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By Fyodor Dostoevsky

Awarded as a chain of letters among the common-or-garden copying-clerk Devushkin and a far off relative of his, the younger Varenka, terrible humans brings to the fore the underclass of St Petersburg, who dwell on the margins of society within the so much appalling stipulations and abject poverty. As Devushkin attempts to aid Varenka increase her plight via promoting something he can, he's decreased to much more determined conditions and seeks safe haven in alcohol, counting on helplessly because the item of his very unlikely love is taken clear of him.Introducing the 1st in a protracted line of “underground” characters, terrible humans, Dostoevsky’s first full-length paintings of fiction, is a poignant, tragi-comic story which foreshadows the greatness of his later novels.

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Sample text

And you could live much better, judging by your salary. Fedora says that previously you used to live better by far than now. Surely you haven’t lived all your life like this, in solitude, in deprivation, without joy, without a friendly, affable word, renting corners from strangers? Ah, how sorry I feel for you, kind friend! At least take pity on your health, Makar Alexeyevich! You say your eyes are getting weak, so don’t write by candlelight; why do you write? Your zeal for your work is doubtless well-known to your superiors in any case.

She says you’re not my relative at all, that she’s a closer relation, that you have no right whatsoever to enter into our family relationships, and that it’s shameful and indecent for me to live on your charity and to be kept by you… She says I’ve forgotten her hospitality, that she may have saved mother and me from starving to death, that she gave us food and drink and spent money on us for more than two and a half years, that on top of all that she waived our debt. She didn’t even want to spare my mother!

Bashmachkin’s love is for a mere item of clothing, Devushkin’s is for a friendless orphan. Even their names are contrasting, Gogol’s degrading derivation from bashmak, “shoe”, giving way to Dostoevsky’s sympathetic derivation from devushka, “young girl” (also contrasted in the novel with the name of the odious Bykov, “Mr Bull”). Perhaps most importantly of all, Dostoevsky gives the humble copying clerk a voice. Bashmachkin is scarcely able to form a coherent sentence and his writing never progresses beyond the stage of copying official documents.

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