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The best Dostoevsky books

About author

Fyodor Mikhajlovich Dostoevsky (1821) was a Russian novelist, philosopher, essayist, journalist and short story writer. He is one of the most important authors of Russian literature. His books explore human psychology in the troubled political, social and spiritual atmosphere in 19th century in Russia. Many literary critics rate him as one of the greatest psychologists in the world literature.

Dostoevsky’s work contains 11 novels, 3 novellas, 17 short stories and numerous other works. His books were translated into more than 171 languages. He was influenced by many authors including William Shakespeare, Alexandr Pushkin, Nikolai Gogol, Victor Hugo, Plato and many others.

Notes from Underground (1864)

Notes from Underground is one of the first existentialist novels. `Underground man` is actually a 40-year-old former civil servant, an unreliable narrator living in St. Petersburg.

The novel`s first section is actually his diary, a monologue set from his basement in St. Petersburg. In his diary his intellectual views fall pretty low, he attacks western contemporary philosophy about rationalism and free will. He mentioned that utopian society removes suffering and pain but man desires both things and need them to be happy.

The novel`s second section is called `Apropos on the wet snow`. Here he describes certain events which appears to destroy and sometimes renew the underground man. He acts as a first person unreliable narrator and anti-hero.

Link to purchase: Notes from Underground

Crime and Punishment (1866)

This Dostoevsky novel is a master piece, it`s his most famous book and still nowadays one of the best books of Russian literature worldwide. It is the story about a human murder and its consequences, the drama about sin and guilt. Crime and Punishment is set in time of the midst of 19th century Russia`s troubled transition to modern age. Actually this novel is one of the finest psychopathology studies of human guilt written in any language.

The main character in novel is Rodion Raskolnikov, an impoverished, sicky, but also handsome and intelligent student who lives in periphery of czarist St. Petersburg. He formulates a plan to kill pawn broker for her money. Before he commits a crime, he believes that with money he can liberate himself of poverty and also that with a murder of such an unscrupulous pawn broker will do something good. But when he actually does the crime which he planned, things become complicated. He is suffering of guilt, paranoia and disgust to what he has done.

Link to purchase: Crime and Punishment

Idiot (1868)

According to Joseph Frank the story Idiot is one the most personal of all Dostoevsky`s books. It includes descriptions of his personal ordeals such as epilepsy and mock execution and explores moral and philosophical themes consequent upon them. He wanted to show his own highest ideal, the true of Christian love to the crucible of contemporary Russian society. The tittle of the story is very ironically set as a name for the main character prince Lev Nikolayevich Myshkin who is a young, handsome man with good and open-heart. The novel explores the consequences of placing such pure innocent man to the center of conflicts, desire, passion and egoism of world societies.

After several years spent in sanitarium in Switzerland because of epilepsy, Prince Myshkin returns home to Russia. There he finds himself caught in love triangle between two women. One woman is Aglaia, beautiful, honest and naive woman, the other is Nastasya passioned, eccentric and suffering. Things became very complicated then and till the end of a story isn’t clear what will happen. In St. Petersburg prince finds himself a stranger in society obsessed with money, power and manipulation. The final scene in the novel is very strong and unexpected.

Link to purchase: Idiot

Devils (1871)

In novel Devils we are able to see into underground politics in Czarist Russia. It is a social and political satire, a psychological drama and a large scale tragedy. Demons is an allegory of potentially disastrous consequences of the political and moral nihilism which prevailed in Russia in the 1860s.

A fictional town descends into chaos when it becomes a main point of an attempted revolution whose leader is conspirator Pyotr Verkhovensky inspired by Nikolai Stavrogin. The revolutionists plan to spread destruction and anarchy throughout the country. They are morally bankrupt and prepare to achieve their goals at whatever cost including murders or incitement to suicide. At some moment they are forced to test limits of their destructive philosophy and kill one of their own to secure their mission. At that point their rage group breaks up in reciprocal recrimination.

Link to purchase: Devils

Brothers Karamazov (1880)

The novel Brothers Karamazov was Dostoevsky final masterpiece. This extraordinary novel is a passionate philosophical novel set in 19th century in Russia that enters deeply in ethical debates about God, free will and morality. It is a spiritual drama of moral struggles to concern faith, doubt, judgment and reason, set against modernizing Russia.

The story plot is about father Karamazov and his three sons; Dmitry – impulsive and sensual, Ivan – coldly and rational, Alyosha – healthy and young. It is about erotic rivalry in a series of triangle love affairs and discovering about murder which happens later in the story. Through all ripping events Dostoevsky portrays the whole Russian life, a social and spiritual striving.

Link to purchase: Brothers Karamazov

Sources: Wikipedia

Image credits: Book Depository

Luka

18 Comments

  1. I think the proposal of a selected bundle of the more relevant workpieces of a famous artist, makes the life of the potential buyer a lot more simple.

    On a single page we can have a look not only of the cover os the books suggested, but also to a small description of the book itself.

    This is a great way of having a glance and a broader understanding of the artist work rather than staying only for the more known titles.

    Great work,

    Bruno

  2. From your list, three titles are my favourites: ‘Idiot’, ‘Brothers Karamazov’ and ‘Crime and Punishment’. I remember ‘Crime and punishment’ was on the ‘must read’ in high school. It was hard to read and image to make an essay after. Dostoevski ‘s books are a hard reading as he touched psychological, philosophical, moral ideas. I’m glad you choose his books to write about.

    • Hello, thank you for your opinion and for your comment. By the way, my best of Dostoevsky books is also the novel Idiot.

  3. Woow!!! Amazing selections of best Dostoevsky novels, I’ve read Idiot and I had a great experience with it. I know any of this book is worth every penny and I’ll look into purchasing devils and read this season and I have an ample of time due to vacation. Thanks for the share.

    !! 

  4. I’m an avid book reader and these books are amazing. I’ve read Devils often as it’s interesting and a great classic. Although since I’m on holiday, I will have more spare time and want to try out some of your other recommendations. Brothers Karamazov is first on my list and then I’ll be reading Crime and Punishment after that! Cheers, what a great list.

  5. The Brothers Karamazov is still the only Dostoevsky novel I’ve read to date.  It was not light reading but, it was worth every second.  Every time I think of it I actually want to read it again but, have yet to do it. 

    One thing I remember solidly from reading this in my teen years…it left me emotionally exhausted but, in a good way. 

    The only thing better than opening a new book up is opening an old book!  

    I think I should put “notes from underground” on my book list.  Thank you Luka, I actually didn’t know he wrote short stories as well.

  6. I have only read Crime and Punishment from this list.  I think its probably the most well know.  Not really light reading – but definitely worthwhile.

    After reading this article I think I should look at some of the other books you summarize here.   I might start with Idiot, because I like the title.  Which one would you recommend?

  7. My favorite topic: books. This is a great idea and well presented. I’ve read all of his novels except the Idiot which I now have on my Kindle waiting for me and some of them I’ve read more than once. I read all the time and have since I learned read so my experience with sources for is extensive. Right now I’m getting a lot of books for my Kindle from Bookbub If you don’t know that site you should check it out.

    Again, this is an excellent topic and I wish you luck. It’s so nice to see people are interested in books and reading.

    • Really great to hear a comment from someone who likes to read. The novel Idiot is also my best. I should check the Bookbub which I didn`t visit yet. Thank you very musch for your comment!

  8. An excellent introduction to the literary world of a great author, Dostoevsky, I must say. The books that you have reviewed are indeed timeless, and some of his best works. I have read several of his books over the years, and never failed to have enjoyed them immensely.

    I look for books and authors that will cause some critical thinking to be triggered in me as I read the content, and he most certainly does that with his works. For the reader who is looking for something more than a light read that will be forgotten soon after finishing the book, grabbing his are a good find.

    The one that stands out in particular for me is his ‘Crime and Punishment.’ It really is a treatise on sin and guilt on many levels. That one stuck with me for years. There are several others that you have highlighted in your review that I have jotted down in my notes. I will be checking them out.

    I am a bookworm, and always have been since I was a young lad. Long before TV made its way to our home growing up, I was blessed to have some like-minded family members who had created a home library for us all. We had literally 10,000 books from which to choose, many such as the ones from Dostoevsky. 

    Thanks for a good review on these books, and also thanks for bringing back some memories of mhy younger days when reading such books was like traveling across the world and stepping into other’s shoes and circumstances, right from the living room at home! 

    • I really appreciate that you took your time and read my article and also that you read a lot too. Thank you so much for your comment!

  9. i want to say that all of these books are older then me…but one novel in-particular
    i fine very intreasting and it is the Crime and Punishment. Rodin Raskolnikov believe that with money he can commits crime and free himself and its this same level of intelligent that people are still using in the time and age, that they can commits crime because they money. While one part of Raskolnikov thinking i agree with, one should create wealth to liberate oneself from poverty.

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