Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Skotoprigonyevsk (sko-to-prihg-ON-ih-ehfsk). Russian town in which the Karamazovs’ home is located and the location of the worst debauchery commonly blamed on Fyodor Karamazov—the rape of the mentally disabled Lizavita. Dostoevski’s narrator withholds the name of the town until almost the very end of the novel, at the beginning of the trial of Dmitri Karamazov. Otherwise, the narrator refers to it only as “the town” or “our town.” The name Skotoprigonyevsk is most likely derived from the Russian word skotoprigony, meaning a stockyard. It is a generic Russian rural town of the time, located somewhere in the broadleaf-forest belt that is the heart of old Russia. For the people of Skotoprigonyevsk, the bright lights and Western fashions of the capital in St. Petersburg are almost unimaginably distant, talked about but never seen.

Karamazov home

Karamazov home. Dwelling of Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov, patriarch of the Karamazov family. As befits a wealthy landowner, it is a spacious house, tended by a faithful servant and his wife. However, it is also in notable disrepair, with crumbling wallpaper. These signs of decay reflect the moral dissolution of the elder Karamazov and are likely a deliberate touch of Dostoevski’s art. Although the house is the family home, it is not a place where Karamazov’s sons find nurturing or comfort. All three of his legitimate sons are fostered by...

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