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: To the extent that Dostoevsky can be imagined as approaching the commonplace he does so in what is at the same time the shortest and the least distinguished of the novels that have so far appeared in the admirable Garnett translation. Here there is melodramatic plot of a kind that is absent from his earlier tales, and which, taken in conjunction with the gray atmosphere of the St. Petersburg slum, strongly suggests Dickens of the somber parts of "Bleak House" or "Our Mutual Friend." These very qualities of brevity, sustained plot interest, a minimum of the Dostoevsky horror, and a less exasperating subtlety of character and motive analysis, should make "The Injured and Possessed" the most suitable of all his novels for the beginner, who nevertheless will find enough of the peculiar quality of the greater works to carry him forward. The story has the characteristic Dostoyevsky setting of poverty and chill winter and sickness of body and soul, the characteristic movement in the form of almost interminable and almost endlessly repeated conversations, interrupted by poignant bits of tragic action. It has the characteristic Dostoevsky hero in the person of a youth who loves two women in alternate half hours, and continues doing so without subsidence or climax to the end of the book. In this feature lies the very serious weakness of an undeniably great writer. Dostoyevskyâs enigmatic men and women frequently do not pass through a psychological evolution, but simply keep on changing their minds back and forth, with somewhat of the effect produced by the red and white revolving pole of the modern barber shop. Such is the fickle Alyosha of the present story, to whom Dostoevsky by formula opposes the constant Natasha; always you find steadfastness and gentleness sacrificing itself to selfishness and psychic instability. But in spite of these traits the book does come nearest to our own standards in fiction. We have spoken of Dickens. A scene like the death of Nellie in Dostoevskyâs story is very close to the tradition of "The Old Curiosity Shop."
, Volume 101