Book Review | The House of the Dead by Dostoevsky

Updated: Jul 28, 2020

Birth: November 11, 1821, Moscow, Russia

Death: February 9, 1881, St. Petersburg, Russia


Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky was born on November 11, 1821 in Moscow. Dostoevsky published his first book Poor Folk in 1846. Dostoevsky was arrested in 1849, for alleged involvement in a conspiracy against the state. The novels he wrote after exile glorified Russian literature:


I would like to share with you today; The House of the Dead by Dostoevsky.


The Shawshank Redemption movie is about what cannot be taken from people, and what others cannot touch, that is, hope. From the search for hope. Did you ever feel this once in a lifetime?


In Prison Break, we actually see how the functioning of the internal bureaucracy in prisons depends on the dirty rules, some bribes, blackmail, the money cycle. Even the idea of ​​escape remains alive throughout their life, most of the prisoners do not dare.


The House of the Dead, on the other hand, can be described as a complete combination of these 2 giant productions. While you reading the book, you feel like you are being tortured with whip or countless sticks. Sometimes you witness the temptation of the thought of escaping, which is thought at least once in every prison. Some do not even react to the torture, and even stand still, accustomed to being beaten. As a matter of fact, Dostoevsky says this for what I mentioned earlier:


“Man is a creature that can get accustomed to anything, and I think that is the best definition of him.”

With this citation that Dostoevsky skillfully placed in the plot of the book, we thoroughly understand that the level of culture of the people who have been imprisoned is higher than that of the standard Russian nation and even free thought is forbidden in the Russian nation:

In another place where the Russian people are in great mass, half of the two hundred and fifty people you will distinguish among them are literate?

It feels like I'm eating while reading Dostoevsky. His literature literally saturates one's stomach, eyes, loneliness, lost ideas in the pollution of the atmosphere of his soul, and it's not just a functional saturation. At the same time, while reading this book, you meet your literary pleasure needs, such as the daily calcium and magnesium amount, and the needs stated in the dose to be taken. Louis Sullivan says:

Form follows function.

The House of the Dead, the second novel after Dostoevsky's exile, allows us to see how much we question our life exile with the experience of being in exile for many years.


The House of the Dead is a novel where you can look for the signs of life in people who can be considered spiritually dead even if they are not physically, but also a reference book for masterpieces such as Notes from Underground, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, Demons and The Brothers Karamazov. That is why I think that it is the best to read such epic writers in chronological order. Dostoevsky lovers must read.


“Whoever has experienced the power and the unrestrained ability to humiliate another human being automatically loses his own sensations. Tyranny is a habit, it has its own organic life, it develops finally into a disease. The habit can kill and coarsen the very best man or woman to the level of a beast. Blood and power intoxicate... the return of the human dignity, repentance and regeneration becomes almost impossible.” /Dostoevsky
“Often a man endures for several years, submits and suffers the cruellest punishments, and then suddenly breaks out over some minute trifle, almost nothing at all.” /Dostoevsky
“I may be mistaken but it seems to me that a man may be judged by his laugh, and that if at first encounter