Joseph Frank is Professor Emeritus of Slavic and Comparative Literature at Stanford. He is the author of Dostoyevsky: The Mantle of the Prophet, 1871–1881. (June 2008)

In Stalin’s Trap

The Russian writer Konstantin Simonov, circa 1947
Orlando Figes has a well-deserved reputation for bringing new light to bear on wide-ranging subjects concerning Russian history and culture. His book on the Russian Revolution saw this cataclysmic event as “A People’s Tragedy,” and in Natasha’s Dance he surveyed the remarkable efflorescence of Russian culture in all its forms …

Idealists on the Run

In the fall of 1922, a specially chartered German boat departed from the port of St. Petersburg (then Petrograd), followed six weeks later by another; on board they carried the cream of the Russian intelligentsia of the pre-revolutionary period. Many of the involuntary passengers had participated in the agitation that …

In Search of Dostoevsky

During his all-too-brief life (he died at the age of fifty-six), Dr. Leonid Tsypkin was indistinguishable from many other middle-class professionals in the Soviet Union. He was born in Minsk of Jewish parents, both of them doctors; part of the family was wiped out in the Stalin terror, part after …

Subversive Activities

Lydia Iakovlevna Ginzburg is not a name widely known outside Russia except to Slavists, but this excellent translation of perhaps her most important book, On Psychological Prose, should help to introduce her to a larger public. Until a few years before her death in 1990, when she was eighty, one …

The Triumph of Abram Tertz

So much change has taken place in the Soviet Union in the last twenty-five years, particularly in the last ten, that it is difficult now even to imagine the excitement produced by the arrest, trial, and sentencing of two young writers, Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel, in February 1966. Their …

The Voices of Mikhail Bakhtin

Twenty years ago, the name of Mikhail Bakhtin would hardly have been known outside Russia except to Slavic scholars, and even then only to those with a special interest in Dostoevsky. At the present time, however, the works of Bakhtin are exercising a considerable influence among literary critics and cultural …

The Master Linguist

No scholar of modern times has done more to revitalize the study of what has come to be called “the human sciences”—and particularly the science of language—than Roman Jakobson; and it is good to have this summary of his career, in the form of question-and-answer sessions with his former student …

Dostoevsky’s Conversion

No period of Dostoevsky’s life is more mysterious and enigmatic than the four long years that he spent in the prison camp at Omsk between 1850 and 1854. Everyone is aware—and of course, Dostoevsky said so himself—that these years produced a profound “transformation of his convictions” which reshaped his ideas …

His Jewish Problem

David Goldstein’s Dostoyevsky and the Jews is a valuable study on a subject which cannot help being of interest to any reader of Dostoevsky, and it goes a long way toward lighting up one unhappy aspect of this complex, baffling, and self-contradictory genius.[^*] One may fear, at first sight, that …

A Raw Deal

David Magarshack’s book is the latest attempt to write a full-scale biography of Dostoevsky in English, and it is far and away the inferior of two earlier rivals in the field by E. H. Carr and Avrahm Yarmolinsky. Mr. Magarshack’s fat volume has one merit and one only—it includes a …