Top positive review
22 people found this helpful
on 8 April 2006
Dostoevsky wrote 'TG' very quickly because he needed to pay of his own gambling debts during the period in which he was completing 'Crime and Punishment'. Consequently, although it contains all the classic motifs often found in Dostoevsky's work, it is very short and hurried, and reads like a 700 page novel condensed into a 100 page novella. It is 'Dostoevsky Lite', with all the elements but not the depth of his other books.
'TG' is the story of a few days in the life of the household of a Russian General who has relocated to a gambling town in Germany (Roulettenberg) and frittered his fortune away. The protagonist, a ward of the general's family, is a classic Dostoevsky lead man, feverish and passionate, as he becomes embroiled in complex love triangles and money wrangling within the general's entourage, and attempts to divert them from the twin disasters of financial and social ruin. The arrival of the general's mother (whose legacy is a potential source of redemption for the family) brings the family crises to a head. All of this, despite the brevity of the book, is told with the wonderful characterisations and relative complexity of Dostoevsky's other works.
Although I described 'TG' as 'Dostoevsky Lite', this isn't necessarily a negative. It didn't, for me, have anything like the impact of his longer novels, but conversely it was a quicker and easier read than his other books. I think that anyone wishing to dip their toe in Dostoevsky but who is intimidated by his reputation, could do a lot worse than starting with 'TG'. Likewise, anyone already a fan will not be disappointed. He has written better books, much better, but 'TG' was a very good book by anyone else's standards.