Dostoevsky’s immediate impulse for embarking on A Writer’s Diary in 1873 was a desire to come into closer contact with his readers. Published in monthly instalments, it became a unique journalistic enterprise incorporating art and politics, intimate confession, criticism and short stories.
Far more popular than his novels ever were, the Diary was Dosteovsky’s favourite literary work, his ‘creative laboratory’, and proves to be a source of fundamental importance in understanding the ‘complex mind behind his artistic work’. Brilliantly introduced by Rosamund Bartlett, distinguished scholar and writer, the Diary stands revealed as the work of a writer-activist and blogger avant la lettre, who sought to transform Russian society and humankind itself.
“Virulent nationalism, religious extremism, ethnic intolerance, urban deprivation, child abuse, suicide, opinionated criticism, intimate confession, utopian dreaming, genial digression, moral fervour, profound insight, macabre humour and superlative fiction – welcome to the world of Dostoevsky’s A Writer’s Diary.” Rosamund Bartlett
* Contains a unique mixture of journalism and fiction, a vital source for understanding Dostoevsky
* Prophetic of 21st century concerns – child abuse, depression, ethnic tensions, poverty
* Highly controversial in parts – puts contemporary xenophobia and chauvinism into context
* Offers an insight in to modern-day Russia through an examination of the country’s fascinating past
Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821 – 1881) was born in Moscow, the son of a physician, and educated at the Military Engineering College in St Petersburg. His first novel, Poor Folk (1846), was well received. In 1849 he was arrested and sentenced to death for his involvement with a group of Utopian Socialists, the Petrashevsky Circle, only to be reprieved at the last moment. His experience of four years of hard labour and imprisonment in Siberia led to a profound change in his ideology. This is reflected in all his subsequent fictional masterpieces, from Notes from the House of the Dead (1862), to Crime and Punishment (1866) and The Brothers Karamazov (1880), as well as his journalism, including A Writer’s Diary, completed during his last decade.
Rosamund Bartlett is a cultural historian with expertise in Russian literature, music, and art. She has a particular interest in European Modernism, opera, and the intersection between politics, history and the arts, and has lectured on these subjects at universities and public institutions around the world. Her books include Wagner and Russia and Tolstoy: A Russian Life. She has also written a biography of Chekhov, and published translations of his short stories and letters. Her new translation of Anna Karenina was published in 2014.