Joseph Frank’s five volume biography of Dostoevsky has been condensed to a single volume of about a thousand pages, available as a Kindle book, so I jumped at the chance.

I have just finished the second part of the book (i.e., corresponding to the second volume of the series), and my most potent impression so far is of Mikhail Mikhailovich Dostoevsky. Mikhail was Feodor’s older brother. Much of the material in the books consists of letters that Feodor wrote to Mikhail.

The universal impression of the letters is that Feodor is constantly requesting money, overestimating his own potential, deluded with the possibilities of future success, nagging and angling for every conceivable advantage, and, in short, being a perfectly terrible person. Mikhail comes across as a very patient person but not a very wise person, consistently supplying Feodor with money from his small cigarette manufacturing business, one assumes to the detriment of his own family, and certainly to the detriment of his own finances.

And yet, it’s Feodor Mikhailovich Doestoevsky. In 1859, my honest judgement would have been that Mikhail was pouring his money into a hole, supporting his loser brother when he should have cut him off to fend for himself. But my 2013 is that Mikhail was supporting Feodor Mikhailovich Doestoevsky. Totally worth it! How many people can been said to have done something so significant with their lives and finances?

Whom have I supported lately?