First published in 1900, Tolstoy's final large-scale novel has divided critics. A relentless, over-moralistic trudge through misery and squalor, as conscience-stricken Prince Dmitri sets out to rescue Katyusha, whom he once seduced, from the cruelty of Russian justice – and redeem himself? Or a radical, visionary blend of searing critique and soaring idealism?
Tony Briggs's superb translation makes the latter stance more cogent than ever, with the incandescent drama of passage through an urban and judicial hell and into Siberia. Nowhere does Tolstoy sound closer in spirit to his old foe: Dostoyevsky.