Humiliated and Insulted

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Humiliated and Insulted
Cover to the Oneworld Classics edition
Author Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Original title Униженные и оскорбленные
Translator Ignat Avsey
Country Russia
Language Russian
Genre Novel
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 450 pp (paperback edition)
ISBN ISBN 978-1-84749-045-2 (Oneworld Classics paperback)ISBN 0-89875-104-7 (paperback edition)
OCLC 181069446
LC Class PG3326 .U5 2008

Humiliated and Insulted (Russian: Униженные и оскорблённые, Unizhennye i oskorblyonye) — also known in English as The Insulted and Humiliated, The Insulted and the Injured or Injury and Insult — is a novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, first published in 1861 in the monthly magazine Vremya.

Plot introduction[edit]

Narrated by a young author, Vanya, who has just released his first novel which bears an obvious resemblance to Dostoyevsky's own first novel, Poor Folk, it consists of two gradually converging subplots. One deals with Vanya's close friend and former love object, Natasha, who has left her family to live with her new lover, Alyosha. Alyosha is the saintly but dimwitted son of Prince Valkovsky, who hopes to gain financially by marrying Alyosha off to an heiress, Katya. Valkovsky's cruel machinations to break up Alyosha and Natasha make him one of the most memorable "predatory types" (like Stavrogin in The Possessed) that Dostoyevsky created. The other branch of the plot deals with the approximately 13-year old orphan Nellie, whom Vanya saves from an abusive household by taking her into his apartment, and whose deceased mother's story in some ways parallels that of Natasha. It's unusual to see a well-developed character as young as Nellie in a Dostoyevsky novel, but Nellie may be one of his most moving creations, and she in particular shows the influence of Dickens (Dostoyevsky is known to have read Dickens during the Siberian exile; this novel was conceived near the end of this exile. In turn Japanese director Akira Kurosawa adapted Nellie's story in his 1965 film, Red Beard).

One of the most important themes throughout Dostoyevsky's work is the expiative value of suffering, and The Insulted and Injured, with its tragically moving plot and characters, develops that theme.

Plot summary[edit]

Natasha leaves her parents' home and runs away with Alyosha (prince Alexey) – the son of Prince Valkovsky who abuses her father. As a result of his pain, her father, Nikolai, curses her. The only friend that remains by Natasha's side is Ivan – her childhood friend who is deeply in love with her. Prince Valkovsky tries to destroy Alyosha's plans to marry Natasha, and wants to make him marry the rich princess Katerina. Alyosha is a childish young man who is easily manipulated by his father. Following his father's plan, Alyosha falls in love with Katerina. Eventually, Alyosha chooses Katerina over Natasha. In the meanwhile, Ivan picks up an orphan girl, Elena, and learns that her mother ran away from her father's (Smith) home with her sweetheart – Alyosha's father. Shortly after Elena was born, Prince Valkovsky abandoned her, took her money and the poor woman and her daughter came back to Smith asking for forgiveness. Elena's mother dies shortly before her father eventually agrees to forgive her. In attempt to make Nikolai (Natasha's father) forgive his daughter, Ivan persuades Nikolai and his wife to adopt Elena. By telling them her life story, Elena makes Nikolai's heart soften and he accepts Natasha. Shortly afterwards, Elena dies from epilepsy. Finally Natasha accepts Ivan's love.


  • Ivan Petrovich – main protagonist
  • Nikolai Sergueych Ikhmenev – landlord of Ikhmenevka
  • Anna Andreyevna – Nikolai's wife
  • Natasha Nikolayevna – Nikolai's daughter
  • Mavra – Natasha's maid
  • Prince Valkovsky
  • Prince Alexey – Prince Valkovsky's son
  • Mr Smith
  • Elena (Nellie)– Mr Smith's grand daughter
  • Filipp Filippych Masloboyev – Ivan Petrovich's old acquaintance
  • Alexandra Semionovna – Filipp's wife
  • Katerina Fiodorovna – Prince Alexeï's future wife

Film adaptation[edit]

Humiliated and Insulted was adapted in 1991 for cinema by Soviet director Andrei Eshpaj with Nastassja Kinski as Natasha.

External links[edit]