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This review is from: Poor Folk and Other Stories: "Poor Folk"; The "Landlady"; "Mr Prokharchin"; "Polzunkov" (Classics) (Paperback)
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.
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.
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.