St. Petersburg: Izd. A.F. Bazunova; v tipografii Iosafata Ogryzko, 1862. Item #165
P.1. , 269 pp.; P.2. , 198 pp. 13,5х21 cm. Second edition. In contemporary quarter leather binding with gilt-lettering on the spine (two parts in one volume). Boards rubbed and stained, corners and spine ends bumped, occasional foxing, small cracks on endpapers along the spine, soiling of few pages. Otherwise a very good clean copy.
First complete separate edition.
The text first appeared in periodical 'Vremya' in 1861-1862. "Notes from The House of the Dead" was one of the most sensational book of the time, it instantly brought back Dostoyevsky’s popularity, made him famous and for some time he was known as "House of the Dead’s author". This novel is a forerunner of his famous "Crime and Punishment" and "The Brothers Karamazov". It led Dostoyevsky to include the theme of murder in his later works, a theme not found in any of his works preceding "The House of the Dead". Tolstoy called this work ‘‘the finest work of all modern Russian literature’’. Dostoyevsky wrote it after his release from prison and described, through a fictional narrative, the details of his own life in Siberia (in 1849 he was sentenced to four years at hard labour) and that of the prisoners incarcerated with him (usually using their real names). "The House of the Dead" was the first work in press about penal labor in the Russian Empire but it perfectly served public’s interests of the time. Herzen referred to it as a frightening book ‘‘this epoch left us... in its way a carmen horrendum, which will always adorn the exit from the dark reign of Nicholas, like Dante’s superscription over the entrance’’.
In his letters Dostoyevsky was writing that he didn’t lose time while in Siberia because he got to know Russian people (he was surrounded mostly by serfs and soldiers who tried to escape their hard life). Dostoyevsky had the idea for the book since he was in prison. He worked on the novel in 1859-1862. When the introduction and first chapter were published they were not censored. But the second chapter was investigated by Censor Committee that is why it wasn’t published for some time. The reason was unusual — the Committee considered the prison’s description could make the crime tempting as described punishment didn’t seem as hard as it was supposed to. Later Dostoevsky started his own magazine 'Vremya' where he eventually published all chapters.