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Master Of Petersburg Paperback – 2 Sep 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (2 Sept. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099470373
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099470373
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 259,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

J.M. Coetzee's work includes Waiting For the Barbarians, Life & Times of Michael K, Boyhood, Youth, Disgrace and Diary of a Bad Year. He was the first author to win the Booker Prize twice and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003.

Product Description

Review

"Hugely impressive-Coetzee never puts a foot wrong" (Daily Mail)

"Anyone interested in the power of fiction to move us and extend our sense of life should get hold of this book" (Spectator)

"An intense and deep book" (Guardian)

"A stunning account of the relation of writers and events-A harsh and eloquent critique of the human condition. It is also a subtle, powerful, superbly written personal testament. The bleakness of vision is tempered only by the certainty that life can be material for art. This is art. The case is proven" (Sunday Times)

"Both a gripping mystery and a meditation on the relationship between art and life" (BBC History Magazine)

Book Description

A fascinating insight into the mind of Dostoevsky, as imagined by Coetzee – Nobel-Prize winner and one of our greatest living writers.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By CFB London on 23 Feb. 2003
Format: Paperback
The Master of Petersburg is high-quality literature, and I can understand why it would be particularly enjoyable for lovers of Dostoevsky. However, for me this was the least enjoyable of the four Coetzee books I have read. I felt too much time was spent on the main character's inner turmoil and confusion, much of it in obscure passages, making the book painful to read in parts. Coetzee's writing is superb as usual, the story is interesting and a number of profound themes are developed, but I did not find myself gripped to the story as I have been in Coetzee's other books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Duarte Queiros on 11 May 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I could hear my heart beating in the last chapter of the book, in which Dostoievsky perceives his transformation into Stavrogin. The birth of the most enigmatic character of all of his works is depicted in this thrilling book where Coetzee succeeds to impersonate Dostoievsky without getting rid of his own self. The Russian master could not expect a more passionate hommage than this.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 Feb. 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
JM Coetzee is definitely an audacious author. Delving into the mind of such a complex man as Dostoevsky is no straightforward undertaking, but Coetzee carries it off brilliantly. A meditation/fantasy recreation of some of the pivotal moments in FMD's life this does take some liberties with the truth, but that's not the point. Dostoevsky was a true artist working in the medium of the novel, and this book is a piece of art in itself, blending fact and fiction into a mesmerising look at the mechansims of creative genius. I read this and then read 'The Devils' afterwards, and reading the latter was greatly enriched. Coetzee doesn't write straightforward plot-driven novels, they are more like complex dreams put on paper with many convoluted undertones and hidden meanings but they are well worth getting into.
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Format: Paperback
Coetzee depicts a man, Dostoevsky, desparately trying to understand how to accept the loss of someone he considered a son and how to make sense of the circumstances in which this has happened and handle the pain and suffering. The interactions with those that were close to his son in Petersburg and the issues that they in turn are prioritizing amidst the backdrop of revolutionary action makes for a fascinating read. The writing is eloquent and the changing characteristics of Dostoevsky, while initially hard to grasp given the generalisation of expecting consistency in characters, provide a convincing insight into someone struggling to deal with the world around them and how to pay true respect to someone they loved in such an environment. The period is bleak but the story is enlightening and make for a thoroughly worthwhile read.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 29 Mar. 2001
Format: Paperback
Knowledge of Dostoevsky, particularly C&P and the Brothers K is essential to understand this magnificent work. Additionally, some knowledge of is personal life will definately leave you less confused at the beginning of the book.
Once you pass the historical aspects, this book becomes rapidly an exploration of the most fundamental ideas, desires, instincts and terrors of the human experience. Coetzee wrestles out the same profundity that Petersburg's Master himself did. Coetzee's stark and ruthless prose has always matched perfectly his subject matter, but in this book the marriage is at it's highest point since 'Barbarians'.
Coetzee is probably the greatest author of ideas living, possibly the greatest since Dostoevsky. This book is a jewel. This book is an indictment. This book is a ravishment.
Coetzee is the reason we read. Coetzee is the reason we fear to read.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Pierson on 3 April 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was most of the way through this when I learnt that Coetzee's own son died aged Twenty-three shortly before the writing of The Master of Petersburg. The novel's protagonist is Fyodor Dostoyevsky, gone for Petersburg to collect the effects of his son- an apparent suicide. It's a dark novel, written in Coetzee's typically compact, incisive manner. It's not an easy read, simply because Coetzee never lets up: the novel is about a great writer overcome with grief, overcome with a need to assemble some coherence from the conflicting theories surrounding his son's death. As a novel in it's own right it is compelling, deeply moving and indelible. As an essay on the great Russian writer, on the people and the times his works portrayed, it is an exemplary and unforgettable piece of writing. The grief, the compact pain which floods across these pages, is a perfect partner to the life and work of Dostoyevsky.

Dostoyevsky's novels, particularly The Devils- a work which is intrinsically bound to Coetzee's own- give us some of the most complex and tumultuous characters in all of literature. The revolutionary Russian youth examined in Master of Petersburg are the embodiment of all the painful confusion Dostoyevsky faced. It's a youth disgusted with the complacency of their elders, a youth bent on destruction, a destruction which shirks even tying itself to theory. Destruction for its own sake. This mind-set is that of a people so morally confused and so bitter at their own confusion- illuminating as it does the ineluctable obviousness of man; if you have no reason for doing as you do, then why do you do it? If you wilfully contradict that rigid question, then you are merely acting out of childish stubbornness. Where does that leave the radical mind?
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