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Presented as a series of letters between the humble copying-clerk Devushkin and a distant relative of his, the young Varenka, Poor People brings to the fore the underclass of St Petersburg, who live at the margins of society in the most appalling conditions and abject poverty. As Devushkin tries to help Varenka improve her plight by selling anything he can, he is reduced to even more desperate circumstances and seeks refuge in alcohol, looking on helplessly as the object of his impossible love is taken away from him. Introducing the first in a long line of underground characters, Poor People, Dostoevskys first full-length work of fiction, is a poignant, tragi-comic tale which foreshadows the greatness of his later novels.
- Oneworld Classics, March 2008
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