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In this compelling study of despair, based on a real-life incident, a pawnbroker mourns the loss of his wife, a quiet, gentle young girl. Why has she killed herself? Could he have prevented it? These are the questions the pawnbroker asks himself as he pieces together past events and minor incidents, changes of mood and passing glances, in his search for an answer that will In this compelling study of despair, based on a real-life incident, a pawnbroker mourns the loss of his wife, a quiet, gentle young girl. Why has she killed herself? Could he have prevented it? These are the questions the pawnbroker asks himself as he pieces together past events and minor incidents, changes of mood and passing glances, in his search for an answer that will relieve his torment. Translated by David McDuff.


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In this compelling study of despair, based on a real-life incident, a pawnbroker mourns the loss of his wife, a quiet, gentle young girl. Why has she killed herself? Could he have prevented it? These are the questions the pawnbroker asks himself as he pieces together past events and minor incidents, changes of mood and passing glances, in his search for an answer that will In this compelling study of despair, based on a real-life incident, a pawnbroker mourns the loss of his wife, a quiet, gentle young girl. Why has she killed herself? Could he have prevented it? These are the questions the pawnbroker asks himself as he pieces together past events and minor incidents, changes of mood and passing glances, in his search for an answer that will relieve his torment. Translated by David McDuff.

30 review for The Gentle Spirit: A Fantastic Story

  1. 5 out of 5

    Muhtasin Fuad

    A Gentle Creature by Fyodor Dostoyevsky Picture to yourselves a husband, whose wife has committed suicide some hours previously by throwing herself from a window, and is now lying on the table. He is in shock and has not yet managed to collect his scattered thoughts. He walks about his apartment, trying to make sense of what has happened, to ‘bring his thoughts into focus’. From the author's note, the book grabbed my attention. The story was fast-paced and interesting. Besides, It's an engaging A Gentle Creature by Fyodor Dostoyevsky Picture to yourselves a husband, whose wife has committed suicide some hours previously by throwing herself from a window, and is now lying on the table. He is in shock and has not yet managed to collect his scattered thoughts. He walks about his apartment, trying to make sense of what has happened, to ‘bring his thoughts into focus’. From the author's note, the book grabbed my attention. The story was fast-paced and interesting. Besides, It's an engaging and poignant read. I'm a master of speaking silently—all my life I've spoken silently and I've lived through entire tragedies in silence. Wonderful story.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Greta

    Just after she finishes praying she jumps out of her window A Gentle Creature - by Dostoyevsky written in 1876 "A Gentle Creature" by Dostoyevsky chronicles the relationship between a pawnbroker and a girl that frequents his shop. It is about cruelty, desperation, manipulation, freedom and suicide, not from the perspective of the girl taking her life, but as inner monologue of her later husband in retrospective. Standing over her dead body, somewhere between victim and initiator, he passes revue Just after she finishes praying she jumps out of her window A Gentle Creature - by Dostoyevsky written in 1876 "A Gentle Creature" by Dostoyevsky chronicles the relationship between a pawnbroker and a girl that frequents his shop. It is about cruelty, desperation, manipulation, freedom and suicide, not from the perspective of the girl taking her life, but as inner monologue of her later husband in retrospective. Standing over her dead body, somewhere between victim and initiator, he passes revue on his enjoyment of his superiority and her suppression and incapacity. Looking for obediense and ideolization he punishes with silence and she revealed herself as being more worldly than he imagined. We are introduced to societal structures that force a girl into a life that suffocates her spirit and from which she can only escape from with death. The Gentle Spirit An abusive marriage between a 41-year old man and a 16-year old orphan girl The narrator of the story is a 41-year-old narcissistic pawnbroker who uses a sixteen year old orphan girl with a gentle spirit as opportunity to outlive his dreams of control and authority. His narration is brittle in emotion and with a creeping paranoia teetering on the edge of a kind of madness. He took advantage and joy out of being chosen as husband, without it actually being her choice but desperation. Expecting admiration, gratitude and obedience, their relationship turns silent. He enjoys to be in a position of dominance and power, while she struggles to retain her pride. After marriage, her gentle disposition gradually begins to give way to a tougher exterior which leads to quarrels and sneaky behavior. But when she holds a gun to his head in his sleep, she doesn‘t pull the trigger, but finds liberation in her own death instead. He did not end her physical, but her spiritual life. He recognizes his guilt and tries to find absolution in reasoning with himself, but fails to recognize the cause of her actions and that believing in spiritual immortality was not enough to save her. Faith and Suicide A meek suicide that keeps haunting you for a long time The theme of suicide is the main theme of the story and every line is penetrated with the feelings of fatal finish. The two first meet, when the girl wants to pawn a biblical icon in his shop and later she jumps from the window with this icon in her hands. This detail is important as it shows her faith but also that she is aware of herself as a sinner and that her desire not to live was stronger. She tried to betray him, tried to kill him and killed herself, thereby acting against her faith. It is characteristic that these are crimes in a purely religious sense, since sin can be committed "by thought, by word, by deed and by default of duty“. Twenty-two suicides occur throughout Dostoevskys works, who wasn’t only obsessed with the question of faith but also with suicide. The story was inspired by a news report that Dostoyevsky read in 1876 about the suicide of a seamstress. Dostoyevsky referred to it as a "meek suicide" that "keeps haunting you for a long time." „I could see that she was still terribly afraid, but I didn't soften anything; instead, seeing that she was afraid I deliberately intensified it.“ What I liked most about the story is the emotional depth and authentcity of the narrator, as well as the unusual perspective. Writing the story from his subjective, dominant and ignorant side, showed the social standing and inequality of the girl perfectly. I love that he remains puzzled about what caused her to commit suicide, because it pronounces his ignorance and inability to realize the consequences of his actions. He feels so rightful in his thoughts, that it becomes a societal institution to him.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Seemita

    In Hindi, there floats an endearing term – ‘meethi churi’. Its literal translation in English is ‘sweet knife’. And ladies and gentlemen, as you might have rightly guessed, it is fervently used, jocularly or sarcastically, for a person who hands us, our sharpest criticisms, soaked in such honeyed words that we actually look forward to the slow slaying. If there was a school, teaching its pupils to sharpen these knives and slice them victoriously under any skin, anywhere in the world, its Principa In Hindi, there floats an endearing term – ‘meethi churi’. Its literal translation in English is ‘sweet knife’. And ladies and gentlemen, as you might have rightly guessed, it is fervently used, jocularly or sarcastically, for a person who hands us, our sharpest criticisms, soaked in such honeyed words that we actually look forward to the slow slaying. If there was a school, teaching its pupils to sharpen these knives and slice them victoriously under any skin, anywhere in the world, its Principal most surely be D. What can one possibly convey in 48 pages chronicling the life of an ordinary forty-one years old scrupulous pawnbroker with a poor wife, all of sixteen? Apparently a lot. That in poverty throbs resentment, in kindness, pride; that a kiss of gratitude is forgotten in the arms of prosperity, a flame of love, extinguished in the rain of jealousy; a helping hand is not without smirk, a sleeping mind is not without doubt; the fear of rarefied high is no more nauseous than the fear of dusty lows; the resolve to kill is the same as the resolve to live. I remember faint, selective outlines of the teachers who were nice to me. But I remember the face, the eyes, the jawline, the gait, the twitch, the frown, basically everything of the handful of teachers who turned the best view-finders of my life. So what if it came amid torrents of face-offs and inundating numbness? ’For, you know, there’s a greatness of soul in it – to be able to say, “Though I am on the edge of the abyss, yet Goethe’s grand words are radiant with light.” Yes, greatness of soul, of D.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    Oh my, I do love Dostoyevsky. No, not all his books but most. Here is why I like him—his characters are complicated. Nothing is simplified. His books always make you think. He doesn’t lecture, as some other Russian authors do! Here I am thinking of the story I recently read by Tolstoy! Don’t expect conclusive answers at the close of the tale. I don’t mind that. Life does not provide conclusive answers either. The tale is about a pawnbroker. His wife lies dead on a table in the room next door. Why Oh my, I do love Dostoyevsky. No, not all his books but most. Here is why I like him—his characters are complicated. Nothing is simplified. His books always make you think. He doesn’t lecture, as some other Russian authors do! Here I am thinking of the story I recently read by Tolstoy! Don’t expect conclusive answers at the close of the tale. I don’t mind that. Life does not provide conclusive answers either. The tale is about a pawnbroker. His wife lies dead on a table in the room next door. Why is what he is asking himself. Who is at fault? Is he at fault? He explains what he knows, but of course, as in real life, he neither knows nor understands everything. Chance, fate, regret, new starts, smothering adoration, respect, pride, secrets, and the long term consequences of not talking are what you will be thinking about. This short story does not take very long to read. You will spend more time thinking about it and talking about it than the time spent reading it. Come on now, give it a try. The story goes by two names. I prefer the title The Meek One. If you choose to listen, chose the audiobook narrated by David Bateson. Yeah, he does dramatize, but even I who hates dramatization think it is excellently performed. You get totally caught up in how the book’s central protagonist, the husband telling the story, is thinking. You are in his head. He is talking to you. The narration I have given five stars.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Dostoevsky is one of my favourite writers. I discovered him in my teenage years, read as many of his books as I could get my hands on, and to be honest haven't read anything else by him in a long time. I still count him as one of my favourite writers, though, more on memory than anything else. His writing is so urgent and immediate, and began to open up a world for me beyond 1990s South London. The Gentle Spirit is very short - longer than a short story, but barely long enough to be called a nove Dostoevsky is one of my favourite writers. I discovered him in my teenage years, read as many of his books as I could get my hands on, and to be honest haven't read anything else by him in a long time. I still count him as one of my favourite writers, though, more on memory than anything else. His writing is so urgent and immediate, and began to open up a world for me beyond 1990s South London. The Gentle Spirit is very short - longer than a short story, but barely long enough to be called a novella. Because of this, it doesn't have the grand scale of Dostoevsky's longer works. But it does succeed in its aim - to get inside the head of a pawnbroker as he watches his dead wife laid out on the table in front of him, the wife that he has recently driven to suicide. The language reflects the disordered state of the character's mind as he tries to understand what has happened. He asks questions, changes his mind, berates himself for going too fast or too slow or missing the point, and is always alternating between self-justification and self-flagellation. It's a convincing portrait. The wife's character is not so clear, but in a way that's the point. The pawnbroker did not understand her - still doesn't, really. Because we see the world entirely through his eyes, our view is very limited and distorted. His wife is the "gentle spirit" of the book's title, much younger than he is and perhaps a little naive in her expectations of him, but beyond that we discover little about her. Even the pawnbroker's own motives are not very clear - he decided from the start of the marriage to be "stern" with her and to withhold love and affection, but the only reason given for this is that it's what he was used to from his job - a pawnbroker has to be stern with his customers, and not allow himself to be emotionally involved in their plight. Perhaps Dostoevsky is saying that after cutting himself off from people in this way for so many years, he was unable to achieve intimacy with another human being. By the time he does realise his mistake and declare his love for her, it is too late and too extreme - after months of not speaking to her at all, he suddenly throws himself at her feet and tells her everything. Whereas at the beginning she would have welcomed this display of love, after everything she's been through it just frightens her and drives her away from him. This was a quick and enjoyable read, and was probably the right length - because of the limitations of the pawnbroker's perspective, it might be tough to read a whole novel based inside his head. In this short book, though, the style worked very well, and although I didn't really understand either character very well, they felt real to me. Now I feel inspired to go back and re-read some of those novels I loved all those years ago.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    "But a loving woman, oh, a loving woman idolizes even the vices, even the villainy of her beloved being." - Fydor Doostoyevsky, The Meek One Vol N° 44 of my Penguin Little Black Classics Box Set. This volume contains Dostoevsky's short story "The Meek One: A Fantastic Story" aka "A Gentle Creature: A Fantastic Story". It was translated by Ronald Mayer in 2010. The story was inspired by a news report that Dostovesky had read about in 1876. The story is narrated by the pawnbroker husband. He is attem "But a loving woman, oh, a loving woman idolizes even the vices, even the villainy of her beloved being." - Fydor Doostoyevsky, The Meek One Vol N° 44 of my Penguin Little Black Classics Box Set. This volume contains Dostoevsky's short story "The Meek One: A Fantastic Story" aka "A Gentle Creature: A Fantastic Story". It was translated by Ronald Mayer in 2010. The story was inspired by a news report that Dostovesky had read about in 1876. The story is narrated by the pawnbroker husband. He is attempting to make sense of her death/suicide and his culpibility in it. He reminds me of several of Dostoyevsky's materialist characters. There is almost a nihilism that attends his persuit of money. Greed and manipulation are obvious themes in this story, but so too is the narrator's complete inability to empathize with his wife. It was't my favorite Dostoyevsky story, but it did keep me reading.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Florencia

    I will not write about how much I love and admire this writer, because I have done it in every review. I guess I did it anyway... So. This was an unusual read. I don't like reading love stories that much. It has to be exceptionally written. And it mustn't focus mainly on the loving part, you know, the chase, the conquest, bed, jealousy, the break-up, whatever. Those mere descriptions bore me. It must have something else, something deeper; a true analysis of the lovers' minds. That captivates me co I will not write about how much I love and admire this writer, because I have done it in every review. I guess I did it anyway... So. This was an unusual read. I don't like reading love stories that much. It has to be exceptionally written. And it mustn't focus mainly on the loving part, you know, the chase, the conquest, bed, jealousy, the break-up, whatever. Those mere descriptions bore me. It must have something else, something deeper; a true analysis of the lovers' minds. That captivates me completely. And this book has it all, with Dostoyevsky's distinctive writing style. This short story is about an extremely proud and materialistic forty-one year old pawnbroker and a sixteen year-old girl. She was a poor girl living with two mean aunts because her parents died. The man offered her a marriage proposal after considering her situation. Almost a charity case for him. He felt noble, different, superior... but did not say so; he expected her to figure that out on her own. He considered he was masterly at speaking without words. He was silent, especially with his wife. All because of his pride, apparently. This all-or-nothing kind of man wanted her to find out who he was, all by herself. So he chose not to speak to her. “See into me for yourself and appreciate me!”. A ridiculous solution to a complicated problem. And the girl, in front of such a silent treatment, acted the same way. Later, he described her as an aggressive “rebel”. “Allow me, I knew that a woman, above all at sixteen, must subordination have be in complete subordination to a man. Women have no originality. That - that is an axiom...” Lovely man. Every woman's dream. These characters are not that easy to understand. There is a lot to read between the lines and the wife's character is not developed with details. I assume that was on purpose... to overshadow her presence, since the whole story was written from this “enigmatic” man's perspective. I guess that is what happens when you alienate yourself from people: you forget how to treat human beings and become unable of any intimacy. You cannot always communicate through silence. No one has any obligation to guess what the hell is going through your mind; if you are suffering, if you are happy. Impossible, my friend. Nov 22, 13 * Also on my blog.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Vlad Kovsky

    Watched this as a theater piece for two actors about twenty years ago. Still remember it vividly. The performance of both actors was phenomenal. I kept wondering how an almost silent role played by the actress could be so remarkably memorable. Suzirya (Constellation) theater in Kiev in the 90s was a unique experience for anyone who attended.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Supreeth

    Dostoyevsky knows what it's like to be on the other end, far away from morality and sanity. Dostoyevsky knows what it's like to be on the other end, far away from morality and sanity.

  10. 4 out of 5

    CarolynMarieReads

    My first ever Dostoevsky!!! 📖🖤 I've heard many people discuss his incredible ability of writing about the human soul. That is definitely a qualify I noticed right away while reading this short story. The characters were a bit ambiguous, and it was quite hard to pinpoint they're morality. They were complex and allusive, which I felt helped the whole atmosphere. The ending is quite puzzling, because I can't really decipher what exactly was it's cause. Since it involves a character which we don't he My first ever Dostoevsky!!! 📖🖤 I've heard many people discuss his incredible ability of writing about the human soul. That is definitely a qualify I noticed right away while reading this short story. The characters were a bit ambiguous, and it was quite hard to pinpoint they're morality. They were complex and allusive, which I felt helped the whole atmosphere. The ending is quite puzzling, because I can't really decipher what exactly was it's cause. Since it involves a character which we don't hear from very much, I felt slightly detached from them. With that being said, I liked how allusive and detached they were because it created a kind of mystery. The narrator is questioning, which makes you as the reader also question. This was a wonderful way to start my Dostoyevsky journey, and I can't wait to read Crime and Punishment next!!! 📖🖤

  11. 4 out of 5

    Blair

    Reading Russian literature is a bit like listening to certain bands - now and again I do it for the first time in ages and wonder why I bother with anything else. This short story is fantastic, a perfect recreation of its narrator's crazed, despairing state of mind. He's a pawnbroker (this little parallel with Crime & Punishment perhaps being one of the reasons why the story was chosen for a Little Black Classic edition), who quickly courts and marries a gullible girl, the meek one of the ti Reading Russian literature is a bit like listening to certain bands - now and again I do it for the first time in ages and wonder why I bother with anything else. This short story is fantastic, a perfect recreation of its narrator's crazed, despairing state of mind. He's a pawnbroker (this little parallel with Crime & Punishment perhaps being one of the reasons why the story was chosen for a Little Black Classic edition), who quickly courts and marries a gullible girl, the meek one of the title, only then revealing the shame in his past. Obviously, it all ends in tragedy. The character's voice is wonderfully spot-on, drawing the reader irrevocably into his anguish.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Hanaa

    4.5/5 After much thought, I decided I loved this book. It shows what happens to someone's psyche when a traumatic event happens. Memories start to blur, and even denial sinks in. Good shit. 4.5/5 After much thought, I decided I loved this book. It shows what happens to someone's psyche when a traumatic event happens. Memories start to blur, and even denial sinks in. Good shit.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Auntie Terror

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Think Lolita, but without the legal implications, and as a zip file. So there is a manipulative pawn-broker of questionable ethics and mental stability in his fourties who, after stalking her, picks out one of his clients for pliability, malleability and power imbalance reasons to marry her and form her sixteen-year-old self into the companion of his dreams while lying to himself and the reader about his motivations. After months of mental abuse and isolation, she prefers to jump to her death ins Think Lolita, but without the legal implications, and as a zip file. So there is a manipulative pawn-broker of questionable ethics and mental stability in his fourties who, after stalking her, picks out one of his clients for pliability, malleability and power imbalance reasons to marry her and form her sixteen-year-old self into the companion of his dreams while lying to himself and the reader about his motivations. After months of mental abuse and isolation, she prefers to jump to her death instead of letting him drag her off from her familiar surroundings and acquaintances as there is effectively no other means she could get away from her husband/proprietor. Questions? As with Nabokov's Humbert, I was instantly repulsed by this narrator - despite the fact that, legally, this alliance would have been fine at the time. But then, there remains the fact of the older, better-off man abusing his power over an economically compromised, "gender-disadvantaged" minor who has become his responsibility and, in all but words, property. The narrator actually seems to believe, in his rather monstrous egotism, it is his right and in the best interest of his young wife to psychologically break and form her to what he perceives the ideal. The professed love for her is hardly believable, and there are definitely none such feelings on her part. The girl, the reader learns, seemed to have been relieved when she had gotten her own bed and table after what might or might not have been the development of romantic feelings for another man who told her unflattering facts about her husband's past, and that she was known to sing when her husband wasn't there. Dostoyevsky's style kept me enthralled despite my negative feelings towards the narrator. The atmosphere of the tale, though told from the oblivious husband's point of view, has a foreboding quality which is furthered by the fact that one knows of the wife's suicide from the very first paragraph on. The narrator may not (want to) see how all his actions led towards her doom, but the reader very well can. And the satisfying end of it is that he is left alone, and, despite what could be counted as belated insight, without redemption.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Yu

    It is often assumed that family is a source of consolation or relief from life's misery elsewhere. A Gentle Creature is a repudiation of this idea. Dostoyevsky conveys to us through the story that family happiness is impossible without harmony in other aspects of our lives. The narrator wanted to dispel his misery and shame by exerting power over his wife, the supposed "gentle creature", whom he treats not as a human but a means/a solution; the same can be said about the narrator's wife as well. It is often assumed that family is a source of consolation or relief from life's misery elsewhere. A Gentle Creature is a repudiation of this idea. Dostoyevsky conveys to us through the story that family happiness is impossible without harmony in other aspects of our lives. The narrator wanted to dispel his misery and shame by exerting power over his wife, the supposed "gentle creature", whom he treats not as a human but a means/a solution; the same can be said about the narrator's wife as well. The family life became a strange duel of life and death for the couple, and the story ended with the suicide of the female. "No, seriously, when they take her away tomorrow, what's to become of me?" The revelation of loneliness is difficult to digest. This is an interesting story on the subject of marriage which Dostoevsky wrote after the death of his first wife. I read Tolstoy's Kreutzer Sonata which deals with similar theme right after reading this one. Both books show certain sympathy for the female, but I don't think they carry a particular feminist message. Dostoevsky and Tolstoy in the stories might recognize that the female also has a will, a soul, and should make choices freely, but it is also suggested that they'd better freely choose to conform to the convention of feminine virtue.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Himanshu Karmacharya

    A short story about oppression, freedom and suicide, told from an unusual perspective of the oppressor rather than the oppressed.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amalie

    There are no adorable characters here. These are marked by cruel realities and unjust lives. Their feelings range from sorrow, disgust, confusion and revolt. They are extremely lonely, unhappy and tormented. Dostoyevsky 's "The Meek One" is a book of the "Underground" poverty and humiliation. Are they really meek? The male protagonist and his wife are complex characters with layered personalities. The protagonist is a proud, egoistic and chauvinistic. He mistreats the wife whom he claims to adore There are no adorable characters here. These are marked by cruel realities and unjust lives. Their feelings range from sorrow, disgust, confusion and revolt. They are extremely lonely, unhappy and tormented. Dostoyevsky 's "The Meek One" is a book of the "Underground" poverty and humiliation. Are they really meek? The male protagonist and his wife are complex characters with layered personalities. The protagonist is a proud, egoistic and chauvinistic. He mistreats the wife whom he claims to adore. He uses the marriage as a chance to be loved, idolized and respected by someone, which would ultimately erase a humiliating and cowardly past of his life. The female character's personality is mostly shaped by her orphan condition, being exploited by relatives. She is insecure and scared of opening up herself too much or about getting caught into someone's web. Her age of 16 is innocent and capable of greater and purer things that he is incapable to offer. Her final action is her response to her husband's egoism (which is called by him "cheap egoism"). The story is a great power play and a depiction of repression, told by a man, who does not even want to acknowledge his own part in this tragedy.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chris_P

    "But now the rooms stand empty again and I'm alone once again. There's the pendulum ticking, it doesn't care, it doesn't feel sorry for anyone. There's noone - that's the awful thing!(...)What are your laws to me now? What do I need with your customs, your ways, your life, your govrnment, your faith? Let your judges judge me, let them take me to court, to your public court, and I will say that I acknowledge nothing. The judge will shout: 'Silence, officer!' And I will cry out to him: 'What power "But now the rooms stand empty again and I'm alone once again. There's the pendulum ticking, it doesn't care, it doesn't feel sorry for anyone. There's noone - that's the awful thing!(...)What are your laws to me now? What do I need with your customs, your ways, your life, your govrnment, your faith? Let your judges judge me, let them take me to court, to your public court, and I will say that I acknowledge nothing. The judge will shout: 'Silence, officer!' And I will cry out to him: 'What power do you now possess that I should obey you? Why has dark inertia shattered that which was dearest of all? What need have I now of your laws? I part company with you.' Oh, it's all the same to me!" This little gem is yet another proof of Dostoyevsky's being a master of the human psyche. Through the hero, we see some of the darkest human characteristics. Internal weakness, vanity, self-delusion, all of which finally resulting in this "dark inertia" that can prove fatal for us or others.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Liz Janet

    Dostoevsky is the most sour man ever, who thinks that sending someone on an exile of about ten years, consist of an actual happy ending, therefore, whenever I read him, I make sure to be at my utmost happy, so he does not drag me into a dark cell. This short is no exception. It follows a man that convinces a girl to marry him, and then gives her the silent treatment as a way to endear her to him, which obviously backfires. Then after a spoiler thing happens, he realizes she is taking him for gra Dostoevsky is the most sour man ever, who thinks that sending someone on an exile of about ten years, consist of an actual happy ending, therefore, whenever I read him, I make sure to be at my utmost happy, so he does not drag me into a dark cell. This short is no exception. It follows a man that convinces a girl to marry him, and then gives her the silent treatment as a way to endear her to him, which obviously backfires. Then after a spoiler thing happens, he realizes she is taking him for granted now, and then she goes on and discovers she can no longer live through all of his idiocy and self-imposed stupidity. A Dostoevsky I would not recommend anyone to begin with. Read any of his other works, “The Idiot” is my favourite, but any of his other works will do better than this confusing tale that never resonates with me.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dimitris

    Same with the few other writings by the immense Dostoyevsky I've read so far: simple - too simple! - and easy, quick to read, but after having finished it, it remains in my head for a long, long time. There must be this undeniable depth that - to my shame - I haven't felt nor penetrated yet. Same with the few other writings by the immense Dostoyevsky I've read so far: simple - too simple! - and easy, quick to read, but after having finished it, it remains in my head for a long, long time. There must be this undeniable depth that - to my shame - I haven't felt nor penetrated yet.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Selby

    It was a good story, but the ending was unnecessary. He could've easily communicated what he wanted to without it. Oh well. It was a good story, but the ending was unnecessary. He could've easily communicated what he wanted to without it. Oh well.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    To find Wandaful found it HUZZAH (see comments underneath) Translated by Constance Garnett Opening: Oh, while she is still here, it is still all right; I go up and look at her every minute; but tomorrow they will take her away — and how shall I be left alone? Now she is on the table in the drawing-room, they put two card tables together, the coffin will be here tomorrow — white, pure white “gros de Naples” — but that’s not it . . Anna suggests this to enhance the story: Tchaikovsky Children's Albu To find Wandaful found it HUZZAH (see comments underneath) Translated by Constance Garnett Opening: Oh, while she is still here, it is still all right; I go up and look at her every minute; but tomorrow they will take her away — and how shall I be left alone? Now she is on the table in the drawing-room, they put two card tables together, the coffin will be here tomorrow — white, pure white “gros de Naples” — but that’s not it . . Anna suggests this to enhance the story: Tchaikovsky Children's Album op. 39 No. 6 "The Sick Doll", Inna Heifetz, piano GREAT choice! Dodgily narrated by the pawnbroker who quotes Goethe and wants revenge on society. Hah! How good is Anna - here is the film for once you've read: http://youtu.be/X-5Z017VFuo 5* Crime & Punishment 6* The Brothers Karamazov 3* The Idiot 5* Notes From Underground 3* Demons 4* The Idiot 4* The Double TR Poor Folk 4* The Gentle Spirit 4* The Eternal Husband

  22. 5 out of 5

    Daren

    This is quite out of usual reading genre, but Dostoyevsky has some appeal, and I have a copy of Crime and Punishment lined up for the future, so I thought I would polish off this short story in the meantime. So the story is basically the inner thoughts shared with the reader by a middle aged pawn-broker whose young wife has just committed suicide. Hard to explore more detail without spoiling the story for anyone who plans to read it, but there are multiple thoughts the man shares - was he to blam This is quite out of usual reading genre, but Dostoyevsky has some appeal, and I have a copy of Crime and Punishment lined up for the future, so I thought I would polish off this short story in the meantime. So the story is basically the inner thoughts shared with the reader by a middle aged pawn-broker whose young wife has just committed suicide. Hard to explore more detail without spoiling the story for anyone who plans to read it, but there are multiple thoughts the man shares - was he to blame - had the way he dealt with situations been wrong - he tries to convince himself he was not wrong - to justify his behaviour, to weigh up his actions with reason. To be fair if it was much longer I might not have stuck it out - this isn't compelling reading for me - however I can understand the appeal to others - for me there is too much emotion and self analysis, but I can appreciate the quality of the writing (and translation) as others may enjoy it. 3 stars.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Swati

    I hadn’t read a classic in a long time and this fit just perfectly in the little time I had. The Gentle Spirit is a short story chronicling the marriage between a 41-year-old pawnbroker and a 16-year-old girl who is his customer. It begins with her death that sends the pawnbroker into a tunnel of despair asking why she did what she did. He knows but doesn’t know. And we explore why that is in the ensuing story. It doesn’t take long to finish reading it but, typical of Dostoyevsky, it does make y I hadn’t read a classic in a long time and this fit just perfectly in the little time I had. The Gentle Spirit is a short story chronicling the marriage between a 41-year-old pawnbroker and a 16-year-old girl who is his customer. It begins with her death that sends the pawnbroker into a tunnel of despair asking why she did what she did. He knows but doesn’t know. And we explore why that is in the ensuing story. It doesn’t take long to finish reading it but, typical of Dostoyevsky, it does make you think for a while. At first, I felt the girl was flighty and given to a mercurial temperament, which led to fights with the pawnbroker. And then the story twists, and the pawnbroker appears to lose his semblance of sanity. “I went straight over to her and sat down on a chair right next to her, like a madman…I knew nothing, was conscious of nothing…” I have always enjoyed reading Dostoyevsky for his brilliant forays into the human mind and psyche. Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov are two of my favourite works, always. Perhaps it’s because am used to the sprawl of his novels but somehow The Gentle Spirit did not have the impact they had. Of course, it’s a short story and Dosteyevsky does a superlative job of tracing the downfall of a relationship in this space with his trademark observations about the characters’ personalities. Somehow I couldn’t empathise with his wife enough, I didn’t feel enough. Let’s just say it’s a good read but it’s not my favourite Dostoyevsky.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Crina Bucur

    I am getting tired of the eternal cliché of damsels in distress marrying up to escape poverty, as well as of juvenile mindgames played by socially constipated characters.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cristina | Books, less beer & a baby Gaspar

    Marvelous writing!! I want to read everything from him. Such a short story with such intensity, despair and pain. I will be feeling his emotions throughout this day...

  26. 5 out of 5

    Marjolein

    I am in the minority here who didn't like The Meek One. I just really didn't enjoy the story about a man who is so detached from his young wife that he drives her to suicide. The writing is good but I really can not stand to read about all this psychological abuse. As in Crime & Punishment, there is plenty fretting by the main character who looks back at his actions. I however enjoyed reading Crime & Punishment much more compared to this one. ~Little Black Classics #44~ I am in the minority here who didn't like The Meek One. I just really didn't enjoy the story about a man who is so detached from his young wife that he drives her to suicide. The writing is good but I really can not stand to read about all this psychological abuse. As in Crime & Punishment, there is plenty fretting by the main character who looks back at his actions. I however enjoyed reading Crime & Punishment much more compared to this one. ~Little Black Classics #44~

  27. 4 out of 5

    Krystal

    More thought-provoking work from Dostoyevsky. The writing is hard to wrap your head around but is brilliant at conveying the narrator's inability to think straight. Cleverly done. A short tale but a powerful consideration of how who people are on the surface can be so different to who they are underneath. Certainly worth a read. More thought-provoking work from Dostoyevsky. The writing is hard to wrap your head around but is brilliant at conveying the narrator's inability to think straight. Cleverly done. A short tale but a powerful consideration of how who people are on the surface can be so different to who they are underneath. Certainly worth a read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Vartika

    Dostoyevsky draws one into the anguished and delirious mind of his trauma-stricken narrator's mind as he tries to bring himself to terms with his sixteen-year-old wife's sudden and unexplained suicide. Curiously, the orphan — who led a tragic life even before she married the pawnbroker — committed suicide only in her unhappy marriage, where she could afford a tragedy of her own. Just as curiously, the pawnbroker is cold and distant from her until the exact point where he is assured of her affect Dostoyevsky draws one into the anguished and delirious mind of his trauma-stricken narrator's mind as he tries to bring himself to terms with his sixteen-year-old wife's sudden and unexplained suicide. Curiously, the orphan — who led a tragic life even before she married the pawnbroker — committed suicide only in her unhappy marriage, where she could afford a tragedy of her own. Just as curiously, the pawnbroker is cold and distant from her until the exact point where he is assured of her affections towards him, and drives her to jumping out a window somewhere in between. Based on a news report from St Petersburg, The Meek One is a nuanced testimony to the emotional and cerebral brilliance of Russian writing, as it is an astounding representation of the despairing, self-conciliatory mind.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Holly Work

    This novella explores the negative aspects of patriarchy, pride and possession. In a short story Dostoyevsky manages to create two complex characters with layered personalities. The male protagonist is a proud and chauvinistic man who mistreats the wife whom he claims to adore yet the reader is also tempted to feel sorry for him when his humiliating past is revealed and his torment at the end of the story is apparent. Similarly, the heroine of the story might initially seem to be 'the meek one', This novella explores the negative aspects of patriarchy, pride and possession. In a short story Dostoyevsky manages to create two complex characters with layered personalities. The male protagonist is a proud and chauvinistic man who mistreats the wife whom he claims to adore yet the reader is also tempted to feel sorry for him when his humiliating past is revealed and his torment at the end of the story is apparent. Similarly, the heroine of the story might initially seem to be 'the meek one', but she certainly has a bite! Dostoyevsky achieves an interesting consideration of the human psyche, something particularly impressive considering the length of this novella.

  30. 4 out of 5

    خالد عثمان

    I demand a list of the psychological disorders Dostoyevsky's characters are diagnosed with. I demand a list of the psychological disorders Dostoyevsky's characters are diagnosed with.

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