Second Conversation: ‘Good Books’. Episode 1

By the time I’d showered and dressed Laura had nearly finished her breakfast. On the radio, a bishop was saying something about the Church and climate change.             “Sorry. I couldn’t wait,” she said, looking up. “I need to be in for half-past-eight.” It was now ten to.              “That’s fine,” I replied. “Coffee. That’s the mainContinue reading “Second Conversation: ‘Good Books’. Episode 1”

First Conversation. Part Two: ‘Guilty!’ Episode 4

Over the course of our last few exchanges, Fyodor Mikhailovich was, unsurprisingly, starting to look very tired; the folds of his clothes seemed to be flattening out, almost as if he was becoming two-dimensional; even his face seemed to be fading, looking more and more like an old photograph rather than a living person. Now,Continue reading “First Conversation. Part Two: ‘Guilty!’ Episode 4”

First Conversation Part 2: ‘Guilty?’ Episode 3

I recognized these last words from The Brothers Karamazov. In that novel we meet a character called Markel, a teenager who’s dying of consumption and has a kind of mystical experience that culminates in asking the birds to forgive him and declaring that we could all be in paradise today if we really wanted to be.Continue reading “First Conversation Part 2: ‘Guilty?’ Episode 3”

First Conversation Part 2: Guilty? Episode 2

“So, the husband – just what is it he’s got to do to get out of his despair? What is this step he’s got to take?”             Fyodor Mikhailovich sat back and closed his eyes for a moment before looking at me almost apologetically.             “Despair. He must despair. He must plead guilty and ask for forgiveness.”Continue reading “First Conversation Part 2: Guilty? Episode 2”

First Conversation Part 2: Guilty? Episode 1.

I’m not sure if I really wanted the whisky. I’d begun to feel a bit like you feel when you’re about to pass out and perhaps I just wanted to be holding the glass between my hands as a point of contact with the real world that, in the course of the last few minutes,Continue reading “First Conversation Part 2: Guilty? Episode 1.”

First Conversation (Beneath a Dead Sun): Episode 4

Fyodor Mikhailovich smiled, looking thoughtful. I could feel him getting ready to say more and waited, a tad anxious that I’d overdone it. “What is a lie? Well, if you want an answer to that question, you first have to know what you mean by truth,” he said after a while, pausing again before continuing.Continue reading “First Conversation (Beneath a Dead Sun): Episode 4”

First Conversation (Beneath a Dead Sun). Episode 3

We are, then, back where we started. As you probably remember, Fyodor Mikhailovich didn’t give a direct answer to my question about faith but started saying how everything he wrote in his novels and stories was just fiction, something he’d made up, in short – a lie. Anyway, he’d said, he was only a ‘peripheral’Continue reading “First Conversation (Beneath a Dead Sun). Episode 3”

First Conversation: Episode 2

                                                            II I’ve already said that– like most of those that followed – this first conversation was taking place in my flat, which is on the second floor of a late nineteenth century tenement block in Glasgow’s West End. Like many Glasgow tenements, ours isn’t unlike those that Dostoevsky would have known in St Petersburg and,Continue reading “First Conversation: Episode 2”

First Conversation: Beneath a Dead Sun

Episode 1 I Fyodor Mikhailovich smiled. Diffidently. He leaned forward. I couldn’t tell whether it was because he was thinking about how to answer my question or because he was waiting for me to say more. I couldn’t think of anything to add. A minute or more passed. Or so it seemed. Sighing gently, heContinue reading “First Conversation: Beneath a Dead Sun”


‘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,Continue reading “Welcome”