Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, February 17, 2012

"The Crocodile" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

"The Crocodile"  by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1865, 34 pages, translated by Constance Garnett)

"The Crocodile"  by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821 to 1881-Russia) is flat out strange!    If I had read this work not  knowing who wrote it and been asked to guess the author I would have first guessed Franz Kafka, then Nikolai Gogol, then I would have been wide open who might be but I think I would not have guessed the author's name for a long time.

The story is told in the first person about what happens after the narrator's friend, Ivan Matveich, is swallowed alive by a crocodile that was being shown in a sort of traveling zoo run by a German and his wife.    Ivan begins to tease the crocodile and he ends up inside the stomach of the crocodile which he finds quite comfortable.   Ivan's wife insists that the crocodile be cut open to release her husband but the German refuses permission for this unless he is paid a huge price for him as he feels the crocodile will attract a lot more customers now that he has a a life person inside him.   It turns out Ivan is quite comfortable in side the beast and has no urgent wish to leave.   He feels he will attract a lot of attention as the man inside the crocodile and he can give his views on politics and economics to the world.

There are a lot of social references in the story as well as satirically intended conversations about economic theory.   It is really a funny work and know I have not conveyed this.   My post read research indicated that "The Crocodile" was sort of a satire on the writings of Russian socialists.

You can easily find it online.   It is not "heavy reading" or anything like that.   It really is a "fun" read by an author we normally do not describe in that way!

Mel u


Leeswammes (Judith) said...

That certainly sounds like Kafka! What a fun idea. I will chase this story up - thanks!

Mel u said...

Leeswammes-It is a very Kafka like story for sure-thanks as always for your comments and visits

Fred said...

Mel u,

I remember that, when I first read the story, I kept going back to check the author's name. I never would have guessed Dostoyevsky wrote it.

Mel u said...

Fred-yes it really does not feel like one of his stories-

Suko said...

I hadn't heard of this short story before. It does sound like a unexpectedly lighter story--great review!