Not a page too long

Dalrymple writes that Joseph Frank’s five-volume, 2,400-page biography of Fyodor Dostoyevsky

is not a page too long: not merely because Dostoyevsky was a great writer (there are many great writers about whom one would not wish to read a five-volume biography), but because an understanding of 19th-century Russia, with whose problems Dostoyevsky wrestled so perceptively and prophetically, as well as wrongheadedly and idiosyncratically, is vital to an understanding of the modern world. Indeed, once you have grasped the role of the intelligentsia in late Tsarist Russia, much of what seems at first sight opaque in the modern world becomes a great deal clearer.

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