The Raw Youth

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Cover of The Adolescent

The Raw Youth (Russian: Подросток, Podrostok), also published as The Adolescent or An Accidental Family, is a novel by Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky, first published in 1875. Ronald Hingley, author of Russians and Society and a specialist in Dostoyevsky's works, named this novel a bad one, whereas Richard Pevear (in the introduction to his and Larissa Volokhonsky's 2003 translation of the novel), vehemently defended its worth in spite of those who have deemed the work a failure. Originally, Dostoyevsky had created the work under the title "Discord".

The novel chronicles the life of 19-year-old intellectual, Arkady Dolgoruky, illegitimate child of the controversial and womanizing landowner Versilov. A focus of the novel is the recurring conflict between father and son, particularly in ideology, which represents the battles between the conventional "old" way of thinking in the 1840s and the new nihilistic point of view of the youth of 1860s Russia. Whereas the young of Arkady's time embraced a very negative opinion of Russian culture in contrast to Western or European culture.

Another main theme is Arkady's development and utilization of his "idea" in his life, mainly a form of rebellion against society (and his father) through the rejection of attending a university, and the making of money and living independently, onto the eventual aim of becoming excessively wealthy and powerful.

Characters[edit]

  • Arkady Makarovich Dolgoruky is the protagonist of the novel. He took the name Dolgoruky from his aged adoptive father, even though he is the illegitimate son of the dissipated landowner Versilov. Arkady's dream is to "become a Rothschild" (i.e. become fabulously wealthy like the historical Baron James Rothschild). In his quest for wealth Arkady becomes entangled with socialist conspirators and a young widow, whose future is somehow dependent on a document that Arkady has sewn into his jacket.
  • Makar Ivanovich Dolgoruky is an aging peasant and Arkady's legal father. He is a respected wandering religious pilgrim.
  • Andrei Petrovich Versilov is Arkady's biological father and a dissipated landowner. Scandals swirl around him, including a history with a mentally unstable girl and rumors of being a Catholic.
  • Katerina Nikolaevna Akhmakov is a young widow and romantic interest of both Versilov and Arkady. A letter sewn to Arkady's jacket may have dire consequences for her future.
  • Monsieur Touchard was Arkady's old school teacher. His strict nature and disrespect of Arkady made a deep impression on the protagonist.