Christofi, also a novelist, describes Dostoevsky in Love as less a biography than a 'reconstructed memoir'. His method, he explains, has been to 'cheerfully commit the academic fallacy' of eliding Dostoevsky’s 'autobiographical fiction with his fantastical life'. This is achieved by blending his authorial voice with that of Dostoevsky, in sections lifted from the letters, notebooks and fiction and stitched seamlessly into the text. So as not to interrupt the narrative flow, the sources are given only at the back of the book. It’s a witty motif which works well, not least because it immerses us in the forcefield of Dostoevsky’s thought, which Christofi also employs to explain his own waywardness ... Christofi’s interest, however, is not only in Dostoevsky as a lover of women. It is also in Dostoevsky as a believer in Christian love. This belief lay at the heart of his novels and by the end of his life he was regarded as a prophet, spreading the gospel of universal harmony ... Novelists tend to make good biographers, not least because they know how to shape a story, and it is no mean feat to boil Dostoevsky’s epic life down to 256 pulse-thumping pages. Dostoevsky in Love is beautifully crafted and realised, but it is the great love that Christofi feels for his subject that makes this such a moving book.
Mr. Christofi has produced what he calls 'a reconstructed memoir' eliding extracts from Dostoevsky’s public and private writings with the events of his life ... It is an ambitious concept, and it works. Mr. Christofi backs up his work with 452 endnotes. In short, he has not made things up ... A personal biography then, but the sociopolitical ferment of Russia does bubble up through Mr. Christofi’s pages ... One sees the novelist at work in these pages. Keeping a hand on the narrative tiller, he understands the importance of specificity, as writers must ... Mr. Christofi’s weakness for cliché corrupts his prose ... I greatly enjoyed this book.
Christofi, a novelist and publisher, has declared himself a 'storyteller not a specialist' in regards to his subject and takes an appropriately creative approach, attempting to fill the autobiographical void left by Dostoevsky’s death aged 59. Interweaving factual details with Dostoevsky’s work, Christofi has created an immersive and visceral journey through the life of the revolutionary author ... The biographer’s dedication is clear. Like a literary sleuth, Christofi has lovingly spliced Dostoevsky’s inner life to expose its brilliant complexity to us, and to those with little knowledge of the author’s work. The myriad identities of the man are encompassed here in a thrilling literary ride: a revolutionary and occasional traditionalist; philosopher and prisoner; lover and family man; summoned to life with such creative flair that surely the great writer himself would have approved.
Although Christofi sets off quoted material in italics and quotation marks, he blends diverse voices into a unified narrative. Following this method, Christofi produces some vivid writing ... Christofi underplays the importance of Christian love in Dostoevsky’s life and work ... Had Christofi focused more on Dostoevsky’s understanding of Christian love, he could have explored how Dostoevsky trapped his characters in situations where the love of God is all but out of reach ... Dostoevsky’s interest in the clash of voices raises a question about Christofi’s method. Why blend distinct voices into one unified story ... Instead of blending voices into one coherent story, Christofi might have let different voices fight it out ... Despite missing some opportunities, Christofi tells Dostoevsky’s story with wit and verve. Readers new to Dostoevsky will enjoy learning about the author’s life in this short, lively book. Readers already acquainted with Dostoevsky will like hearing familiar voices narrate the author’s life in a new way. It is a tale worth hearing.
An exploration of the tumultuous intimate relationships of the canonical Russian author and how they informed his work ... The narrative is 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.
Christofi traces Dostoyevsky’s miserable childhood, tempestuous adulthood, and novel-writing career, but also introduces readers to the women in Dostoyevsky’s life ... Christofi’s approach pays off in his recreations of intimate scenes ... Christofi succeeds in revealing Dostoyevsky’s personality in ways no ordinary biographical treatment could.