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With their penetrating psychological insight and their emphasis on human dignity, respect and forgiveness, Dostoyevsky's early short stories contain the seeds of the themes that came to his major novels. Poor Folk, the author's first great literary triumph, is the story of a tragic relationship between an impoverished copy clerk and a young seamstress, told through their passionate letters to each other. In The Landlady Dostoyevsky portrays a dreamer hero who is captivated by a curious couple and becomes their lodger. Mr Prokharchin, inspired by a true story, is a sly comedy centring on an eccentric miser, and Polzunkov is a powerful character sketch which, in common with the other tales in this volume, questions the very nature of existence.
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky was born in Moscow in 1821, the 2nd of 7 children. From 1849 to 1854 he lived in a convict prison, and in later years his passion for gambling led him deeply into debt. In 1880 he delivered his famous address at theunveiling of Pushkin's memorial in Moscow; he died six months later in 1881. David McDuff has translated a number of works for the Penguin Classics, including The Idiot, Crime and Punishment and the Brothers Karamazov, and Tolstoy's The Kreutzer Sonata and Other Stories.