The Adolescent by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Andrew R. MacAndrew (Translator)

By Fyodor Dostoevsky, Andrew R. MacAndrew (Translator)

"Not until J. D. Salinger created Holden Caulfield has there ever been so convincing a portrait of an adolescent."—Toronto day-by-day StarThe fourth of Dostoevsky's 5 significant novels, this is often the tale of a nineteen-year-old looking for identification amid the affliction of Russian society within the 1870s. Arkady is the illegitimate baby of a landowner and the spouse of his estate's gardener. He has refused to move to school, as an alternative touring to St. Petersburg in pursuit of a mystery goal—and of a dating together with his father.

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Again, to emphasize the difference between Arkady's two fathers—the real and the legal one—Dostoevsky makes both of them footloose travelers, but while Versilov is a restless nomad pursuing an elusive faith throughout Europe, Makar is a religious pilgrim, who, trudging along Russia's roads, gets closer and closer to God. " That "beauty" of his is the reflection of universal harmony Makar has found, and thus he occupies in The Adolescent the place held by Zosima in The Brothers Karamazov or Tikhon in The Possessed—the place closest to salvation.

At the same time, the move would rid him of a formidable sexual rival (for there is sexual father-son rivalry involved here too). Finally, there is the recurring suggestion of the possibility of demanding of Katerina payment in kind in some dark back room, as Lambert insinuates. Arkady even has an erotic dream to this effect. All this, it would appear, gives him plenty of motivation. Besides, Arkady's behavior also reflects the general moral disorientation. But his own sound nature, with the help of good solid advice; from the very Russian old lady Mrs.

Thus, quite naturally, Dostoevsky, like most of his sensitive intellectual contemporaries whose views were formed during the 1840s, found abundant food for thought in the French Utopian socialism that reached Petersburg. Perhaps it even contained possible answers to the dilemmas that tormented him. For whatever these Frenchmen might have found objectionable in France was even more conspicuously present in Russia: the regime was even more despotic and cruel, the institutions more rigid and illogical, the people hungrier and more brutalized, and the church even more bizarre and gaudy, watching all these appalling injustices with perfect equanimity.

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