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Devils (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 7 Oct 1999

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Product details

  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition edition (7 Oct. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192838296
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192838292
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 3.6 x 13 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,389,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky was born in Moscow in 1821, the second of a physician's seven children. His mother died in 1837 and his father was murdered a little over two years later. When he left his private boarding school in Moscow he studied from 1838 to 1843 at the Military Engineering College in St Petersburg, graduating with officer's rank. His first story to be published, 'Poor Folk' (1846), was a great success.

In 1849 he was arrested and sentenced to death for participating in the 'Petrashevsky circle'; he was reprieved at the last moment but sentenced to penal servitude, and until 1854 he lived in a convict prison at Omsk, Siberia. In the decade following his return from exile he wrote The Village of Stepanchikovo (1859) and The House of the Dead (1860). Whereas the latter draws heavily on his experiences in prison, the former inhabits a completely different world, shot through with comedy and satire.

In 1861 he began the review Vremya (Time) with his brother; in 1862 and 1863 he went abroad, where he strengthened his anti-European outlook, met Mlle Suslova, who was the model for many of his heroines, and gave way to his passion for gambling. In the following years he fell deeply in debt, but in 1867 he married Anna Grigoryevna Snitkina (his second wife), who helped to rescue him from his financial morass. They lived abroad for four years, then in 1873 he was invited to edit Grazhdanin (The Citizen), to which he contributed his Diary of a Writer. From 1876 the latter was issued separately and had a large circulation. In 1880 he delivered his famous address at the unveiling of Pushkin's memorial in Moscow; he died six months later in 1881. Most of his important works were written after 1864: Notes from Underground (1864), Crime and Punishment (1865-6), The Gambler (1866), The Idiot (1869), The Devils (1871) and The Brothers Karamazov (1880).



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"We are indebted to Michael R. Katz for an accurate and imaginative new rendition of the greatest political novel ever written."--Maurice Friedberg, University of Illinois"I am delighted to have this new translation available for students -- a highly readable translation and an affordable edition. This is long overdue!"--Byron Lindsey, University of New Mexico

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First Sentence
IN setting out to describe the recent and very strange events that occurred in our hitherto completely undistinguished little town, I am compelled by my own lack of talent to begin from some time back, that is, with a few biographical details about the talented and highly esteemed Stepan Trofimovich Verkhovensky. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 Aug. 2001
Format: Paperback
Probably the best constructed novel I have ever read. For the first half the reader is left wondering what the hell is wrong with all the characters in the book - they appear to exist in an odd realm where nothing and nobody connects. This leads to two chapters of incredibly funny satire in the middle of the book - the visit to the holy fool, and the meeting of the radicals. However, then Dostoevsky starts to shine a light on the hidden agendas of the characters, thus explaining the bizarre behaviour of the early chapters, and sets the reader up for perhaps the darkest climax to a novel in literary history. Excuse the hyperbolic language, but this novel is that good.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Kendall on 30 Nov. 2002
Format: Paperback
Just as Shakespeare wrote what came to be termed "problem plays" (Measure for Measure, The Winter's Tale, etc.) Dostoevsky also presents us with a novel that really doesn't fit in with the rest of the cannon. The Possessed (or The Devils or The Demons, depending on translation) is generally regarded as fourth on the list of his major works (The Brothers Karamozov, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Possessed, in descending order).
There is much to commend in this novel, including Dostoevsky's usual superb mastery of characterization. In this instance too, this Russian master makes each character come alive on the page.
One of Dostoevsky's unique qualities is his ability to create diverse, volatile, personalities who are fated to meet at the most inopportune times and in the most combustible circumstances. He builds suspense by characterization, rather than plot, then throws his combatants together in the most marvellous group scenes in literature. In The Brother's Karamazov, such a scene occurs at Zosima's Monastery, in Crime and Punishment, at the wake, in The Idiot, at Natalia's birthday party, and in The Possessed, this attribute is displayed better than ever, but particularly in the scene where Nicholas Stavrogin and Pyotr Verkhovensky make their first appearances (yes, it is almost half-way through the novel that the main characers are introduced!). Dostoevsky constructs tension as well as any novelist who ever lived.
What is often overlooked in Dostoevsky discussions, however, is the fact that he is a great comic writer, in the tradition of Gogol. If one goes by Auerbach's definition of comedy, for instance, (that a happy ending determines whether a work is tragic or comic) then Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamozov would indeed fall under this rubric.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. L. Muralidharan on 25 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
KUDOS TO OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS FOR BRINGING OUT SCHOLARLY TRANSLATION OF FYODOR'S NOVELS; THE ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF FYODORS'S NOVELS BY OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS ARE REALLY EXCELLENT, THEY BEING SUPPLEMENTED BY COPIOUS EXPLANATORY NOTES AND MASTERLY INTRODUCTIONS BY TALENTED SCHOLARS; NOW COMING TO THE NOVEL I WOULD LIKE TO MENTION THE FOLLOWING :

THE NOVELIST IS A GENIUS WHO IS CAPABLE OF DEVELOPING EVEN SMALL AND INSIGNIFICANT EVENTS INTO HIGHLY INTERESTING MATTER FOR THE AVERAGE READER; AN EXAMPLE WILL SUFFICE; WHEN THE READER IS EXPECTING EAGERLY THE FATE OF SHATOV, SUDDENLY THERE EMERGES THE FEMALE TRAVELLER ,SHSATOV'S WIFE; THIS PARTICULAR CHAPTER CONSUMES AT LEAST TWENTY PAGES OF NORMAL EVENTS WHICH DO NOT PRODUCE ANY SUSPENSE OR INTEREST IN THE READER; HOWEVER AT THE END OF THE CHAPTER THE UTTERANCE MADE BY SHATVOIA'S WIFE THAT MR.STROVIGN IS A WORST CRIMINAL INDICATES A SUSPENSE WHICH IS REVEALED ONLY IN THE NEXT CHAPTER ; I PARTICULRLY ENJOYED THIS LEVEL OF SUSPENSE STUFFED IN BETWEEN THE TWO CHAPTERS; THE CHAPTER RELATING TO FULL NIGHT'S WORK IS ALSO THRILLING TO READ AND I FOUND IT EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO PUT DOWN THE BOOK TILL I COMPLETED THE CHAPTER; THE BOOK IS WORTH THE MONEY PAID BY ME

WITH REGARDS

MURALIDHARAN MADRAS
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Depressaholic on 8 April 2006
Format: Paperback
'The Devils' was Dostoevsky's reaction to the growing forces of atheism and socialism in nineteenth century Russia. He follows a group of young intellectual radicals who descend on a Russian town and begin to foment upheaval in apparent preparation for a coming revolution (which would actually occur 40 years after the book was written). The group, led by Peter Verkhovensky, engage in the spread of political leaflets, social scandal and eventually murder. A returning local, Nicholas Stavrogin, a classic Dostoevsky character, is Verkhovensky's idea of the perfect messiah for his revolution, but Stavrogin is a tortured soul and near madman. As the plot (which is as labyrinthine as all of Dostoevsky's long books) unfolds, and the town is slowly torn apart, we see that, behind all of Verkhovensky's political ideals, he is actually little more than a malignant troublemaker.
'The Devils' is Dostoevsky's reactionary novel. He had little truck with the radical intellectuals springing up around Russia, and his contempt for them and their ideals is portrayed in this book. The title comes from a biblical story in which a devil is cast out from a possessed man and enters a herd of swine, who are then driven to destruction. Verkhovensky is the possessed, and his band of revolutionaries are the swine. Like all of his long novels, 'The Devils' is peopled by a wonderful, believable cast of characters and dramatic set-piece scenes. There is sense of breathlessness throughout the book and, despite being long, I read it very quickly, unable to put it down for long stretches. There is also heart-rending sadness and a typical, shocking conclusion, all of which gave 'The Devils' the feel of a thriller, albeit one built on a weighty premise and dealing with serious issues. This is the seventh Dostoevsky I have read, and it is as good as any of the others, which is about as strong a recommendation as I can give.
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