I'm currently reading Max Beerbohm's Zuleika Dobson.

When the Duke suddenly pours out his soul to Zuleika, his regrets and love so exaggerated that readers can't help but cringe and laugh, I thought it absolutely had to be a throwback to Dostoevsky and his (socially) ridiculous characters in Notes from Underground, The Double, and although more restrained, The Idiot, The Possessed, and The Brothers Karamazov. It wasn't only those aspects like verbosity, but also a certain style—a grandeur, almost an admirable innocence.

But it is a fact that I, in whom pride has ever been the topmost quality, have never expressed sorrow to any one for anything. Thus, I might urge that my present abjectness must be intolerably painful to me, and should incline you to forgive. But such an argument were specious merely. I will be quite frank with you. I will confess to you that, in this humbling of myself before you, I take a pleasure as passionate as it is strange. A confusion of feelings? Yet you, with a woman's instinct, will have already caught the clue to it. It needs no mirror to assure me that the clue is here for you, in my eyes. It needs no dictionary of quotations to remind me that the eyes are the windows of the soul. And I know that from two open windows my soul has been leaning and signalling to you, in a code far more definitive and swifter than words of mine, that I love you."

Given Dostoevsky's success already in Beerbohm's early life, I believe Dostoevsky must have influenced Beerbohm significantly, if he creates such a character to me so iconic of Dostoevsky. But Googling the two names only reveal some loose articles that happen to reference both authors, not any interviews or writings of Beerbohm regarding Dostoevsky. Maybe even Beerbohm found Dostoevsky disagreeable, and was satirizing Dostoevsky's caricatures of suddenly-impassioned men—I don't know.

Are there any interviews or writings regarding Beerbohm's opinion of Dostoevsky? Or was Dostoevsky so omnipresent in the late 1800s that documenting his influence on any author would have been superfluous? I'm also open to any analyses that show influence (or non-influence), even if not explicitly said or written by Beerbohm.

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    I think it's a mistake to limit this question to interviews or writings from Beerbohm. Influence can be shown in a lot of ways, including (as you've done in this question) a careful comparison of two texts to see if one author borrowed ideas from another.
    – user111
    May 16, 2017 at 17:39
  • @Hamlet - As an amateur, and coming from a place (SO) where subjective questions get insta-closed, I was hesitant. But yes, I'm open to any analyses that show influence (or non-influence), even if not explicitly said or written by Beerbohm. May 16, 2017 at 17:54
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    I suspect you'll find that Literature is much more open to questions with some degree of subjectivity than SO is. Of course they do need to be good subjective, not bad subjective, but literary analysis is by its very nature often a very subjective topic to discuss.
    – Rand al'Thor
    May 21, 2017 at 16:13


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