The illegitimate son of a landowner, Arkady Dolgoruky was raised by foster parents and tutors, and has scarcely ever seen his father, Versilov, and his mother, Versilov's peasant common-law wife. Arkady goes to Petersburg to meet this "accidental family" and to confront the father who dominates his imagination and whom he both disdains and longs to impress. Having sewn into his coat a document that he believes gives him power over others, Arkady proceeds with an irrepressible youthful volatility that withstands blunders and humiliations at every turn. Dostoyevsky masterfully depicts adolescence as a state of uncertainty, ignorance, and incompleteness, but also of richness and exuberance, in which everything is still possible. His tale of a youth finding his way in the disorder of Russian society in the 1870s is a high and serious comedy that borders on both farce and tragedy.
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