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Yama: the pit   By: (1870-1938)

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Yama: The Pit by Alexander I. Kuprin is a captivating and thought-provoking novel that delves into the dark underbelly of society. Set in early 20th century Russia, the story revolves around a disreputable neighborhood known as "Yama," a place populated by criminals, outcasts, and the destitute.

Kuprin's masterful storytelling transports readers into the heart of this grim environment, depicting its inhabitants with gritty realism and exposing the harsh realities of their existence. The author does not shy away from addressing difficult topics such as poverty, crime, and the abuse of power, creating a profound and disturbing portrayal of the human condition.

The protagonist, Daniil Pashin, is a man on the run from his troubled past, seeking redemption and salvation. Through his eyes, readers witness the complex dynamics of Yama and its inhabitants, including the marginalized, the corrupt, and those desperately trying to escape the clutches of this infernal pit.

What sets Yama: The Pit apart is Kuprin's ability to create multidimensional characters that evoke a range of emotions. Each individual is flawed, yet wholly human, enabling readers to empathize with their struggles and understand the desperate choices they make in order to survive. The moral ambiguity in this novel adds depth to its exploration of human nature, making it far from a simplistic tale of black and white.

The author's beautifully descriptive prose paints a vivid picture of Yama's grimy streets and dilapidated buildings. This attention to detail effectively immerses readers in the harsh environment, allowing them to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of this wretched place. Kuprin's evocative writing style pulls no punches, evoking a feeling of unease and discomfort that lingers throughout the reading experience.

While Yama: The Pit may not be for the faint of heart, it is a haunting and poignant novel that sheds light on the darker aspects of society. It serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of societal neglect and despair, leaving readers with much to contemplate long after turning the final page. Alexander I. Kuprin's powerful storytelling and his exploration of the depths of the human psyche make Yama: The Pit a truly unforgettable and thought-provoking read.

First Page:


Of this edition, intended for private circulation only, and printed from type on Berkeley Antique laid paper, 950 copies have been printed for America, and 550 for Great Britain. Also, 55 unnumbered copies, for the press.

This copy is Number 223






"All the horror is in just this, that there is no horror ..."


I know that many will find this novel immoral and indecent; nevertheless, I dedicate it with all my heart to MOTHERS AND YOUTHS A. K.


I dedicate the labour of translation, in all humility and sincerity, to K. ANDRAE. B. G. G.

JTABLE 2 2 1

JTABLE 6 12 1

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"With us, you see," Kuprin makes the reporter Platonov, his mouthpiece, say in Yama, "they write about detectives, about lawyers, about inspectors of the revenue, about pedagogues, about attorneys, about the police, about officers, about sensual ladies, about engineers, about baritones and really, by God, altogether well cleverly, with finesse and talent. But, after all, all these people are rubbish, and their life is not life, but some sort of conjured up, spectral, unnecessary delirium of world culture... Continue reading book >>

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