Notes from a Dead House
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Date: March 2015
Duration: 13 hours 36 minutes
From renowned translators Richard Pevear and Lindsay Volokhonsky comes a new translation—certain to become the definitive version—of the first great prison memoir, a fictionalized account of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s life-changing penal servitude in Siberia.
Sentenced to death for advocating socialism in 1849, Dostoevsky served a commuted sentence of four years of hard labor. The account he wrote afterward (sometimes translated as The House of the Dead) is filled with vivid details of brutal punishments, shocking conditions, and the psychological effects of the loss of freedom and hope but also of the feuds and betrayals, the moments of comedy, and the acts of kindness he observed.
As a nobleman and a political prisoner, Dostoevsky was despised by most of his fellow convicts, and his first-person narrator—a nobleman who has killed his wife—experiences a similar struggle to adapt. He also undergoes a transformation over the course of his ordeal, as he discovers that even among the most debased criminals there are strong and beautiful souls. Notes from a Dead House reveals the prison as a tragedy both for the inmates and for Russia. It endures as a monumental meditation on freedom.
“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.’ One hundred and fifty years later, [Notes from a Dead House] still retains the quality of a literary experiment capable of shocking and moving its readers.”—Robert Bird, author of Fyodor Dostoevsky