To state fully why a new book on Dostoevsky should be published is to offer a critique of limitations of many of those available. In general, the primary drawbacks of the existing literature on Dostoevsky, writs Dr. Wasiolek, are these: the works of Murry, de Vogüé, Pisarev, Mikhaylovsky, Volynsky, and Merezhkovsky are historical data and provide their readers with an insight to an earlier view of the great Russian novelist; Berdyaev's interpretation is essentially theological; Mikhaylovsky's sociological; Grossman's work inclines toward craft and avoids Dostoevsky as thinker. “Who can read Gide's work on Dostoevsky today as an aid to understanding Dostoevsky? Where will you send the readers of Dostoevsky-and their number is legion-for help with specific points of interpretation?”
This book offers a close critical reading of all of Dostoevsky's major fiction. Included are analyses of Poor Folk, The Double, Netochka Nezvanova, The House of the Dead, The Insulted and the Injured, The Notes from the Underground, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Possessed, The Adolescent, The Dream of the Ridiculous Man, and The Brothers Karamazov. The treatment is analytical. Appended is a check list of important biographical data, an outline of circumstances attending the publication and reception of the novels, and an extensive bibliography.
Throughout, it has been Dr. Wasiolek's aim to provide the reader with a balanced presentation of Dostoevsky's work shunning neither the idea content, nor Dostoevsky's craft of fiction. In achieving this, the author has overcome a serious dichotomy that is all too common.
Dostoevsky: The Major Fiction, will be of use in courses of Russian Literature in translation, for course work as well on the novel, in great books or world classics courses where one or more novels of Dostoevsky are almost always read. The book will certainly find a welcome audience with the sophisticated general reader.