Hamish's Reviews > The Adolescent

The Adolescent by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
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Oct 29, 10

bookshelves: re-read-lit, lit

Almost certainly Dostoevsky's worst book. Terribly and haphazardly structured. Characters are introduced rapidly and briefly with no chance to figure out who they are, and then they are brought up constantly for the rest of the book as though they had somehow been dealt with at length earlier. Characters just disappear and are barely mentioned again (Stebelkov). Dostoevsky tells us the relationship between characters but never actually demonstrates it (we're told Arkady loves Katerina, never told how that happened, what led to it etc, or ever given some demonstrable evidence of this love that is central to the plot, he just suddenly tells us that Arkady is madly in love with her and that's all we ever get. Hell, Katerina is barely given a character to begin with). Characters' motivations are never given (what was Anna's deal anyway?). It seems like he made up the plot as he went along.

The whole thing is a muddled mess of characters and conflicts that is always unclear and poorly laid out (maybe the confusion of the reader is meant to mirror the confusion of the protagonist, but it is an annoying confusion on our part). All the characters are very irritating, even the ones Dostoevsky clearly wants us to like. However, there are a few memorable scenes and there is a quality to the writing that makes it go a lot easier than it rightfully should. Still, the book shows all of Dostoevsky's worst qualities as a writer and very few of his best.
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