Folklore, and Other Stories


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Apr 21, Jack rated it liked it Shelves: Oct 03, Dewey rated it liked it. This collection of four different works from Dostoyevsky's early, pre-mock execution period consists of works that aren't exactly at the Masters highest calibre. But it is nevertheless essential for anybody who wants the full Dostoyevsky experience. The Landlady is the best one in this collection. Prokharchin and Polzunkov that aren't always coherent and that would This collection of four different works from Dostoyevsky's early, pre-mock execution period consists of works that aren't exactly at the Masters highest calibre.

Prokharchin and Polzunkov that aren't always coherent and that would be better read from a Constance Garnett translation if she did indeed translate these stories, and if they can be found. I also wish the introduction had shed more light on the other stories in this collection aside from just Poor Folk, as the story behind that epistolary novel is well known to Dostoyevsky fans.

It was, nevertheless, exciting to read about the young Dostoyevskys excitement and determination. I've reviewed the stories separately and rated them separately as well, but all in all the collection earns three stars. What do Fyodor Dostoyevsky and George Orwell have in common? Both, early in their careers, decided to understand the experiences of poor people despite coming from more well-off backgrounds. Dostoyevsky - at the time having been a soldier who had since written several plays in the style of Schiller and translated a number of novels from the French into Russian - had nevertheless been exposed to the lives of people much poorer than his serf-owning family for a long time.

Though his future works would touch on all classes, the young Dostoyevsky declared his strata of literary interest unambiguously with his aptly titled debut novel Poor Folk. Despite being among the most minor of his novels today, Poor Folk, as all Dostoyevsky fans know, was one of the most important publications in his own lifetime.

It made him an instant albeit minor celebrity in St Petersburg circles, and was particularly admired by Belinsky, one of the fiercest critics of the time. Just as This Side of Paradise would later constitute the ultimate approval F. Scott Fitzgerald needed to marry Zelda, Poor Folk represented a similar challenge for the young Dostoyevsky, whose famous addiction to gambling had begun to take root and deprive his wallet of thickness. For the Dostoyevsky enthusiast of which I am certainly one , it was hard to approach Poor Folk with a straight mind.

One expects it to either astound the enthusiast despite being a minor work, or underwhelm the enthusiast. Sadly, it was the latter that occurred. The main issue for me was format: I am simply not a fan of epistolary novels: I do not have a neuron in my brain allowing me to read them comfortably and now I conclude that the best literary lesson Dostoyevsky could have learned from this debut if he indeed learned this lesson was to abandon the epistolary format altogether, which thankfully he did.

Fads do have their benefits I suppose: In the beginning, did Dostoyevsky understand the lives of the poor? Enough to write poignantly about them to say the least. This is apparent as Dostoyevsky neither romanticizes their plight nor claims to be nit picky about what constitutes poverty. For Orwell in Down and Out in Paris and London, poverty was a state of being that he did not feel like he could fully comment upon, given his background. For Dostoyevsky, however, poverty is not an identity: There is no need to classify, testify or justify: Another thing to take note of is its political character.

While the socialism likening makes sense given that Dostoyevsky would join the Petrashevsky Group around that time Petrashevsky being a utopian socialist follower of Charles Fourier , I would hesitate to say that Poor Folk serves as the vessel for any one ideology. At no point did I get the feeling that the novel was trying to convince me of the need to introduce socialism of any kind into society: Nor did I think it to be an anti-wealth or anti-aristocracy novel, given that the one aristocratic character, who is only referred to as His Excellency, is a compassionate man who shows generosity and kindness at the moment he is featured.

The landlady in this early novella, however, could not be farther removed from the catalyst of Crime and Punishment as Karelia is from Kamchatka. Set in the streets and the poor housing of St Petersburg seen in most of the Masters stories from Poor Folk to Crime and Punishment, the protagonist is a bookish fellow of limited but suitable means. The Landlady is a young woman named Katerina living with an old man named Murin, an Old Believer and a mystic of sorts who gives the reader the sense that Dostoyevsky is predicting the arrival of Rasputin.

My take was both. Either way it was confusing, but while a lesser novelist would find the confusion exasperating in this story it adds to the insanity that Dostoyevsky truly begins to express in this story. The Double succeeds tremendously with depicting Golyadkins insanity, but The Double is such a particular story and it comes from such a deep pocket in Gogols overcoat that it stands apart Overall I liked The Landlady a lot.

Some credit it as a Gogolian influence from the period when Gogol wrote literary versions of Ukrainian folk tales. Others have said it symbolizes Russianness. I can see both being true, even though the footnotes and references mention Pushkin a lot more.


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Either way, it is the first time Dostoyevsky brings Russian culture straight out of the forests, steppes, riverbanks, etc. It is not as evenly disseminated throughout the story as it would be in Netochka Nezvanova, but Dostoyevsky nevertheless accomplishes what he intends to accomplish with this direct injection of raw folklore.

Even so, Dostoyevskys style was so ahead of its time that the romanticism of the fable contrasts too sharply with his definitive St Petersburg neighborhood. Probably why he sought to disseminate it more when the story of poor Netochka first came to him. I think any casual reader of Dostoyevsky will enjoy this novella. While its conceptual strength is not the highest in his oeuvre, the strengths it succeeds in flexing are flexed well enough to make it a worthwhile read. But overall, I did not find the explanatory perspective of the story suitable for expressing Dostoyevskys world.

Prokharchin weaves in and out of the story.

Danish Folktales, Legends, and Other Stories

But it is what it is. Prokharchin and both testify to how Dostoyevsky, despite never fully delivering quality in the beginning, was a much more experimental short story writer than his contemporaries who aside from Gogol were more consistently good but less adventurous. Jul 13, Kyle rated it liked it. Woe to the book collectors, especially the type that really, really needs to own the complete works of Pushkin. That seems to be the message here from a young Dostoyevsky, known for writing a few of literature's heavier novels, who writes in a few of this volume's shorter stories about how this obsession with reading leads to ruin.

Thanks a lot for telling me this now! I might have felt less like the Idiot perhaps if I had read this book instead of the novel as my first introduction to nine Woe to the book collectors, especially the type that really, really needs to own the complete works of Pushkin. I might have felt less like the Idiot perhaps if I had read this book instead of the novel as my first introduction to nineteenth century literature. And yet, despite the crammed bookshelves, numerous cardboard boxes on moving day, and the various basement suites and cramped apartment found more for my collection as opposed to my own comfort, I feel as though I have led a rich life through them, unlike the poor folk I've just read about.

Feb 07, Eva D.

Danish Folktales, Legends, and Other Stories

Dostoevsky's first major independent publication! It's a gem of a series of stories. Poor Folk is absolutely phenomenal -- it's written in the epistolary form, and shows a correspondence between a creepy older man and his mysterious younger relative. Devushkin is obsessed with style, yet aware that he doesn't have any; the result is a series of plagiarized, Frankenstein-ish letters that cannot but cause the readers much mirth.

The other three stores are equally phenomenal; the Land Lady is heavi Dostoevsky's first major independent publication! The other three stores are equally phenomenal; the Land Lady is heavily inspired by Gothic writings, Mr. Prokharchin details the story of an insanely self conscious titular counselor, and Polzunkov concludes the literary debacle on a good note Sep 10, Werebot rated it really liked it Recommends it for: Poor Folk was Dostoevsky's first work, and honestly it's a meandering snoozefest.

But, this collection also contains the stories The Landlady, Mr. Prokharchin, and Polzunkov, all of which are good. The Landlady, in particular, is creepy and captivating. There is a scene in a church, where the hero first sees a beautiful girl accompanied by an old man, and another scene later in the same church with the same girl, that are very affecting, and much needed after slogging through Poor Folk.

In this Book

Jan 17, Laura Frey Reading in Bed rated it really liked it. I think this is the beginning of a Complete Works project Sep 07, Philip Bolton rated it liked it.

Poor Folk - Dostoyevsky At midpoint in this novella I had enjoyed certain episodes, the diary sequence in particular with Pokrovsky, but felt a limited attachment to Varvara and Makar. However there is enough of the authors DNA in this book to link it to his major novels.

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Folklore, and Other Stories by Ankhesen Mié

For fans of Dostoyevsky, Poor Folk is more than a curiosity. There are scenes, e. The final few letters carry an emotional punch that the preceding doesn't quite prepare you for. Perhaps a second reading will reveal more off the central characters, but it's a fine work for a writer in his early 20s, and an indication of what was to come. May 30, Vinay Ayilavarapu rated it liked it. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Here's a brief breakdown of the stories: Poor Folk - 3. Unlike his later works that probe deeper into the psyche of human nature, here his style isn't full developed and is also limited by the novella's format.

The protagonist of this story shares similarities with hero of "White Nights". The landlady aka the princess develops Stockholm syndrome and this bounds her to the devious landlord. This story is also a commentary on gender roles in society and if you like this piece I would recommend Tolstoy's Kreutzer Sonata. Mr Prokharchin - 4 Stars Surprisingly, it turned out to be a story about existential crisis and a sharp critic of materialistic society. Polzunkov - 4 Stars A moving story told from an entertainer's point of view.

This is a tale of tragic and comedic portions. The narrator's misfortune is his own doing, bribery and practical jokes that he spins come back around to ridicule him. Jan 02, Samuel Rooke rated it liked it Shelves: My individual reviews for each of the stories are below, but as for the collection itself, I give it three roubles, and a hard mattress.

Structurally, it is an epistolary novel, composed entirely of letters exchanged between the two protagonists, the hard-done-by clerk Makar Devushkin, and the sickly Varvara Dobroselova. Initially I was unsure as to the point of this format, assuming it was either some sort of gimmick or just a particular style Dostoyevsky was interested in using, with no real thematic connection to the story itself. The ending shows that that was not the case, as its impact is entirely centred on the format, and how it disrupts it.

The characters themselves are sometimes hard to take, with their peculiarities feeling almost abrasive to the reader at points where they seem to be repeated endlessly, but their increasingly dire circumstances always come across as harrowing. I do not feel any satire at all here, as some do. This feels like a work deeply empathetic with the poor, with the exponential nature of poverty and how difficult it is to climb out of it when one has sunk in, but also with how curiously generous those with so little can be.

I give it four copecks, and a rouble. I lack the cultural background to understand the ways Dostoeyevsky drew on Russian folklore with this story, but I very much enjoyed that folkloric atmosphere the story had anyway. The story itself felt inconsistent to me. I liked the premise and the more atmospheric set-up of the first half or so, but felt the ending too abstract and inconclusive to really satisfy me. I give it three mysterious texts, and a new lodger. Perhaps that faithfulness to reality is what makes the story feel somewhat aimless and narratively lacking.

I almost feel the story would work better as an anecdote rather than a short story in its own right. The ending of the story is interesting, and all the preceding pages seem to exist only to justify it and make the ending have some sort of impact on the reader. But then the story just stops. All it seems to do is frame a short story around an interesting anecdote. I give it two hard mattresses, and some vittles.

Folklore, and Other Stories

Following dreams; creative process AGES: Pursuit of excellence AGES: Kindness, false imagining AGES: As a boy, Dong Chin never shared the stories he heard—and now, on his wedding day, the stories want revenge. When his daughters all marry trolls, Ulf learns some new tricks from the husbands—or thinks he does. Lack of full knowledge AGES: The war-loving men of the Beldy clan are once more off to battle—but why are the wise young twins going with them? The invisible hunter at the end of the village is sought as husband by every village maiden—but will Little Scarface even dare to try?

Individuality; value of arts AGES: Hans has never in his life been frightened—but a night in a haunted castle should finally give him his chance. Looking for something special? In addition to the trials this long-suffering director undergoes at the hands of his prop master, "Grand Guignol" treats us to the reflections of the company's cemetery-haunting playwright and his envious psychotherapist, the longings of the theatre's leading lady for the legitimate theatre "I would love a role that did not require me to be strangled or boiled or gutted like a fish twice each evening plus matinees" , the longings of the prop-master for the leading lady, and the longings of the shy and brilliant make-up artist for the playwright.

It's a grand tour de force of love and death. Duncan treats these themes of love and death more subtly but no less wittily or strangely in "Saved," which intertwines the sinking of the Titanic with the silent-movie industry, and "Premature Burials," which treats the peculiar fascination of a doting and randy young couple for coffins. Both "Saved" and "Premature Burials" were originally composed for collections of erotic horror, and they are both sexy and uncanny.

The opening sequence of "Premature Burials" which I won't spoil for you by summarizing is particularly subtle, hilarious, and sublime. My tastes do not, as a rule, run to horror, but these tales won me over anyway. If you're a fan of Howard Waldrop, Duncan's more extravagant stories will seem both familiar and appealing. Indeed, Duncan comes perhaps a little too close to Waldrop in some of these pieces, especially those that focus on theatre, film, and television.

The second new piece in the collection, for example, "Fenneman's Mouth," which examines the implications of using video technology to create new shows out of classic TV materials, treats this subject in a manner quite similar to Waldrop's recent story "French Scenes," while "Mouth's" focus on Groucho Marx seems a nod to Waldrop's classic story "Save a Place in the Lifeboat for Me.

Yet for me to note this close resemblance to Waldrop may not, after all, be a criticism. Waldrop's uniqueness is legendary, so it's something readers have come to expect from his stories: While some of Duncan's stories are unique "The Executioner's Guild" and "From Alfano's Reliquary" come to mind as having few parallels , what sets Duncan's stories apart, what gives them their consistent and enduring appeal, is the style, the attention Duncan gives to getting every detail exactly right, so that the reader sees something familiar in a completely new and utterly memorable way.

But I guarantee you will have never seen the Devil as he appears in this story, and you won't forget him soon. One might see a bit of an artist's self-portrait, then, in the methods of Zell, the protagonist of "Fenneman's Mouth.

He uses that old material to create new episodes of old shows -- episodes that never happened. But everyone remembers them as if they had. Is he just tapping an existing reservoir of urban legends? Or is he, by creating pieces that seem so exactly right, changing the way people remember their own past? Most likely, he's doing both at once. That is Zell's art, and I suggest that it is Andy Duncan's art, too. Fantasist and folklorist, he takes premises that are not made up, or at least are not made up by Andy Duncan he explains the origins of each of the stories in a fascinating set of author's notes at the end of the collection , and creates new and strange stories out of them, which nevertheless tell the truth about the way things happened.

You owe it to yourself to read these stories and let them become a part of your own past. His previous publications in Strange Horizons can be found in our archives. Andy Duncan's Beluthahatchie and Other Stories:

Folklore, and Other Stories Folklore, and Other Stories
Folklore, and Other Stories Folklore, and Other Stories
Folklore, and Other Stories Folklore, and Other Stories
Folklore, and Other Stories Folklore, and Other Stories
Folklore, and Other Stories Folklore, and Other Stories
Folklore, and Other Stories Folklore, and Other Stories
Folklore, and Other Stories Folklore, and Other Stories
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