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

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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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: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,430,903 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"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

About the Author

Michael Katz is Starr Professor Emeritus of Russian and East European Studies at Middlebury College.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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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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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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1 Comment 33 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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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