Dostoevsky in Love: An Intimate Life (Hardcover)

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'A daring and mesmerizing twist on the art of biography' Douglas Smith, author of Rasputin: The Biography

'Anyone who loves [Dostoevsky's] novels will be fascinated by this book' Sue Prideaux, author of I Am Dynamite! A Life of Friedrich Nietzsche

Dostoevsky's life was marked by brilliance and brutality. Sentenced to death as a young revolutionary, he survived mock execution and Siberian exile to live through a time of seismic change in Russia, eventually being accepted into the Tsar's inner circle. He had three great love affairs, each overshadowed by debilitating epilepsy and addiction to gambling. Somehow, amidst all this, he found time to write short stories, journalism and novels such as Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov, works now recognised as among the finest ever written.

In Dostoevsky in Love Alex Christofi weaves carefully chosen excerpts of the author's work with the historical context to form an illuminating and often surprising whole. The result is a novelistic life that immerses the reader in a grand vista of Dostoevsky's world: from the Siberian prison camp to the gambling halls of Europe; from the dank prison cells of the Tsar's fortress to the refined salons of St Petersburg. Along the way, Christofi relates the stories of the three women whose lives were so deeply intertwined with Dostoevsky's: the consumptive widow Maria; the impetuous Polina who had visions of assassinating the Tsar; and the faithful stenographer Anna, who did so much to secure his literary legacy.

Reading between the lines of his fiction, Christofi reconstructs the memoir Dostoevsky might have written had life – and literary stardom – not intervened. He gives us a new portrait of the artist as never before seen: a shy but devoted lover, an empathetic friend of the people, a loyal brother and friend, and a writer able to penetrate to the very depths of the human soul.

About the Author


Alex Christofi is Editorial Director at Transworld Publishers and author of three books published in 12 languages, including the novels Let Us Be True and Glass, winner of the Betty Trask Prize for fiction. He has written for numerous publications including the Guardian, London Magazine, White Review and the Brixton Review of Books, and contributed an essay to the anthology What Doesn't Kill You: Fifteen Stories of Survival. Dostoevsky in Love, his first work of non-fiction, was shortlisted for the Biographers' Club Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize and named as a Literary Non-fiction Book of the Year by the Times and Sunday Times.

Praise For…


A wonderfully readable account of one of the great, and difficult, figures in world literature, Dostoevsky in Love brings the subject brilliantly to life. Anyone who loves his novels will be fascinated by this book.” - Sue Prideaux, author of I Am Dynamite! A Life of Friedrich Nietzsche

“Christofi immerses us in the forcefield of Dostoevsky’s thought … Beautifully crafted and realised, but it is the great love that Christofi feels for his subject that makes this such a moving book.” - Frances Wilson, Guardian

“Whether you know everything or nothing about Dostoevsky, whether you love or hate him (and he was extremely annoying), this is the perfect modern biography. A celebration of human complexity which fuses surprising new information about the life of the writer with a passionate love for his books. Alex Christofi has created the most charismatic and engaging portrait of a tortured, brilliant man. Dostoevsky In Love is as entertaining as it is insightful.” - Viv Groskop, author of The Anna Karenina Fix: Life Lessons from Russian Literature

A wonderfully written life of Dostoevsky, in which the boundaries that conventionally separate biography and autobiography are dissolved to revelatory effect.” - Tom Holland

“Combining equal parts fact and fiction with literary flair, Alex Christofi has crafted in Dostoevsky in Love a stunning, genre-bending work certain to captivate fans of Dostoevsky and the Russian classics. A daring and mesmerizing twist on the art of biography.” - Douglas Smith, author of Rasputin: The Biography

Alex Christofi has created a dazzling hybrid, a narrative account of Dostoevsky’s life that blends the known facts with his letters and the most autobiographical elements of his fiction. The effect is like that of colourised film footage: the Dostoevsky that shambles through these pages possesses an immediacy and a realness that’s almost uncanny.” - Chris Power, novelist and author of Mothers

“A fierce account of Dostoevsky’s inner and outer life … Christofi’s rapidly unrolling tapestry helps to capture the madcap, tumbling and ferocious quality of Dostoevsky’s style” - Financial Times

Innovative biography ... The sociopolitical ferment of Russia bubble[s] up through Mr Christofi’s pages” - Wall Street Journal

Fluently readable and warmly entertaining” - Daily Telegraph

[A] compelling portrait of the writer’s inner world … Christofi reminds us how much Dostoevsky’s own failings and endless remorse informed his work and shaped his characters. My only caveat is that this lively account is too short.” - New Humanist

“An immersive and visceral journey through the life of the revolutionary author … [Dostoevsky in Love] feels like a cinematic thriller with one of those protagonists that you want to grasp by the shoulders and shake.” - Irish Times

“An utterly charming, lively and original work that reads like a novel itself.” - Globe and Mail

“…qualities which we ascribe to [Dostoevsky’s] unforgettable fictional characters, were all to be found in “Fyodor” himself and Christofi describes them with warmth and understanding.” - A. N. Wilson, Times Literary Supplement

“In Dostoevsky in Love, Alex Christofi managed to pack the life and works into just two hundred understated pages.” - Oliver Ready, Literary Review

Crafted with novelistic skill, it is a book to fit the vast complexity of the man and his work.” - Frances Wilson, New Statesman

“Alex Christofi collages fragments from the fiction and journals to explore Dostoevsky’s three great love affairs. The result, a meticulously sourced, semi-novelistic “biography”, is both immersive and extraordinary.” - www.thetimes.co.uk

“...I don’t think I’ve ever read a biography quite like it. Christofi…combines traditional factual accounts, quotes from personal letters, and excerpts from Dostoevsky’s fiction…to form a unique kind of memoir, immersive, believable and emotionally engaging…I found the experience extremely enjoyable and oddly moving…This book is full of [Dostoevsky’s] compassion and humanity, while revealing the same qualities in his worthy biographer.” - Big Issue

“…Christofi creates a kind of speculative memoir, part juicy information, part romantic guesswork. For me it worked beautifully, being both unexpectedly moving…and an exciting, unpredictable page-turner.” - Big Issue

“Christofi pieces together all of these elements of Dostoevsky’s dramatic life with great skill and clarity … If you have read only smaller portions of Dostoevsky, Christofi’s account will send you off to look for more. And, if you have never read this giant of Russian and World Literature, Dostoevsky in Love will send you off to start a great literary experience with a master of the written word.” - New York Journal of Books

An original, riveting work.” - Saga

A fluent, enthralling gallop through a chaotic and painful life … The driving force here is Christofi’s sense that Dostoevsky speaks to our time as never before.” - The Tablet

“In this probing life study, Christofi illuminates the formative power of the great novelist’s passionate love Literary scholarship laudably synthesizing insightful analysis with emotional empathy.” - Booklist, starred review (USA)

Christofi succeeds in revealing Dostoyevsky’s personality in ways no ordinary biographical treatment could.” - Publishers Weekly

Winningly brisk … by the end … you feel you know pretty well the texture of his life and the rhythm of his obsessions.” - Sunday Times

“Both an illuminating literary biography and an evocative snapshot of the context in which the great writer created his enduring work ... Dostoevsky fans are certain to find this book insightful and captivating.” - Kirkus Reviews

"Dostoevsky: An Intimate Life by Alex Christofi is a study in precision and counterfactual scholarship that draws heavily upon Dostoevsky’s letters, notebooks, journalism and fiction without missing out on anything of substance." - Hindustan Times



Product Details
ISBN: 9781472964694
ISBN-10: 1472964691
Publisher: Bloomsbury Continuum
Publication Date: March 23rd, 2021
Pages: 256
Language: English