Tuesday 11 September 2018

Book Review: The House of the Dead & The Gambler by Dostoevsky (Classics)

Title: The House of the Dead & The Gambler

Publication Date: 2010 (1867)
Bought Copy


The House of the Dead is a stark account of Dostoyevsky's own experience of penal servitude in Siberia. In graphic detail he describes the suffering of the convicts - their squalor and degradation, their terror and resignation, from the rampages of a pyschopath to the brief serenity of Christmas Day. Amid the horror of labour in the sub-zero work camp, we hear the stories of the prisoners, and live through the freezing isolation and pain of day after day of misery. We see a young intellectual forced to live, eat and sleep with men from a background of cruelty, coarseness and brutality.

I am a huge Dostoevsky fan, and yet I found The House of the Dead a tad disappointing. It had its moments and was interesting, but I felt it lacked the depth of some of his other works, so I don't recommend it to anyone except die-hard fans. On the other hand, The Gambler was much more on form for him. It was a gripping tale with an interesting protagonist, and I was keen to see how things would work out for him as the story progressed. I am giving this 4 stars, but really it is 3.5 for The House of the Dead and 4.5 for The Gambler.

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