A Nasty Business (1862) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

A very well-realised look at the great gap between self-perception and social reality, classes, and ultimately what one thinks about themselves and what others actually think of them.

Dostoyevsky portrays his protagonist and his exploits in such excruciating deal that it’s both infuriating and invites the reader to cringe often. The story just escalates, and escalates, and escalates, and what starts as a sort of detached amusement at the protagonist turns into rage and disgust as his ridiculousness, and all that he embodies, is increasingly acutely realised.

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Yet it’s not all condemnation and satire. The feeling of being trapped in a social situation is relatable as any, and Dostoyevsky makes it read as all too real.

It’s hilarious, and aggravating, and very well-told. I give it four glasses of champagne, and a bed of chairs.

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