Overview

Poor Folk (Russian: Бедные люди, Bednye Lyudi), sometimes translated as Poor People, is the first novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, which he wrote over the span of nine months between 1844 and 1845. Dostoyevsky was in financial difficulty because of his extravagant living and his developing gambling addiction, and although he had produced some translations of foreign novels, they had had little success and he decided to write novel of his own to try to raise funds.
Inspired by the ...
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Poor Folk

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Overview

Poor Folk (Russian: Бедные люди, Bednye Lyudi), sometimes translated as Poor People, is the first novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, which he wrote over the span of nine months between 1844 and 1845. Dostoyevsky was in financial difficulty because of his extravagant living and his developing gambling addiction, and although he had produced some translations of foreign novels, they had had little success and he decided to write novel of his own to try to raise funds.
Inspired by the works of Gogol, Pushkin, Karamzin and similar stories from English and French authors, Poor Folk is written in epistolary form, consisting of letters between the two main characters, Devushkin and Varvara. As is the case with many naturalistic books, the novel showcases the life of poor people, their relationship between rich people of the upperclass, and poverty in general. A deep but odd friendship develops between them until Varvara loses her interest in literature. The brutal Mr. Bykov proposes to her and she loses her interest in communicating with Devushkin. Devushkin, a prototype of the classical clerk found in many works of naturalistic literature at that time, retains his sentimental characteristics; Varvara abandons art, while Devushkin can not 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 proposed by Dostoyevsky for issue in the Fatherland Notes, the epistolary novel was published in the almanac St. Petersburg Collection on January 15, 1846. The novel became a huge success nationwide. Parts of it were first translated by German Wilhelm Wolfsohn, published in an 1846/1847 magazine. The first English translation was provided by Lena Milman in 1894, with an introduction by George Moore and cover art design by Aubrey Beardsley.
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940016594569
  • Publisher: Randall Sanders Publishing Co.
  • Publication date: 6/10/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 316 KB

Meet the Author

Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky (Russian: Фёдор Михайлович Достоевский) was a Russian novelist, journalist, and short-story writer whose psychological penetration into the human soul had a profound influence on the 20th century novel.

Dostoevsky was the second son of a former army doctor. He was educated at home and at a private school. Shortly after the death of his mother in 1837 he was sent to St. Petersburg, where he entered the Army Engineering College. In 1839 Dostoevsky's father died probably of apoplexy but there were strong rumors that he was murdered by his own serfs. Dostoevsky graduated as a military engineer, but resigned in 1844 to devote himself to writing. His first novel, Poor Folk appeared in 1846.

In 1846 he joined a group of utopian socialists. He was arrested in 1849 and sentenced to death, commuted to imprisonment in Siberia. Dostoevsky spent four years in hard labor and four years as a soldier in Semipalatinsk.

Dostoevsky returned to St. Petersburg in 1854 as a writer with a religious mission and published three works that derive in different ways from his Siberia experiences: The House of the Dead , (1860) a fictional account of prison life, The Insulted and Injured, which reflects the author's refutation of naive Utopianism in the face of evil, and Winter Notes on Summer Impressions, his account of a trip to Western Europe.

In 1857 Dostoevsky married Maria Isaev, a 29-year old widow. He resigned from the army two years later. Between the years 1861 and 1863 he served as editor of the monthly periodical Time, which was later suppressed because of an article on the Polish uprising.

In 1864-65 his wife and brother died and he was burdened with debts, and his situation was made even worse by gambling. From the turmoil of the 1860s emerged Notes from the Underground, a psychological study of an outsider, which marked a watershed in Dostoevsky's artistic development.

In 1867 Dostoevsky married Anna Snitkin, his 22-year old stenographer, who seems to have understood her husband's manias and rages. They traveled abroad and returned in 1871. By the time of The Brothers Karamazov (1879-80), Dostoevsky was recognized in his own country as one of its great writers
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