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The real-life demons that drove Dostoevsky to write his masterpiece

The creditors whom Kevin Birmingham relied on to write “The Sinner and the Saint” — a dexterous biblio-biography about how “Crime and Punishment” came to be born — include a formidable array of scholars as well as Dostoevsky himself. Yet the biographer betrays no sign of panic. The tale he tells is rich, complex and convoluted, and though he must have struggled in constructing it, Birmingham writes with the poise and precision his subject sometimes lacked. (Though it worked out all right for him.) Read more

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