The Crocodile (short story)

"The Crocodile" (Russian: Крокодил, Krokodil) is a short story by Fyodor Dostoyevsky that was first published in 1865 in his magazine Epoch.

"The Crocodile"
AuthorFyodor Dostoyevsky
Original title"Крокодил (Krokodil)"
Genre(s)Short story
Published inEpoch
Publication typeMagazine
Media typePrint
Publication date1865


The story relates the events that befall one Ivan Matveich when he, his wife Elena Ivanovna, and the narrator visit the Passage on Nevsky Avenue to see a crocodile that has been put on display by a German entrepreneur. After teasing the crocodile, Ivan Matveich is swallowed alive. He finds the inside of the crocodile to be quite comfortable, and the animal's owner refuses to allow it to be cut open, in spite of the pleas from Elena Ivanovna. Ivan Matveich urges the narrator to arrange for the crocodile to be purchased and cut open, but the owner asks so much for it that nothing is done. As the story ends Elena Ivanovna is contemplating divorce and Ivan Matveich resolves to carry on his work as a civil servant as best he can from inside the crocodile.


The liberal press declared the story a low parody of the fate of the Russian socialist writer Nikolai Chernyshevsky, who wrote his novel What Is to Be Done? and numerous letters while confined in Peter and Paul Fortress. Dostoyevsky denied that the similarities were intentional.[1]


The Crocodile was adapted into an opera by composer Llywelyn ap Myrddin. Concert performances at the Guildhall and Oxford Leider Festival led to full productions at the Arcola Theatre (2007) and Riverside Studios (2013).[2] It was also adapted into a play by Tom Basden for The Invisible Dot and the Manchester International Festival in July 2015.


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