Prison

'Clennam rose softly, opened and closed the door without a sound, and passed from the prison, carrying the quiet with him into the turbulent streets.' Introspective and dreamy, Arthur Clennam returns to England from many years abroad to find a people gripped in their self-made social and mental prisons. Against a background of government incompetence and financial scandal, he searches for the key to the affairs of the Dorrit family, prisoners for debt in the Marshalsea. He discovers through the seamstress Amy Dorrit the fulfilment of which he dreams, but only after he learns to understand his own heart. Revelation and redemption haunt Dickens's portrayal of human relations as fundamentally distorted by class and money. The swindling financier Merdle, the bureaucratic nightmare of the Circumlocution Office, and a teeming cast of characters display the inadequacy of secular morality in the face of contemporary social and political confusion. Mixing humour and pathos, irony and satire, Dickens's eleventh novel reveals a master of fiction in top form. This new edition, based on the definitive Clarendon text, includes all of Phiz's original illustrations and a wide-ranging introduction highlighting Dickens's move to more personal and spiritual concerns. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
From the acclaimed translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky comes a new translation of the first great prison memoir: Fyodor Dostoevsky’s fictionalized account of his life-changing penal servitude in Siberia.

In 1849 Dostoevsky was sentenced to four years at hard labor in a Siberian prison camp for his participation in a utopian socialist discussion group. The account he wrote after his release, based on notes he smuggled out, was the first book to reveal life inside the Russian penal system. The book not only brought him fame but also founded the tradition of Russian prison writing.

Notes from a Dead House (sometimes translated as The House of the Dead) is filled with vivid details of brutal punishments, shocking conditions, feuds and betrayals, and the psychological effects of the loss of freedom, but it also describes moments of comedy and acts of kindness. There are grotesque bathhouse and hospital scenes that seem to have come straight from Dante’s Inferno, alongside daring escape attempts, doomed acts of defiance, and a theatrical Christmas celebration that draws the entire community together in a temporary suspension of their grim reality.

To get past government censors, Dostoevsky made his narrator a common-law criminal rather than a political prisoner, but the perspective is unmistakably his own. His incarceration was a transformative experience that nourished all his later works, particularly Crime and Punishment. Dostoevsky’s narrator discovers that even among the most debased criminals there are strong and beautiful souls. His story reveals the prison as a tragedy both for the inmates and for Russia; it is, finally, a profound meditation on freedom: “The prisoner himself knows that he is a prisoner; but no brands, no fetters will make him forget that he is a human being.” 
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