‘Saint Julian The Hospitaller’ by Gustave Flaubert

Saint Julian The Hospitaller by Gustave Flaubert, 1877 Continue reading

‘The Beggar Boy At Christ’s Christmas Tree’ by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor 1876

The Beggar Boy At Christ’s Christmas Tree by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1876

The magic trick:

The brief, first-person frame narration

It isn’t much. Two sentences at the start. Three sentences at the end. But it’s an interesting technique. Dostoyevsky eschews the standard third-person narration by inserting himself (or some unnamed writer) as the storyteller. This lends the story a bit more authority, a bit more truth somehow. As the story develops and the reader learns of the tragic subject matter, this “real-life” assertion in the frame further emphasizes the piece’s social conscience. And that’s quite a trick on Dostoyevsky’s part.

The selection:

I am a novelist, and I suppose I have made up this story. I write “I suppose,” though I know for a fact that I have made it up, but yet I keep fancying that it must have happened on Christmas Eve in some great town in a time of terrible frost.