In superb original condition, with all wrappers

DOSTOEVSKY, Fedor Mikhailovich


[The Devils, sometimes The Possessed or Demons]

Publication: Zamyslovskii for the author, Skt. Peterburg, 1873.

DOSTOEVSKY, Fedor Mikhailovich, Besy

The best example we’ve handled of the first edition of this important Russian novel.

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Our Notes & References

Exceptional example of Dostoevsky’s most political novel : in three volumes in the original printed wrappers, fully uncut and without any restoration. The copy is kept in a high-quality solander box, made by Renaud Vernier, a pupil of Pierre-Lucien Martin and since a Maître d’art.

Usually and at best, the book is found bound in one volume, in contemporary half leather ; we are aware of only one other copy in wrappers in three volumes, sold at Christie’s in 2019: all three wrappers had been restored, with the spines in worst condition before restoration than the present copy.

One of Dostoevsky’s great novels, and the first of his books published by Dostoevsky himself.

Besy captures “the full grandeur of Dostoevsky’s extraordinary endeavor, which is nothing less than to write a symbolic history of the moral-spiritual travails of the Russian spirit” (Frank, pp.430-434). It is his most overtly political work, and a ruthless exposition of contemporary revolutionary movements. The serialisation of this work, in Katkov’s periodical The Russian Messenger, broke down when Katkov refused to print ‘Stavrogin’s Confession’, an episode which he found particularly shocking.

“As a political tract, a portrayal of sick minds, and a study of the manipulation of groups, ‘The Possessed’ remains Dostoevsky’s masterpiece” (Terras).

***Customers considering purchasing this item will be given a longer, much more detailed note on the work, its background, its influence***


Indistinct signature to upper wrapper and title of vol. 1.

Item number



Physical Description

Three parts in three 8vo volumes, complete with all half-titles.


Original publisher’s printed wrappers, kept in solander box by Renaud Vernier, made in 1984 in polished grey calf, covers of light grey paper.


Occasional light foxing, mostly marginal, title of vol. 2 with small mark of offsetting ; spines of wrappers browned, extremities worn, covers a bit discoloured and lightly dusty, esp. lower wrapper of vol. 2 and vol. 3. Still a beautiful example, when wrappers of 19th-c. Russian wrappers are famous for their scarcity.

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