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"Poor Folk" is a novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky originally published in 1846. It is written in the form of correspondence and consists of letters which the protagonists, Makar Devushkin and Varvara Dobroselova, exchange. They live not far from each other, in the same street, and their compartments are both rented and extremely poor, as they suffer from severe financial "Poor Folk" is a novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky originally published in 1846. It is written in the form of correspondence and consists of letters which the protagonists, Makar Devushkin and Varvara Dobroselova, exchange. They live not far from each other, in the same street, and their compartments are both rented and extremely poor, as they suffer from severe financial problems. The letters they write to each other contain both the story of their past and the description of their everyday life, which is that of constant humiliation. Despite his poverty, Makar Devushkin spends all his money to show his love to Varvara, who seems to appreciate it return it. However, she turns out to be engaged to a rich but apparently wicked man named Bykov and finally agrees to marry him, experiencing painful doubts and fear and making her friend suffer as well.


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"Poor Folk" is a novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky originally published in 1846. It is written in the form of correspondence and consists of letters which the protagonists, Makar Devushkin and Varvara Dobroselova, exchange. They live not far from each other, in the same street, and their compartments are both rented and extremely poor, as they suffer from severe financial "Poor Folk" is a novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky originally published in 1846. It is written in the form of correspondence and consists of letters which the protagonists, Makar Devushkin and Varvara Dobroselova, exchange. They live not far from each other, in the same street, and their compartments are both rented and extremely poor, as they suffer from severe financial problems. The letters they write to each other contain both the story of their past and the description of their everyday life, which is that of constant humiliation. Despite his poverty, Makar Devushkin spends all his money to show his love to Varvara, who seems to appreciate it return it. However, she turns out to be engaged to a rich but apparently wicked man named Bykov and finally agrees to marry him, experiencing painful doubts and fear and making her friend suffer as well.

30 review for Poor Folk: Best Illustrated Books Book 16

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Бедные люди = Bednye lyudi = Poor Folk= The Poor People, Fyodor Dostoyevsky Poor Folk, sometimes translated as Poor People, is the first novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky, written over the span of nine months between 1844 and 1845. Dostoyevsky was in financial difficulty because of his extravagant lifestyle and his developing gambling addiction; although he had produced some translations of foreign novels, they had little success, and he decided to write a novel of his own to try to raise funds. Poor Бедные люди = Bednye lyudi = Poor Folk= The Poor People, Fyodor Dostoyevsky Poor Folk, sometimes translated as Poor People, is the first novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky, written over the span of nine months between 1844 and 1845. Dostoyevsky was in financial difficulty because of his extravagant lifestyle and his developing gambling addiction; although he had produced some translations of foreign novels, they had little success, and he decided to write a novel of his own to try to raise funds. Poor Folk is written in the form of letters between the two main characters, Makar Devushkin and Varvara Dobroselova, who are poor second cousins. The novel showcases the life of poor people, their relationship with rich people, and poverty in general, all common themes of literary naturalism. A deep but odd friendship develops between them until Dobroselova loses her interest in literature, and later in communicating with Devushkin after a rich widower Mr. Bykov proposes to her. Devushkin, a prototype of the clerk found in many works of naturalistic literature at that time, retains his sentimental characteristics; Dobroselova abandons art, while Devushkin cannot live without literature. Varvara Dobroselova and Makar Devushkin are second cousins twice-removed and live across from each other on the same street in terrible apartments. Devushkin's, for example, is merely a portioned-off section of the kitchen, and he lives with several other tenants, such as the Gorshkovs, whose son groans in agonizing hunger almost the entire story. Devushkin and Dobroselova exchange letters attesting to their terrible living conditions and the former frequently squanders his money on gifts for her. عنوانها: بیچارگان؛ مردم فقیر؛ تیره بختان؛ نگونبخت؛ نویسنده: فئودور داستایوسکی؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه نوامیر سال 1974 میلادی عنوان: بیچارگان؛ نویسنده: فئودور داستایوسکی؛ مترجم: محمد مجدی؛ تهران، صفیعلیشاه، 1337؛ در 163 ص؛ چاپ دیگ: مشهد، بوتیمار، 1394، در 275 ص؛ شابک: 9786004040624؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان روسی - سده 19 م مترجم: خشایار دیهیمی؛ تهران، نشر نی، 1388؛ در 207 ص؛ شابک: 9789641850694؛ چاپ چهارم 1392؛ مترجم: نسرین مجیدی؛ تهران، نشر روزگار، چاپ دوم 1392؛ در 144 ص؛ شابک: 9789643740498؛ عنوان دیگر: مردم فقیر؛ مترجم: کاظم انصاری؛ مشهد، جاودان خرد، چاپ سوم 1387، در 224 ص؛ شتبک: 9789646030213؛ عنوان دیگر: تیره بختان؛ مترجم: کاظم خلخالی؛ تبریز ، تلاش، 1363، در 213 ص؛ شابک: 9645750989؛ عنوان دیگر: نگونبخت؛ مترجم: محمدحسین عباسپور تمیجانی، تهران، عطائی، سال 1346؛ بیچارگان، رمانی کوتاه و در قالب مکاتبه را، «داستایوسکی»، در زمستان سالهای 45-1844 میلادی بنوشته، و سپس آن را بازنویسی کرده است. پیش از چاپ، «داستایفسکی» نسخه ی دست‌نویس رمان را، به: «گریگاروویچ»، به امانت دادند. «گریگاروویچ»، دست‌نویس را، نزد دوستش: «نکراسوف» برد. هر دو با هم شبانه به خوانش دست‌نویس آغاز کردند، و سپیده‌ دم آنرا به پایان رساندند، و ساعت چهار صبح رفتند «داستایفسکی» را بیدار کردند، و برای شاهکاری که آفریده بود، به او تبریک گفتند. «نکراسوف» آنرا با این خبر، که «گوگول تازه‌ ای ظهور کرده‌ است»، نزد «بلینسکی» برد، و آن منتقد مشهور، پس از لحظه‌ ای تردید، بر حکم: «نکراسوف»، مُهر تایید زد. روز بعد: «بلینسکی» در دیدار با «داستایفسکی»، فریاد زد: «جوان، هیچ می‌دانی چه نوشته‌ ای؟ تو با بیست سال سن، ممکن نیست خودت بدانی». «داستایفسکی»، سی سال بعد، آن صحنه را، شعف‌ انگیزترین لحظه ی دوران حیاتش، خواند. چکیده ی داستان: رمان به صورت روایت نامه‌ ای میان دختری جوان، و مرد مسنّی از خویشاندان دخترک است، که در دو مجتمع در کنار هم، زندگی میکنند، و ترجیح میدهند به جای دیدار حضوری با هم، به جهت شایعات همسایگان، به یاری مستخدمه ای، با هم نامه نگاری کنند. موضوع داستان، روایت فقر و ناداری ست. عده ای این رمان را متاثر از داستان «شنل» نوشته ی: «نیکولای گوگول» میدانند. ا. شربیانی

  2. 5 out of 5

    B0nnie

    The first works of Dostoyevsky were translations of French fiction. He was translating Eugénie Grandet, and, on an evening stroll, he has "the vision on the Neva". Да! я могу это сделать! In his mind he sees two sad and hopeless people that just break his heart. He sat down and wrote Poor Folk, his first novel. He did it in just nine months. And he never quite got out of Balzac's grip: obviously Puskin and Gogol too - but it was the inspiration from Balzac that got him to pick up a pen and write The first works of Dostoyevsky were translations of French fiction. He was translating Eugénie Grandet, and, on an evening stroll, he has "the vision on the Neva". Да! я могу это сделать! In his mind he sees two sad and hopeless people that just break his heart. He sat down and wrote Poor Folk, his first novel. He did it in just nine months. And he never quite got out of Balzac's grip: obviously Puskin and Gogol too - but it was the inspiration from Balzac that got him to pick up a pen and write this novel, and he uses those characters and themes again and again. It's an important work because it is Dostoyevsky's first novel, it is written before he faced the firing squad, it was the beginning of a new type of literature. It is social criticism, psychological realism, and it is ironic. The critics were practically running in the street, his manuscript in hand, yelling "We have a new Gogol!" The new Gogol was only 25 years old. [image error] The Varenka narrative from June 1 - June 11 is incredible, building up to this scene: It seemed as though he were impervious to the cruel elements as he ran from one side of the hearse to the other—the skirts of his old greatcoat flapping about him like a pair of wings. From every pocket of the garment protruded books, while in his hand he carried a specially large volume, which he hugged closely to his breast. The passers-by uncovered their heads and crossed themselves as the cortege passed, and some of them, having done so, remained staring in amazement at the poor old man. Every now and then a book would slip from one of his pockets and fall into the mud; whereupon somebody, stopping him, would direct his attention to his loss, and he would stop, pick up the book, and again set off in pursuit of the hearse. At the corner of the street he was joined by a ragged old woman; until at length the hearse turned a corner, and became hidden from my eyes. This book is worth 5 stars for that section alone. It's interesting that at the time when Dostoyevsky was translating, it wasn't considered so important to exactly adhere to the original, as long as the main idea was gotten across. Now translators try for something closer. Compare several translations of a sample paragraph from Poor Folk and decide for yourself how successful this is: 1. A gay little child was I—my one idea being ceaselessly to run about the fields and the woods and the garden. No one ever gave me a thought, for my father was always occupied with business affairs, and my mother with her housekeeping. Nor did anyone ever give me any lessons—a circumstance for which I was not sorry. At earliest dawn I would hie me to a pond or a copse, or to a hay or a harvest field, where the sun could warm me, and I could roam wherever I liked, and scratch my hands with bushes, and tear my clothes in pieces. For this I used to get blamed afterwards, but I did not care. - C.J. Hogarth 2. I was ever such a playful little child; all I ever did was run around the fields, the woods and the orchard, and no one ever paid me the slightest attention. Father was constantly preoccupied with business matters, and my mother took care of the household; no one tried to give me any education, for which I was grateful. I can remember that from the earliest morning onwards I would be running off to the pond, or the wood, or the haymaking, or the reapers - and never mind that the sun was baking down, that I had wandered heaven only knows where away from the village, was covered in scratches from the bushes, and had torn my clothes - I would be given a scolding at home later on, but I did not care. - David McDuff 3. I was a playful little thing; I used to do nothing but run about the fields, the copses and the gardens, and no one troubled about me. My father was constantly busy about his work, my mother looked after the house; no one taught me anything, for which I was very glad. Sometimes at daybreak I would run away either to the pond or to the copse or to the hayfield or to the reapers - and it did not matter that the sun was baking, that I was running, I did not know where , away from the village, that I was scratched by the bushes, that I tore my dress…. I should be scolded afterwards at home, but I did not care for that. - Contance Garnett 4. I was a wild little girl who did nothing but scamper about in the woods, fields and pastures, and no one bothered me. Often I was up as dawn, running out to the fishpond or into the woods or far down the meadow to where the mowers were. I never minded the hot sun or going astray far beyond the houseds and buildings or that the bushes scratched me and tor my dress. When I finally came home, I got a scolding, but I didn't care. - Geir Kjetsaa The other translators of Poor Folk (also called Poor People) are Hugh Aplin, Lena Milman and David Magarshack. The free Hogarth translation is here and it's the same one as the Kindle edition (I used it for the quotations, but prefer the McDuff or Garnett).

  3. 5 out of 5

    Marcus

    This is a ridiculous book. It is the letters exchanged between a poor old man and a poor young woman who live in the same housing complex but who rarely see each other for the sake of propriety. It's basically something like this:"Oh Makar this week I lost my job and I'm running out of cash and I'm feeling so sick that I just might die! Whatever shall I do!" "Oh Varvara, you poor child. Let me, as a father figure, send you some flowers and linens even though I have no money and will probably get This is a ridiculous book. It is the letters exchanged between a poor old man and a poor young woman who live in the same housing complex but who rarely see each other for the sake of propriety. It's basically something like this:"Oh Makar this week I lost my job and I'm running out of cash and I'm feeling so sick that I just might die! Whatever shall I do!" "Oh Varvara, you poor child. Let me, as a father figure, send you some flowers and linens even though I have no money and will probably get drunk this weekend and I am only half a man!" "Oh Makar, stop sending me things you can't afford. You're so poor and you never come visit me and you have terrible taste in books and when I was a child I was once in love with a boy who died!" "Oh Varvara, my taste in books isn't that bad. True, I can't write and I have no style and everything I write is so deliberate and forced that it's painful to read, except when I declare my love to you, in those instances where I'm passionate my writing improves slightly. Vavara you know that I like sending you things I can't afford but this week my horrible landlady needs money and I have none, and whatever shall I do! I am a broken man!" And so on. These two make Myshkin, the "idiot" look like a genius.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Luís C.

    Dostoevsky's first novel, "Poor Folk". The exchange of letters is between an old servant who will soon find themselves in retirement, Macaire Alexeievitch Devushkin, and a girl who lives a few blocks away and for whom he designed a mid tenderness - father, mi - amorous but never unhealthy, Varvara Alexeievna Dobrossiélova. Both parents are quite far way and both, despite their difference in age and status, must fight every day to buy food - and yet modest manner. If Alexander Herzen, the "father Dostoevsky's first novel, "Poor Folk". The exchange of letters is between an old servant who will soon find themselves in retirement, Macaire Alexeievitch Devushkin, and a girl who lives a few blocks away and for whom he designed a mid tenderness - father, mi - amorous but never unhealthy, Varvara Alexeievna Dobrossiélova. Both parents are quite far way and both, despite their difference in age and status, must fight every day to buy food - and yet modest manner. If Alexander Herzen, the "father of Russian socialism" believes, not without reason, "Poor Folk" as the "first true socialist novel in our literature," the book, despite its status as a first novel and his pace a bit chaotic, also takes into melodrama (Dostoyevsky are never really give up), the study of manners and chronic, simple and honest, of what life in St. Petersburg (and in imperial Russia) for what I am tempted to call not "middle class" but "the middle class of the middle class." Holy Mother Russia has always been land apart - and it has remained, fortunately for our current West. The horrors of Ivan IV, the horrors that could, with some justification, be described as "revolutionary" in their action against the boyars, rub shoulders without problem the "enlightened despotism" of Catherine the Great (German by birth but more Russian than many tsarines born locally), the huge problem of serfdom and the best way to end it while respecting the rationality, the singers completely crazy and strictly secular nihilism of the late nineteenth, confiscation of power, in October 1917, a Communist political minority who would reign, and then watch the huge empire crumble until 1989, the "nuclear cloud" that respected the boundaries () Chernobyl in 1986, corruption of Yeltsin and finally the birth of the one true statesman - for now - the XXI century, a Vladimir Putin, certainly corrupt and too old KGB, but shares with the ancient tsars love of his country and the fierce determination to defend it against all enemies. To return to the daily, if officials (czarist or communist) had the job security, not all rolling in money. Macaire Devushkin, it sometimes sends a few kopecks to Varenka, also receives from him. Lost in the Petersburg turmoil of working poor - Varvara works as a seamstress and retoucher - they cling to one another, comfort one, sinking each in turn into crises of despair and head, slowly and inexorably, to the first death that awaits him and the second to a marriage with a man (Bykov) she does not like at all and which can sometimes wonder if it is not with the complicity his landlady, abused her. Unless the landlady (who is also a parent vague, it seems), no one has gone to tell the horrors of love, platonic principle that doomed Varvara a roommate student who gave courses to his daughter, Sasha, and at the same time, the Varenka cousin [= diminutive of Varvara]. We are in the 1840s, either in Russia or elsewhere, the reputation of a young girl is something that is lost quickly, it is founded or not the truth. It does not always seem to the reader that we all correspondence between Devushkin and its parent and protected. Finally, at least that's the impression I got - unlike what happens for example in "Dangerous Liaisons," which dates from the previous century and that we owe to this hard Orleanist - alas ! no one is perfect - but that was remarkable writer Choderlos de Laclos. Hence, sometimes the impression to confuse and to go a little cock to the ass. But what remains virtually untouchable, is the study of manners, social description of a class that struggles along (and sometimes vegetate) while front to keep up appearances, which is far from easy. Combining the most Slavic of mysticism the most realistic materialism, Dostoevsky showed early teeth against a social system that seemed - and was - both unfair and absurd. Still a bit wobbly (despite the excellence criticism, except that of Turgenev, whose disagreement with Dostoyevsky went to the legend), "Poor Folk", despite its imperfections, has already announced that it will become the world of Dostoyevsky this dark world, tormented, goofy, baroque, melodramatic, sometimes a paradoxical modernity because the author did not like the idea. And yet it is with this that Fedor Dostoyevsky novel opens a new door in Russian literature. He did not know, some around him suspecting but for us readers today, it remains a pleasure and an honor to take after him. ; O)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lashaan Balasingam (Bookidote)

    You can find my review on my blog by clicking here. Crime and Punishment was an absolutely mesmerizing first experience of Fyodor Dostoyevskys writing. Being able to read his very first novel, the one that brought him great fame, is an opportunity that I just couldnt skip over. At 24 years old, he writes Poor Folktell me thats not something to applaud about. This is an epistolary novel that portrays all the faces of human condition. Considered to be one of the most important pieces of literature You can find my review on my blog by clicking here. Crime and Punishment was an absolutely mesmerizing first experience of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s writing. Being able to read his very first novel, the one that brought him great fame, is an opportunity that I just couldn’t skip over. At 24 years old, he writes Poor Folk—tell me that’s not something to applaud about. This is an epistolary novel that portrays all the faces of human condition. Considered to be one of the most important pieces of literature set in the early beginnings of the Russian realism movement, this novel captures the emotional struggle of individuals who are confronted to poverty. From a desire for respect to a fight to live with dignity, Poor Folk is truly a unique work that is certain to impress readers. The influence of great authors also exude through Dostoyevsky’s writing; writers such as Gogol or Pushkin and many more. Poor Folk is the beginning of a young legend’s legacy. The story is written in the form of letters between two characters who are in love, yet fight poverty with every inch of their breath. Second cousins living in horrible situations and only a street away from each other, Makar Devushkin and Varvara Dobroselova both express a desire to escape their miserable situations. While Makar would gladly give everything he gains to embellish the life of the only person he truly cares about, Varvara struggles to accept all that is passed onto her. The relationships between the poor and the one between the poor and the rich are those that enlighten us the most on the morality of individuals. Bound to never be able to be together because of their gruesome conditions, these letters show us the extremes they are willing to go, even when the means aren’t there. What’s really beautiful about this book is how love is showcased through a singular perspective. A perspective that is tainted by poverty. This gives readers the convenience to see everything in a different angle. In fact, this brings a whole new level of relativity when it comes down to human condition. There’s a bunch of backstories that are intertwined with the main plot to explore even further the decrepit situation in which the characters have lived or still live in. Through these moments, we’re able to grasp the struggle of many characters that have indulged a life of hardship. Living in these conditions, you can observe that some values are dropped for others, that dignity scrambles its way to the top. It’s definitely not an easy task to deliver these tales with such a realistic touch, but Dostoyevsky achieves this with a masterstroke. Poor Folk is a brilliant novel that succeeds in telling the story of the poor within 100 pages. While the structure can be quite staggering and the plot can sometimes drift into a whole new narrative, the core remains pure as crystal. This novel has shown me that it isn’t what you have that defines you, but what you do with what you have that matters. Poverty strips us of the unnecessary and puts emphasis on the littlest gestures. Even if the condition itself is devastating on life, it does amplify the ability of a person to appreciate the immaterial, the intangible. They say there’s nothing worth holding onto because most things are not permanent, except death. But what’s permanent or not will always be dependent on a person’s perspective and decisions. Poor Folk isn’t known as one of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s most renown pieces, but I’m definitely glad to had read it. I’m now quite convinced of having become a full-blown Dostoyevskian fanboy. Yours truly, Lashaan | Blogger and Book Reviewer Official blog: http://bookidote.wordpress.com ____________________________ Crime and Punishment was an absolutely mesmerizing first experience of Fyodor Dotoyevsky's writing. Being able to read his very first novel, the one that brought him great fame and a lot of attention, is an opportunity that I just couldn't let go. At 24 years old, he writes Poor Folk. A novel that depicts all the faces of human condition. Considered to be one of the important pieces of literature set in the early beginnings of the Russian realism movement, this novel captures an emotional struggle of individuals who are confronted to poverty. From a desire for respect to a fight to live with dignity, Poor Folk is truly a unique work that is certain to impress readers. The story is written in the form of letters of correspondence between two characters who are in love, yet fight poverty with every inch of their breath. Bound to never be able to be together because of their conditions, these letter show how much they'd do for one another, even the means aren't there. What's really beautiful about this book is how love is showcased through a singular perspective. A perspective that is tainted by poverty. This makes readers see everything in a different angle. It brings a whole new level of relativity when it comes down to human condition. P.S. Full review to come Yours truly, Lashaan | Blogger and Book Reviewer Official blog: http://bookidote.wordpress.com

  6. 5 out of 5

    Haaze

    Illumination in Saint Petersburg by Fyodor Vasilyev (1869) A short novel focused on a powerful exchange of letters between two bright and introspective individuals living in difficult circumstances in 19th century Saint Petersburg. At first I had to get used to the epistolary style (the diary excerpt in the beginning of the novel was a temporary relief as I was struggling a bit), but the style of the letters and their heartfelt content quickly grew on me. I realize that a novel like this one Illumination in Saint Petersburg by Fyodor Vasilyev (1869) A short novel focused on a powerful exchange of letters between two bright and introspective individuals living in difficult circumstances in 19th century Saint Petersburg. At first I had to get used to the epistolary style (the diary excerpt in the beginning of the novel was a temporary relief as I was struggling a bit), but the style of the letters and their heartfelt content quickly grew on me. I realize that a novel like this one probably should be read in one sitting as it allows one to truly immerse oneself in the unfolding of the drama. Poverty (not a surprise) blends with the life of a man and a woman that are emotionally connected to each other. Dostoyevsky's first novel managed to make an impression on me as I approached the last third of the book. Suddenly the letter exchange somehow dissolved in my mind and I only noticed the power of the feelings and thoughts these two bright individuals brought forward in their writing. I presume that this novel was an early example of realism with a focus on the poverty existing in Saint Petersburg at the time. An excellent novel.

  7. 4 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    Poor People, also translated as Poor Folk, is an epistolary novel -- an exchange of letters between Makar Dievushkin Alexievitch, a copy writer, and Barbara Dobroselova Alexievna, a seamstress. It's Dostoevsky's first novel, published in 1846, and made Dostoevesky a household name in Russia. It is not a great novel, but it is important in that it is the great author's first novel, and a social novel in the tradition of Gogol, and some French novels he was reading with huge moral and social Poor People, also translated as Poor Folk, is an epistolary novel -- an exchange of letters between Makar Dievushkin Alexievitch, a copy writer, and Barbara Dobroselova Alexievna, a seamstress. It's Dostoevsky's first novel, published in 1846, and made Dostoevesky a household name in Russia. It is not a great novel, but it is important in that it is the great author's first novel, and a social novel in the tradition of Gogol, and some French novels he was reading with huge moral and social commitments. In it there are glimpses of the later Dostoevsky--The Idiot, Notes from The Underground, the magnificent Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov--his great heart, his advocacy for the underclass, and the working poor. Makar and Barbara are so poor they cannot even marry, though Makar further impoverishes himself by spending his little money on flowers and bonbons for her. They actually live in the same housing complex, but out of propriety only rarely see each other, usually at Mass. Instead they write letters to each other daily. So these are two miserable people, who day after day in their letters demonstrate the need for interdependence, for some kind of safety net, for some kind of pity. Seemingly only random charity can save them. And maybe a little common sense. Or let's say economic justice, but this is mid-nineteen-century Russia, folks, we have no economic system in place for that kind of thing. And we don't yet today in many places either, really. Though it is short, not much actually happens in the book that raises this beyond the level of pure pathos, which is its over-all point, I think. It's not that complex or layered. It's all misery almost all the time, though they do have these (sad) moments of love. We do come to care for them, but unlike Crime and Brothers, there are no laughs in it anywhere. Neither Makar nor Barbara are educated, so FD has that challenge, in that he can't make them that insightful or articulate, but he still is able to have these characters reveal their plight through their letters. They also exchange and read books, through which they illustrate some social issues. They also share stories of their pasts, though brief memoirs. In the tales there are glimpses of Dostoevsky's future greatness. For instance, Barbara tells Makar of a former lover, Pokrovski, for whom she borrowed money to buy a complete set of the works of Pushkin. However, she allows her lover's father, a drunk, even poorer than them, to give him the books. When his son (almost inevitably, in this story) dies, there is no money for the funeral, but a woman pays for it in exchange for the books, some of which the old man, crazed, refuses to give her, stuffing them in his pockets. As they walk to the grave, books are spilling out of his pockets, a terrific and pathetic image, an image of madness and grief. Too pathetic? Maybe. But it feels real, transcendent, to me. The old man becomes holy through his suffering. One other passage gives us a sense of the great moral outrage about the lives of the poor that Dostoevsky--the gambler, the madman, the anguished agnostic, always on the edge of financial collapse himself--so careful and passionately chronicled. When things appear to be at their worst for Makar, he rhapsodizes (this is near the end of the book, in the September 5 letter to B) about a world that cares so little about the plight of those in need, and it is some great writing: "How is it that you are so unfortunate, Barbara? How is it that you are so much worse off than other people? In my eyes you are kind-hearted, beautiful, and clever.. .. But why is this? It is because you are an orphan, it is because you are unprotected, it is because you have no powerful friend to afford you the decent support which is your due. What do such facts matter to a man or to men to whom the insulting of an orphan as an offense is allowed? Such fellows are not men at all, but mere vermin, no matter what they think themselves to be. Of that I am certain. Why, an organ grinder whom I met in Gorokhovaia Street would inspire more respect than they do, for at least he walks about all day, and suffers hunger--at least he looks for a stray, superfluous groat to earn him subsistence. . . . a true gentleman, in that he supports himself. . . " and so on. Makar and Dostoevsky are mad as hell and they are not going to take it anymore--the nineteenth-century version--and at this point in the story, it is a moving indictment. Makar even humorously says at the letter's conclusion: See, Barbara, this is writing I am sometimes capable of . . . :) Who else tells the lives of the ruined, the victims of greed, in poverty? Dickens, Gogol, Sinclair, Dreiser, so many others. Maybe fewer today than a hundred years ago. But Dostoevsky? One of the greatest ever, and his career and lifelong commitment started here, with Poor People/Folk.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    The boy will grow callous as he trembles with the cold, a frightened little fledgling fallen from the nest. I joked midway through that Dickens would've used this as masturbatory material. The plausibility of the novel itself remains a spot suspect. It is challenging to accept such eloquence from those so wracked with stress and despair. That said, we are a great distance from the ontology of Czarist Russia, as David Foster Wallace noted his great confusion that febrile starved Raskolnikov could The boy will grow callous as he trembles with the cold, a frightened little fledgling fallen from the nest. I joked midway through that Dickens would've used this as masturbatory material. The plausibility of the novel itself remains a spot suspect. It is challenging to accept such eloquence from those so wracked with stress and despair. That said, we are a great distance from the ontology of Czarist Russia, as David Foster Wallace noted his great confusion that febrile starved Raskolnikov could afford a servant. My best friend Joel noted that when considering that Dostoevsky pawned his underwear it isn't the desperation which is fascinating but rather the society which proffered said possibilities. Poor Folk is an epistolary novel, a series of exchanges between a nascent romance. Unfortunately, the affair is very much an April-December tryst and thus the reader is afforded a certain distance. There is also an aesthetic reverberating in the hovels, which proves to be a theme. The lass rejects literature and instead covets material security. The old coot courts validation by attempting to join a local literary circle. One which he is woefully ill equipped, a brother can dream, can't he? One might imagine here that we have Humbert wanting to both read the TLS and have the teenage neighbor down on her luck. Well? There is an aspect of this Nabokov relished and it isn't adolescent coquettishness, it coincidence, that Sword of Damocles which says that just as Shelley Winters must die, this scurrying pack of Mayhew's minions are about to come into some needed cash. Despite the crippling poverty and the spiritual crisis, Poor Folk is more about hating one's neighbor, much as was illustrated 150 years later in the Russian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

  9. 5 out of 5

    عماد العتيلي

    هذه هي المرة الثانية التي أقرأ فيها هذه الرواية الرائعة لكاتبي المفضل: فيودو دوستويفسكي. كانت هذه روايته الأولى وهي التي دفعت بأكبر ناقد أدبي روسي في وقتها بعدما قرأ الرواية لأن يُهرع في الصباح الباكر إلى منزل دوستويفسكي ويُقَبّله على خدّيه (كما هي عادة الروس - ثلاث مرات على كل خدّ!) ويقول له: أيها الشاب أنت عبقري! هي بلا شك واحدة من أعجب وأعظم ما كتب دوستويفسكي مؤلمة وموجعة إلى أبعد حد. قصة حب .. ولكنها ليست كقصص الحب الفارهة الاخرى! هي قصة حب حقيقية جداً ومؤلمة جداً .. وجميلة جداً. لا أملّ من هذه هي المرة الثانية التي أقرأ فيها هذه الرواية الرائعة لكاتبي المفضل: فيودو دوستويفسكي. كانت هذه روايته الأولى، وهي التي دفعت بأكبر ناقد أدبي روسي في وقتها، بعدما قرأ الرواية، لأن يُهرع في الصباح الباكر إلى منزل دوستويفسكي ويُقَبّله على خدّيه (كما هي عادة الروس - ثلاث مرات على كل خدّ!) ويقول له: أيها الشاب، أنت عبقري! هي بلا شك واحدة من أعجب وأعظم ما كتب دوستويفسكي، مؤلمة وموجعة إلى أبعد حد. قصة حب .. ولكنها ليست كقصص الحب الفارهة الاخرى! هي قصة حب حقيقية جداً ومؤلمة جداً .. وجميلة جداً. لا أملّ من قراءتها ... وأنوي قراءتها للمرة الثالثة .. قريباً :) :: هنا مراجعتي الأولى لها .. عام ٢٠١٣ :: Oh poor people "Makar" and "Barbra"! You're very rich in love. As usual with my all time favorite writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky, I travel to another world. This novella is surely one of the best. Perfumed love letters between two rich lovers (I refuse to call them poor, they are very rich in my eyes, richer than any of us). Really painful love letters they are! They open your eyes. They introduce you to people so damn poor (in money) that they spend most of their days hungry and longing for anything to eat and wear. In this type of life, their biggest dream is not to be very hungry (they're ok with just hungry!). We desperately need a novella like this in today's world to remind us of our lost humanity amidst this raging sea of nasty materialism where people have turned into a bunch of ugly vampires and bloody cannibals who are able to eat each other over nothing! We desperately need to wake up and see our fellow human beings - our brothers and sisters who are living right now at this very moment in a very big pool of shit screaming in pain but find no one to hear or help them out. I love Dostoyevsky for he always talks about serious problems in society. He draws people's attention to those poor people who are totally ignored by the materialists "privileged few". Do I recommend it? Are you serious?!!!! HELL YEAH!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    Varvara Dobroselova Description: Poor Folk is an epistolary novel -- that is, a tale told as a series of letters between the characters. And oh, what characters these are! Makar Dievushkin Alexievitch is a copy writer, barely squeaking by; Barbara Dobroselova Alexievna works as a seamstress, and both face the sort of everyday humiliation society puts upon the poor. These are people respected by no one, not even by themselves. These are folks too poor, in their circumstances, to marry; the love Varvara Dobroselova Description: Poor Folk is an epistolary novel -- that is, a tale told as a series of letters between the characters. And oh, what characters these are! Makar Dievushkin Alexievitch is a copy writer, barely squeaking by; Barbara Dobroselova Alexievna works as a seamstress, and both face the sort of everyday humiliation society puts upon the poor. These are people respected by no one, not even by themselves. These are folks too poor, in their circumstances, to marry; the love between them is a chaste and proper thing, a love that brings some readers to tears. But it isn't maudlin, either; Fyodor Dostoevsky has something profound to say about these people and this circumstance. And he says it very well. When the book was first published a leading Russian literary critic of the day -- Belinsky -- prophesied that Dostoevsky would become a literary giant. It isn't hard to see how he came to that conclusion, and in hindsight, he was surely was correct. Read by Patrick Cullen and Julia Emlen http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2302 Opening: April 8th: MY DEAREST BARBARA ALEXIEVNA,—How happy I was last night—how immeasurably, how impossibly happy! That was because for once in your life you had relented so far as to obey my wishes. At about eight o'clock I awoke from sleep (you know, my beloved one, that I always like to sleep for a short hour after my work is done)—I awoke, I say, and, lighting a candle, prepared my paper to write, and trimmed my pen. Then suddenly, for some reason or another, I raised my eyes—and felt my very heart leap within me! For you had understood what I wanted, you had understood what my heart was craving for. Whilst it is nice to be able to visit D's very first novel, I was infinitely pleased it was so short. His growth as an author was simply amazing. I forgot to mention earlier, as I was watching Island in the Sun the other day, Crime and Punishment was used to perfection. The book was given to the murderer by the policeman in charge of the case. Neat! Makar Devushkin 2* Poor Folk 5* Crime and Punishment 5* The Brothers Karamazov 3* The Idiot 5* Notes from Underground 3* Demons 3* The House of the Dead 4* The Double TR The Dream of a Ridiculous Man 4* The Eternal Husband 4* A Gentle Spirit 3* The Village of Stepanchikovo

  11. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    Certainly one of the most amazing debuts in literature. I found the structure ingenious (and it isn't all letters written back and forth between two people, as book blurbs may have one believe), and I particularly liked the relative avoidance of histrionics that popped up occasionally in Dosty's other novels I've read (in Crime and Punishment, although overall very good, a man kills then proceeds with a "woe is me" theme which, at times, I wanted to scream: 'Well, good grief, you kill people!'). Certainly one of the most amazing debuts in literature. I found the structure ingenious (and it isn't all letters written back and forth between two people, as book blurbs may have one believe), and I particularly liked the relative avoidance of histrionics that popped up occasionally in Dosty's other novels I've read (in Crime and Punishment, although overall very good, a man kills then proceeds with a "woe is me" theme which, at times, I wanted to scream: 'Well, good grief, you kill people!'). The author writes here: "Yes, indeed, poverty is always troublesome: maybe their hungry groans hinder the rich from sleeping!" is about as far as Dosty takes melodrama. Not that I have anything against well-written melodrama: Victor Hugo's "The Man Who Laughs" is an excellent example of melodrama-inducing tears. And often, in the aforementioned "Crime and Punishment", one does indeed feel punches to the head. This is the fourth book I've read by this author, and I'm getting hooked: oh how much more I'm enjoying Dostoyevsky over Tolstoy's snooze-fest "War and Peace". But maybe that's not fair to Tolstoy: I have only read that one work by him.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kennedy Ifeh

    Poor Folks, Dostoyevskys debut novel, is an epistolary work which portrays how poverty instills piety and sanctity in the human soul. Dostoyevsky paints a portrait of how poor people stay devoted in preserving their dignity in the midst of poverty and the struggle for survival. The story line is written in the form of letters between the main characters, a poor copyist, Makar, and a poor housemaid, Varvara, who are second cousins living as neighbours in a poor neighborhood. The reader is drawn to Poor Folks, Dostoyevsky’s debut novel, is an epistolary work which portrays how poverty instills piety and sanctity in the human soul. Dostoyevsky paints a portrait of how poor people stay devoted in preserving their dignity in the midst of poverty and the struggle for survival. The story line is written in the form of letters between the main characters, a poor copyist, Makar, and a poor housemaid, Varvara, who are second cousins living as neighbours in a poor neighborhood. The reader is drawn to the virtues of the main characters, Marka and Varvara, from the beginning of the book until the concluding section. Marka makes enormous sacrifices to please the one he loves, Varvara. Though he is a low paid copyist, he takes advance of his salary to buy gifts for Varvara. He leaves in extreme poverty, often wears worn and dirty cloths, which make his colleagues mock him. Yet, he goes out of his means to assist Varvara in her struggles. He introduces her to literature and begins to exchange books with her. The reader is drawn to the suffering of Varvara in her heart-wrenching little story about her childhood. Her father is presented as violent and her mother suffers depression. Her father dies, and Varvara and her mother moves to Anna Fyodorovna's house, a cruel landlady. While there she is tutored by Pokrovsky, a co-tenant. Pokrovsky's father is a drunk and always visits. She falls in love with Pokrovsky, who introduces her to literature. Pokrovsky falls ill and dies. Varvara’s mother dies too and since she could not bear the cruelty of Anna Fyodorovna, she moves to stay with Fedora across the street. Anyone who is been through suffering and poverty would easily relate with this portrayal of misery. The reader is also drawn to how much appreciative Varvara is to Marka’s magnanimity. For instance, when she found out that he had to take his salary in advance to please her, she reproaches him. Inspite of the fact that they are doomed by the harsh realities of poverty, the two remains devoted to each other in love, so chaste and so pure. Their piety, their sanctimonious virtue is put to the test soon as the character of Mr. Bykov, who represents wealth and materialism came into the scene. Mr. Bykov proposes to Vavrinka, she accepts and that was the end of her relationship with Marka… ‘things fall apart’.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mεδ Rεδħα

    While visiting Dostoevsky's apartment in St. Petersburg, my attention was drawn to the guide's few words about his first published novel, "The Poor People". I had then conceived a very black image of this story, imagining that, like the Dickens or London novels, I would find here the description of squalid slums where crime and prostitution rub shoulders with the greatest misery. Also, what was my astonishment in discovering an epistolary novel certainly not very cheerful but far from as gloomy While visiting Dostoevsky's apartment in St. Petersburg, my attention was drawn to the guide's few words about his first published novel, "The Poor People". I had then conceived a very black image of this story, imagining that, like the Dickens or London novels, I would find here the description of squalid slums where crime and prostitution rub shoulders with the greatest misery. Also, what was my astonishment in discovering an epistolary novel certainly not very cheerful but far from as gloomy as I had first imagined! Dostoevsky is twenty-six when he submits his manuscript. He describes therein through the correspondence of Macarius Alexeyevich Dievushkin, an old penniless civil servant, and Varvara Alexeyevna Dobrossielova, a disgraced young orphan, the hard existence of the humble who, without resources, are subject to the whims of society: powerful, authorities, evil spirits, such are the enemies of happiness or mere peace. It is a moving and very lively story, often poignant and which does not just describe the difficult living conditions of the people but also unfolds a beautiful storybook around the two letter writers. Their exchanges, at first civilized (they are vaguely parents but especially neighbors of misery) are made more and more affectionate and tender with the wire of their exchanges and one would like with all its forces that the destiny is not them so opposite. What about the already superb writing? We find in "The Poor People" the themes that will become dear to the author and that he will develop in his other works: justice and injustice, truth and lies, family or societal ties, crime and violence. Honesty, the search for happiness ... so many topics that will include "Crime and Punishment" a pure masterpiece. What Dostoyevsky recounts about community living, Russian resourcefulness and the need for ideals of any Russian, rich or poor, is truly reflected in the mirror of present-day Russia, as I have already discovered in many times. There is a primary endurance and a brute force that emanate from this people and paradoxically combine perfectly with their thirst for spirituality and beauty. "The poor folk" undoubtedly foreshadows the great writer who has been, always and forever, Dostoevsky.

  14. 5 out of 5

    classic reverie

    I was hoping for a different ending but in thinking about it, Dostoyevsky had it right. Makar and Barbara are friends that live near each other but write letters to communicate even though they see each other occasionally. Their poverty and of the other people surrounding them is told in this story that gives the heart and soul of man. I had to laugh at the insert of a novel, Makar sent to Barbara from a tenant of his home. It was a romance that sounded quite heated for that epoch. I did not I was hoping for a different ending but in thinking about it, Dostoyevsky had it right. Makar and Barbara are friends that live near each other but write letters to communicate even though they see each other occasionally. Their poverty and of the other people surrounding them is told in this story that gives the heart and soul of man. I had to laugh at the insert of a novel, Makar sent to Barbara from a tenant of his home. It was a romance that sounded quite heated for that epoch. I did not read this edition but Delphi Classics collection.

  15. 5 out of 5

    J.M. Hushour

    Dostoevsky's first novel is a masterful creep-fest that probably wouldn't get published today. Rather, it'd be turned into an HBO series starring Matthew McCounaghey and some random ex-Nickelodeon teenage actress and everyone would be okay with that. An aging, balding alcoholic clerk writes letters to his impressionable young cousin, basically pawning all his shit to give her presents to all but get into her knickers. An impressionable young woman, in desperate straits due to everyone around her Dostoevsky's first novel is a masterful creep-fest that probably wouldn't get published today. Rather, it'd be turned into an HBO series starring Matthew McCounaghey and some random ex-Nickelodeon teenage actress and everyone would be okay with that. An aging, balding alcoholic clerk writes letters to his impressionable young cousin, basically pawning all his shit to give her presents to all but get into her knickers. An impressionable young woman, in desperate straits due to everyone around her pretty much dying and being shitty, writes letters to her lecherous, smecking cousin. Okay, I kid. It doesn't quite come across that way. Their life situations both suck and it's not their fault. Hence the title. How they drag themselves out of it, though, is the disturbing part, but I won't ruin that for you. Just read it. If you don't like Dostoevsky then everyone who has ever loved you is wrong.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Biblio Curious

    Dostoyevsky is still fine tuning his writing skills with this one. If Russian Literature is one long, incredibly insightful conversation, then for a a newbie writer to create a book using only fictional letters is a great way to pay homage to his literary tradition. After this, I've got to read Joseph Frank's biography of Dostoyevsky! Edit: And the ones his wife and daughter wrote! Trotsky too of course, where's a Russian bio without him? Something about this book just shrieks, it'll be 4 or 5 Dostoyevsky is still fine tuning his writing skills with this one. If Russian Literature is one long, incredibly insightful conversation, then for a a newbie writer to create a book using only fictional letters is a great way to pay homage to his literary tradition. After this, I've got to read Joseph Frank's biography of Dostoyevsky! Edit: And the ones his wife and daughter wrote! Trotsky too of course, where's a Russian bio without him? Something about this book just shrieks, it'll be 4 or 5 stars if you know the backstory!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty

    Poor People, more commonly printed with the title Poor Folk, is the debut novel of Russian literary heavyweight Fyodor Dostoevsky, and was first published in Russia in 1846. I read it in the beautiful Alma Classics edition, which has been wonderfully and fluidly translated by Hugh Aplin. Told in an epistolary manner, it follows two characters who live upon the fringes of society in St Petersburg, struggling with poverty rather acutely. Devushkin Alexievich is a copywriter working in an office, Poor People, more commonly printed with the title Poor Folk, is the debut novel of Russian literary heavyweight Fyodor Dostoevsky, and was first published in Russia in 1846. I read it in the beautiful Alma Classics edition, which has been wonderfully and fluidly translated by Hugh Aplin. Told in an epistolary manner, it follows two characters who live upon the fringes of society in St Petersburg, struggling with poverty rather acutely. Devushkin Alexievich is a copywriter working in an office, and Barbara Alexievna a seamstress. 'These are people,' Dostoevsky tells us, who are 'respected by no one, not even by themselves'. They are infatuated with one another, but are too poor to marry. Rather, they live in small apartments opposite one another. We are witness to their back and forth of letters, and the unfolding correspondence which lets us learn about both protagonists. We are party to the workings of their minds, and their deepest thoughts and questions about one another. Barbara writes the following to Devushkin, for instance: '... what has made you go and take the room which you have done, where you will be worried and disturbed, and where you have neither elbow-space nor comfort - you who love solitude, and never like to have any one near you?' Poor People begins on April the 8th, and continues in different letters by both characters, until ending in the September of the same year. When the novella starts, Devushkin has just moved into a new apartment - the one which faces Barbara's - and devises a cunning plan with her curtains; when she loops them up, he knows that she is thinking of him, and when they are closed, he knows that it is time to go to bed. Certainly, Devushkin is a more dreamy, whimsical character than Barbara; she seems to have enough sensibility for the both of them, and thinks practically throughout. She despairs particularly about her future: 'Ah, what is going to become of me? What will be my fate? To have to be so uncertain as to the future, to have to be unable to foretell what is going to happen, distresses me deeply. Even to look back at the past is horrible, as it contains sorrow that breaks my heart at the very thought of it.' Dostoevsky's use of nature is sublime, and is present from the very first letter, used as a device to lift Devushkin's spirits: 'This morning, too, I arose (joyous and full of love) at cockcrow. How good seemed everything at that hour, my darling! When I opened my window I could see the sun shining, and hear the birds singing, and smell the air laden with scents of spring. In short, all nature was awaking to life again. Everything was in consonance with my mood; everything seemed fair and spring-like.' The letters are variant in length, and are all suffused with differing levels of love and despair, as well as the emergence of hope at intervals. Dostoevsky's prose is gorgeously rich, and has a very modern feel to it. The characters alter as their circumstances do; they have been so well built, and their shifting relationship too feels true to life. As with all of Dostoevsky's work, Poor People is filled with beauty and passion; realistic characters are at its heart. Dostoevsky is one of my favourite authors, and I am always immediately captivated by his thoughts and stories. My experience was no different here; for those who already love Russian literature it is a must-read, and it would also serve as a fantastic introduction to the myriad of wonderful works published within the fascinating country.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    Written as letters between Makar and Barbara, one an old man, the other a pretty young orphan with terrible health, this is a pretty short book. And it can be prety well summed up by this: "My dearest, darling Barbara, I sleep in the room in the kitchen, because it's smaller and taxes less upon my money so I can have tea and sugar every day! I'm sending you some bonbons through Thedora." "Dearest Makar, HOW could you send me these bonbons, when you are living in the kitchen! You are sacrificing Written as letters between Makar and Barbara, one an old man, the other a pretty young orphan with terrible health, this is a pretty short book. And it can be prety well summed up by this: "My dearest, darling Barbara, I sleep in the room in the kitchen, because it's smaller and taxes less upon my money— so I can have tea and sugar every day! I'm sending you some bonbons through Thedora." "Dearest Makar, HOW could you send me these bonbons, when you are living in the kitchen! You are sacrificing yourself for me, and it's not necessary." Later: "Dearest Barbara, I have aches in all my body and I'm very very poor, but don't trouble yourself about me, because I'm sending you some material, or some money, or some bonbons. Wrap yourself up tightly before you go out. Have you read so-and-so? He's absolutely fascinating." "Dearest Makar," Barbara will reply, "You really MUSTN'T. Just because I get sick from walking out in the slightest damp is no reason for you to buy me bonbons. I know you can't even feed yourself, and your toes are coming out of your shoes, but you cannot continue to sacrifice yourself for me! So-and-so is absolute nonsense." Of course, there's actually a plot— Barbara is being pursued by Anna Thedorovna, persecuted by young and old men, etc. Makar is constantly losing favor at the office. Everything turns out alright, but… it seems they're actually happier being poor but 'together,' (view spoiler)[because, at the end, when suddenly they have money, both of them seem to realize that they're going to be apart for the rest of their lives, and then OH! The crocodile tears! (hide spoiler)] That said, there are noble sentiments in the work. It's an apt description of poverty, and the story of Gorshkev is heart-breaking. Because of that, it's two stars, instead of one.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sasha

    Never have I been confronted with such an intimate portrayal of a love so chaste and pure doomed by the harsh realities of poverty. While a handful of Dostoevsky's books like Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov and Notes from Underground did the job of delving into the inner depths of man's dehumanization and redemption, Poor Folk painted a more powerful testimony of Russia's sad history. I found myself sweltering in profound sorrow after reading the exchange of love letters between the Never have I been confronted with such an intimate portrayal of a love so chaste and pure doomed by the harsh realities of poverty. While a handful of Dostoevsky's books like Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov and Notes from Underground did the job of delving into the inner depths of man's dehumanization and redemption, Poor Folk painted a more powerful testimony of Russia's sad history. I found myself sweltering in profound sorrow after reading the exchange of love letters between the two characters, it reminded me of the snapshots of letters produced by John Keats to Fanny Brawne, a love affair that ended tragically as well. This short body of work by Dostoevsky can leave the reader burdened by clutching on to the questions oscillated in the end but still I find this novella passionately brilliant.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Riya

    This is a short novel about poverty and the effects it has on a person - emotionally and physically. The two main characters are both poor and write letters to each other describing the hard life they both experience, along with the affection they feel for each other. Basically, the message that I got from this book is: being poor sucks - people will despise you and look down on you, you will be made fun of and disrespected, you will most likely get sick over and over again, and you will look This is a short novel about poverty and the effects it has on a person - emotionally and physically. The two main characters are both poor and write letters to each other describing the hard life they both experience, along with the affection they feel for each other. Basically, the message that I got from this book is: being poor sucks - people will despise you and look down on you, you will be made fun of and disrespected, you will most likely get sick over and over again, and you will look like hell. This was not a very cheerful book but I am still glad I got a chance to read it - it did keep me entertained for the two days that I spent reading it and it was interesting that this was Dostoyevsky's first novel which he published while he was in his early twenties. Perhaps he himself experienced many of challenges his destitute characters have to suffer through in this novel.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Onur

    As far as I guess this is the first book of Dostoyevsky. You can find several letters in the book that people sent each other and you can find very good human characters and life sections inside the letter

  22. 5 out of 5

    Samir Rawas Sarayji

    A good epistolary novella! We can see a younger Dostoevsky playing with the themes that preoccupy him and which resurface in later works with more maturity and complexity. There is much to like here and 5 stars only because I can compare it to some of his other, more compelling work.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Two second cousins, Makar and Varvara, exchange letters about their daily life in nineteenth century St Petersburg and share their constant maneuvering to manage expenses with too little money and to help each other out. Makar sends her bonbons; she is making him a vest; and they are constantly sending small gifts and loans of money back and forth. Detailed and psychologically insightful, but at the end, the character of Varvara seems less developed than her correspondent, and we do not know Two second cousins, Makar and Varvara, exchange letters about their daily life in nineteenth century St Petersburg and share their constant maneuvering to manage expenses with too little money and to help each other out. Makar sends her bonbons; she is making him a vest; and they are constantly sending small gifts and loans of money back and forth. Detailed and psychologically insightful, but at the end, the character of Varvara seems less developed than her correspondent, and we do not know either of these characters as well as we might after reading pages of their letters.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Anya

    This short novel holds a very dear place in my heart. Not only was it Dostoyevskys first novel, but it was my first Dostoyevsky novel as well. I remember being absolutely (emotionally) stunned by the novel at age 13. I had never read anything like it before; anything that that invoked so much emotion within me.One of my favourite novellas ever, I must have read Бедные люди at least 8 times I was interested to know if this novel would have the same impact on me, 21 odd years later. Having just This short novel holds a very dear place in my heart. Not only was it Dostoyevsky’s first novel, but it was my first Dostoyevsky novel as well. I remember being absolutely (emotionally) stunned by the novel at age 13. I had never read anything like it before; anything that that invoked so much emotion within me….One of my favourite novellas ever, I must have read “Бедные люди” at least 8 times… I was interested to know if this novel would have the same impact on me, 21 odd years later. Having just re-read “Бедные Люди”, I must say that my impression of this novel is just as strong, and perhaps even richer. But perhaps I am getting ahead of myself. This novel was written in an epistolary format. It consists of a series of letters exchanged between two distant relatives: a poor 40-something year old clerk named Makar Devushkin and a beautiful young woman (18ish or so) named Varvara. Both Makar and Varvara are extremely poor, sickly and socially isolated. Their correspondence is a rare opportunity to open up their hearts, and share their dreams and sorrows with another person. The pair also try to support one other in their lives of constant want, hardship and humiliation. A lot has been said about whether or not Makar Devushkin was in love with Varvara. To me, it doesn’t really matter. The important thing to note is that Makar Devushkin is an extremely lonely, meek victim of his circumstances. He has low self-esteem, and like many a poor person, is at times susceptible to vices that would normally be contrary to his nature. Varvara is dear to Makar, as she gives him an opportunity to love and to feel like a human being. Makar is dear to Varvara, as he is a pure soul in a world of wicked and abusive people. For me, the most brilliant and moving part of this novel has always been the chapter dedicated to Varvara’s years growing up next door to Pokrovsky. The whole episode never fails to move me and deftly demonstrates Dostoyevsky’s brilliance. It is interesting to note that Dostoyevsky barely describes his settings, the physical appearances of his characters and yet, the emotional picture he paints of each character is so strong. Characters like Pokrovsky and Makar Devushkin remain powerful and relatable more than 100 years later because of this magic. I would recommend anyone who chooses to read this novel to start first by reading “The Overcoat” (Щенель) by Nikolay Gogol, as there is an entire letter devoted to Devushkin’s opinion of this short story. A brilliant, universally relatable novel on the effects of poverty on a person’s psyche.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bryn Hammond

    Young D.'s first splash, which I never read; I suppose I had it down as pre-arrest and gauche. I feel I've cheated because I've read the contextualisation of it in Dostoevsky: The Seeds of Revolt, 1821-1849; I suspect this one, unlike his later immortal works, doesn't exactly work without its context, since he does a few radical things here that you wouldn't be aware of unless you're up on your Russian and European history of novels. In brief -- I won't cheat again by going back to Frank, this Young D.'s first splash, which I never read; I suppose I had it down as pre-arrest and gauche. I feel I've cheated because I've read the contextualisation of it in Dostoevsky: The Seeds of Revolt, 1821-1849; I suspect this one, unlike his later immortal works, doesn't exactly work without its context, since he does a few radical things here that you wouldn't be aware of unless you're up on your Russian and European history of novels. In brief -- I won't cheat again by going back to Frank, this is from memory -- the novel of letters was in fashion but about the upper classes; here he turns the format to a down-at-heels clerk and his impoverished girlfriend. In Russia, Gogol had written about a lowly clerk in The Overcoat, but remained in a 'look down and pity' perspective, instead of the inner life as seen from the inside, and with Gogol's satirical bent. So, Poor Folk was the first in Russia to treat these poor of Petersburg in the manner that he does, and he uses the tropes of the sentimental novel to do so. It's funny when his clerk reads excerpts from a send-up of these sentimental novels, about the upper classes, without himself having the temerity to think, what we the readers notice, that his own sentiments are more fine and genuine than those in this 'fine literature'. At the time D. was under the influence of the French Socialist writers, Victor Hugo and George Sand with her novels about the noble poor. Anyhow, its history aside, I enjoyed this more than expected; it was a tear-jerker and a spoof, and self-referential, with satire of the writers of the day; and his observations about overcoats are an attempt to deepen Gogol: add psychology, says Dostoyesky.

  26. 4 out of 5

    HebatAllah Hassan

    A VERY harsh depiction of the Russian society under the ruling of the Bolshevik Party! No politics involved, but the poverty, the sickness, the housing catastrophe, the debt, the misery and DEATH are so unbearably visualized in letters going back and forth between a man and a woman who are neighbors and who are affectionate of each other, but they cannot openly express their emotions for each other simply because there would be nothing they could do about it; they are BOTH so impoverished that A VERY harsh depiction of the Russian society under the ruling of the Bolshevik Party! No politics involved, but the poverty, the sickness, the housing catastrophe, the debt, the misery and DEATH are so unbearably visualized in letters going back and forth between a man and a woman who are neighbors and who are affectionate of each other, but they cannot openly express their emotions for each other simply because there would be nothing they could do about it; they are BOTH so impoverished that they cannot get married at all, and they can barely survive their days. Each of them does what they have to do to SURVIVE because that what the Russian society was: A FEAST FOR SURVIVAL... that it was eventually given for the FITTEST! Alas! It ends with the girl marrying a man who abused her in the past to escape her poverty, and she moves away from her dear man and correspondent! And the letters stop with a heart-rending last letter from her man who is in obvious denial that his beloved neighbor and companion is gonna be taken away from him, and he's helpless about it! All through its pages, I always was haunted with the question: "why good hearts are always condemned to suffering?", only to have as an answer MORE VISUALIZED SUFFERING, and no answer to "why"...A STRONG face-slapping novel written by the STOUTEST of hearts...the heart of the-then-24-years-old Fyodor Dostoyevsky under an abusive political reign where writers' heads were used to flying! The novel that set Dostoyevsky's reputation among authors alright! My hat is OFF and I'm bowing IN RESPECT! Some writers just write with their hearts! I truly hope Russia is past that stage now! Otherwise, I call for the Human Rights Watch interference!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    I read this directly after the amazing House of the Dead, which may not have been the best idea. Poor Folk was good enough, but pretty much pales in comparison to House. I feel like I didn't give it a fair enough chance; it's also really not the kind of book I really get into, though. I liked the epistolary style, but the unceasing declarations of love between the two main characters just had me yawning and rolling my eyes and caused me to overlook a lot of Dostoevsky's intended statements about I read this directly after the amazing House of the Dead, which may not have been the best idea. Poor Folk was good enough, but pretty much pales in comparison to House. I feel like I didn't give it a fair enough chance; it's also really not the kind of book I really get into, though. I liked the epistolary style, but the unceasing declarations of love between the two main characters just had me yawning and rolling my eyes and caused me to overlook a lot of Dostoevsky's intended statements about poverty, oppression, and class in Russia. I didn't dislike the book, though. It's probably impossible for me to dislike any of Fyodor's work; I just found this one to be inferior to the others I've read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Moriah

    I've always said that a writer has done a really good job if years after you've read his book you'll still remember the feelings it has given you. Dostoyevsky did an amazing job. I read this one a long time ago. I loved the atmosphere so very much! Maybe it's just reminds me of nostalgic times and makes me feel sympathy for it, but the narrative sweeps you with it's pleasant stream. There was something unusual in this story and I can't quite put my finger on it; perhaps it was the language in I've always said that a writer has done a really good job if years after you've read his book you'll still remember the feelings it has given you. Dostoyevsky did an amazing job. I read this one a long time ago. I loved the atmosphere so very much! Maybe it's just reminds me of nostalgic times and makes me feel sympathy for it, but the narrative sweeps you with it's pleasant stream. There was something unusual in this story and I can't quite put my finger on it; perhaps it was the language in which he used, perhaps it was the complex characters and maybe it was simply Dostoyevsky's magic fingers.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Б. Ачболд

    Although Ive read and loved Dostoevskys big novels, Ive always had trouble making sense of him. Why does he write about this and not that. What makes his novels so gripping? What makes Dostoevsky Dostoevsky? This novel, Poor People, his first, offers some clues. In order to really see whats going on, one needs to have a good grasp of Gogol I think, and Gogol is what Ive been rereading this year, so . . . Poor People (remember, this is Dostoevskys first attempt at ficion) is clearly influenced by Although I’ve read and loved Dostoevsky’s big novels, I’ve always had trouble making sense of him. Why does he write about this and not that. What makes his novels so gripping? What makes Dostoevsky Dostoevsky? This novel, Poor People, his first, offers some clues. In order to really see what’s going on, one needs to have a good grasp of Gogol I think, and Gogol is what I’ve been rereading this year, so . . . Poor People (remember, this is Dostoevsky’s first attempt at ficion) is clearly influenced by Gogol, as noted in the introduction, etc. (What else is in there, I don’t know.) But on so many fronts, this book falls way short of Gogol. What’s gone are: Gogol’s poetics (i.e. the quality that made him call his novel ‘poema’), his conciseness, the absolute inevitability of his sentences (i.e. the inevitability of the names, details, and so on). Judged by these standards, Dostoevsky pales in comparison with Gogol, his master. What’s similar: Dostoevsky basically borrows “the poor Petersburg civil servant” character from Gogol. But the character is less dreamy. Less of a nightmare and more human (although Raskolnikov Stavrogin etc. are still quite dreamy I seem to recall). So what’s new? Here we get into what makes Dostoevsky Dostoevsky. It’s astonishing that some of this was in evidence so early, he was 22 when he wrote this? Dostoevsky starts to explore the inner psychology of an Акакий Акакиевич (Makar Alexeyevich he is called here). Gogol never does this. The important thing here for me was not the fact that Dostoevsky explores psychology, but the fact that the character is Gogolian. You think back to a petty clerk character like Акакий Акакиевич. He is a dead soul, he is the devil, but here in Dostoevsky, you focus especially on the fact that he is also, after all, a human being. What’s going to stir him? Move him? Something like love. But also humiliation, insult, injury. He is human so he has pride! Dostoevsky wants to explore what precisely moves or changes a Gogolian character. This is an important question that has real-life-meaning-of-life consequences! (I think.) And so that’s maybe why Dostoevsky’s characters are all so tormented, prideful or humble. Also, to some extent at least, the narrative style or how he narrates the story (Dostoevsky’s craft) follows from this. I can’t wait to go through the rest of Dostoevsky, and see what sort of characters he comes up with next, after borrowing Akakii Akakievich from Gogol. I remember there’s Raskolnikov, Svidrigailov, the Eternal Husband (forgot his name now), Myshkin, Stavrogin, the Karamazov Brothers, etc. The contrast & comparison with Gogol has been quite interesting, I must say!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Büşra

    Its hard to believe that Dostoevsky wrote Poor Folk when he was 22 and it was his first novel. You can clearly see that it was the work of a genius in the making. What a brilliant piece. It’s hard to believe that Dostoevsky wrote Poor Folk when he was 22 and it was his first novel. You can clearly see that it was the work of a genius in the making. What a brilliant piece.

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