The House of the Dead

by: Fyodor Dostoevsky

Sep 06, 2022

It is a book that I come back to every few years. This time I decided to read this title while spending my holidays in a Scandinavian forest.

This is not the kind of literature I read with pleasure. The subject is very though but very important to me. Additionaly, it’s written in an archaic language which makes the reading experience even more difficult.

The system of forced labor and deportation to the Russian Far East in Russian Empire (katorga) is a well-described topic in history. In this book, we have the opportunity to experience this misfortune from the prisoner’s point of view. These are probably the slightly changed experiences of the author himself, who spent several years in a Siberian prison.

The plot of the book focuses on the presentation of the everyday and monotonous life of prisoners. However, for me, the main strength of this book lies in the detailed descriptions of people, their stories, attitudes, characters and the relationships that develop between them. The prison is a mosaic of many nationalities, which causes many quarrels and fights, but also the possibility of establishing alliances and seeking support. In katorga conditions, it doesn’t matter who you were before. The main character often emphasizes how important it is to prepare your life for many years in such prison.

The moral that I find in this book is an ability to adapt to the prevailing conditions. Even in such extreme and hostile conditions, human is able to get used to his fate and will try to lead a normal life.

Reading this book always gives me a lot to think about. I appreciate that I live in completely different times than the author.