Winter 1952 • Vol. XIV No. 1 NonfictionJanuary 1, 1952 |

Dostoevski and Western Realism

It is one of the many paradoxes of Dostoevski that this man, endowed with a rich literary culture, and born to become one of the classical masters of his craft, was at the same time a practitioner of "low brow" fiction, as it was manufactured by the most popular writers of the West. One of his early stories, The Landlady, is essentially a gothic tale. Even his more mature creation is affected by the sensational novel, as in the case of The Insulted and the Injured; or, as in the case of Crime and Punishment, by the murder story or detective story. This facet of his talent and taste may also be seen in his high regard not only for Les Misérables of Victor Hugo, but even for Les Mystères de Paris of Eugène Sue. Without this taste for the "thriller" he would not have brought the pathos of his characters to the emotional pitch it attains in those exhibitions of self-pity and self-torture to which he gives the name of "laceration" of one's heart, or nadryv. Popular fiction, which

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