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The House of the Dead (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – April 22, 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
"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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is some of Dostoevsky's most excellent writing, but it is so poorly translated that it is difficult to read.Published 3 months ago by badassgrandma
Pretty complex story. If you into a long read-haul then highly recommend. it tends to drag on but it was translated from another languagePublished 12 months ago by vince adams
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 morePublished 19 months ago by Jason Trask
A great and revealing account of life in Syberia under the Czar.Published 20 months ago by Leroy A. Franklin
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 morePublished 22 months ago by Frans van Hoek
Not the best Dostoyevsky. Won't let you smile much. Good insights to Russia. One question I have is about the cover. Read morePublished 22 months ago by leroy
Dostoevsky is depressing and this book follows true to form. His prose is excellent but always makes me sad for some reason.Published 22 months ago by Lee Schuler
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 24 months ago by Amazon Customer