Poor People

Version: Unabridged
Author: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Narrator: Patrick Cullen , Julia Emlen
Genres: Fiction & Literature, Classics
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Published In: February 2004
# of Units: 5 CDs
Length: 5 hours, 47 minutes
Tell Your Friends:


Poor People, Dostoevsky's first published fictional work, was written in the form of an epistolary novel. It tells of the hopeless love of Makar Alexievitch Dievushkin, a poor, timid clerk, for Barbara Alexievna Dobroselova, a poor young girl who lives across the way from him. Despite Dievushkin's frantic efforts to save Barbara, interspersed with the clerk's despairing bouts of drunkenness, Barbara is married to a wealthy landowner who carries her away. The work is remarkable for the vivid characterization, especially of Dievushkin, solely by means of his letters to Barbara and her answers to him.

Reviews (6)

Poor People

Written by Anonymous from Santa Rosa, CA on November 19th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I am a huge Dostoevsky fan and this book did not disappoint. It helps to know it was his first book and it is definitely not my favorite, but it is well worth the read! A simple, touching story that was wonderfully read.

Not FD's best

Written by DY on August 20th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 2/5

I LOVE Dostoevsky. This is not the best of his work, in my opinion. Gives a great look into the common folk and poor of his day. Starts slow, gets a bit better.


Written by Wayne from Bronx, NY on September 17th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 4/5

It was Dostoevsky's first novel, and there are some slow moments, but overall his brilliance shines through. Definately worth a listen.


Written by John Winegarden on June 28th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 1/5

I am a self-proclaimed Russophile and Dostoevsky fan, but this book was almost impossible to get through with its plodding pace and constant overtone of poverty and misery. It's more a treatise on clinical depression via unrequited love than an actual love story.

Poor People

Written by Eve Howard on May 21st, 2007

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Very sweet and very sad. Warning, will cause tears! I'm glad I didn't read the description given above - it gives away the whole plot! What a dreadful thing to do. This should be re-written. Leave some surprises to the reader.

Poor People

Written by James Brown, Jr from Williamsport, MD on December 30th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 5/5

For those of you who love Dostoevsky – and you know who you are – do not overlook this gem of a book. Dostoevsky uses a literary device similar to Goethe in "The Sorrows of Young Werther", but he expands on the concept and fleshes out two unforgettable and tragic lovers with all of the joys and misunderstandings that two people would experience in a real relationship. Their challenges are the challenges of people everywhere; they are capable of good judgment and personal sacrifice, and they are also capable of making mistakes and creating misunderstandings. Fortune and misfortune shower upon them in random order, and this being Dostoyevsky, there is misery and suffering in ample measure. At the end of the book you will be deeply moved by the lives of these two people, and once again astounded by the incomparable Dostoevsky. This audioboook is read by two talented actors, one male and one female, that draw you into their story and add a wonderful depth to the characters.

Author Details

Author Details

Dostoevsky, Fyodor

"Life is in ourselves and not in the external," writes Fyodor Dostoevsky in a letter to his brother dated December 22, 1849. "To be a human being among human beings, and remain one forever, no matter what misfortunes befall, not to become depressed, and not to falter--this is what life is, herein lies its task." (The Brothers Karamazov, translated by Pevear and Volokhonsky, xii)

This passage was written immediately after Dostoevsky underwent the traumatic experience that Tsar Nicholas I ordered for several prisoners condemned to death for supporting the expression of free thought within the Russian state--a mock execution in Semyonovsky Square, a staged performance so terrifyingly real that it induced insanity within one of the author's fellow prisoners. (The Brothers Karamazov, translated by Garnett, x) The quote is evidence of Dostoevsky's strength of character; his would be a difficult life--living in bleak poverty, he would helplessly watch as many of the people closest to him died from the ailments of the poor. It also exposes the significant flaw common to some of his characters and tragic heroes--through despair, and weakness before the weight of misfortune, they falter, and commit barbaric acts that render them unfit to operate within the context of humanity. This is the case with both Baklushkin and Shishkov from The House of the Dead, as well as with Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment.

The difficult facts of Dostoevsky's life, however, are likely the genesis of most, if not all of his work. Born on October 30, 1821 in Moscow, he lived much of his childhood distanced from his frail mother and officious father. (Hingley, 20) In these formative years, he formed a close bond with his elder brother Mikhail. They would spend many hours reading Pushkin by meager candlelight in their family's comfortable suburban home. When they were teenagers, however, both Fyodor and Mikhail were enrolled in separate boarding schools, Fyodor matriculating at an engineering school in St. Petersburg. It is possible that being confronted with the rigorous schedule of the engineering school (that served as a recruiting pool for the Russian bureaucracy) helped assure Dostoevsky that his destiny was the written word; even as he was studying the trade of government, he was honing his skills as a writer, inking drafts of what would become his first novel-Poor Folk. In 1846, it was published to warm critical response. Something of a literary figure at the age of twenty-five, Dostoevsky began attending the discussion group that would result in his imprisonment, and the eventual mock execution which would prompt him to write the aforementioned letter to his brother.

His sentence was commuted to four years in prison and four years of army service. His prison experiences, as well as his life after prison among the urban poor of Russia, would provide a vivid backdrop for much of his later work. Released from his imprisonment and service by 1858, he began a fourteen-year period of furious writing, in which he published many significant texts. Among these are: The House of the Dead (1862), Notes From The Underground (1864), Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1868), and Devils (1871).

During this period, Dostoevsky's life was in upheaval, as he lost both his first wife and his brother. On February 15, 1867, he married his stenographer Anna Grigorevna Snitkina who would manage his affairs until his death in 1881. Two months before he died, Dostoevsky completed the epilogue to The Brothers Karamazov (1880), which was published in serial form in the Russian Messenger. His funeral attracted thousands of citizens, as Russia mourned the death of a significant literary hero.