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Great Short Works of Fyodor Dostoevsky…

Great Short Works of Fyodor Dostoevsky (Perennial Classics)

by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Haven't read this. Got this in Graduate School at the University of Pittsburgh, and it is badly acidified. Maybe someday I'll find another copy.
  deckla | Jan 13, 2019 |
Thematically enthralling, but as another reviewer pointed out these translations run to the clunky (a fault which the Tolstoy volume in this series does not share). Oddly, I found this particularly true of the translation of "The Double," which seems to have been done specifically for this volume.. Oddly, too, the ones by the oft-reviled Constance Garnett are probably the smoothest. Shouldn't the newer translations be better than the older ones?

Said translational clunkiness consists, as it often does for me with translations from Russian, in a very unnatural, un-idiomatic sound to things -- translations that read like dubbed movies sound. I am probably wrong, but I suspect Dostoevsky does not sound like this in the original. ( )
  tungsten_peerts | Jan 11, 2016 |
The Double, White Nights, Notes from the Underground. Translation isn't the best. ( )
  nene7beluga | Feb 14, 2011 |
The great short works of Fyodor Dostoevsky
Ian Kowalski
As this is a collection of several writings of Dostoevsky, it is useful for seeing some consistencies that his writings have. For example, the majority of the main characters have either a strong obsession with some idea or concept or the main characters demonstrate a notable character flaw, but are less obsessed with a single idea. However, the character do not seem to show both of these traits in the writing, so if they are obsessed with an idea they will not have other problems based off of a character flaw, and vice versa.
In the stories The Double, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man, Notes from the Underground, and The Gambler, the main character’s issues (or the source of their narrative) is from an idea or concept integral to their character. In The Double, the main character is convinced that a person looks exactly like him (the person at least looks very similar to him), and that this person is doing the best to cause his downfall. It is an interesting example of how ones beliefs affect what one sees, even to the point of madness. The Dream of a Ridiculous Man deals with a character who becomes convinced that he traveled to a Garden of Eden, and eventually caused its downfall because he could not understand, and therefore interfered with, their way of life. The Gambler and Notes from the Underground respectively deal with a man who is convinced that gambling will be his salvation, while the other deals with a man convinced that humanity will reject having a perfect world based off of logic. Notes from the Underground is particularly interesting because it uses the argument of two plus two is equal to four not as George Orwell later would (“freedom is the freedom to say…”) but as an argument for conformity to a scientific ideal, that would result in a ‘perfect world’. The argument of two plus two equals five is used to in this case represent humans freedom to choose their own path, to take the illogical route. This argument while interesting on its own (and indeed, humanity in the end would choose two plus two equals five just as the Dostoevsky suggests), is more interesting if one has read 1984, as it shows how two arguments can use the same concept (two plus two equals four) to come to opposite results (in Dostoevsky’s argument two plus two is the argument for complete control, while in Orwell’s it is for freedom). Despite the opposite results (freedom or enslavement), two plus two in both arguments stands for rationality, so in 1984 this means the right to think logically, while Dostoevsky uses logic as an example of complete control. Two plus two equals five stands for illogic, be it the freedom to do evil for personal gain, or commitment to the ingsoc party.
In the stories A Disgraceful Affair, The Eternal Husband, White Nights, and A Gentle Creature, they all feature characters’ with a major flaw. In A Disgraceful Affair, the source of the trouble is the characters inability to understand that he gave offence to someone, and acts as a demonstration how a person in power can, because they have power, feel that any act performed by them is not disgraceful, simply because it was performed by them. The Eternal Husband does not have the main character as severely flawed but rather the secondary character, who is the archetypical ‘eternal husband’. The concept of the eternal husband is an interesting one, although I do not think that it would be the same type of person as represented in the book. In the book, the eternal husband is a man who when married completely changes his personality to essentially what his wife wants, but whenever he is not married reverts to how he normally is. I personally suspect that the personality would change whenever he was in a place of responsibility, but that is not the case within the book. White Nights has the character’s main flaw to be introversion, so that he cannot understand people around him, and cannot deal with losing a friend. A Gentle Creatures main character is similarly flawed in his inability to understand characters, and this results in the death of his wife. This story shows how a person, when he grows excessively intent on his own goals, loses the ability to understand other people out of context of his goal, so the main character loses the ability to see his wife’s depression while he tries to reform her. After her death, there is a chapter entitled the scales fell from my eyes, which serves to demonstrate how once the persons goal is complete, either because the object of the goal is gone or they completed it, is now able to see how the actions they performed actually affected others.
Those are some of the concepts contained within Dostoevsky’s stories, such as an argument for the illogical nature of the human race, or corruption caused by power. These stories also show how Dostoevsky frequently builds characters in a similar manner, typically give them on highly noticeable trait, with short stories typically only having one character who acts as the test subject, while the longer stories will have multiple ideals.
  tinglemarkthree | Aug 25, 2009 |
Slightly too much philosophy here and there for my taste in short fictions. Some very interesting themes for the time written, especially the Double- very Gogol/ Kafka. The Gambler reminded me of Proust. For the most part very depressing. All of the main characters are losers. ( )
  SaraPrindiville | Apr 24, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060830816, Paperback)

Eight short masterworks, including White Nights, Notes from Underground, The Gambler, A Gentle Creature, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man, and others.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:51 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Presents a collection of short stories by the Russian author, including "White Nights," "Notes from the Underground," and "A Gentle Creature."

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