In his late work Nietzsche professed profound admiration for Dostoevsky, calling him “the only psychologist […] from whom I had something to learn” (TI “Skirmishes” 45). He also said, characteristically complicating matters, “I am grateful to him in a remarkable way, however much he goes against my deepest instincts” (KGB III/5, letter 1151). There is, however, another well-established way of connecting the two authors, due to the Symbolist writer and critic Dmitri Merezhkovsky, which regards Dostoevsky as preemptively refuting Nietzsche's teachings through his portrayal of the nihilistic protagonists of his great novels.

Paolo Stellino takes up both these ways of connecting the two authors (the latter of which, as he shows, has been remarkably influential in literary circles). They must evidently be approached in different ways: questions of influence have a place in the first approach but not the second. Accordingly, Stellino divides his book into two parts,...

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