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Notes From A Dead House

Notes From A Dead House

Book - 2015
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"In 1849 Dostoevsky was sentenced to four years at hard labor in a Siberian prison camp for his participation in a utopian socialist discussion group. The account he wrote after his release, based on notes he smuggled out, was the first book to reveal life inside the Russian penal system. The book not only brought him fame but also founded the tradition of Russian prison writing. Notes from a Dead House (sometimes translated as The House of the Dead) is filled with vivid details of brutal punishments, shocking conditions, feuds and betrayals, and the psychological effects of the loss of freedom, but it also describes moments of comedy and acts of kindness. There are grotesque bathhouse and hospital scenes that seem to have come straight from Dante's Inferno, alongside daring escape attempts, doomed acts of defiance, and a theatrical Christmas celebration that draws the entire community together in a temporary suspension of their grim reality. To get past government censors, Dostoevsky made his narrator a common-law criminal rather than a political prisoner, but the perspective is unmistakably his own. His incarceration was a transformative experience that nourished all his later works, particularly Crime and Punishment. Dostoevsky's narrator discovers that even among the most debased criminals there are strong and beautiful souls. His story reveals the prison as a tragedy both for the inmates and for Russia; it is, finally, a profound meditation on freedom: "The prisoner himself knows that he is a prisoner; but no brands, no fetters will make him forget that he is a human being""-- provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2015.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780307959591
Call Number: FIC DOS
Characteristics: xvi, 311 pages ; 25 cm
Bib Control Number: 841180


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Apr 13, 2018

" What's more, men who had just run the gauntlet very often arrived in the prisoners' wards with lacerated backs; they were treated with lotions, and then the robe,put on right over the wet shirt, could not possibly help being tainted: everything stayed on it." "To acknowledge one's guilt and ancestral sin is little, very little; it is necessary to break with them completely. And that cannot be done so quickly." " However, I liked lugging bricks not only because the work strengthened my body, but also because it took place on the bank of the Irtysh....Everything there was dear and sweet to me: the bright, hot sun in the bottomless blue sky, and the far-off song of a Kirghiz, carried here from the Kirghiz side." " 'a moral Quasimodo': Quasimodo, the hero of Victor Hugo's HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, was only physically deformed." " When Dostoevsky's party stopped in Tobolsk on the way to Omsk, it was met by the wives of some of the Decembrists, who had been exiled twetny-five years earlier. One of them, Natalya Dmitrievna Fonvizina (1805-69), gave Dostoevsky a Gospel, the only book allowed in prison, which he kept for the rest of his life. The Decembrists were members of a group of reformist aristocrats in Petersburg who staged an uprising on December 4, 1825, after the sudden death of the emperor Alexander I, demanding that Russia become a constitutional monarchy. The revolt was brutally suppressed, five leaders were executed, and more than a hundred others were exiled to Siberia. Their wives chose to accompany them. Dostoevsky wrote some important letters to Natalya Dmitrievna after his release."


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