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The Insulted and Injured (or The Humiliated and Wronged)

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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    The University of Adelaide no longer has their eBook collection, and it was huge and contained so many books that were not available elsewhere. They stopped during those terrible wildfires, which have been replaced with terrible floods, thanks to weather warfare and the WEF agenda. Anyways, I corresponded with two people from the library and pleaded with them to donate their collection to another organization, but they did not. Perhaps they were having copyright issues, because many of their books were still under copyright in the U.S. which keeps theirs much longer, and is probably a greed-related choice, but that's just my opinion. Anyways, you may download many works of Dostoyevsky from Holy Books, for free. They call it the "complete works," but it is not. However, I have other sources for the missing ones.
    And that is a good thing because Dostoyevsky is one of the three historical masters of literature of which I have read almost their complete novels. Having read this one, I now only have four more to go, and one is a novella, and another is an unfinished novel. He also wrote a number of short stories, but I have read most of them, plus some other odds and ends that I have not read. The other two masters mentioned above are Charles Dickens and Joseph Conrad.
    This novel was written in 1861, and was the sixth completed novel Dostoyevsky wrote. Here is the Wikipedia page, but it is not very good. And here's their Dostoyevsky page. I will not go into his background, since I have written so many reviews of his books. You may read all those reviews, plus some biographical information on his Index Page.
    As with all Dostoyevsky's works, there are often different translations of the titles. This one is also known as Humiliated and Insulted, Insulted and the Injured or Injury and Insult, and probably still other variations. It is medium in length, as compared to his works on the whole, and I found it particularly easy to read. Maybe that is because I am so accustomed to his writing at this point. The first novel of his I read was The Brothers Karamazov, which was also his last published novel during his lifetime. OMG! I do not recommend reading that one first! It's like jumping into Lake Erie to learn how to swim!! It is certainly a masterpiece, and one that I must re-read to write a review.
    Anyways, there are certain characteristics one can expect from Dostoyevsky. Dysfunctional relationships are required and most of the relationships in this one are. And as far as "nsulted and injured," well, that could apply to numerous characters. As usual, also, we have those who are faithful and loving, and really, one in particular who is a villain. Some are iffy, and quite a few are not too likeable, but we really grow to despise Prince Valkovsky, who would fit right into modern society because his main purpose in life is his own greed and gain, and he will ruin anyone and everyone to fulfill his purpose.
    Here is a synopsis of the story. The narrator, whom we later learn is Ivan Petrovich, or Vanya, wonders why he has not taken steps to find new living quarters. He is a writer, and is rather down and out, and not feeling well. He sees a very old man—shabby; skin and bones—standing there as if in a daze, with an old dog who seems the same. They cross the road and enter the confectioner's shop, as they often do. He irritates Vanya, who enters the shop with him. He sits down, with the dog at his feet and just stares, speaking to no one. A customer finally tells him to stop staring, but he appears to not even hear. The shop owner then realizes the man might be deaf, so he goes up to him and asks him not to stare.
    The old man somewhat snaps out of his stupor, and gets up to leave. But Muller is a kind-hearted man, and pats him on the shoulder, and asks him not to leave. But the old man still does not understand. So he taps his dog, Azorka, with his stick. Azorka does not move. The old man then becomes anxious, calling, "Azorka, Azorka." He bends down to take the dogs head in his hands. Azorka is dead.
    He holds his cheek to the dog's face as he trembles, and everyone else is now moved with emotion. The old man leaves, and Vanya follows. He tries to help him, offers to take him home. But the man clutches him. He utters "Vassilyevsky Island," then dies in Vanya's arms.
     Vassilyevsky Island plays an important role in this story, so I looked it up. Here it is in modern Petersburg, Russia.

Vassilyevsky Island

    But as it turns out, the man lives near where he died. It is someone else important to him that lives in Vassilyevsky Island. Vanya's fever soon passes, and he arranges for the man's burial. His name is Jeremy Smith, age 78, and he is English. Vanya ends up moving into his old lodging.
    We then jump ahead a year. Vanya is in the hospital and believes he will die. He looks back over his life, especially the past year, and wants to get it all down in writing. He begins with his childhood. He was an orphan, taken in by Nikolay Sergeyitch Ichmenyev, a small landowner, along with his wife, Anna Andreyevna and their little daughter, Natasha, who became like a sister to Vanya. These are very fond and happy memories.

Natasha and I used to go for walks in that garden, and beyond the garden was a great damp forest, where both of us were once lost. Happy, golden days! The first foretaste of life was mysterious and alluring, and it was so sweet to get glimpses of it. In those days behind every bush, behind every tree, someone still seemed to be living, mysterious, unseen by us, fairyland was mingled with reality; and when at times the mists of evening were thick in the deep hollows and caught in grey, winding wisps about the bushes that clung to the stony ribs of our great ravine, Natasha and I, holding each other’s hands, peeped from the edge into the depths below with timid curiosity, expecting every moment that someone would come forth or call us out of the mist at the bottom of the ravine; and that our nurse’s fairy tales would turn out to be solid established truth.

    One day, a prince comes to visit the town. His name is Prince Valkovsky and he is mostly rude to the people, but unusually warm and sociable with Nikolay. And because the Ichmenyevs were such good people, as is often the case, they were unable to see the evil lurking behind the prince's mask. He had married an elderly daughter of as count strictly for her money so he could buy back at least some of his estates. He abused her, and she died early on, but not without leaving him a son, Prince Alexey, or Alyosha. Every move by the prince was an orchestrated one for his gain, and in this case, the real reason he buttered up to Nikolay was because he needed a new steward. All went well for years.
    But then suddenly, the prince turned on Nikolay, for no reason. He accused him of wrongdoing in the estate management. Plus, he had sent his son to live with the Ichmenyevs, and also accused him of trying to pair up his daughter with the prince's son. Nikolay will live to regret the day he ever met the prince, and even worse, that he had trusted him. As we move through the story, we discover that the prince is nothing but a scoundrel—truly bad news who ruins everyone who gets in his way. A lawsuit is filed. The Ichmenyevs move to Petersburg.
    Meanwhile, Vanya had moved to Petersburg, where he had just published his first novel, and had made quite a bit of money from it. So now, his foster family lives close by. Natasha has grown into a beautiful young lady, and her relationship with Vanya is no longer as a sister. He asks for her hand in marriage. She accepts, and her parents have no objection, but are a little worried about his continued financial success, and only ask that the couple wait a year before they marry.
    But Alyosha now hangs around the Ichmenyevs, and little by little, Vanya knows something is wrong. He visits them one evening, and Natasha is distraught. Her mother tells her to go to church, which was supposedly her plan. She tells Vanya to go along with Natasha. But as soon as they leave the house, Natasha tells him that she is eloping with Alyosha, and it is as he suspected. She has no idea why, and knows it will kill her father, who adores his daughter, and has been so abused by the prince. Their relationship is probably the epitome of dysfunctional.

“Yes, I love him as though I were mad,” she answered, turning pale as though in bodily pain. “I never loved you like that, Vanya. I know I’ve gone out of my mind, and don’t love him as I ought to. I don’t love him in the right way. . . . Listen, Vanya, I knew beforehand, and even in our happiest moments I felt that he would bring me nothing but misery. But what is to be done if even torture from him is happiness to me now? Do you suppose I’m going to him to meet joy? Do you suppose I don’t know beforehand what’s in store for me, or what I shall have to bear from him? Why, he’s sworn to love me, made all sorts of promises; but I don’t trust one of his promises.”

    Wikipedia describes Alyosha as "saintly but dim-witted." I'm not sure I would describe him that way. Weak and lacking in character would be more appropriate. Totally devoid of any inner guidance or self-knowledge would also apply. He adores his father and believes his father adores him, but his father really adores no one and operates purely for power and gain. Sounds familiar here in 2022, eh? But what is perhaps most apparent and frustrating is that he seems to be imprisoned in his own delusional reality, and is clueless as to all the misery he is causing.
    In any case, poor Vanya not only has to suffer the loss of the woman he truly loves, but now Natasha desperately needs him as a friend. He does whatever she asks. In addition, he now becomes a go-between with Natasha and her mother. If you have ever read Dostoyevsky, you know that one of his specialties is long dialogues that often express a lack of mental clarity and hidden thoughts and agendas and are very stressful. All the characters are stressed out, and we are stressed out just from reading. This painful lack of resolution between Natasha and Alyosha takes up much of the novel, plus the fact that the prince basically has his son engaged to a young lady of wealth, and is playing his cards just the right way to make it appear that he supports his son's relationship with Natasha, while he is really manipulating him toward Katya. Natasha completely "gets it," and knows it is over and the prince will win, way before Alyosha knows.
    I will leave that theme and discuss just one more important element of the story. It is little Elena, or Nellie, who comes to visit her grandfather, only to find he is dead and this other man now lives there. But through patience, he follows her to the wretched place she lives and is able to rescue her. Little by little he learns her life story. She is also very ill and has epileptic seizures. Dostoyevsky was epileptic, too, and many of his novels include epileptic characters.
    As we get to know Nellie, we gradually learn her secrets and suspect there is somethings else more important that we will learn. She becomes a pivotal character—one little girl that makes a huge difference in the outcome of certain things, while she remembers what it is to be loved.
    The story ends unresolved. We do not return to Vanya as he lies in the hospital, so we don't know if he dies, or what happens between him and Natasha. Well, I like happy endings, so I made up my own!
    In any case, I recommend reading this great story by this great master, and it would be a good place to begin if you are unfamiliar with the works of Dostoyevsky, because it is a bit less complicated than some of his other works. And you can read it for free!

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