My son loved Notes From The Underground, I just found it very introspective, with no discernable narrative. It might be a bit of a Marmite read. I took both The Gambler and Crime and Punishment mostly as political; allegory. So as well as working as a character, Raskalnikof has to carry the burden of Dostoevsky's conviction; that, basically, the end does not justify the means. And that reason (in the age of reasopn) has it's limitations, especially when it collides with traditional morality. I still sympathised with him, but did end up wondering if he, and I, might be sociopaths. We spoke about War and Peace before I think. I certainly wouldn't have expected to sympathise with a bunch of Russian artistos either, but I absolutely did. Maybe because Tolstoy is such a compassionate, humane writer. I don't see it as a book with separate themes; each theme is one thread that is woven into the richest tapestry in all of literature. All of literature besides Shakespeare, anyway, and Shakespeare never attempted to fit all of creation in a single play - though I think he pretty much encompassed everything in creation over the course of his life. I would call War and Peace a flawless, complete recreation of a complex multi-faceted world. Someone,can't remember who, once said that if the world itself could write, it would write like Tolstoy. But I didn't read it til I was over 50, that might have helped. Decades ago, I hasd a conversation with a Catalan farmer who was raving about Cervantes' Don Quixote. He was insistent that I wait til I was over 50 before reading that one (I haven't, yet, so I don't know if he was right). As for Solzhenitsyn's nationalism (notwithstanding almost all Russians are prone to intense nationalist sentiment anyway); I wouldn't let any writer's dodgy political views put me off reading them. Ezra Pound is probably the outstanding poet of a very blessed generation, for example; Joseph Conrad's views on race wouldn't really stand close scrutiny (though I think it would be wrong to call him racist).