Back in April, I posted a note from our friend Dale Nelson, about a record of a meeting between Dostoevsky and Dickens, which showed up in a recent book.
Since then a lively discussion has been going on in the comments. A couple different contributors have shown up to question the authenticity of that reference. It appears that the published account lacks corroboration, and there are reasons to doubt whether, although Dostoevsky did visit London in 1862, the two men ever actually spoke to one another.
Commenter Robert Newsom conveys the following statement from The Dickens Fellowship’s The Dickensian web site:
“Dickens and Dostoyevsky: A Notice
“In the Winter 2002 issue of The Dickensian (vol 98, pp.233-35) we published an article on Dickens and Dostoyevsky which contained remarks apparently made by Dickens in an interview with Dostoyevsky in London in 1862. The occasion was allegedly recalled by Dostoyevsky in a letter of 1878 which was transcribed in a journal cited by the article’s author. Subsequent researchers have so far not been able to locate the journal cited nor indeed to verify that such a journal exists. The author was the unfortunate victim of a very serious road accident some time ago, and is not in a condition to respond to further enquiries on this issue.
“We are therefore bound to issue a caution that the authenticity of this letter by Dostoyevsky remains to be proven, in spite of the fact that it has gained currency in a number of recent publications on Dickens.”
Mr. Newsom goes on to say, “Michael Slater had previously withdrawn his account of the alleged meeting from the paperback edition of his biography.
“All very mysterious.”
Thanks to everyone who has participated in this illuminating discussion.