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The Meek One

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  5,146 ratings  ·  408 reviews
'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.'

In this short story, Dostoyevsky masterfully depicts desperation, greed, manipulation and suicide.

Introducing Little Black Classics: 80 books for Penguin's 80th birthday. Little Black Classics celebrate the huge range and
Paperback, Little Black Classics #44, 57 pages
Published February 26th 2015 by Penguin Classics (first published 1876)
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Hind Al-Qahtani Clean in terms of sexual content but quite dark, Id at least discuss it with the kid during/after. I remember taking on characters fantasies when I…moreClean in terms of sexual content but quite dark, Id at least discuss it with the kid during/after. I remember taking on characters fantasies when I read as a 14-year-old, they do say after all that reading is a way of living other experiences.(less)

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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
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
Sep 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
"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
Dostoyevsky knows what it's like to be on the other end, far away from morality and sanity.
Elie F
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: russian
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. ...more
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 ...more
May 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics

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.
Mεδ Rεδħα
So, remember a few months ago when I published a review of Dostoevsky’s novella “White Nights”? The one where I fawned over the hero and his unselfish concern for the woman he loved? “A Gentle Spirit”* is almost the exact opposite of that story.

It concerns a pawnbroker (unnamed throughout the story) who marries one of his more frequent customers. She (also unnamed) is sixteen years old, an orphan, and living in abject poverty with her two abusive aunts. He is forty-one, not rich but well-off,
"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 ...more
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-story, russian
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
Liz Janet
Dec 20, 2015 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Brazilliant, Carey, Wandaful
Recommended to Bettie by: Anna Kļaviņa
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
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
May 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
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...
Esther | braveliteraryworld
- What to say.....
- I read this primarily because I needed to hit my GoodReads Reading Challenge before the end of the year and it was short. I had tried to pick it up before, but lost interest after a few pages.

- I can tell that the writing is amazing.
- I like how Dostoevsky talks about the crushing weight of silence.
- Dostoevsky talks eloquently about religion, femininity, socioeconomic class, and ego without wasting a lot of words.

- I couldn't settle down and immerse
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Holly Work
Jul 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
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', ...more
خالد عثمان
Jun 29, 2017 rated it liked it
I demand a list of the psychological disorders Dostoyevsky's characters are diagnosed with.
Oct 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-stories
Sadly I just found this quite boring. Having read 3 things by Dostoyevsky now, I don't think he's really a writer for me. I'm not particularly fond of the rambling, talking to yourself style he seems to love to employ, and the main character in this really wasn't sympathetic at all. Meh.
Smitha Murthy
At the stroke of midnight, or a little after, Goodreads converted my personal profile to an Author page. It was with bemusement that I looked at my new-look profile today, and then glanced in disbelief at the followers it had merged from the previous Author page. Out of all the jokes of the Universe, perhaps this was the funniest. One morose-looking Panda that had blocked me had become my follower now without even knowing. That Panda would cringe. It made me smile. And I laughed when I realized ...more
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh my god! I can't get it out of my brain.
A heart-breaking story about a man, a pawnbroker, whose wife has just committed suicide and as she's still there, on the table, in the drawing-room and before they come with the coffin to take her. He's reminiscing, trying to figure out how and why things went all the way to this point, And here's where Dostoevsky's trying to get us to see what's going on there, in his agitated distorted brain.

"she was here before my eyes, and I was before her eyes:
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kirsty by: Katie
One of my dearest friends sent me this cute little book as part of a care package for my moving to a different country. I very much admire Dostoevsky's work, as said friend already knows, and this is a short story of his which I hadn't come across. The narrative is rather frantic at times, but this rendered it rather exciting to read. Some of the details did feel a touch confused, and some were dropped into the background of the story without further comment. Whilst this would ordinarily annoy ...more
Anna Kļaviņa
A young woman commits suicide. Her husband on the same evening reveals to readers the story of their marriage.
Suitable soundtrack: Tchaikovsky's The Sick Doll
Ah, Dostoyevsky. You never fail to disappoint.
May 12, 2015 rated it liked it
What an odd book. The writing is fine, magnificent prose but the story was not to my likeing. Maybe this is a writer I need to persue more to understand.

Any suggestions on what to aim for?
Jean Claudia (Bookish Poetess)
“They say that the sun gives life to the universe. The sun will rise and — look at it, isn’t it dead? Everything is dead, and dead are everywhere. There are only people, and all around them is silence — that’s the earth.”

This is a story of a man who had driven his wife to suicide. It was just a short, classical story but it ignited such curiosity in me.

The Meek One, in my opinion, is such a sexist book. But I guess, most of the classic books are sexist. It’s just my opinion, okay? The book
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Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky (Russian: Фёдор Михайлович Достоевский), sometimes transliterated Dostoevsky (see Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky/Fyodor Dostoevsky/Feodor Dostoevsky) or Dostoïevski (see Fiodor Dostoïevski/Fiódor M. Dostoievski/Fédor Mikhaïlovitch Dostoïevski), was a Russian novelist, journalist, and short-story writer whose psychological penetration into the human psyche had a ...more
“I'm a master of speaking silently—all my life I've spoken silently and I've lived through entire tragedies in silence.” 65 likes
“I left proud, but with my spirit crushed.” 16 likes
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