A Nasty Story  

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A Nasty Story, also translated as A Disgraceful Affair, is a satirical short story by Fyodor Dostoevsky concerning the escapades of a Russian civil servant.

Plot introduction

Jessie Coulson, in the introduction to a 1966 Penguin publication that includes the story, states of "A Nasty Story":

"Its theme is the terrible gulf between a man's idea of himself, his ideals, and his motives, and what they prove to be in the harsh light of reality. Its cruelty lies in the recognition that the tragedy of failure to come up to one's own expectations... is essentially comic..."

Plot Summary

After drinking a bit too much with two fellow civil servants, the protagonist, Ivan Ilyich Pralinsky, expounds on his desire to embrace a philosophy based on kindness to those in lower status social positions. After leaving the initial gathering, Ivan happens upon the wedding celebration of one of his subordinates. He decides to put his philosophy into action, and so crashes the party. Many more drinks ensue, and Ivan embarrasses himself terribly while failing to gain the admiration of his "lessers," which he so desperately desires.


One of Dostoevsky's more obscure works, "A Nasty Story" was written and published in 1862 following his brief tour of Spain.

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