Friday, May 08, 2009

A Summer of Dostoyevsky?

For quite some time now I’ve been meaning to explore the works of the great Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

I was reminded of this last night when, while visiting my friends Ken and Carol, I noticed that one of the books that Ken has currently out on loan from the library is entitled
The Gospel in Dostoyevsky.

One of the endorsements on the back of this book was written by Philip Yancey, editor-at-large of Christianity Today. Yancey’s words have made me all the more determined to acquaint myself with Dostoyevsky’s work. (Any suggestions on where I should start? Ken thinks it should be with
Crime and Punishment.)

Anyway, here’s Yancey’s recommendation of The Gospel in Dostoyevsky – a recommendation that makes this anthology sound as if it too would be well worth investigating. Perhaps it will be a summer of Dostoyevsky for me!

For people raised in the church, words like “grace,” “forgiveness,” and “redemption” can become so familiar as to be leached of meaning. Sadly, I once found myself in that place, and no amount of Bible or “Christian” books seemed to help. Then I discovered the novels of Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Brilliantly, refreshingly, gently, he filled theological words with meaning simply by telling stories. I had never understood grace until I readThe Idiot,” nor sin until I read “Crime and Punishment.” I could not recommend more highly an immersion in Dostoyevsky’s work. And for those busy soul’s intimidated by the length of his great novels, “The Gospel in Dostoyevsky” offers a wonderful sampler. Grab it. Read it. And, be careful: you may find yourself – as I did – scouring used bookstores for every obscure work of this incomparable writer.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Beautiful Novel
My Travels with Doris


Tc said...

Definitely "Crime and Punishment."

Happy reading!

CDE said...

I'm a big fan of The Brothers Karamazov. The chapter about the Grand Inquisitor is the work of a genius.

PrickliestPear said...

My favourite Dostoevsky is The Brothers Karamazov. I've read two different translations, one by Andrew MacAndrew and one by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, which was by far the better of the two. It is my very favourite novel, ever, and would not be a bad place to start, although it was his last novel.

brian gerard said...

The Brothers Karamazov definitely.

Michael J. Bayly said...

Thanks, guys, for your recommendations. I decided to start with Crime and Punishment - and found a reasonably priced copy of it at Magers and Quinn in Minneapolis. (The sheer size of The Brothers Karamazov made it a bit too daunting to start with! Though I hope to one day read it - perhaps later in the summer!)