Demons
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Demons

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4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  15,767 ratings  ·  554 reviews
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.
Paperback, 733 pages
Published May 19th 2010 by Vintage Classics (first published 1870)
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Crime and Punishment by Fyodor DostoyevskyAnna Karenina by Leo TolstoyThe Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor DostoyevskyThe Master and Margarita by Mikhail BulgakovWar and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Best Russian Literature
18th out of 342 books — 1,334 voters
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor DostoyevskyAnna Karenina by Leo TolstoyThe Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor DostoyevskyThe Master and Margarita by Mikhail BulgakovWar and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Greatest Russian Novels of All Time
17th out of 92 books — 249 voters


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MJ Nicholls
Popular Culture: An Alphabetical Contempt. a) Let’s not mince words. All populist entertainment is repulsive, useless, dangerous and witheringly anti-intellectual. b) Except maybe Doctor Who. But that’s hardly Beckett, is it? c) I first became an intellectual snob in my late teens. I witnessed first hand the slow declension of burgeoning intellects through a routine of television, video games and a fear of reading books. d) How did I escape this declension? e) I learned words like declension. I...more
Henry Avila
Winds of change are finally sweeping Czarist Russia , in the 1860's. Ideas good or bad , arrive too, they have been around for decades in the rest of Europe, this land is no longer isolated... Socialism is the new fad for the intellectuals. The serfs have been freed by Alexander the Second, courts democratized, the death penalty seldom carried out, people can speak and write freely, up to a point. There is still Siberia for those who go over the line. And all the new railroads, will get you to i...more
Bruce
Dostoevsky’s novel, Demons (often falsely translated The Possessed, thereby erroneously stressing the object rather than the subject), is one of his most powerful books, a socio-political work exploring 19th century ideas (the “demons”) current in Russia at the time, specifically European liberalism and nihilism in contrast to what was most important to Dostoevsky, Russian Orthodoxy, and in this sense the author seems a forerunner of Solzhenitzyn a century later, in our own time. At times the no...more
Darwin8u
[Review in limbo]

I loved the Devil(s) out of the Possessed

How the Hell do I adequately review this? Once someone hits a certain genius with writing (or other forms of art), it is impossible to really grade their art. How could one grade Beethoven's great symphonies? Is Demons/Devils/the Possessed better than Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, The Idiot? Tell me, do you prefer Matthew, Mark, Luke or John?

Dostoyevsky is writing the gospels man*. Greatness is not a bolus of achievement...more
Caris
Why the fuck did I decide to read this book?

Because it’s summer? And that’s when you’re supposed to delve into light reading? After all, what’s lighter than a wordy Russian meditation on the evils of atheism?

See, it’s my kid. She likes books. Specifically, she likes my books. She builds towers with them all over the floor and, for a while, this book was a Lego of choice. I can only trip over a book in the middle of the night so many times before I start to get curious about it. You could say tha...more
brian
all dostoevsky's usual tricks are here: his dense, documentary-like prose, succession of dialogue-heavy scenes leading up to a huge scandal, all his idiots and villains and beggers, his dark and keen psychological insight... yup, it's all in demons, but, goddamn, did i find this a chore to read. the characters, to me, felt too much as stand-ins for (albeit, insightful and interesting) ideas, and the plotting was laborious and repetitive... that said, it's amazing how the man laid out the breadcr...more
Sarah
My favorite extended quote from Demons:

“Having devoted my energy to studying the question of the social organization of the future society which is to replace the present one, I have come to the conclusion that all creators of social systems from ancient times to our year have been dreamers, tale-tellers, fools who contradicted themselves and understood precisely nothing of natural science or of that strange animal known as man. Plato, Rousseau, Fourier, aluminum columns—this is fit perhaps for...more
Jeremy
The quality and mastery of Dostoevsky’s vision, and his use of character and plot and pacing, are all on display in this marvelous work. It’s true that perhaps it doesn’t hold together as strongly as some of his other works; but it’s not true that this is a poor example of his work. In some ways, it exceeds all of them, particularly through voice and narrative instability.

There perhaps is some reticence to include it amongst the ‘greats’ due to politics and religion, both then and now. Dostoevs...more
Wael Mahmoud
I read many of Dostoyevsky's novels in Arabic translations many years ago, although they are poor translations from French and English copies, i considered Dostoyevsky as one of my top 5 novelists. The Possessed is my first English translation i read.

The greatest point of Dostoyevsky's art of novel is his characters, the most marginal character is will build and presented, there's no an ordinary shallow character. Sometimes Dostoyevsky forget one character then let it play an important role like...more
Rebecca
This was my first foray into Russia's master of literature. I have to admit, I was on my way to the beach when I read this and I couldn't wait to start....I read this outloud to my husband as we drove.

A tale leading up to a political nightmare that was much too close to not be effected. The characters were diverse and yet none went untouched by the tragedy of men becoming slaves to their own ideas and fears.

I must admit that this is probably the only tale I've ever read where nearly everyone f...more
Hayley Smith-Kirkham
May 03, 2012 Hayley Smith-Kirkham is currently reading it
Shelves: literature
Why I love Dostoevsky, in Three Parts:

I. "You should have seen him when he sat down to play cards in our club. His whole look seemed to say: 'Cards! Me sit down to play whist with you! Is it compatible? Who must answer for it? Who broke up my activity and turned it into whist? Ah, perish Russia!' and he would trump majestically with a heart."
He's hilarious. All of the time. Seriously, ALL OF THE TIME. His description of Karmazinov's article describing the shipwreck he witnessed almost brought me...more
Tom Choi
I read a version that carried the translated title of "The Possessed." Similarly, Albert Camus' dramatization of Dostoevsky's tale of foolhardy Russian nilhists shares the same title. But "Demons" may very well be a more faithful translation of the Russian title as it also evokes the episode from the Gospels (Jesus casts the demons out of men and the fleeing demons enter a herd of swine, and fall off a cliff...).

Of the 4 great novels by Dostovesky, C&P, The Bros K., "The Idiots" and this (a...more
Jack Waters
4.5 stars

Dostoevsky is a master of oscillating between the micro- and macrocosmic effects of societal and personal politicization. He uses his narrator to bring a personal take on the revolutionary aspirations of a young collective, whose vision is grandiose and suffocating to some, and determining and valorous to others. There are the various characters opining on the usual existential themes of god and godlessness, and the smallest variations of belief cause different characters to behave in e...more
Katya
Читается трудно, в первую очередь потому, что примерно до сто пятидесятой страницы ничего не происходит. Сюжет стоит на месте, нельзя сказать, что буксует, явно все это не зря и, как потом оказывется, не впустую, но движения нет. Зато потом... оторваться невозможно! И не столько из-за сюжета, а от того, как постепенно, слоями, раскрываются перед тобой характеры героев. И оказывается, какие они, в большинстве своем, уроды. Причем уроды и подонки не от жизни тяжкой, а от природы. Казалось бы, и ар...more
Matthew
Excellent book, though you really have no clear idea of what is actually going on in the plot until about 300 pages in, so if you're reading it purely for a story, you may be tempted to put it down early.

If reading about a bunch of young anarchists causing trouble in a provincial Russian town, while various characters take a time out to discuss their atheism sounds like your idea of a fun Saturday night, order it now!
Jonfaith
I finished this at a doctor's office, not my doctor's, but my wife's. She had the flu. When my wife was in the hospital a few years before that and on the door his name was posted adjacent to her's: Faith - Grief.

There's a great deal of both in this amazing novel. I should ask Dr. Grief if he likes Dostoevsky. I am afraid to as he looks as if he's only 15 years old.
☽ Moon Rose ☯
The political landscape of Russia on the precipice of change palpitates with fervent perspicacity in Demons as lucidly illustrated by the prophetic insights of Fyodor Dostoevsky, demonstrating the great power of thought to dominate as he envisions the extreme danger of an idea(s) in its pernicious might to gnash with its sharp fangs of terror a whole nation of people into a bloodied oblivion, falling head down into an abysmal dawn of death as an avalanche of chaos and destruction come thundering...more
Vanja Antonijevic
This novel ("Demons") works on many levels. For example, in terms of plot, this book is a (1) suspense story about conspiracy and political mischief in a city. In within the suspense, (2) there is also a disheartening love story, and (3) a political element. Also, it is a philosophical novel (4) which discusses the existence of God, as well as (5) the corruptive power of some ideas.

At its most important, philosophical level, this book’s title hints at the main theme: “Demons”. What are these de...more
Chrissie
Just to clear things up: this book is the same as Dostoyevsky's Demons and The Devils!

No, I am not finishing this book. I have listened to 1/3. My reason is very simple: the discussion/theorizing about nihilism and God, with a spicy murder or two, suicides, and the “who-dunnit” question thrown in, are elements common to all four of the four books I have read by Dostoyevsky:

Crime and Punishment
The Idiot
The Possessed
The Brothers Karamazov

I have had enough, particularly since I have already read D...more
Capsguy
At the end of it, enjoyed this more than Crime and Punishment. This may be from the incessant praise and talking up of C&P, and the criticism I have seen that describes 'Demons' to be under par in comparison to Dostoevsky's other works.

I honestly don't know why I am so drawn towards tragic Russian works, I think there is something unique in them that I just cannot put into words. Will be good to read The Idiot, and The Brothers Karamazov afterwards, and perhaps The Adolescent to work out whi...more
Daniel
I fell deep into this book. There is something about the way that Dostoevsky establishes his characters and settings so that, once a few players end up in a closed room, seated near one another, tangling up their thoughts and desires while hiding their motives from each other--if not from themselves--I am drawn in to the proceedings completely.

Mind you, "Demons" is not an easy story to follow, and I often paused in my reading to reference earlier events or conversations. Notes abound for each ch...more
Ehsan Sharei
وسعت ِ ابعاد ِ اعتقادات ِ انسانی دارای مرزی مشخص نیست. در "شیاطین"، شخصیت‌ها بی‌نظیراند و مشابه‌شان در سایر آثار ادبیات کلاسیک نادر است. بعضی بسیار رنج می‌برند، بعضی حد و مرزِ مازوخیسم را پشت سر گذاشته‌اند و برای برخی قساوت به حد اعلا رسیده است. عدۀ دیگر دنیای درونی عجیب و منحصر به فردی دارند و تنهایند و در نهایت آنها که کمی بویی از انسانیت برده‌اند بازیچه دست "شیاطین" اند. چیدمان زمانی ِ وقایع، خواننده را به نحو شگفت انگیزی در حسرت دانستن واقعیات قرار می‌دهد و او را بنده‌وار به دنبال خود می‌کشا...more
☽ Moon Rose ☯
This very prophetic novel, of clashing ideals, will grip your thoughts till the last page, riveting as it is moving, it will carry you to unprecedented heights beyond words.

It is perhaps one of the best books I have ever read, IF NOT THE BEST . A must for all lovers of literature and a true testament of Dostoevsky's knack, not merely to entertain but provoke one's consciousness to plunge into a whirlpool of ideas.

I highly recommend the translation made by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky,...more
Bethan
A huge, deeply disturbing and creepy novel. The madness and lunacy of people and the appalling poverty of life, physically, mentally and emotionally, is covered here. Stavrogin seems sociopathically cold at heart, Kirillov constantly 'rational' about his suicide plans but crying out for help in his own way - into a void of black nothingness that is the wall of the world - and then there is the irritating and insane Stepan Trofimovich with his flapping about and reams of endless words. His verbal...more
blake
It's amazing that such a long, boring book without any main characters -- or any sympathetic characters at all, aside from the suspiciously reasonable and omniscient narrator -- has achieved distinction as a classic, or even as a good novel. Here, Dostoyevsky failed miserably in crafting an interesting narrative. There is little plot, and the book doesn't even become remotely engaging until halfway through. After that, the action picks up, but it splits so often between different characters -- e...more
Sean
This might be the most tragic novel I've ever read, so much so that I have difficulty justifying recommending it to anyone at all. The number of characters presented, each burdened with his or her own ideology, and the sincerity with which their ideas are often presented only makes it more deflating when that ideology ultimately destroys each and every one of them, but the questions raised by each of them about religion, existentialism, morality, socialism, and society make Demons an unquestiona...more
Ian
Mixed signals from this book. Krilov, Peter, and Stargiwhatever had an extremely odd relationship. Like really really weird. Their character development put this book on a whole new level in the dialogue realm. NOTHING FUCKING HAPPENED. A DUDE GRABBED ANOTHER DUDES EAR, AND ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE. That's the power Dostoyevsky brings to the table. Hail
Roman
Fantastic prophecy of horror of anarchism and communism: "as the revolutionary democrats begin to rise in Russia, different ideologies begin to collide. Dostoevsky casts a critical eye on both the left-wing idealists, exposing their ideas and ideological foundation as demonic, and the conservative establishment's ineptitude in dealing with those ideas and their social consequences
-Anarchism, embodied by Pyotr Verkhovensky, is an extreme ideology that demands the destruction of the current social...more
Frankie
'It is all the same unbridled kingdom of phantoms, and nothing more.' part iii, chapter iv. This quote emerges during Liputin's turmoil over whether to flee or carry out the evil plan. I cite it here because it reminds me of how dark and ominous Dostoevsky became in this book. I know... he's never written about gumdrops and sunshine, but this is the only of Dostoevsky's works that question the holy grail of his nationalism. Dostoevsky always develops with acumen both sides of every moral questio...more
Sandy Michalka
The Possessed (or The Devils) is a powerful, Russian novel that illustrates the concept of “divide and conquer” or, in this case, divide and then destroy. The more a character is isolated the more likely and imminent is that character’s destruction. The action of the book hinges on the evolving isolations: the breaking down of previous relationships and connections, the breaking down of passions and zest for life, the suffocation of the life force. It is a horror story.

The first third of the boo...more
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Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky (Russian: Фёдор Михайлович Достоевский), sometimes transliterated Dostoevsky, was a Russian novelist, journalist, and short-story writer whose psychological penetration into the human soul had a profound influence on the 20th century novel.

Dostoevsky was the second son of a former army doctor. He was educated at home and at a private school. Shortly after the death...more
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“If you want to overcome the whole world, overcome yourself.” 136 likes
“There are seconds, they come only five or six at a time, and you suddenly feel the presence of eternal harmony, fully achieved. It is nothing earthly; not that it's heavenly, but man cannot endure it in his earthly state. One must change physically or die. The feeling is clear and indisputable. As if you suddenly sense the whole of nature and suddenly say: yes, this is true. God, when he was creating the world, said at the end of each day of creation: 'Yes, this is true, this is good.' This . . . this is not tenderheartedness, but simply joy. You don't forgive anything, because there is no longer anything to forgive. You don't really love — oh, what is here is higher than love! What's most frightening is that it's so terribly clear, and there's such joy. If it were longer than five seconds — the soul couldn't endure it and would vanish. In those five seconds I live my life through, and for them I would give my whole life, because it's worth it. To endure ten seconds one would have to change physically . . . .” 31 likes
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