The Village of Stepanchikovo

The Village of Stepanchikovo (Russian: Село Степанчиково и его обитатели, Selo Stepanchikovo i ego obitateli), also known as The Friend of the Family, is a novel written by Fyodor Dostoevsky and first published in 1859.

The Village of Stepanchikovo
AuthorFyodor Dostoevsky
Original titleСело Степанчиково и его обитатели (Selo Stepanchikovo i ego obitateli
TranslatorIgnat Avsey
PublisherThe Russian Messenger (series)
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)


Sergey Alexandrovich (Сергей Александрович), the narrator, is summoned from St. Petersburg to the estate of his uncle, Colonel Yegor Ilyich Rostanev (Егор Ильич Ростанев), and finds that a middle-aged charlatan named Foma Fomich Opiskin (Фома Фомич Опискин) has swindled the nobles around him into believing that he is virtuous despite behavior that is passive-aggressive, selfish, and spiteful. Foma obliges the servants to learn French, and gets furious when they are caught dancing the kamarinskaya.

Uncle Yegor asks Sergey to marry the poor young girl Nastenka. It turns out Uncle Yegor is in love with her himself, but Foma wants him to marry the wealthy Tatyana Ivanova instead. Tatyana has several other suitors, including Mizinchikov, who confides in Sergey about his plans to elope with her.

The next morning Tatyana has eloped, not with Mizinchikov but with Obnoskin, who acted under the influence of his mother. After a pursuit Tatyana returns voluntarily. At Stepanchikovo Foma Fomich is furious because Uncle Yegor has been caught red-handed during an assignation in the garden with Nastenka. Foma leaves, but falls into a ditch. The inhabitants beg him to come back. A general reconciliation follows after Foma, manipulating as ever, gives his blessing to a marriage between Uncle Yegor and Nastenka.


The story has the structure of a comedy; it was originally intended as a play.[1]

Dostoevsky wrote this novel for Mikhail Katkov, main editor of The Russian Messenger. In a letter to his brother Mikhail, Dostoevsky wrote: "The long story that I am writing for Katkov displeases me very much and goes against the grain. But I have already written a great deal, it's impossible to throw it away in order to begin another, and I have to pay back a debt."[1]

In a later letter he sounded more optimistic: "I am convinced that there are many weak and bad things in my novel; but I am convinced - I stake my life on it! - that there are very fine things. They sprang from the heart. There are scenes of high comedy that Gogol would have signed without hesitation."[1]

He submitted the novel to The Russian Messenger, but Katkov rejected it. Next he submitted it to The Contemporary, which accepted the novel, but at what Dostoevsky considered a humiliatingly low price. The editor of The Contemporary, Nekrasov, was very negative: "Dostoevsky is finished. He will no longer write anything important."[2] The novel was ultimately published in Krayevsky's National Annals.[3]


  1. Joseph Frank, Dostoevsky. The Years of Ordeal 1850-1859, London, 1983, p. 263.
  2. Joseph Frank, Dostoevsky. The Years of Ordeal 1850-1859, London, 1983, p. 264.
  3. A. V. Arkhipova. "Commentary" in F. M. Dostoevskii, Sobranie sochinenii v 15 tomakh, Leningrad, 1988, vol. 3, pp. 511-12.
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