Northern Illinois University Press

Fyodor Dostoevsky: In the Beginning (1821–1845)

A Life in Letters, Memoirs, and Criticism

Thomas Gaiton Marullo

“This impressive collection of translated primary sources represents a significant contribution to the wide audience of admirers (and no small audience of detractors) of Dostoevsky. It will be especially helpful to those who do not know the Russian language and hence lack access to many of the memoirs.” —Irwin Weil, author of From the Cincinnati Reds to the Moscow Reds

"Young Dostoevsky emerges from these pages as a complex individual, similar to the most fascinating and captivating characters of his mature fiction—embracing contradictions, reconciling conflicts, and resisting definitions. . . . Any Dostoevsky admirer, whether a reader or a scholar, will find the book to be a valuable addition to extant Dostoevsky scholarship." —The Russian Review

More than a century after his death in 1881, Fyodor ­Dostoevsky continues to fascinate readers and reviewers. Countless studies of his writing have been published—more than a dozen in the past few years alone. In this important new work, Thomas Marullo provides a diary-portrait of Dostoevsky’s early years drawn from the letters, memoirs, and criticism of the writer, as well as from the testimony and witness of family and friends, readers and reviewers, and observers and participants in his life.

Marullo’s exhaustive search of published materials on Dostoevsky sheds light on many unexplored corners of Dostoevsky’s childhood, adolescence, and youth. Speakers of excerpts are given maximum freedom: Anything they said about the writer—the good and the bad, the truth and the lies—are included, with extensive footnotes providing correctives, counter-arguments, and other pertinent information.

The first part of this volume, “All in the Family,” focuses on Dostoevsky’s early formation and schooling, i.e., his time in city and country, and his ties to his family, particularly his parents. The second section, “To Petersburg!,” features ­Dostoevsky’s early days in Russia’s imperial city, his years at the Main Engineering Academy, and the death of his father. The third part, “Darkness before Dawn,” deals with the writer’s youthful struggles and strivings, culminating in the success of his work, Poor Folk. This clear and comprehensive portrait of one of the world’s greatest writers will ­appeal to students, teachers, and scholars of Dostoevsky’s early life, as well as general readers interested in Dostoevsky, literature, and history.

November 2016, 370 pp., 6x9
ISBN 978-0-87580-746-1
$59.00x Cloth 

Thomas Gaiton Marullo is professor of Russian and Russian literature at the University of Notre Dame. His publications include Heroine Abuse: Dostoevsky’s Netochka Nezvanova and the Poetics of Codependency (NIU Press, 2015).

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-746-1
cloth $59.00