Poor Folk I.

Last year I wrote about the experience of coming upon Pushkin via the back door of his own past rather than the usual front door opening onto the future; now I’m having the same experience with Dostoevsky. I’m pretty sure if I read his first work, Бедные люди [Poor Folk], after having read, say, the Brothers K, I’d be impatient with it, alert to all the ways it falls short of mature greatness. I’m very glad I’m not doing it that way, because that would be unfair both to the author and to my own reading pleasure. As it is, coming at it after a thorough immersion in the literature of the 1830s and early ’40s, I can see exactly why its first readers were so excited, why Grigorovich and Nekrasov shed tears over it and rushed to Dostoevsky’s apartment at four in the morning to congratulate him, and the next day brought it to Belinsky, who was equally thriled — as he told Annenkov, “You see this manuscript? I haven’t been able to tear myself away from it for almost two days now.”

The first startling thing about it is that it’s an epistolary novel. That has no bearing on quality, of course, but it’s attention-getting, because the epistolary novel, so wildly popular in Western Europe during the 18th century that parodies like Fielding’s Shamela (1741) had made it pretty much impossible to take seriously by the end of the century, never really caught on in Russia. The examples I’m aware of are Nikolai Emin’s Roza, poluspravedlivaya i original’naya povest [Rose, a half-true and original novel] (1786) and Igra sud’by [The game of fate] (1789); Aleksandr Druzhinin’s Polinka Saks (1847); Evgenia Tur’s Zakoldovanny krug [The enchanted circle] (1854); Ekaterina Letkova’s Oborvannaya perepiska [An interrupted correspondence] (1902); and Viktor Shklovsky’s Zoo, ili pisma ne o lyubvi [Zoo, or Letters Not about Love] (1923). Toss in Pushkin’s “Roman v pis’makh” [A novel in letters] (a few pages he worked on in the autumn of 1829 and never finished or published) and a few short stories by Turgenev (“Perepiska” [A Correspondence], 1856), Kuprin (“Sentimental’ny roman” [A sentimental novel/romance], 1901), and Bunin (“Neizvestny drug” [An unknown friend], 1923), and you still don’t have much of a tradition. (Of course, I’m sure there are examples I’m unaware of, and will appreciate any that are pointed out in the comments.)

But in the usual epistolary novel, the letters are a vehicle for conveying plot in a particular way (“Dear X, My father has forbidden me to see Y! What shall I do?”); here, the letters actively frustrate the reader’s desire to know what’s going on. The aging Makar Devushkin is corresponding with the considerably younger Varvara Dobrosyolova; we know that he can see her window across the courtyard from his, we know that they are fond of each other, and we know that she keeps asking him to come visit and he keeps ignoring the requests and telling her to take better care of herself. But who are these people, why are they corresponding like this, what are their backstories? For a long time we have no idea; we have only their words, their endless, repetitive, subtly varied words, reminiscent of the unstoppable verbalizing of Beckett characters buried up to their necks and holding our attention like so many Ancient Mariners. Eventually Dostoevsky gives in and provides a connected text Varvara gives Makar to fill in her background, and I’m guessing the novel will settle into a more predictable groove (I will report further when I finish it, if not before), but for the moment let me provide a brief snippet from Varvara’s text that gives a hint of the mastery to come:

Я целый день надрывалась от раскаяния. Мысль о том, что мы, дети, своими жестокостями довели его до слез, была для меня нестерпима. Мы, стало быть, ждали его слез. Нам, стало быть, их хотелось; стало быть, мы успели его из последнего терпения вывесть; стало быть, мы насильно заставили его, несчастного, бедного, о своем лютом жребии вспомнить! Я всю ночь не спала от досады, от грусти, от раскаянья.

I tore myself up all day from repentance. The thought of how we children through our cruelties had brought him to tears was intolerable to me. We, therefore, had awaited his tears. We, therefore, had wanted them; therefore, we had managed to exhaust his last reserve of patience; therefore, we had compelled him forcibly, the poor unhappy man, to remember his cruel lot! All night I couldn’t sleep from vexation, from sorrow, from repentance.

The nesting of the four-times-repeated стало быть ‘consequently, therefore’ between the two occurrences of раскаянья ‘(from) repentance’ is beautiful — and I can’t find any translations that reproduce it. What is this dread of repetition? At any rate, it’s a product of the same literary mind that came up with the unforgettable opening to Записки из подполья (Notes from Underground): “Я человек больной… Я злой человек. Непривлекательный я человек.” [I am a sick man... I am a wicked man. I am an unattractive man.] It is impossible in English to reproduce the way in which the pronoun я ‘I,’ the noun человек ‘person, man,’ and the three adjectives are shifted around to form a kaleidoscopic array of sentence patterns, but in the original it is immensely satisfying. I like this fellow Dostoevsky, and I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next!

Comments

  1. Elessorn says:

    I wonder if it is impossible. Not playing devil’s advocate, though–I mean the question seriously. Maybe it is impossible to reproduce this particular effect, if that means hitting upon something at once idiomatically sound in English yet also stylistically cognate with the original. But it seems to me that a lot of what feels hard in translating to English (from Japanese in my case) has to do, not with a lack of idiomatic resources per se, but with the constraints we ourselves impose upon those resources.

    At least I know I often end up dismissing what feels like the more straightforward reworking in English of a foreign idiom because it codes, even to me, as something time-shifted out of the nineteenth century. There’s no help for it of course, as we write for the living. And no doubt reduced freedom in word order is a spur to new heights. But in moments of weakness, I do find myself thinking. “ah, but for a way to move things around more! Without sounding like bad Shakespearean pastiche!”

  2. One recent example of a novel in letters is Sergei Shishkin’s “Письмовник” (A Book of Sample Letters). It’s a strange book, both traditional and modernist. It took me some time to warm to it. If you want to enjoy it, don’t read anything about it, at all, otherwise the effect will be spoiled.

  3. Thanks for the suggestion and the warning!

  4. It is impossible in English to reproduce the way in which the pronoun я ‘I,’ the noun человек ‘person, man,’ and the three adjectives are shifted around to form a kaleidoscopic array of sentence patterns, but in the original it is immensely satisfying.

    Impossible ? I can’t judge the effect of the original Russian, but there are many resources for iteration in English: “I am a sick man. A wicked man. An unattractive one”. Provided, that is, one is not hell-bent on reproducing the word count and mirroring every syntactic feature.

  5. It is difficult not to be bent in that way. Every time I need to translate from German, I must remind myself to relax and go with the flow.

  6. I hate all epistolary novels.

    I mean all. Don’t know why. I’d rather read a phone contract.

  7. Alon Lischinsky says:

    It is impossible in English to reproduce

    It shouldn’t be too hard to reproduce it in Spanish, though, where hyperbaton is par for the course in literary language. Which made it the more surprising that, out of the two translations I could preview on Google Books, none had even attempted to reproduce it:

    Soy un hombre enfermo… Soy un hombre malo. Soy un hombre antipático. (trad. Alejandro Ariel González)

    Soy un enfermo. Soy un malvado. Soy un hombre desagradable. (trad. Mariano Orta Manzano)

    Rafael Cansinos Assens’ celebrated version tries a bit harder, but the reproduction is rather loose:

    Soy un hombre enfermo. Soy malo. No tengo nada de simpático. (trad. Mariano Orta Manzano)

    I wonder how literary is the effect in the original Russian. A folksy Rioplatense version might begin “Soy un hombre enfermo. Un mal tipo. Un asco de hombre, soy.”

  8. Alon Lischinsky says:

    Strike the second “(trad. Mariano Orta Manzano)”, of course.

  9. The repetition of стало быть in the original is lovely. Thank you for sharing. I’ve read Dostoevsky extensively, but only White Nights in Russian.

  10. Impossible ? I can’t judge the effect of the original Russian, but there are many resources for iteration in English: “I am a sick man. A wicked man. An unattractive one”. Provided, that is, one is not hell-bent on reproducing the word count and mirroring every syntactic feature.

    Well, see, it was the syntactic feature I was explicitly talking about. Literally, the Russian says “I person sick. I wicked person. Unattractive I person.” You can’t do that in English. You can, of course, translate the meaning. It’s easy to translate poetry, too, as long as you ignore the things that make it poetry.

  11. marie-lucie says:

    What is the background for the three sentences? Trying to translate them into French, I realized that my first attempt was hinting that the speaker was a criminal, but perhaps that was wrong, or said ironically. I intend to try again, but I don’t know enough Russian to be aware of the possible connotations of the adjectives either.

    I may have read the work in French, but in any case that would have been many years ago and I would have forgotten the details.

  12. It’s not a matter of some subtle connotations of the adjectives; it’s just a bitter man describing himself stylishly. For the general plot/idea, this may refresh your memory. (There don’t appear to be any French versions even partially viewable online, which is bizarre.)

  13. marie-lucie says:

    Merci, LH. I don’t think I have read the book, although I read two or three other Dostoevskys at the time. I’ll think about it some more.

  14. Hat: Literally, the Russian says “I person sick. I wicked person. Unattractive I person.” You can’t do that in English. You can, of course, translate the meaning.

    I thought translating the meaning was what translating involves ?!

    The Russian says, literally: “Я человек больной… Я злой человек. Непривлекательный я человек.” There is nothing ungrammatical about that. The English sentences “I person sick. I wicked person. Unattractive I person.” are ungrammatical. This alone makes it highly unlikely that they could convey the things the Russian ones do – whatever those things might be.

    You might well use those English sentences to turn that passage from Dostoevsky into a crib for Russian learners. Many people traditionally call such a thing “literal translation”, but I think using “literal” in this way is a terrible mistake. That kind of “translation” is what leads people to imagine that furriners talk funny.

    The questions that a translation must answer for himself are: what is being conveyed, adumbrated, symbolized etc, at each point in the text, and in the text as a whole. What features of his language has the author intentionally used, and what features are simply unavoidable in that language ?

    I don’t know if a Russian reader would experience the Russian sentences as “kaleidoscopic”. I surmise that he would, if well-read and reflective, react in a different, more concrete way to the various word orders, which are in principle no big deal in Russian. My surmise is based on analogy with German, where word order per se, “long words” etc are equally no big deal.

    Non-German speakers may enthuse and gripe about German sentences, just as German speaker do. But each group enthuses and gripes about different things. The former marvel at peanuts and strain at gnats, the latter – well, you get the picture.

  15. it’s just a bitter man describing himself stylishly.

    Ah, now that is easily done in English. For examples see Watt, Molloy, Malone Dies …

  16. I thought translating the meaning was what translating involves?

    Well, literal meaning (that is, meaning at the sub-word level) is lost, but may be recreated by a stroke of fortune. Descriptive meaning can always be brought over (within reason: Akkadian has no word for “microwave oven”, and many languages have no words for “four”), but may or even must be sacrificed to other kinds of meaning (analogical, moral, anagogic …). The polysemous theory of meaning is no longer a theory, but an established fact.

  17. just a bitter man describing himself stylishly
    the description makes a better sense when the 4th sentence is added – it’s the anamnesis of a chronic liver disease patient.

    Last year I wrote about the experience of coming upon Pushkin via the back door of his own past
    Don’t you find it peculiar that the two correspondents of Poor Folk discuss the same Pushkin’s book, The Tales of Belkin, in their letters?

    And then there is “Count Nulin” another “forerunner” work of Pushkin which almost makes an appearance in the closing, anxiety-riddled lines of Poor Folk. Dostoevsky must have strongly linked the hated falbala (another obscure Gallicism in Russian) not just with women’s vanity but with the broader equivalence of the contemporary girls’ education with fraud and waste (and what poor Varvara considers the initial cause of her family’s ruin). Dostoevsky’s “émigré Falbala” in his “Двойник” (The Double, which immediately followed The Poor Folk), the metaphor of girls’ “pansion” instructor and of the vanity of classy education in general, is lifted directly from Pushkin’s hilarious lines of Nulin.

  18. marie-lucie says:

    LH,Stu: Beckett is just the author that comes to my mind as a model for this type of first-person colloquial writing.

    About word order: even in languages with supposedly “free” word order (Russian, Latin, German too though to a lesser extent) the same words in different order are not fully equivalent. There is usually a neutral order, and any divergence calls attention to a specific part of the sentence. A simple example in English is I don’t like him (neutral) vs Him I don’t like (special focus on him, usually contrasting with another person). In order to translate the Russian sentences into a language which does not use a simple change of word order, an equivalent has to be found to convey possible focus differences. For French I suggest something like:

    Moi, je suis un malade. Je suis un méchant. Un type antipathique, voilà
    ce que je suis.

    I am not too happy with méchant which means ‘mean, cruel’ rather than ‘wicked’ which has the connotation of ‘sinful’. But je suis un pécheur ‘I am a sinner’ would be too religious and suggest repentance rather than psychological dissatisfaction. However, méchant can also be used in a religious context, as in Dieu séparera les bons et les méchants ‘God will separate the good and the wicked’. Without un, je suis méchant would definitely mean ‘I am cruel’. With un, it is more like ‘I belong with the sinners’.

  19. it is immensely satisfying to see an appreciation of Dostoyevsky’s style. So many point out that he is rough, almost unfinished. But he isn’t, he is as untidy and verbose as natural speech. It puts a lot of strain off reading him.

  20. I am not too happy with méchant which means ‘mean, cruel’ rather than ‘wicked’ which has the connotation of ‘sinful’.

    That’s actually closer to the connotations of the Russian word than English wicked.

  21. The English sentences “I person sick. I wicked person. Unattractive I person.” are ungrammatical. This alone makes it highly unlikely that they could convey the things the Russian ones do – whatever those things might be.

    Yes, I know that (for Chrissake). I was providing them as a trot so you could understand what I was talking about.

    I surmise that he would, if well-read and reflective, react in a different, more concrete way to the various word orders, which are in principle no big deal in Russian.

    I surmise that native speakers notice poetic effects of assonance, repetition, and the like in their own language just as well as foreigners do. What, you think that because word order isn’t fixed in Russian, Russian speakers don’t notice if it’s used well?

  22. Falbala has a twin in English furbelow, by folk etymology < dialectal French (or Occitan?) farbella ultimately < Italian falda, which in turn is a borrowing from Germanic, cognate with English fold. Though dictionaries define it as “a pleated or gathered piece of material; especially a flounce on women’s clothing” (thus m-w.com), it’s mostly used without specific reference in the phrase frills and furbelows, meaning ‘unnecessary complications’.

  23. Italian falda, which in turn is a borrowing from Germanic, cognate with English fold
    Russian фалда (with the first syllable stressed) (mostly meaning any coattail, but also a specific type of a fold of a garment) is derived from German Falte as well, but supposedly through the intermediary Polish form falda (?) rather than through Italian. The Italian falda came into Russian in a different form, фальда, specifically meaning a detail of Pope’s clothing.

  24. marie-lucie says:

    JC: falbala(s)

    In French I only know this word as plural. You can see the typical falbalas in contemporary representations of 19th century upper-class women, especially when dressed up for a ball or the opera, wearing immense skirts made up of superposed flounces, often with additional lace or other textile ornamentation, The city of Lyon, long a textile manufacturing centre for luxury textiles, especially silks, became even more prosperous when fashion demanded such an abundance of expensive fabrics.

    As for the origin, the word may have to do with Italian falda ‘skirt’, but a change of fald- to farb- presents problems. The change l > r or vice-versa is frequent enough in Romance languages, but d > b is not.

    The TLFI gives franco-provençal farbella and Provençal (the Occitan dialect of that name) farbello, both stressed on the penultimate. These words look suspiciously like an Italian phrase far(e) bello/a ‘make beautiful (masc/fem)’. It is known that at least in the early years Lyon (situated in the fr-p area) imported Italian textile workers to help in developing the industry. Adopting such a word for textile embllishments, later French speakers such as dressmakers would have stressed it on the last syllable, which makes an original ending in [a] likely. (In spite of almost all the Oc dialects using [o] for the unstressed final vowel, official Occitan spelling uses a, continuing the medieval spelling: an original farbella whether from Italiian or fr-p would have ended up as [farbello]. I am not sure whether current fr-p uses [a] or [o])).

  25. Homer Mershon says:

    “Я человек больной… Я злой человек. Непривлекательный я человек.” [I am a sick man... I am a wicked man. I am an unattractive man.] It is impossible in English to reproduce the way in which the pronoun я ‘I,’ the noun человек ‘person, man,’ and the three adjectives are shifted around to form a kaleidoscopic array of sentence patterns, but in the original it is immensely satisfying. I like this fellow Dostoevsky, and I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next!

    One of the first syntactic features taught in Russian is the absence of the verb “to be” in the present tense. The usual example is Он — солдат. “He is a soldier.” There isn’t even a present tense conjugation of the verb быть. Thus, the examples in Russian are perfectly normal. They sound false in translation because am/soy/suis cannot be omitted from the subject pronoun.

    In English, the effect would be created with the use of “me”, the objective pronoun. Thus:
    “Me– a sick man. Me — a meany. Repulsive — me”. I think it could even be done in French as “Moi — malade. Moi — méchant. Répulsif — moi.” I don’t know whether the effect would be the same as Russian, but it works as a literal translation.

  26. Michael Katz argues for using “spiteful” instead of “wicked” for the translation of “злой” in the latest issue of Dostoevsky Studies. “Wicked” was introduced by Pevear/Volokhonsky, but it feels wrong as you continue reading the text. It is a very graceful article, and he gives credit to his student who came with the best translation of the beginning.

  27. marie-lucie says:

    HM: It is always possible to write word-for-word equivalents between the parts of a sentence in two languages, in order to show how it is put together. As a linguist, if I wanted to indicate a literal translation (for instance, placing equivalents under each line of words, I would write: Je [suis] malade, etc, the [ ] indicating that the words between them are added, not in the original. Moi would not be the equivalent of “ya”, because “ya” is the Russian subject pronoun and moican never be the subject of a French sentence.

    Moi malade, etc sounds like baby talk – the speech of a child between one and two years old, perhaps. Alternately, like a French Creole or a poor imitation thereof.

    In English, I think that the examples would call to mind “Me Tarzan, You Jane”. The word that corresponds to “ya” and je is I, not me. So the literal, word-for-word translation would be I [am] sick (or more precisely I [am a] sick [man]l

    Répulsif : This French word is about physical repulsiveness (ugly, dirty, etc), while I think that the character is talking about how his personality repels other people and causes them to stay away or be unfriendly. This is what antipathique means in French (the opposite of sympathique, which attracts people to be friendly).

  28. Я человек больной… Я злой человек. Непривлекательный я человек.

    Against my best judgement, let me try this: I am a man who’s sick. I am a wicked man. Unattractive man, I am.

  29. Michael Katz argues for using “spiteful” instead of “wicked” for the translation of “злой” in the latest issue of Dostoevsky Studies.

    I prefer “spiteful” myself, but it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other — there is no satisfactory English equivalent of злой, so no matter what you choose you’re losing something valuable. That’s why I keep telling people to learn Russian…

  30. Even in English, there are some fine, strange things in Poor Folk.

  31. Злой is antonymous to добрый, with the words’ huge span. Bad man – good man. Bad luck – good luck. So in Dostoyevsky’s phrase it could simply be bad man or evil man.
    But wicked stepmother is злая мачеха.

  32. One of the recent events in the French publishing world is the rediscovery of Dostoievski, thanks to André Markowicz, who has undertaken to retranslate all Dostoievski’s masterpieces in French. Here is his version of the opening to Notes From the Underground (Les Carnets du sous-sol) :

    “Je suis un homme malade… Je suis un homme méchant. Un homme repoussoir, voilà ce que je suis.”

  33. Sounds good to me, but I await marie-lucie’s verdict.

  34. Злой is antonymous to добрый, with the words’ huge span. Bad man – good man. Bad luck – good luck. So in Dostoyevsky’s phrase it could simply be bad man or evil man

    The words do have a wide span, but it’s much narrowed when it’s spoken about a realspace man. Злой (man) only spans mean / spiteful / bitter in common speech. The “high” meanings like “wicked” or “evil” are restricted to fairy-tale and myth usage.

  35. marie-lucie says:

    “Je suis un homme malade… Je suis un homme méchant. Un homme repoussoir, voilà ce que je suis.”

    In French (and other Romance languages), adjectives can be used as nouns, so that you don’t need to use a noun which is obvious, especially with very frequent adjectives: Je suis un malade means ‘I am a sick man’, and the masculine article is enough to imply that the speaker is male. But I don’t know whether this is done in Russian or not (I know Russian does not use articles, but it shows gender, etc on the adjective). In any case, by repeating the same structure in the first two sentences, the translator does not make any attempt at syntactic diversification, unlike the Russian sentences. The last sentence is better: I see that he used the same focusing construction as I did: voilà ce que je suis, lit. ‘that’s what I am’. As for un homme repoussoir, I think that un homme is indeed warranted here, because un repoussoir does not automatically call to mind a male. Un repoussoir, lit. ‘a repelling thing’ is often used about a person whose physical aspect is (relatively) repellent, such as an ageing woman with her face covered in heavy makeup, or also an unattractive person chosen in deliberate contrast with an attractive one (this happens with some attractive but insecure girls who more or less consciously choose unattractive ones as friends). But after malade and méchant the word does work with the connotation of the verb repousser ‘to repel’, which is not necessarily about physical appearance. In the context, un homme repoussoir as a characterization of the man suggests psychological rather than physical repulsiveness. I give the translation a B.

    LH: Michael Katz argues for using “spiteful” instead of “wicked” for the translation of “злой” in the latest issue of Dostoevsky Studies. – I prefer “spiteful” myself

    After reading the various words proposed as English translations, as well as this latest French one, I am still not convinced that méchant is the best word, especially in the context of ‘repellent’ in some way. Méchant implies cruelty, which may be hidden under a pleasant appearance, while the next sentence is about the effect the character has on other people. After reading ‘spiteful’ I thought of the French adjective hargneux, which implies bitterness shown by a person’s facial expression and especially speech, the latter when responding to others. (La hargne implies hatred of others, made obvious by attitude and speech). If so I could suggest:

    Je suis un malade … Je suis un homme hargneux. Un homme repoussoir, voilà ce que je suis.

    The word homme is not needed in the first sentence. It could be omitted in the second one, but sounds good there, as well as semantically bridging the two sentences. It needs to be there in the third one.

  36. marie-lucie says:

    la hargne … hatred of others

    I should have said bitterness and hatred, not just of others but of one’s circumstances, etc. Sometimes people who are hargneux are depressed or suffer from some other mental illness which makes them hate everything and everyone, and show it in word and deed.

  37. Michael Katz argues for using “spiteful” instead of “wicked” for the translation of “злой” in the latest issue of Dostoevsky Studies. “Wicked” was introduced by Pevear/Volokhonsky, but it feels wrong as you continue reading the text. It is a very graceful article, and he gives credit to his student who came with the best translation of the beginning.

    What is his student’s translation? I have Katz’s translation of Notes from the Underground. He has a brief translator’s note about the difficulty of translating these three sentences and he says that he borrowed his translation of the opening from Constance Garnett: “I am a sick man… I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man.”

    My first Dostoevsky experience was reading my dad’s copy of Garnett’s translation of Notes from the Underground when I was in high school. I fell in love from the opening sentences. A couple years later I picked up the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation and it failed to put me under the same spell. I think it had a lot to do with the word “wicked”.

  38. marie-lucie says:

    I am an unattractive man : Out of context, unattractive seems to mean the opposite of handsome, which is surely not what the speaker intends.

  39. des von bladet says:

    I am a man who’s somewhat poorly
    A man of some malignity
    An unattractive man, I am,
    Who does not like green eggs and ham.

  40. Nice segue from Gilbert & Sullivan to Dr. Seuss !

  41. Indeed!

  42. Michael Katz’s article is in Dostoevsky Studies, Vol. 17 (2013) pp. 113-119 and is called “A Brief Note on The Translation of the Opening Lines of Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground. He analyzes 10 different translations of the opening and explains in depth all the meanings of the Russian “злой.” He agrees with Languagehat that “there is simply no English word that conveys both meanings of the Russian original.” He adds, though, that “the moral dimension of the word is crucial, but in this text it functions only at a secondary level and should certainly not be brought to the fore until the moment of the hero’s crisis in Part Two.”

    The student’s name is Jesse Bennett, who happened to take Katz’s translation seminar. His version is “I’m a sick man. A spiteful man. Repulsive.” Katz plans to borrow this version and incorporate it in his own translation.

  43. That’s an excellent translation, finding a usable equivalent for the structural variety of the original. Well done, Jesse!

  44. here, the letters actively frustrate the reader’s desire to know what’s going on

    This description reminds me of Dorothy Sayers’s only non-Wimsey novel, The Documents in the Case, in which you get to see exactly what the characters think of each other and themselves, and a pretty unpleasant lot they are, too. It’s a mystery, but not a detective story because there is no real detective, only a sort of avenger of blood who (being modern) doesn’t actually do the deed himself.

Trackbacks

  1. […] mid-century in his march through Russian prose, I expect there’ll be more of the former, like this excellent post on Dostoevskii’s Poor Folk (Бедные люди, 1846), with many good serious and […]

Speak Your Mind

*