From jacket flap:
With the help of the notes to A Raw Youth, we are able to follow the slow and painful process by which Dostoevsky comes to terms with the political and moral atmosphere of his age.
In some respects A Raw Youth is a failure. This novel on disorder in society is doomed by the very nature of the author’s talent. Dostoevsky can give us magnificent portrayals of individual disorder, but unconvincing pictures of general disorder. Thus, although his desire to write about social chaos is realized, his novel is less successful than the great novels he produced before and after A Raw Youth. The Notebooks for “A Raw Youth” are a record of what Dostoevsky could and could not accomplish.
Mr. Wasiolek in his introduction comments, “Some of the compositional disorder of the novel came about, I am convinced, because there was no great character to impose order by his will and personality.” The notebooks are the history of the transformation of Versilov from a patchwork of motifs to potentially one of Dostoevsky’s great characters. Had he permitted Versilov to take command of the novel as Versilov tries to do throughout the notes, Dostoevsky might have achieved the greatness that A Raw Youth promised.