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on 12 April 2012
I'm only 100-odd pages through this but felt compelled to leave a quick review. I'd only ever heard of this book as A Raw Youth (Constance Garnett's translation) and the fact that it's peculiarly difficult to get hold of on amazon (under that title anyway) is matched by the peculiarly scant criticism of this book (in the criticism I've read anyway). I'm four volumes into Frank's truly excellent biography and critical analysis of Dostoevsky and his work and was starting to feel as though not having read A Raw Youth was a bit of a shameful lapse on my part, so I bought it thinking it must be a novella. Of course, it isn't a novella, it's actually quite a big novel. Written between The Devils and Karamazov it's fairly easy to understand why it's considered by many (Frank included) as a bit of a curio, its tone and preoccupations at odds with the remarkable quintet of masterpieces it 'interrupts'. But it's wonderful. I have a good 400 pages left to go and that's certainly ample time for things to take a nose-dive, but if it continues in the same vein as it's begun then I'll continue to be utterly enraptured. It's furiously compelling, very amusing, and delivers a portrait of adolescence so keenly convincing it bears comparison to Catcher in the Rye. That's all I'll say for now, but I was delighted that after thinking this would be a necessary plugging of the gaps in my reading I actually found it to be a remarkable, wonderful, joy to read. Recommended on the highest possible terms.
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on 10 March 2013
Dostoevsky's novel 'Podrostok' has been translated under several titles, including 'An Accidental Family'. It was highly accidental that I ended up with a copy of this excellent translation by Pevear/Volokhonsky because I had originally been put off reading the book by mixed, and some quite negative, reviews.

For what it is worth, my own opinion is that 'The Adolescent' is not in the same league as 'Crime and Punishment' or 'The Brothers Karamazov', though the writing is as stylish and well-crafted as anything I've read by Dostoevsky.

The plot is pretty wild (No bad thing necessarily!), even for Dostoevsky, and it moves along at a pace. He maintains a sense of mystery throughout, holding back a fair bit of information. For me, that made the book relatively difficult to read, but I expect some readers would enjoy that.

I would hesitate to recommend this book to many people. Ultimately, I'm not sure that it was entirely worth the effort, but I certainly think that it was meticulously written, and that parts of it will grab the attention of Dostoevsky fans.
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on 19 September 2014
Three stars. Have I really just given Dostoevsky three stars?!?

Firstly, stylistically, this is concordant the narrative genius of any of his other novels. He sets puzzles and invites us to outguess him much as Nabokov describes the reader/writer chess game. We are invited to see through the protagonist's naivety to what is really going on behind the curtain (where Arkady's assumptions are nearly always faulty). It has all of his rambling introspective anecdotes and is very recognizably a Dostoevsky novel.

The problem, I found, is in the characterization and ideology, which Dostoevsky always casts hand-in-hand. There are no extreme ideas here, and so his characters never seem to occupy a space. I think Dostoevsky might have been aiming at realism and 'family life', and as a result this is a very different book to his others. But as a realist novel it falls off the peg a number of times because of a series of strange 'fictitious' coincidences (e.g. the chance meeting with an old school friend) and threads that don't seem to be finished (e.g. Arkady's 'idea').

This is worth reading if you are a fan, but worth leaving on a back-burner if there are other Dostoevsky novels that you haven't read.

Dan Crawford
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on 26 August 1999
Written before The Brothers Karamazov in the later part of his life, this novel again demonstrates the Russian masters ability to meld heavy characterizations with the Dark vs. Light moral and spiritual conflict. Again somewhat autobiographical(as many readers are already aware of this pattern), the story concerns a 19 year old bastard son of a cultured nobleman and a simple peasant wife. Determined to break his awkward social position, since he is the son of an ambiguously respected man yet cannot carry his namesake, Arkady begins an intellectual and moral quest to discover more about himself, his dichotomic parents and the people most closely with which they are entangled. Yet beginning to burn beneath the surface are other queries as well: his attraction to an older woman whom he knows is maybe linked romantically to his father, his mysterious "other father"(his mothers' serf husband until her affair with Arkady's father ended that, yet he carries this man's name), and a dangerously rebellious group of young men that succeed in rousing his moral and intellectual curiosity. Beautifully complex in its many layers, I believe this particular novel of Dostoevsky most vividly displays the authors genius. He is an artist who can only be compared to the best the world has ever known. Russia's most prolific artist ever, PERIOD. Also, not to go unmentioned, Macandrews' translation is by far the best I've ever found for any of Dostoevskys work, PERIOD. If you have never gotten around to reading any of the many great 19th century Russian novels, I recommend this novel with the highest possible honors.
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on 20 December 2010
I'm afraid this is not really anything that can be described as a proper review and exists solely to balance I think the very harsh impression the overall 3 star rating may give regarding this book. There is no way that a mature Dostoevsky work, even if not quite of the level of his greatest works, is of a mediocre standard. The broadest vehicle of the plot may be somewhat tenuous but there is an awful lot of cause not to ignore this work. Four and a half stars for me, and if you're going to read it, as always with Dostoevsky go with the Pevear Volokhonsky translation.
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on 5 December 2015
Very pleased with product
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on 8 May 2007
I am in the process of going through all of dostoevsky'e works. By the time i got through the first part i could scarce understand what was going on. There was a huge range of characters going back and forth and one could never quite grasp who they were and what they stood for. In fact this work relies heavily on dialouge but there are times when u cant even understand who is interacting with whom.

I would only recommend this book for someone with a serious academic interest who has plenty of time to go through it slowly and carefully.
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