An Honest Thief by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1848
The magic trick:
Setting the story up as a social experiment
Oh Fyodor you are the most attractive man.
Finally, a relevant place to quote my favorite band – British Sea Power.
It’s Dostoyevsky Week on the magic trick site.
We start with “An Honest Thief,” a typically intense tale of morality and religion. It is set up nearly as a social experiment.
What happens when you approach a hopeless alcoholic with love and generosity? The story asks the question. The story answers the question. But the truly interesting thing is that even with the narrative’s conclusion, I’m not sure there is an obvious interpretation. It leaves you pondering the original question even deeper than you might have at the start of the story. And that’s quite a trick on Dostoyevsky’s part.
“Well, sir! And so he did go away. I waited a day and thought: Oh, he will be back toward evening. But a day passes, then another, and he does not return. On the third — he does not return. I grew frightened, and a terrible sadness gripped at my heart. I stopped eating and drinking, and lay whole nights without closing my eyes. The man had wholly disarmed me!…”
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