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Devils

Lu par : George Guidall
Durée : 28 h et 3 min
5 out of 5 stars (2 notations)

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Description

Exiled to four years in Siberia, but hailed by the end of his life as a saint, prophet, and genius, Fyodor Dostoevsky holds an exalted place among the best of the great Russian authors. One of Dostoevsky’s five major novels, Devils follows the travails of a small provincial town beset by a band of modish radicals - and in so doing presents a devastating depiction of life and politics in late 19th-century Imperial Russia. Both a grotesque comedy and a shocking illustration of clashing ideologies, Dostoevsky’s famed novel stands as an undeniable masterpiece.

©1992 Michael R. Katz (P)2013 Recorded Books

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Notations

Global

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Histoire

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Il n'y a pas encore de critique disponible pour ce titre.
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  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • L. Kerr
  • 06/09/2013

Excellent translation and narration

"Devils" (formerly translated as "The Possessed," and sometimes translated as "Demons") is one of Dostoevsky's four great long novels, the others being "Crime and Punishment," "The Idiot," and "The Brothers Karamazov."

First, don't by the version narrated by Patrick Cullen and titled "The Possessed." The narration is poor and the translation is the outdated one by Constance Garnett.

"Devils" is a very political novel and was intended to be so. In order to appreciate it, you should do a little research on the 1869 murder by the Russian revolutionary Nechayev. One of the two lead characters, Peter Stephanovich Verkhovensky, a creepy Charles Manson type, is based on Nechayev. The Wikipedia article on "Demons" is short and informative. It also helps to know a little about Dostoevsky's background because several elements are autobiographical. Last, you might want to print a list of characters because, like all Russian novels, the many patronymic names can be confusing, especially if you're listening. If you do these things you'll experience the full effect.

The plot centers on some brutal, political murders. The setting is the run-up to the Bolshevik Revolution. Lenin and company didn't come out of nowhere. Trouble had been brewing in Russia for some time. "Devils" places events in context. Like all of Dostoevsky's works, the plot is deeply psychological, though there is quite a bit of dry humor and irony (items that are often missed in Dostoevsky's works because the original translator, Constance Garnett, tended to homogenize his phrases). If you're into this thing, "Devils" is a gripping novel.

The narrator is the very accomplished George Guidall. I've listened to many of his readings, such as his outstanding performances in "Crime and Punishment" and "Don Quixote." George is perfect for "Demons." His sharp characterizations, timing, and overall feel are perfect. He has a Slavic background and takes great pride in reading the Russian greats.

Last, I can't say enough good things about this 1992 translation by Russian Studies Professor Michael R. Katz of Middlebury College. Professor Katz reinserts Dostoevsky's intentionally quirky sentence structure which was sadly washed out by earlier translators. I've read that some critics think Doestoevsky wasn't a great stylist as was Tolstoy and others. In my opinion, that's only because early translators failed to pick up his nuances. Dostoevsky was a very careful writer. Many of his supposedly awkward sentences, when carefully translated, reveal great wit and style. I compared Professor Katz's translation to others, such as the acclaimed translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky, and feel that Professor Katz's is the best going.

"Devils" is a great listen if you're willing to put in the time and effort.

88 sur 90 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • G. Butera
  • 15/03/2014

One of Dostoevsky's best

Would you consider the audio edition of Devils to be better than the print version?

This is like comparing apples and oranges.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Devils?

Stavrogin's confession. Pyotr Stepanovich's death scene.

Have you listened to any of George Guidall’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

George Guidall's reading is superb. I listened to his reading of Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich and thought this reading every bit as good as that. He imbues his characters with all the life and inner tension that make Dostoevsky's writing so engrossing.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Not a chance. It's too rich and complex to be taken in all at once.

Any additional comments?

Devils takes a long time to really get going as a novel. Dostoevsky was well aware of this problem, but doesn't seem to have found a solution, although he himself may have been satisfied with the final result. Don't give up on it, though. By the 1/3 mark, the novel finally hits its stride and never lets up until the end. There are enough haunting and beautiful scenes, not to mention some harrowing and grotesque ones, to make this one of Dostoevsky's most memorable novels.

20 sur 20 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Darwin8u
  • 13/02/2014

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 Karamazov, The Idiot? Tell me, do you prefer Matthew, Mark, Luke or John?

Dostoyevsky is writing the gospels man*. Greatness is not a bolus of achievement or a gout of acclaim. It just is. Each of Dostoyevsky's big novels is a piece that is both infinitely frustrating and beautifully perfect at the same time. There was probably more to love (for me) in Brothers Karamazov, but it didn't flow as easily as Demons, but still gah, still I think I love Demons more. No, Brothers K. No. Gah!.

Desert Island book? Forced to pick? To HELL with you I'm taking both or trade my food of foot or future for the second (sealed) book. IT IS that good.

Demons is what you get when you mix a writer who is a philosopher on par with the thinking greats, a writer who is a psychologist on par with the behavioral greats, a writer who is a preacher on par with the moral greats. Oh, and you better damn sure make this writer is hypergraphic.

OK. I'm going to have to calm down, let this stew and seep, think some, sip some, and return and revise. This captures some of the energy I felt closing this book, but doesn't even come close to demanding from me what this book deserves.

* Yes, I kept thinking vaguely of the Big Lebowski as I read this.

40 sur 47 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • pibinca
  • 21/02/2015

amazing reader!

What did you like about this audiobook?

Beautiful, expressive, yet understated reading that does full justice to the irony in the writing. A troubling book that's political satire, dark comedy and a full parade of drama queens! Prescient of the horrors to come in Russia. Totally absorbing.

5 sur 6 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Vicki In Crete
  • 13/05/2014

delicious

I am enjoying the performance of this book so much. I'm smirking and giggling and laughing out loud. Bravo to George Guidall!
Will I ever read Dostoevsky again or simply enjoy listening!!

4 sur 5 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Joel A. Griska
  • 03/10/2016

Excellent!!!

Dostoevsky's description of his character's response to their reality remains superb in this novel as in his other great novels

1 sur 1 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • E. Scott
  • 13/07/2016

What is happening?

I'm seven hours in, and so far I get the sense that FD is playing a joke on the reader. Listening to this is like watching an interminable Seinfeld episode being broadcast in a language you don't know with no subtitles. Normally I'd be all about satire, but never has a story been more expertly crafted to lead the reader into hopeless confusion. Since it's FD, I have to believe it was intentional, but that doesn't make it palatable.

5 sur 8 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • GeorgeBoteaIII
  • 06/02/2015

Prophetic

Dostoevsky is a master of seeing into the human soul. The way he portrays those precursors to the Bolsheviks give me an eerie feeling. When he describes the ultimate goal of the Devils that descended upon the little town, it was almost as if he was describing the general moral decay we see in our own society.

2 sur 3 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jefferson
  • 29/04/2019

Revolutionaries, Scholars, Scoundrels, & Nihilists

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Devils (1871-72; translation by Michael R. Katz 1992) depicts the end of the absurd and moving 20+ year platonic romance between Stepan Trofimovich Verkhovensky and Varvara Petrovna Stavrogina in the context of the possession of their provincial town by foreign radical ideas and homegrown atheist nihilists. The novel explores how dangerous ideas and words and writing can be (they can possess people); how revolutionary groups form and recruit and bind (possess) members and manipulate (possess) the masses into violent action; how fickle, foolish, mean, and malleable is public opinion; how defensive and inferiority complex ridden Russia was (especially vis-à-vis European culture); and how multiply motived, contradictory, and complex the human heart and mind are. It asserts the need for common human decency as a balm for if not a protection from abuse and exploitation. And for some kind of spiritual faith and moral purpose: “the last word is universal forgiveness.”

The novel powerfully reminds one that all too often charismatic and intelligent people who begin utopian revolutions are ultimately in it for power, and that, as one character muses at one point, “Convictions and human feeling—it seems they’re two different things,” with the latter superior to the former, despite the fact that politically driven people often lose sight of that. Dostoevsky anticipates and describes Stalin and Hitler.

The novel has many great points. Like the following:

--Fascinating characters (often morbidly so), like Stepan Trofimovich, the delusional, self-centered, spoiled, ineffectual scholar, and his amoral, manipulative, and destructive son Pyotr; Nikolai Vsevolodovich Stavrogin, the sane nihilistic rake, and his wealthy domineering mother Varvara Petrovna; and the earnest, ex-revolutionary student Ivan Pavlovich Shatov and his desperately self-willed friend Kirillov.

--Great scenes, like Stepan learning that he’s supposed to marry a young former student of his; Pyotr behaving so innocently impudent and crafty in his first appearance; some feckless young people visiting a revered arbitrary hermit-priest; Pyotr revealing why he’s so invested in Nikolai; Nikolai confessing to a retired bishop; the Group of Five meeting for the first time; a literary fete going off the rails; the convict Fedka asserting his independence; and Stepan walking on the road in cavalry boots. . .

--Keen and cynical wisdom about human nature vis-à-vis political schemers and dupes; revolutionaries and scoundrels; pseudo intellectuals and revered writers; aristocrats and peasants; atheists and Christians; Russia and Russians; public opinion and gossip. Just when it’s starting to feel sour and bleak, some fundamental love and belief almost redeems it (“Love is the crown of being”).

--An interesting narrator: he’s trying to make sense of the events of the novel for which he was often a passive eye-witness, recounting them about three months after they occurred and a “Commission of Inquiry” began investigating what happened. He’s given to irony (e.g., “An enormous subversive organization of thirteen members”), though he tries to honestly reveal both his “reliable sources” and the limits of his “own best surmises” about events.

Dostoevsky also, of course, writes great descriptions of people, like “In appearance Shatov closely resembled his convictions. He was clumsy, fair-haired, disheveled, short, broad-shouldered, thick-lipped, with very heavy, overhanging pale blond eyebrows, a furrowed brow, and an unfriendly, stubbornly downcast gaze that seemed ashamed of something.”

He also writes many great lines on:

--Love: “Even a louse can fall in love.”

--Human nature: “The horror and vague feeling of personal danger, added to the thrilling effect of a night fire, produce in the spectator (not, of course, in those whose houses have gone up in flames) a certain shock to the system and as it were a challenge to the destructive instincts which, alas, lie buried within each and every soul, even that of the meekest and most domestic civil servant…”

--America: “One has to be born in America, or at least live among them for many years, to become their equal.”

--Revolutionaries: “Why is it that all these desperate socialists and communists are all so incredibly miserly and acquisitive and proprietarial?”

--Religion: “The more impoverished an entire people is, the more stubbornly it dreams of reward in paradise.”

Audiobook reader George Guidall excels at voicing the characters (especially Pyotr, Stepan, the convict Fedka, and Captain Lebyadkin), but it’s difficult to understand his French when Stepan speaks it (which he often does). Many of the characters’ three names are exotic enough and similar-sounding enough to cause confusion, as with Mavriky Nikolaevich and Nikolai Vsevolodovich. The narrator refers to Nikolai as Nikolai Vsevolodovich, Nikolai, Nikolai Stavrogin, or Stavrogin. All this is to say that it might be easier to read the physical novel than to listen to the audiobook.

The book took me a LONG time to finish, and although the fault was mine because a trip interrupted my reading for three weeks, there are too many scenes with too much talking, and dealing with the book had already begun to feel like a not altogether pleasant chore even before that hiatus, and upon finishing it I felt freed from a kind of psychological bondage.

If you are a fan of Dostoesvsky, this book would surely be worth your while, but if you are new to him, I’d recommend starting with Crime and Punishment or The Brothers Karamazov.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Nicholas
  • 22/12/2018

It’s fantastic

But - the problem with audiobooks in general, when there are a lot of names, like in Devils, it can be hard to keep track of who’s who. Dostoevsky is an amazing writer, but hearing and reading Russian names are very different processes.