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The House of the Dead (Notes from the Dead House) (Life in a Siberian prison camp!) [Kindle Edition]

Fyodor Dostoyevsky
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

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Book Description

NOTE: This edition has a linked "Table of Contents" and has been beautifully formatted (searchable and interlinked) to work on your Amazon e-book reader or your iPod e-book reader.

The House of the Dead is a novel published in 1862 by Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky. It portrays the life of convicts in a Siberian prison camp.

The author spent four years in exile in such a camp following his conviction for involvement in the Petrashevsky circle. This experience allowed him to describe with great authenticity the conditions of prison life and the characters of the convicts.

The narrator, Aleksandr Petrovich Goryanchikov, has been sentenced to deportation to Siberia and ten years of hard labour. Life in prison is particularly hard for Aleksandr Petrovich, since he is a "gentleman" and suffers the malice of the other prisoners, nearly all of whom belong to the peasantry. Gradually Goryanchikov overcomes his revulsion at his situation and his fellow convicts, undergoing a spiritual re-awakening that culminates with his release from the camp.

Dostoyevsky portrays the inmates of the prison with sympathy for their plight, and also expresses admiration for their energy, ingenuity and talent. He concludes that the existence of the prison, with its absurd practices and savage corporal punishments is a tragic fact, both for the prisoners and for Russia itself.

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Russian (translation)

About the Author


Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821 1881), one of nineteenth-century Russia s greatest novelists, spent four years in a convict prison in Siberia, after which he was obliged to enlist in the army. In later years his penchant for gambling sent him deeply into debt. Most of his important works were written after 1864, including Notes from Underground, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, and The Brothers Karamazov, all available from Penguin Classics.

David McDuff was educated at the University of Edinburgh and has translated a number of works for Penguin Classics, including Dostoyevsky s The Brothers Karamazov.

David McDuff was educated at the University of Edinburgh and has translated a number of works for Penguin Classics, including Dostoyevsky s The Brothers Karamazov.


Product Details

  • File Size: 520 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: ignacio hills press (TM) and e-Pulp Adventures (TM); 1st edition (September 12, 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #367,433 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dostoyevsky is rarely more personal April 2, 2001
By A Customer
House of the Dead is not a general account of imprisonment and system of law of Russia, ala Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago, but is a much more personal account of the author's own experiences. There is no attempt to overplay or dramatize personal suffering, though there was probably ample reason for the author to do so. Instead, the author focuses more on his fellow inmates: their personalities, their culture, their way of life and way of thinking. The effect is immeasurable, and makes the House of the Dead one of the most potent, moving pieces of literature ever written. The convicts that Dostoyevsky describes seem to come alive -- their descriptions are so complete and realistic that its almost as if they're reading the book with you. This method of describing imprisonment defies conventiality, but Dostoyevsky pulls it off easily. By knowing the convicts, you feel for them, you understand them, and you walk away knowing and loving humanity just a bit more.
A great aspect of the book is that you can pick it up at almost any spot, so long as you know the general plot. I can't tell you how many times I've picked the book up and flipped straight to the first chapter describing the hospital, and read simply that alone. When Dostoyevsky tells of the dead convict, little more than a husk or a shell of a man who couldn't even stand the weight of his clothes or his wooden crucifix, being dragged off routinely with his heavy fetters still on, one can hardly help but grimace. And when another convict yells, inexplicably, "He had a mother too!" you start to sympathize for these convicts: the filthiest, most degenerate human beings you can imagine.
Its a story of love for humanity, of resurrection from despair, and of a man's final reconciliation with his own life.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good story, but not Dostoevsky at his best June 8, 2000
Dostoevsky's The House of the Dead is an account of life in a Siberian prison, drawing heavily from its author's own imprisonment for sedition. The narrator is nominally serving time for murdering his wife out of jealousy, but Dostoevsky makes very little effort to maintain the artifice that the narrator is anyone other than himself, as the narrator even refers to himself as a political prisoner on a couple of occasions. The novel consists mainly of a series of anecdotes relating such things as the staging of a prison play, the memories of some convicts of the crimes that landed them in prison, and the attempted escape of two of the prisoners, all interspersed among observations of more day-to-day affairs like prison food and corporal punishment.
A number of the stories are very interesting, and overall Dostoevsky paints an impressive picture of prison life as a whole. Though it's clear that his experience in prison was a brutal one, the reader never feels as though Dostoevsky is overplaying the prisoners' suffering, which makes it seem all the more authentic. However, I'd have to say this sort of narrative doesn't really play into Dostoevsky's overall strength as an author. Dostoevsky's best works generally have a strong and coherent (though in some cases somewhat melodramatic) plot that develops more or less linearly throughout the novel; The House of the Dead, on the other hand, is hardly more than a series of related roughly-15-page short stories and so inevitably lacks the suspense of much of Dostoevsky's other work. For the same reason, none of the characters get especially well developed--the reader is left with a lot of interesting character sketches, none of which get fleshed out.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible book that must be read. December 19, 1998
By A Customer
This book examines to what extent a man will go to keep his humanity. Among feters and prison walls, a different sort of society emerges. How is a caged man different from a caged animal? Does a prison truely change a man for the better? This is a great book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Days of fear and hope May 18, 2006
Fyodor Dostoyevsky's "The House of the Dead" is one of the most powerful narratives about life in prison. A quasi-autobiographical work, the writer used the days he spent in Siberia prison to create powerful moments of sadness, fear and hope. Not many were able to be released from there, but he was one of them, and with this work he reminds everyone what it is about to be a political prisoner.

"The House of the Dead" may not be one of best works from this Russian writer, who produced masterpieces such as "Crime an Punishment" and "The Brothers Karamazov", but still it is a vivid account of hard times. Many scenes are unforgettable, and resonate to the condition that many people live today around the world - think of the soup that the prisoners have in the first part of the book, for instance.

Dostoyevsky manages to create a living portray of many people who are forced to share the same place at the same time, however much they can't stand each other. He is able to bring to life both human beings and animals. His description of his meeting with a dog can bring tears to the eyes of the most tough reader.

David McDuff's translation is superb, and so is Penguin Classics edition. The book is complemented by notes on the text and a excellent introduction. However, as happens to many books in this collection, it is advisable to read the introduction after reading the novel, because it may have spoilers.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely brilliant in places
I'd give it 4.5 stars if I could figure out how to do it. Definitely brilliant in places. But it's no Brothers Karamazov; it's no The Gambler; it's no Notes from the Underground;... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jason Trask
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A great and revealing account of life in Syberia under the Czar.
Published 4 months ago by Leroy A. Franklin
5.0 out of 5 stars Great translation, and a very comprehensive package
Great translation, and a very comprehensive package, a context through Translator's Introduction, Notes and a Chronology which enriches the reading experience immensely and has... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Frans van Hoek
4.0 out of 5 stars Full head of hair?
Not the best Dostoyevsky. Won't let you smile much. Good insights to Russia. One question I have is about the cover. Read more
Published 6 months ago by leroy
4.0 out of 5 stars Russian author with excellent prose
Dostoevsky is depressing and this book follows true to form. His prose is excellent but always makes me sad for some reason.
Published 6 months ago by Lee Schuler
3.0 out of 5 stars person of great intelligence and insight
Dostoyevsky, person of great intelligence and insight, always worth a try. This book is of interest for its history, but doesn't lead to much. I'd never spend time with it again.
Published 8 months ago by grandmesa456
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome
Some things change but most stay the same if you move ahead to a day in the life of ivan denisovitch
Published 9 months ago by Pedro Cuevas Estandia
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as interesting as I expected...
I was a little bit disappointed with this book. I love Dostoevsky. The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment are two of my favorite books. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Brian C.
5.0 out of 5 stars Misery Myth
There is this widely accepted myth that in the annals of human history African Americans have a more profound experience with mistreatment. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Exile in Siberia.
Published in 1861, House of the Dead is a semi-autobiographical work based upon Dostoevsky’s exile to Siberia where he was punished with ‘hard labor’ after he was initially... Read more
Published 17 months ago by M. DeKalb
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