Notes from a Dead House
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From the publisher
In 1849 the young Fyodor Dostoevsky was sentenced to four years' hard labour in a Siberian prison camp for advocating socialism. Notes from a Dead House (sometimes translated as The House of the Dead), the novel he wrote on his release, tells of shocking conditions, brutal punishments, and the psychological effects of the loss of freedom and hope; it describes the daily life of the prison community, the feuds and betrayals, the moments of comedy, the unexpected acts of kindness.
To avoid censorship, Dostoevsky made his protagonist a common criminal, but the perspective is unmistakably his own. As a member of the nobility he had been despised by his fellow prisoners, most of whom were peasants - an experience shared in the book by Alexander Petrovich Goryanchikov, a nobleman who has killed his wife. Like his creator, Goryanchikov undergoes a transformation over the course of his ordeal, as he discovers 'deep, strong, beautiful natures' amongst even the roughest of the convicts. Notes from a Dead House shows the prison camp as a tragedy for the inmates and a tragedy for Russia. It endures today as a profound meditation on freedom.