André Gide once said that Feodor Dostoevsky “lost himself in the characters of his books, and, for this reason, it is in them that he can be found again.” In Dostoevsky: The Author as Psychoanalyst, Louis Breger approaches Dostoevsky psychoanalytically, not as a “patient” to be analyzed, but as a fellow psychoanalyst, someone whose life and fiction are intertwined in the process of literary self-exploration.
Raskolnikov’s dream of the suffering horse in Crime and Punishment has become one of the best known in all literature, its rich imagery expressing meaning on many levels. Using this as a starting point, Breger goes on to offer a detailed analysis of the novel, situating it at the pivotal point in Dostoevsky’s life between the death of his first wife and his second marriage. Using insights from his psychological training, Breger also explores other works by Dostoevsky, among them his early novel, The Double, which Breger relates to the nervous breakdown that Dostoevsky suffered in his twenties, as well as Notes from Underground, The Possessed, The Idiot, The Brothers Karamazov, and so forth. Additionally, details from Dostoevsky’s own life—his compulsive gambling, his epilepsy, his philosophical, political, religious, and mystical beliefs, and the interpretations of them found in existing biographies—are analyzed in detail.
“A riveting and brilliant analysis of an artist in the process of healing himself. I loved it and so will anyone interested in Dostoevsky, in literature, in the human condition.”—Judith Viorst, Author, Necessary Losses
“Breger moves comfortably between biography and interpretation of Dostoevsky’s major works, with brilliant chapters on Crime and Punishment, Notes from Underground, and the significance of Dostoevsky’s gambling. His Appendix on epilepsy is likely the most concise and lucid statement...in the applied psychoanalytic literature of the past decade.” —Murray M. Schwartz, The Psychoanalytic Quarterly
About the Author:
Louis Breger is Professor of Psychoanalytic Studies Emeritus at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. He is a practicing psychotherapist and psychoanalyst, and is the Founding President of the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Los Angeles. He has written other books and a number of scholarly articles on psychoanalytic topics including the acclaimed biography, Freud: Darkness in the Midst of Vision and From Instinct to Identity.