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The House of the Dead (1860)

by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,059344,503 (3.93)1 / 104
Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

In 1849, renowned Russian thinker and novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky was sentenced to execution for his subversive political beliefs. As he awaited his turn in front of the firing squad, Tsar Nicholas I sent a message commuting the writer's sentence to a period of exile in Siberia. He spent the next four years there engaged in hard labor. Dostoyevsky's gripping novel The House of the Dead is based largely on his own experiences in a Siberian labor camp.

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 Author Theme Reads: Dostoyevsky: The House of the Dead8 unread / 8tomcatMurr, June 2009

» See also 104 mentions

English (25)  Spanish (3)  French (2)  Portuguese (1)  Catalan (1)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (34)
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
There is a sentence from Memoirs From The House Of The Dead, which summarizes this entire book neatly: "Here I am, however, trying to classify the whole prison into types: but is this possible?"

Even though this book has been described as the "least Dostoevskian of his works", the mind-numbing precision of Dostoevsky's human psyche analysis still pervades this book strongly, through Alexander Petrovich's observations of the prisoners going about their daily lives in penal servitude. Not all is gloomy and dry though - Dostoevsky's a great narrator as well and he easily breathes personalities and humanity into his characters, some of who also possess a roguish, riotous wit. I'd recommend this to anyone starting out with his books. ( )
  georgeybataille | Jun 1, 2021 |
Fascinating semi-autobiographical novel of Dostoyevsky and his years as a political prisoner in Siberia. He writes as "Alexander Petrovich" and these are "Alexander"'s thoughts and impressions of prison life under Nicholas I. Each chapter is a separate vignette, complete in itself. The convicts are given sharp psychological portraits. We see their interaction with each other and the prison authorities. We get a taste of the daily routine, Christmas and Easter celebrations, such as they are, the prison animals, an escape, protesting with a complaint, and finally, after years as a convict, freedom at last for the narrator.
Highly recommended. ( )
  janerawoof | Feb 15, 2020 |
So I finally got through, more or less, after dropping it once around halfway through. Woof. Given how much I loved Karamazov, C&P, and Notes from Underground, I didn't expect to feel how I felt about this one. I knew it was a prison memoir of sorts, but what I didn't account for was that it takes the form of a series of rambling impressions with the system with little or no plot between episodes. But given that the individual stories are not isolated enough, the book doesn't have even the strength of a good book of short stories. It really does show that this was one of Dostoevsky's first works, that's for sure. It's really a two star book, but i'll add an extra star for some choice quotes, which i'll type up here:
"Tyranny is a habit; it is endowed with development, and develops finally into an illness. I stand upon this, that the best of men can, from habit, become coarse and stupified to the point of brutality. Blood and power intoxicate: coarseness and depravity develop; the most abnormal phenomena become accessible and finally, sweet to the mind and feelings... Power is seductive. A society that looks indifferently upon such a phenomenon is itself infected at its foundation."
and,
"To acknowledge one's guilt and ancestral sin is little, very little; it is necessary to break with them completely. And that cannot be done so quickly." (p. 197)

Although he meant the above in the context of executioners and corporal punishment, the second quote speaks to me especially regarding the perception and acknowledgement of white privilege as well as decolonization. Interesting that a book from 1862 about the Siberian forced labour system can speak to me so powerfully about that.

There's also a delightfully delightful sequence about his dogs. So there's that.

Old hiatus review:
Putting this on hiatus for a moment. The first ~150 pages are good - it's very interesting to learn about the russian/siberian prison system, but there is virtually no plot to keep me engaged. I'll come back to it later because Dostoevsky is a good writer but there are more interesting things right now. ( )
  jakebornheimer | Mar 27, 2019 |
Book reading in this house really slowed down here for a while, not because I wasn't reading, but because I was taking a 10 week Modern Poetry course online. I read nearly nothing else. Except this, slowly. Motivated by what I felt was an underperformance on a bunch of those "How Many of These Classics Have You Read?" memes going around Facebook, I tossed this into my bag for my homecoming trip. While Memoirs wasn't on any of those lists, any Dostoyevsky should raise my book nerd cred, right?

As it turns out, Memoirs is a strange sort of book. It's more of a series of character studies and recollections than anything with a forward-driving narrative, which contributed to the slowness with which I finished it. Whenever I was reading it, I enjoyed it, remarked on its insightfulness, pondered its ramifications for humanity in general and not just those living in a Siberian prison. But whenever I had to put it down, it was easy to leave it there -- especially during my overextended weeks of my ModPo class.

This book is remarkable both for the clarity of Dostoyevsky's descriptions and also for the amazing chasm between how prisoners are treated in this book and how they are treated now in the U.S. Not that I think modern prisoners should be flogged... But still. Everything must change. ( )
  greeniezona | Dec 6, 2017 |
Numa cidade perdida na Sibéria, o autor trava conhecimento com Aleksandr Petróvitch, o percetor das filhas do seu anfitrião. É um homem gasto, atarracado e enigmático, que se furta ansiosamente a todas as perguntas do autor. Mas este descobre, perguntando a um e outro, que Petróvitch vive ali sossegadamente depois de ter cumprido dez anos de trabalhos forçados pelo assassínio da mulher. Anos mais tarde, quando regressa à mesma cidade, o autor descobre que Petróvitch morreu, e que, entre as suas coisas, estão uns cadernos manuscritos com as suas memórias dos tempos de prisão. Depois de os ler, o autor decide publicar alguns capítulos, deixando à consideração dos leitores a avaliação do seu mérito.

Em Cadernos da Casa Morta, Dostoiévski conta-nos pela boca do seu personagem principal, o fidalgo Aleksandr Petróvitch, a sua experiência como prisioneiro político, durante quatro anos, num campo de correção siberiano. E o que tem para nos contar não é agradável: o sofrimento e os castigos, o clima duro da Sibéria, a corrupção entre os guardas, a sujidade e os piolhos. "De qualquer maneira, existem desconfortos perante os quais tudo isso se torna insignificante, tão depressa nos habituamos à imundície e a uma alimentação fraca e porca. O mais mimado fidalgote, o mais sensível senhorito, depois de um dia de trabalho em que sua em bica, comerá o pão negro e uma sopa em que nadam baratas." O que "dói" mesmo é a desumanização a que são sujeitos os presos que os leva a tornarem-se gente dura e quase insensível.

Aníbal Fernandes refere este livro como sendo um dos primeiros na literatura russa onde é mencionada a homossexualidade. Mas, tal como a maior parte das suas reflexões e críticas ao sistema prisional e social russo desta obra, Dostoiévski aborda o tema da homossexualidade muito brevemente e numa linguagem cheia de subentendidos. O personagem é Sirótkin, "uma criatura enigmática em muitos sentidos", muito belo, muito sossegado e meigo, gozado por todos os outros reclusos, e de quem Gáizin, um prisioneiro violento, era "muitas vezes, o amigo especial."
Embora seja apresentada por Dostoiévski como uma obra de ficção, a sua estrutura, uma sequência de capítulos temáticos, sem enredo a entreligá-los, reflete a sua publicação como uma série de artigos em jornal e o facto de se tratarem de memórias algo distantes, embora marcantes. Esta é a primeira tradução direta do russo (que até alterou o título tradicional em português, que era Recordações da Casa dos Mortos) e, talvez por isso, tem um tom rude e pouco "polido". ( )
  jmx | Jun 20, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Opptegnelser fra det døde hus er nært knyttet til Dostojevskijs erfaringer fra tukthusoppholdet i Sibir 1850-54. Den er en merkelig kombinasjon av rapport og fiksjon, med dokumentarisk detaljerte beskrivelser av de forferdelige forhold fangene lever under, og fremfor alt en rekke portretter av mennesker som har bragt seg selv - eller av omstendighetene er blitt bragt - på den gale siden av loven, inkludert hovedpersonen selv.
added by kirstenlund | editwww.solumforlag.no (Sep 23, 2009)
 

» Add other authors (96 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dostoevsky, Fyodorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fyodor Dostoyevskymain authorall editionsconfirmed
Bronikowski, ViktorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coulson, JessieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Edwards, H. SutherlandTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garnett, ConstanceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lahtela, MarkkuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McDuff, DavidTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pekari, IdaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pevear, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pyykkö, LeaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Volokhonsky, LarissaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the remote regions of Siberia, amidst the steppes, mountains and impassable forests, one sometimes comes across little, plainly built wooden towns of one or often two thousand inhabitants, with two churches – one in the town itself, and the other in the cemetery outside – towns that are more like the good-sized villages of the Moscow district than they are like towns.

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Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

In 1849, renowned Russian thinker and novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky was sentenced to execution for his subversive political beliefs. As he awaited his turn in front of the firing squad, Tsar Nicholas I sent a message commuting the writer's sentence to a period of exile in Siberia. He spent the next four years there engaged in hard labor. Dostoyevsky's gripping novel The House of the Dead is based largely on his own experiences in a Siberian labor camp.

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