Inspired by the true story of a political murder that horried Russians in 1869, Fyodor Dostoevsky conceived of Demons as a “novel-pamphlet” in which he would say everything about the plague of materialist ideology that he saw infecting his native land. What emerged was a prophetic and ferociously funny masterpiece of ideology and murder in pre-revolutionary Russia.
From Library Journal
Pevear and Volokhonsky have found critical acclaim with previous translations of Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov (Classic Returns, LJ 8/90), Crime and Punishment (Classic Returns, LJ 1/92), and Notes from Underground (Classic Returns, LJ 7/93). Their Demons should be equally respected.
From Kirkus Reviews
Dostoevsky’s sprawling political novel is given new life in this fresh translation. The previous translations of the husband-and-wife team of Larissa Volokhonsky and Richard Pevear–The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment, and Notes From Underground–have been universally praised for capturing Dostoevsky’s force and subtlety, and all three works are now considered the English standards. Now they have successfully tackled one of Dostoevsky’s most complex and dense works. Mistakenly translated in the past as “The Possessed,” the title refers to the infestation of foreign political and philosophical ideas that swept Russia in the second half of the 19th century. Pevear writes in the introduction, “These demons, then, are ideas, that legion of -isms that came to Russia from the West: idealism, rationalism, empiricism, materialism, utilitarianism, positivism, socialism, anarchism, nihilism, and, underlying them all, atheism.” Dostoevsky, taking as his starting point the political chaos around him at the time, constructs an elaborate morality tale in which the people of a provincial town turn against one another because they are convinced of the infallibility of their ideas. Stepan Trofimovich, an affable thinker who does little to turn his liberal ideas into action, creates a monster in his student, Nikolai Vsevolodovich Stavrogin, who takes his spiritual father’s teaching to heart, joining a circle of other nihilists who will justify any and all violent excesses for the sake of their ideas. Stavrogin aims for a “systematic corrupting of society and all its principles” so that out of the resulting destruction he may “raise the banner of rebellion.” A chilling foreshadowing of Stalinist logic. Volokhonsky and Pevear’s translation brings to the surface all of Dostoevsky’s subtle linguistic and nationalist humor, and the copious notes are indispensable for making one’s way through the thicket of 19th-century Russian politics. — Copyright ®1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.