith' and his desire to bring Russia to Christ came into question quite frequently as I read this book. I won't presume to pass judgment on the sincerity of Dostoevsky's faith, I just have to say that the salt loses some of its savor when a man is talking about turning his country to Christ, while he's carrying on an extramarital affair and gambling away every penny he has.

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