Dostoevsky's Unfinished Journey

Robin Feuer Miller

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How does Dostoevsky’s fiction illuminate questions that are important to us today? What does the author have to say about memory and invention, the nature of evidence, and why we read? How did his readings of such writers as Rousseau, Maturin, and Dickens filter into his own novelistic consciousness? And what happens to a novel like Crime and Punishment when it is the subject of a classroom discussion or a conversation? In this original and wide-ranging book, Dostoevsky scholar Robin Feuer Miller approaches the author’s major works from a variety of angles and offers a new set of keys to understanding Dostoevsky’s world.


Taking Dostoevsky’s own conversion as her point of departure, Miller explores themes of conversion and healing in his fiction, where spiritual and artistic transfigurations abound. She also addresses questions of literary influence, intertextuality, and the potency of what the author termed “ideas in the air.” For readers new to Dostoevsky’s writings as well as those deeply familiar with them, Miller offers lucid insights into his works and into their continuing power to engage readers in our own times.


Robin Feuer Miller is Edytha Macy Gross Professor of Humanities; professor of Russian and comparative literature; and chair, Department of German, Russian, and Asian Languages and Literature, Brandeis University. She has published extensively on Russian literature and recently edited The Cambridge Companion to the Classic Russian Novel. She lives in Newton, MA.

“In this lucid and highly personal book, Robin Miller provides a new vantage point from which to view the subtleties and ambiguities that arise from Dostoevsky’s major texts.”—Joseph Frank, Emeritus Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Stanford University

"A splendid achievement. This Dostoevsky is 'unfinished' in the best sense: still speaking to us, instructing us on the varieties of religious experience, and urging upon us the importance of reading books as well as human beings with equal care."—Wai Chee Dimock, Yale University

“In these wide-ranging essays, Robin Feuer Miller draws on her intimate knowledge of Dostoevsky’s notebooks and letters to reveal the complex and even contradictory impulses that find expression in his fiction—fiction which, as she eloquently argues, nevertheless remains unsurpassed in its power to move us and change our lives.”—J. M. Coetzee

“Richly informed, these linked essays are meditations on key aspects of Dostoevsky’s writing, seen from angles sometimes familiar, sometimes startling, but always illuminating. Robin Miller is a wonderfully sensitive reader. Her chapters on Dostoevsky’s use of parable and on the complex nature of conversion in his fiction are by themselves worth the price of this volume.”—Donald Fanger, Harvard University

"Patient, subtle and illuminating, this book invites readers to unfinished journeys of their own—not because any of the eight linked chapters or circuits is incomplete, but because each one lays the ground for ongoing reflection and tempts us to further voyages in Dostoevsky and beyond."—Michael Wood, Princeton University

"Besides offering a number of insightful readings of the novels, especially Crime and Punishment, Miller sheds new light on how Dostoevsky's reading of writers such as Dickens and Rousseau filtered into his own fiction. . . . Miller's book provides a rich, nuanced account of Dostoevsky's art and influence. . . . Highly recommended."—Choice

"Each chapter in Miller's book offers a swarm of stimulating ideas and profound insights. Particularly illuminating are the discussions of Dostoevsky's narrative technique."—Carol Apollino, Slavic and East European Journal

"[A] beautifully written study. . . . Miller's deep understanding of Dostoevsky's narrative strategies and of his double-edged psychology combined with her own poetic wisdom spark epiphanies in her readers."—Deborah A. Martinsen, Christianity and Literature

Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title from 2008.
ISBN: 9780300120158
Publication Date: November 14, 2007
272 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
8 b/w illus.
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