Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The relationships recorded here constitute what must be one of the happier love triangles on record, and the curious charm of the ending is a result, in the main, of certain forms of characterization. For all of Nastenka’s own misgivings, the narrator is only too pleased that she has found love in her friend the lodger. This peculiar working of love’s alchemy, by which the narrator’s attraction to the girl is transmuted into ardent hopes for her happiness with another man, can occur because of the narrator’s peculiar traits: He is a professed dreamer, and much of everyday experience passes him by; he has reconciled himself, for the most part, to a drab and uneventful existence. Only a certain number of people and sights inspire his imagination, and then only during the later periods of the day. For him, therefore, even a brief and evanescent relationship with a young woman seems disproportionately precious. He is gentle and accepting by nature; in most senses he is not a possessive sort. Thus, he may cherish his memories of Nastenka as the most fondly felt of his nocturnal reveries.

This work itself has a fragile, dreamlike quality that imbues the narrative with a light, romantic air; in some ways it seems insubstantial. The point of view is largely that of the narrator; his story is told in the first person and is presented almost as a diary, with a series of entries for the four nights and the day he wishes particularly to recollect. It is...

(The entire section is 401 words.)