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By Fyodor Dostoevsky / Eerdmans / 2013
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Long before Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago came Dostoevsky’s Notes from the House of the Dead, a compelling account of the horrific conditions in Siberian labor camps. First published in 1861, this novel, based on Dostoevsky’s own experience as a political prisoner, is a forerunner of his famous novels Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov.
The characters and situations that Dostoevsky encountered in prison, were so violent and extraordinary, that they changed his psyche profoundly. Through that experience, he later said, he was resurrected into a new spiritual condition—one in which he would create some of the greatest novels ever written.
This volume includes an illuminating introduction by James Scanlan on Dostoevsky’s prison years. The totally new translation by Boris Jakim captures Dostoevsky’s semi-autobiographical narrative—at times coarse, at times intensely emotional, at times philosophical—in rich American English.
In the Noet edition, Notes from the House of the Dead is enhanced by amazing functionality. Scripture citations link directly to English translations, and important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Powerful searches help you find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Noet, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.
As usual, Boris Jakim offers a fluent and accessible translation, giving us a new opportunity to encounter one of Dostoevsky’s most seminal works. So much of the vision and insight of the great novels, have their roots here in his nightmare experience in the Siberian penal camps. Here we have a first-class new rendering of this unique chronicle.
—Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury
This startling book was a sensation in its day and became the source of all of Dostoevsky’s mature fictions. . . . Leo Tolstoy wrote that he did not know ‘a better book in all modern literature.’ 150 years later, Notes from the House of the Dead still retains the quality of a literary experiment capable of shocking and moving its readers. Boris Jakim’s new translation vividly and sensitively communicates the sense of discovery the work had for its first readers.
—Robert Bird, associate professor, The University of Chicago
Jakim captures Dostoevsky’s voice with an immediacy and power that is perhaps a little uncanny. This should by all rights become the standard English edition of this book.
—David Bentley Hart, philosopher; and cultural commentator
Fyodor Dostoevsky was born to minor Russian nobility in 1821. He entered the military academy at age 17. While an engineer in the army, he translated works from French and wrote his first fiction for money on the side. He became a member of the utopian socialist Petrashevsky circle. He was arrested for reading banned political literature and sentenced to death by firing squad in 1849. The execution was stayed at the last moment when a letter arrived from the Tsar pardoning him. Instead, Dostoevsky was exiled to Siberia and four years hard of labor, shackled hand and foot. During his sentence, the only thing he could read was the New Testament. Upon his release, his gambling addiction frequently left him in poverty, and he began a financially tumultuous marriage to his secretary. He died in 1881 after suffering a pulmonary hemorrhage. Together with Tolstoy, he is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential novelist of Russian literature’s golden age.
Boris Jakim is the foremost translator of Russian religious thought into English. His published translations include works by S. L. Frank, Pavel Florensky, Vladimir Solovyov, and Sergius Bulgakov.