Tom Choi's Reviews > Demons

Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
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Dec 02, 08


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 (and they are all great), "Demons" may very well be my personal favorite. In short, "Demons" depicts a human apocalypse: everyone sheds many tears in bouts of unbridled passions (a main staple of Russian lit) and grapples with grave and distorted visions. There's also some frank and risqué depictions of sex (depraved and debauched) that would make Thomas Hardy blush. Amidst all the crazy drama and melodrama, there are brilliant interludes of deep philosophical discourses about God, human freedom and political revolution.

In the end, nearly everyone dies in a Shakespearean storm of violence. And unlike C&P where there is the possibility of redemption, no one is spared from their sins against God, and more poignantly, for their sins against fellow man.
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