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The House of the Dead or Prison Life in Siberia

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Book Overview: 

The House of the Dead portrays the life of convicts in a Siberian prison camp. Dostoyevsky himself 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 penalty 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. It is a work of great humanity; 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. - Summary by Wikipedia

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .daring, for the speculator hazarded his skin as well as liquor. But the drink-seller hesitated before no obstacles. At the outset he brought the vodka himself to the prison and got rid of it on the most advantageous terms. He repeated this operation a second and a third time. If he had not been discovered by the officials, he now possessed a sum which enabled him to extend his business. He became a capitalist with agents and assistants, he risked much less and gained much more. Then his assistants incurred risk in place of him.

Prisons are always abundantly inhabited by ruined men without the habit of work, but endowed with skill and daring; their only capital is their back. They often decide to put it into circulation, and propose to the drink-seller to introduce vodka into the barracks. There is always in the town a soldier, a shopkeeper, or some loose woman who, for a stipulated sum—rather a small one—buys vodka with the drink-seller's money, hides. . . Read More

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Cancel my subscription to the resurrection… Send my credentials to the house of detention…
Our prison was at the far end of the citadel behind the ramparts. Peering through the crevices in the palisade in the hope of glimpsing something, one sees nothing but a little corner of the sky, and a high ear

Dostoevsky did five years of hard labour in a Siberian prison for being in the wrong room at the wrong time. When he was released in 1854 he had to serve time in the Siberian army and he was still banned from publishing anything. This memoir of his time in the joint finally came out in 1861 and it w

I have been frequenting an open-air restaurant for 7 years now. Hiding on the roof of a rickety building, in one of the small tributaries of the Jaipur's busiest road, it is aptly named Cocoon. The place is shady, unknown, and visited only by international tourists living in its cheap guest-house.

‘Prisons do not disappear social problems, they disappear human beings.’
–Angela Y. Davis

It has been said you can judge the character of a society by how they judge their prisoners and poor. This quote is often misattributed to the great Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky and though he may not have sa

و من المؤكد أن المجرم لا تصلحه سجون و لا معتقلات و لا أشغال شاقة. فهذه العقوبات لا تستطيع إلا أن توقع به القصاص و أن تسكن روع المجتمع من الجرائم التي يمكن أن يرتكبها. و ليس في وسع الإعتقالات و الأشغال المرهقة إلا أن تفاقم في هؤلاء الرجال الحقد العميق. و العطش إلى اللذات المحرمة و الاستهتار الفظيع.

كنت أشعر في هذه الأيام بضيق شديد فتناولت كتاب "ذكريات من منزل الأموات" فأعدت قراءته. كنت قد نسيت كثيرًا منه، فلما أعدت قراءته أيقنت أن ليس في الأدب الجديد كله كتاب واحد يفوقه، حتى ولا كُتب بوشكين
ليست النبرة هي الشيء الرائع فيه، بل وجهة النظر التي يشتمل عليها؛ إنه صادق طبيعي مسيحي، إنه كتاب ي

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