THE PETTY DEMON by Fyodor Sologub


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This Russian novel was a best-seller there in 1909. Today the Soviets consider Sologub, who was out of sympathy with Bolshevism an ""expendable relic of the past"". He was the most famous writer of the decadent school. This, his best known novel, has been published now in an attempt to bring him out of his present obscurity because, in the words of the translator, ""... society's chaotic face is the petty demon... still flourishing today, not only in Russia"", and because he believes that Sologub's ""artistic approach is peculiarly attuned to creative trends today"". The novel deals with the deterioration of Peredonov (like Sologub- a school-teacher) who is the ""embodiment in Russian life of everything vile, hypocritical, mean and slimy"". In the interminable game of making the most profitable marriage, Sologub's humor is ugly, sly and quick. The cosy gardens and kitchens are filled with bickering, petulance, tantrums, as well as sweet buns, vodka and caramels. There is always a distasteful commotion- and it is theatrically useful as well as genuine; depravity is rooted deep in the real world which he loathed. In contrast, there is a lengthy and erotic episode involving the seduction of a young boy -""Lolita in reverse"", and the sensual excitement and yearning of the boy and the young woman are handled with consummate skill. Still, one can anticipate only a very special market for a very special talent, in spite of the contemporary parallels to be drawn.

Publisher: Random House