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4.29  ·  Rating details ·  45,051 ratings  ·  2,281 reviews
Alternate Cover Edition ISBN 0679734511. (ISBN13: 9780679734512)

Inspired by the true story of a political murder that horrified 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 maste
Paperback, 733 pages
Published August 1st 1995 by Vintage (first published 1872)
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Nick Crider Everyone and their second cousin is going to say P/V. This likely is more on the basis of their publishers and PR team than their actual translation w…moreEveryone and their second cousin is going to say P/V. This likely is more on the basis of their publishers and PR team than their actual translation work. It generally is thrilling to read, but some think at a cost. It's like the other end of the Garnett coin. Depends on what you want though. The sad fact is, dozens of good translators have tried to tackle Dostoyevsky but it's not an easy thing to do. You won't find a translation that does not sacrifice some things, that does not do some things poorly. If you want the joy of Russian prose, learn Russian. Otherwise, pick up 3 or so translations in a book stoor and compare passages, pick the one that reads best to you.

If you are solely interested in the plot and characters, you can't lose with Garnett, infinitely readable and comfortable. Be warned though, you are not getting near the prose of Dostoyevsky, you are getting the prose of Garnett. For something in the middle, Katz or Mcduff are very respectable. P/V is a lively read, sometimes overly so. This is them trying to capture the unique gate of Dostoyevsky but they don't do it well, none could; it ends up coloring the translation a bit too much after their own images.(less)
Karen Michele Burns My son just recommended that I make sure to get the Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky translation. We both read and enjoyed their translation of …moreMy son just recommended that I make sure to get the Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky translation. We both read and enjoyed their translation of The Brothers Karamazov.(less)

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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
Vit Babenco
Apr 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s portrayal of human nature is so idiosyncratic that he simply can’t be surpassed by anybody in this art.
There always are some fashionable ideas and human beings, who can’t think indepedably, prefer to follow this fashion blindly and those people are eventually used by the others… They just become cat’s paw.
And you know it all comes from that same half-bakedness, that sentimentality. They are fascinated, not by realism, but by the emotional ideal side of socialism, by the reli
Ahmad Sharabiani
Бесы = The Possessed = Demons = The Devils, Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The Devils is a novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, first published in the journal The Russian Messenger in 1871–2.

It is considered one of the four masterworks written by Dostoyevsky after his return from Siberian exile, along with Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1869) and The Brothers Karamazov (1880).

The Devils is a social and political satire, a psychological drama, and large scale tragedy.

After an almost illustrious but prema
“At the inquest our doctors absolutely and emphatically rejected all idea of insanity.”

I open with the closing lines, on the brink of exhaustion, not sure of my own state of sanity.

Reading Dostoyevsky is a bit like spending time with close family members with a diametrically opposed worldview: I love them dearly, unconditionally, but I don’t LIKE them at all.

As I am slowly working my way through Dostoyevsky’s works, starting with the whisperings of a man taking notes from the underground, movi
Mar 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014, aere-perennius
“Full freedom will come only when it makes no difference whether to live or not to live. That’s the goal for everyone.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Demons


[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 Karama
Katia N
Mar 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing

First of all, a little note. I’ve read the book in Russian, and normally I would review it in Russian as well. But I think the Demons are unjustifiably overshadowed in the West by other Dostoevsky novels. So I wanted to write something to change the situation a bit.

It is the most powerful novel by Dostoevsky. It is more profound than schematical “Crime and Punishment” and much less preaching than “Karamazovs Brothers”, though the later one is building upon the “Demons”. It is the only big
Henry Avila
Jan 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 a little. And all the new railroads, will ge ...more
Demons are arguably one of the most successful books I know. The intricate and detailed reflection that constitutes this extraordinary novel and the strange, dark and mysterious characters make this work a unique story of its kind. It is both a beautiful work of art and magnificent background work. In The Demons, Dostoevsky gives us a masterful reflection and a magnificently composed book, which takes up the procedures of the serial novel. It's a beautiful meditation on God, violence, suicide, a ...more
Jul 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
A group of radicals cause havoc on a town at the behest of their seemingly malignant leader, Verkhovensky. Great comic moments and characterisations y a superb writer. This was deemed Dostoevsky's 'problem' novel and was written as a critique against radicalism; and fares poorly compared to most of his other work, in my opinion. 5 out of 12
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: russian
Seeking for God through demons

Dostoevsky's Demons reminds me a bit of the spirit which Socrates sees love as in The Symposium: halfway through gods and man and serving as a ladder in between.

At first glance Demons is a anti-nihilist anti-Western pamphlet novel preaching a certain Russian Christianism that is essentially religious nationalism. The charismatic (and demonic) characters can be regarded as spokesmen for different ideologies that are gripping on the Russian mind. Each of these ideolo
Mark André
Apr 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first sentence of Albert Camus’ Forward to his 1959 play redacted from Dostoyevsky’s novel reads, “The Possessed is one of the four or five works that I rank above all others.”
I wish I was eloquent enough so I could talk about Demons. I'm not. I severely lack the necessary intellect that would allow me to analyze it or even say a few things worth mentioning, the way they should be said.

I will, however, state the obvious. Demons has great, limitless philosophical value. It's not a novel meant to be read as a pastime activity. It's demanding of one's full attention and capacity and still, it might be necessary for one to go back several times in order to not lose grip
Ivana Books Are Magic
Sep 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is perhaps the most difficult, grim, violent and tragic work by Dostoevsky that I have read so far (and I read an awful lot of Dostoevsky in my life). Despite Demons being a harrowing read at times, I was impressed with this novel in a number of ways. I can sum it up in five points.

Firstly, it is the kind of book that makes you think, abundant in moral arguments, logical paradoxes and verbal fights. Secondly, the plot is very engaging and runs smoothly. Thirdly, the psychological study of
Mar 16, 2008 rated it liked it
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
“One cannot love what one does not know.”
There's no doubt about this. This is one of the classics. Also known as The Possessed, this Dostoyevsky is right up there with The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment, but in my head, it's not QUITE as good as the other two.

That isn't to say this isn't a true classic, however. As I was reading it, I kept pointing at the text and saying, "Hey! That's TOTALLY Fight Club! They're totally dissing social norms in the same way, flirting with disaster in increasingly epic ways." and "Hey! That'
Proustitute (on hiatus)
This is one of the few novels by Dostoyevsky that I haven't read, and I think it's not only his most political but also his most prescient in terms of today's world—particularly the individual faced with corrupt systems, the movement toward anarchy and rebellion, and the webs of power that bind all individuals to their oppressive societies no matter how hard they strive to be free of these restrictions.

I think Demons should be read after some of Dostoyevsky's more intricately plotted and deeper
My goodness, reading Devils (Demons) felt like walking through a storm of ideas, circumstances, events, characters… After the relative calm of the first part in which Dostoyevsky enchants us with his humor as a brilliant social satirist, he walks us into the storm, nay, hurricane, of a dramatic turns of events and existentialist torrents. It would be absurd to attempt to encapsulate all of its elements, not to mention the innumerable characters, miraculously none of which are superfluous. I can ...more
May 24, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This was an absolute ride, I really enjoyed parts of it and really didn't care for others, but overall I thought this was a VERY solid novel
Sidharth Vardhan
Wanna start with a 1984 like quote:

'He suggests a system of spying. Every member of the society spies on the others, and it's his duty to inform against them. Every one belongs to all and all to every one. All are slaves and equal in their slavery. In extreme cases he advocates slander and murder, but the great thing about it is equality. To begin with, the level of education, science, and talents is lowered. A high level of education and science is only possible for great intellects, and the
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"In the morning, of course, you’re distracted, and your faith seems to wane again, and in general I’ve noticed that faith always does wane somewhat during the day."

If any book would take half a year from me, it would be this one.
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Dedicated with affection to Juan Manuel de Prada, and Manuel Alfonseca.
Ladies and gentlemen as promised them, if you have read my review of "Spiderlight" & from_search = true I will be very busy writing criticisms of books I read in the Holy week break, so maybe my reading pace suffers for that I apologize to my fans. Well it's my punishment for writing criticisms so heavy
Bob Newman
Jul 19, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“All those crazy liberals haven’t got a clue.” Signed, F. Dostoyevsky

If you wonder whether it’s worth reading a 693 page monster about the world of provincial Russian liberals in the 1860s, it is. The only thing you need is a bit of patience. This novel resembles a large airplane that barely takes off at the end of the runway, but once it’s flying, you see a lot below. At the start, you scratch your head, wondering what it is actually about. Dostoyevsky is just setting the scene, painting a pict
Dave Schaafsma
Bésy (Russian: Бесы, singular Бес, bés) is the original title of one of four masterworks by Fyodor Dostoevsky, published in 1872. Demons is the title translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (1994) I read while listening (for 29 hours!) over the past month, off and on, to another translation. Some translate the title as Devils, or The Possessed, and they all convey different connotations, of course. The “demons,” Pevear and Volokhonsky see as better suited to these purportedly “demo ...more
Stjepan Cobets
Apr 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic
My rating 4.7

If you are reading Dostoevsky's books then you have to prepare to focus completely on what he is writing, you have to be concentrated because every detail he wrote is important. Like all of his other books I’ve read, it required complete attention because every character in the book is so well described and the writer drags us into their heads. Through the book “Demons” we understand how easy it is to manipulate people, and the biggest manipulator is the one who does it consciously
E. G.
Further Reading
A Note on the Text
A Note from the Editor


Appendix: At Tikhon's
List of Characters
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What Dostoyevsky diagnosed in this novel was the tendency to think of ideas as being somehow more real than actual human beings.

The 19th Century Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote about characters who justified murder in the name of their ideological beliefs. For this reason, John Gray argues, he's remained relevant ever since, through the rise of the totalitarian states of the 20th Century, to the "war against terror".

Dostoyevsky suggests that the result of abandoning morality for the s
The Possessed or Demons—it is known by both names—is probably the most enigmatic of Dostoyevsky’s novels. The first ½ consists of a long, meandering monologue about an deluded elderly man, Stepan Verkhovensky, twice a widower and his wealthy patroness, Varvara Petrovna Stavrogina, and their twenty-year relationship of pettiness, alternately humorous and curious. The nameless narrator tells the reader this is leading up to something, which considering the length is a good thing, but it still seem ...more
Vanitha Narayan
Jul 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My fifth book of Dostoevsky .If I thought Dostoevsky could not impress me more than he already has,I was a fool!!!!. This guy can never stop dazzling me!!.

5 stars?? No 5000 wouldn't be enough!!!!

Demons(The Possessed) is his most depressing and disturbing work, left me so emotionally exhausted that I may take a long time to recover from it(May be I will never recover!!).
What a masterpiece this is!!.It would take a lifetime to come to terms with these ideas.
Called a prophetic novel about Russian r
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Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky was a Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, and journalist. His literary works explore human psychology in the troubled political, social, and spiritual atmospheres of 19th-century Russia, and engage with a variety of philosophical and religious themes. His most acclaimed novels include Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1869), Demons (1872), and The B ...more

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