– THE RUSSIAN SOUL –
writer. Dostoevsky’s quest to engage creatively with the corrupting effects of the new ideologies from Western Europe, that he perceived were contaminating Russian youth, would lead to the writing of Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and The Devils, and culminate with his last novel The Brothers Karamazov in 1881. His Write r ’s Diary was part of this spiritual crusade. Dostoevsky wanted to show a different way forward for Russia, one that was rooted in the Christian values of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Dostoevsky’s immediate impulse for embarking on A Writer’s Diary was a desire to come into closer contact with his readers. By 1862 his reputation was secured with the publication of his semi-autobiography Notes from the House of the Dead, the first fiction to deal with the realities of Russia’s penal system in Siberia. But there were further vicissitudes for him to contend with, including epilepsy, family mortalities, punitive publishing contracts and the constant and humiliating threat of destitution. A journal he optimistically set up with his brother Mikhail in 1861 was closed down in 1863, and its replacement foundered after Mikhail’s death a year later, leaving him with heavy debts. These were soon compounded by losses from the pathological addiction to gambling Dostoevsky acquired during his visits abroad, and it was in order to escape his creditors that he remained in Western Europe from 1867 until 1871 with his second wife Anna Snitkina. He had plenty of ideas for fiction that he still wanted xiv