Farewell to Dostoevsky

A much-revised version of Conversations with Dostoevsky, together with critical essays discussing the issues raised in the conversations, will be published by Oxford University Press in 2023. In view of this the blog will shut down at the end of October.

I thank everyone who’s read it and provided feedback. This kept me going and has contributed to the ongoing revision that will, hopefully, lead to a better book.

Welcome

‘Conversations with Dostoevsky’ is a blog written to mark the 200th anniversary year of Dostoevsky’s birth. It takes the form of a series of conversations between a twenty-first century academic and the writer himself. The topics centre on ‘the big questions’, including God, immortality, faith, nationality, and the power of literature. Blogs will be published weekly, though readers may wish to save them up for a monthly visit.

I hope that a revised version of these conversations will eventually appear in book form. This published version will include extensive accompanying notes, indicating the sources of the views ascribed to Dostoevsky and, where relevant, references to secondary literature. This will especially be in cases where, for example, the views spoken by Dostoevsky may involve controversial points of interpretation or where his own documented views may require comment for twenty-first century readers. However, this is primarily a work of fiction and although it is supported by scholarship and, I hope, raises questions that are of interest to scholars, it is to be read in the way we might read any work of fiction, where whatever instruction the work may offer is accompanied by a element of entertainment.

The blog is intended to develop in a dialogical fashion and I hope that readers will contact me with any critical comments, whether these relate to style or content. Despite what I have just said about fiction, it is my wish that the eventual book will present an interpretation of Dostoevsky’s thought discussed that is fully defensible with regard to the available sources and I welcome any comments drawing attention to actual errors or significant misrepresentations. In this way, the blog itself will, I hope, set in motion a kind of conversation, alongside all the other amazing conversations about Dostoevsky that are happening in reality, in print, and online. This is work in progress and I hope not only to entertain and instruct but also to learn.

A final thought is that although Dostoevsky himself did not write a blog, there is something blog-like in his Diary of a Writer, a self-published opinion piece that ranged freely over the most apparently disparate issues. To those who fear that blogging and other forms of information technology are inherently antagonistic to the values of great literature (I mean Dostoevsky and not myself, of course), I suggest that it is not a medium of which he would have been afraid. Perhaps even one he would have relished.

George Pattison