The Brothers Karamazov is a passionate philosophical novel set in 19th century Russia, that enters deeply into the ethical debates of God, free will, and morality. It is a spiritual drama of moral struggles concerning faith, doubt, and reason, set against a modernizing Russia, with a plot which revolves around the subject of patricide. Dostoyevsky composed much of the novel in Staraya Russa, which inspired the main setting. Since its publication, it has been acclaimed as one of the supreme achievements in world literature.
Inspired by the works of Gogol, Pushkin, and Karamzin, as well as English and French authors, Poor Folk is written in the form of letters between the two main characters, Makar Devushkin and Varvara Dobroselova, who are poor second cousins. The novel showcases the life of poor people, their relationship with rich people, and poverty in general, all common themes of literary naturalism. A deep but odd friendship develops between them until Dobroselova loses her interest in literature, and later in communicating with Devushkin after a rich widower Mr. Bykov proposes to her. Devushkin, a prototype of the clerk found in many works of naturalistic literature at that time, retains his sentimental characteristics; Dobroselova abandons art, while Devushkin cannot live without literature.
Contemporary critics lauded Poor Folk for its humanitarian themes. While Vissarion Belinsky dubbed the novel Russia's first "social novel" and Alexander Herzen called it a major socialist work, other critics detected parody and satire. The novel uses a complicated polyphony of voices from different perspectives and narrators. Initially offered by Dostoyevsky to the liberal-leaning magazine Fatherland Notes, the novel was published in the almanac, St. Petersburg Collection, on January 15, 1846. It became a huge success nationwide. Parts of it were translated into German by Wilhelm Wolfsohn and published in an 1846/1847 magazine. The first English translation was provided by Lena Milman in 1894, with an introduction by George Moore, cover art design by Aubrey Beardsley and publication by London's Mathews and Lane.
Complete table of contents:
THE QUEEN OF SPADES, by Alexsandr S. Pushkin
THE GENERAL'S WILL, by Vera Jelihovsky
THE CLOAK, by Nikolay V. Gogol
THE DISTRICT DOCTOR, by Ivan S. Turgenev
GOD SEES THE TRUTH, BUT WAITS, by Leo N. Tolstoy
HOW A MUZHIK FED TWO OFFICIALS, by M.Y. Saltykov (N. Shchedrin)
THE SHADES, A PHANTASY, by Vladimir G. Korlenko
THE SIGNAL, by Vsevolod M. Garshin
KNIGHTS OF INDUSTRY, by Vsevolod Vladimirovitch Krestovski
THE SAFETY MATCH, by Anton P. Chekhov
THE DARLING, by Anton P. Chekhov
THE BET, by Anton P. Chekhov
VANKA, by Anton P. Chekhov
HIDE AND SEEK, by Fiodor Sologub
DETHRONED, by I.N. Potapenko
THE SERVANT, by S.T. Semyonov
ONE AUTUMN NIGHT, by Maxim Gorky
HER LOVER, by Maxim Gorky
THE OCEAN, by Leonid Andreyev
THE CRUSHED FLOWER, by Leonid Andreyev
LAZARUS, by Leonid Andreyev
THE REVOLUTIONIST, by Michail P. Artzybashev
THE OUTRAGE--A TRUE STORY, by Aleksandr I. Kuprin
THE CHRISTMAS TREE AND THE WEDDING, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
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Written during the initial stirrings of the Russian realism movement, Poor Folk is a vivid portrait of society's "everyman." A work that is both beautiful and tragic, it unravels an unforgettable tale of the human condition.
As with a number of the author's other works, this profoundly influential novel brilliantly explores his characters' thoughts while probing the depths of the human soul. Describing in relentless detail the physical and mental suffering of the convicts, Dostoyevsky's character never loses faith in human qualities and the goodness of man.
A haunting and remarkable work filled with wonder and resignation, The House of the Dead ranks among the Russian novelist's greatest masterpieces. Of this powerful autobiographical novel, Tolstoy wrote, "I know no better book in all modern literature."
From the Trade Paperback edition.
After his great portrayal of a guilty man in Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky set out in The Idiot to portray a man of pure innocence. The twenty-six-year-old Prince Myshkin, following a stay of several years in a Swiss sanatorium, returns to Russia to collect an inheritance and “be among people.” Even before he reaches home he meets the dark Rogozhin, a rich merchant’s son whose obsession with the beautiful Nastasya Filippovna eventually draws all three of them into a tragic denouement. In Petersburg the prince finds himself a stranger in a society obsessed with money, power, and manipulation. Scandal escalates to murder as Dostoevsky traces the surprising effect of this “positively beautiful man” on the people around him, leading to a final scene that is one of the most powerful in all of world literature.
Widely considered to be the first existential novella, Notes from Underground presents the diary of a bitter, misanthropic man. The unnamed narrator has, in an act of supreme defiance, withdrawn from society completely. Formerly a civil servant, this “sick” and “wicked” man suffers from incurable ennui and forsakes all interaction. Rallying against what he perceives as human evils, like war, love, and utopianism, he exiles himself from all humanity in favor of exalted loneliness and suffering. Readers bear witness to the friends, lovers, and crippling social pressures of nineteenth-century Russia that made him this way.
Notes from Underground, which preceded masterworks including Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov, is among Dostoevsky’s finest works, melding fiction and philosophy.
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