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Poor folk Textbook Binding – 1982

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Product details

  • Textbook Binding: 143 pages
  • Publisher: Ardis (1982)
  • ISBN-10: 0882337548
  • ISBN-13: 978-0882337548
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,188,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky was born in Moscow in 1821, the 2nd of 7 children. From 1849 to 1854 he lived in a convict prison, and in later years his passion for gambling led him deeply into debt. In 1880 he delivered his famous address at theunveiling of Pushkin's memorial in Moscow; he died six months later in 1881.

David McDuff has translated a number of works for the Penguin Classics, including The Idiot, Crime and Punishment and the Brothers Karamazov, and Tolstoy's The Kreutzer Sonata and Other Stories.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 6 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This bundle of short stories shows clearly the literary evolution of Dostoyevsky in his early writing years.
The first two stories, `Poor Folk' and `The Landlady', have essentially the same theme as "White Nights' (not in this bundle).
The differences between the three treatments illustrate perfectly this evolution: from foggy, indirect, tearful prose, over generating intriguing questions marks and confusing psychology, to direct, sharp storytelling with unexpected U-turns and psycho-shocks; in one word, from expressing emotions to arousing them in the heart of the reader.

Poor Folk
Dostoyevsky's first short novel (in letters) is a sentimental, colorless and in no way a subtle text, where literature is `a picture and a mirror, an expression of emotion, a subtle form of criticism, a didactic lesson and a document.'
However, art constitutes an essential part of the story. When the vulgar opinion that `novels were the ruin of young girls, that books were harmful to morality', overwhelms a young girl, the relationship is broken.

The Landlady
This story, where a poor lodger falls in love with the young wife of an old man, is not a typical Dostoyevsky text, because it uses some kind of `supernatural' elements, like the confusing mental nature of the female protagonist. It contains, however, a typical Dostoyevskyan wrap-up.

Mr Prokharchin, Polzunkov
`Mr Prokharchin' is a sharp psychological portrait of `an unconventional capitalist'.
`Polzunkov' is a superb persiflage of a corrupt bureaucracy, where a bribe-taker under blackmail is forced to pay a bribe himself. An April Fool's Day joke gives him an opportunity to take revenge on the blackmailer.

This bundle is not a good introduction to Dostoyevsky's work.
Far better are other short novels/stories like `White Nights', `The Gambler', `The Eternal Husband' or `Uncle's dream'.
But, highly recommended to all Dostoyevsky fans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Oddsocks on 17 Aug. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Early Dostoyevsky. Very enjoyable for anyone who is a Dostoyevsky fan. I would certainly recommend this modest little tome. If you are not familiar with Dostoyevsky's work, this could whet your appetite.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 36 reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
An excellent intro to Dostoevsky: a glimpse into a poor soul 28 Nov. 1999
By Igor Otshelnik - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Poor Folk" is a brilliant piece, especially considering that it was written by a 22-year-old Dostoevsky. I don't know how he came up with such characters (none of them resemble himself, except, perhaps, Pokrovsky) or how such a young writer could possibly fathom the depths of the suffering souls he himself created. One will immediately sympathize with Makar Andreich Devushkin in his striving to please and serve his beloved Varenka and ... well I'd rather not tell you the end. The other heart-wrenching little story inside "Poor Folk" is Varenka writing about her past (it impressed me more than any other works by Dostoevsky, I have read almost all of them). Again, I won't go into details, but this very short story about Pokrovsky and his poor father will forever be embedded in my heart! I honestly couldn't contain my tears while reading it. It probably just reminded me so much of myself and my own father! But.. you will definitely enjoy the book and will become a better person, at least for a while! Also recommended: "C&P" and "The Brothers Karamazov" (both transalted by R.Pevear & L.Volokhonsky, NOT by C. Garnett!) by Dostoevsky and Lev Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina", "Master and Man", "Forged Coupon" and, of course, "War and Peace" (trnsl. by A. Maude or Leo Wiener, again, NOT by C. Garnett).
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Poor Folk 11 Oct. 2001
By Bill Churchhill - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
_Poor Folk_ is Dost.'s first novel and it was a real success. On the basis of
this short novel (under 150 pp) a leading Russian literary critic at the time
(Belinsky) prophesied that Dost. would become a famous literary star. He
was certainly correct.
_Poor Folk_ is written in the form of letters between a middle aged man and
a girl/young woman (no ages are ever given). Both are very poor, simple folk.
The high degree of pathos, poverty and suffering make this a heart wrenching
read. Add to that Dost. high literary skill and you have a real classic. There
is a high degree of genuineness and hard hitting simplicity so characteristic
of Dost. But it goes beyond a mere tear jerker. The great themes of
forgiveness, human respect and dignity and relation to God are important
components of the novel. The relationship between the man and young
woman is exemplary in its love and devotion and pure chasteness (and a
testimony to the high morality of Dost., a real breath of fresh air in our
oversexed culture). It is truly that of a father and only daughter (though they
were not related at all; though never stated it was probably poverty which
prevented marriage).
Here are a few quotes to whet your appetite:
"How we wept together, he and I. We thought about you. He's a very nice
man, a good, kind man with deep feelings. I am sensitive to it all myself,
dearest, that's why all this happens to me - because I am so sensitive to it
all. I know my debt to you, my pet. Once I had got to know you, I began, first
of all, to know myself better and to love you. Before I knew you, my angel, I
was lonely and spent my life asleep, as it were. These villians of mine said
that even my very person was repulsive, and held me in disdain and I began
to hold myself in disdain, they said I was stupid and I really thought I was
stupid, but when you appeared you lit up my whole dark life and my heart
and soul were lit up, and peace of mind was mine and I realized that I was no
worse than others, it was just that I didn't shine in any way, there was
nothing outstanding about me, no style, but I was still a man, my heart and
thoughts were a man's. Now that I feel persecuted and humiliated by fate, I
have given myself over to the denial of my own dignity, and weighed down by
my misfortunes I have lost heart. Now that you know everything, dearest, I
humbly beg you to take no further interest in these affairs, because my heart
is breaking, and I feel sorrowful and burdened."
"You and your sad thoughts make me so despondent, my dearest. I pray to
God for you, dearest, how I pray to him!"
"Yesterday I repented before the Lord God with tears in my eyes, begging
his forgiveness for all my sins during this unhappy time"
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Not a conventional love story 21 Nov. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This moving story is presented as a series of letters between two fantastically poor Russian lovers. I have never before been confronted with the reality of such poverty as was faced by the down-trodden copywriter and gracious seamstress of pre-revelutionary St Petersburg. Dostoyevsky's intimate portrait of devotion despite the constant battle of poverty charts the everyday battle for survival and dignity. He conveys with particular profundity the humiliation faced by those at the bottom of the social pile - the characters are respected by no one, and worst of all, not even by themselves. A terrible, brilliant read.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
an okay place to start, but not the best of Dostoevsky 21 Dec. 2005
By selffate - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a huge Dostoevsky fan. And I mean BIG I like to DEVOUR his works. I have read a good portion of his novels, and different translations by other translators of the same works for comparison. That being said once you have read his later books which he is most noted for (Crime and Punishment, Brothers K, Notes.. etc..) you realise that his early days were times of just getting his feet wet. His stories and writings are drasticaly different in theme and narrative after the time he got out of prison. In short they are superior to his earlier works (I think).

That being said, "Poor Folk" was the first story that launched Dostoevsky's career. It is a GREAT story of two poor individuals who write to each other in letters telling of their everyday common struggles, and of a clerks desire to court the seamstress he writes to. The way the story is told (by letters) is ingenious, and Dostevsky nails the despair and depths of powerlessness of his characters with a "T". Such fine characterisation would be a trademark of his later novels.

That being said I was all set for some of the other stories in this addition to show some other insights. In the end they turned out Really dissapointing, even far more so than past short stories of Dostoevsky's I have read.

"The Landlady", is a fairly unremarkable story and didn't have me drawn to the characters into it. It also suffers the same problem as the next story in this edition "Mr. Prokharchin".

"Mr. Prokharchin", is just a long winded story that never feels like it is going to end. and like "The Landlady" it contains too much narrative. This was easily the worst piece of work I have ever read by Dostoevsky for me.

"Polzunkov", is actually by retrospect quite good, but it comes towards the end of this edition and is quite short. So by the time I was finished I kind of felt cheated if I could explain my feelings any other way.

That being said I have no complaints for the small dollars I shelled out for this book, and Poor Folk without question is a story every Dostoevsky nut should read. 4 1/2 stars for Poor Folk, 2 stars for The Landlady, 1 1/2 stars for "Mr Prokharchin", and 3 for "Pulzunkov". So the edition gets a 3, but if you just want to buy this for the main story it is nearly a 5 a real winner!, hope that helps you all!
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Star Crossed Lovers...Or Not 30 Jun. 2003
By Molon Labe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As my introduction to Dostoyevsky, I chose his first novel, written at age 24, as the logical starting place. Poor Folk is a very compact, easy-to-read volume and is a fascinating work.
Dostoyevsky tantalizes the reader with his format. The entire book is a series of letters between 47 year-old Makar Alexievitch and the subject of his infatuation, a much younger Barbara Alexievna. As the two live within sight of each other and meet often, the letters leave an impression akin to that of seeing a series of snapshots from a movie rather than watching the entire production. Many details of their lives and particularly their pasts are alluded to but never fully divulged. The most powerful result is that the reader is left to grapple with the true nature of the relationship between the two fantastically poor correspondents.
The author does a wonderful job of relating the harsh reality of life in 19th-century St. Petersburg slums and the depersonalized, marginalized and tenuous existence of the working poor. This stark setting and the desperate circumstances of the protagonists provide the stage for one of the overarching themes of the book-the foundational source of self-esteem. When money, social stature and career success are completely lacking, is love from another the final refuge for salvaging a sense of self worth? To what lengths will one go to preserve this refuge and to where may one turn when abandoned by it are central questions weaved by Dostoyevsky.
The other subtle theme behind the story is the circumstances necessary for true character revelation. Irony abounds in Poor Folk, with Barbara's character being it primary vehicle. One might expect that harsh circumstances, bitter privation and abject poverty would shed the social covering to reveal one's disposition, but Barbara's unexpected financial good fortune reveals her true nature. Her reaction to sudden affluence reveals her relationship with Makar to have been driven wholly by a desperate need for a patron rather than genuine love and affection.
This is a great read and whets the appetite to tackle Dostoyevsky's more famous works.
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