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"The Peasant Marey" ( ) is a short story by Fyodor Dostoevsky written in 1876. Though framed as an autobiographical recount of some of his time spent in prison (around Easter 1850), the story is truly preoccupied with a childhood memory from when Dostoevsky was nine and living in the Tula provincemarker with his father. It is generally considered a piece of Slavophilic literature.

Plot summary

The story opens around the holiday season, with Dostoevsky wandering the prison camp. After a Polish political prisoner utters his hatred for the low bred convicts (both the Pole and Dostoevsky were nobles), Dostoevsky heads back to the bunks to rest. As he lies in his bed, Dostoevky vividly recalls a memory from his early childhood.

Dostoevsky recalls his time in the country as a child, specifically a cool autumn day. While playing near a birch wood, he hears the shout "Wolf! Wolf!" Panicked, Dostoevsky runs away from the birch wood, finally coming across the peasant Marey. Marey comforts the young Dostoevsky, reassuring him that there are no wolves in the area. Dostoevky is mollified by the peasant's genuine concern, and eventually returns to playing.

Dostoevsky returns from his memory in prison, comforted by the fact that even Russian peasants have such a degree of culture and understanding, while lamenting that the Polish prisoner has never seen the cultured side of Russians.


  • Magarshack, David, The Best Stories of Fyodor Dostoevsky (New York: The Modern Library, 2005), xi-xxvi.

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