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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