There are some people about whom it is difficult to say anything which would describe them immediately and fully in their most typical and characteristic aspects; these are the people who are usually called ordinary and accounted as the majority and who actually do make up the great majority of society. In their novels and stories writers most often try to choose and present vividly and artistically social types which are extremely seldom encountered in real life and which are nevertheless more real than real life itself. Podkolyosin, viewed as a type, in perhaps exaggerated, but he is hardly unknown. How many clever people having learned from Gogol about Podkolyosin at once discover that great numbers of their friends bear a terrific resemblance to Podkolyosin. They knew before Gogol that their friends were like Podkolyosin, except they did not know yet that that was their name...Nevertheless the question remains before us: what is the novelist to do with the absolutely ordinary people and how can he present them to readers so that they are at all interesting? To leave them out of a story completely is not possible, because ordinary people are at every moment, by and large, the necessary links in the chain of human affairs; leaving them out, therefore, means to destroy credibility. To fill a novel entirely with types or, simply for the sake of interest, strange and unheard-of people, would be improbable and most likely not even interesting. In our opinion the writer must try to find interesting and informative touches even among commonplace people. When, for example, the very nature of certain ordinary persons consists precisely of their perpetual and unvarying ordinariness, or, better still, when in spite of their most strenuous efforts to life themselves out of the rut of ordinariness and routine, then such persons acquire a certain character of their own-the typical character of mediocrity which refuses to remain what it is and desires at all costs to become original and independent, without having the slightest capacity for independence.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
By the way, a Bulgarian I met lately in Moscow, Ivan went on, seeming not to hear his brother's words, told me about the crimes committed by Turks and Circassians in all parts of Bulgaria through fear of a general rising of the Slavs. They burn villages, murder, outrage women and children, they nail their prisoners by the ears to the fences, leave them so till morning and in the morning they hang them- all sorts of things you can't imagine. People talk sometimes of bestial cruelty, but that's a great injustice and insult to the beasts; a beast can never be so cruel as a man, so artistically cruel. The tiger only tears and gnaws, that's all he can do. He would never think of nailing people by the ears, even if he were able to do it.These Turks took a pleasure in torturing children, -too; cutting the unborn child from the mothers womb and tossing babies up in the air and catching them on the points of their bayonets before their mothers' eyes. Doing it before the mothers' eyes was what gave zest to the amusement. Here is another scene that I thought very interesting. Imagine a trembling mother with her baby in her arms, a circle of invading Turks around her. They've planned a diversion: they pet the baby, laugh to make it laugh. They succeed, the baby laughs. At that moment a Turk points a pistol four inches from the baby's face. The baby laughs with glee, holds out its little hands to the pistol and he pulls the trigger in the baby's face and blows out its brains. Artistic, wasn't it? By the way, Turks are particularly fond of sweet things, they say.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The more conscious I was of all the good and of all this beautiful and lofty, the deeper I kept sinking into my mire and the more capable I was of getting completely stuck in it. But the main feature was that this was all in me not as if by chance, but as if it had to be so. As if it were my most normal condition and in no way a sickness or a blight, so that finally I lost any wish to struggle against this blight. I ended up almost believing (and maybe indeed believing) that this perhaps was my normal condition. But at first, in the beginning, how much torment I endured in this struggle! I did not believe that such things happened to others and therefore kept it to myself all my life as a secret. I was ashamed (maybe I am ashamed even now); it reached the point with me where I would feel some secret, abnormal, mean little pleasure in returning to my corner on some nasty Petersburg night and being highly conscious of having once again done a nasty thing that day and again that what had been done could in no way be undone and I would gnaw, gnaw at myself with my teeth, inwardly, secretly, tear and suck at myself until the bitterness finally turned into some shameful, accursed sweetness and finally-into a decided, serious pleasure! Yes, a pleasure, a pleasure! I stand upon it. The reason I've begun to speak is that I keep wanting to find out for certain: do other people have such pleasures? I'll explain it to you: the pleasure here lay precisely in the too vivid consciousness of one's own humiliation; in feeling that one had reached the ultimate wall; that, bad as it is, it cannot be otherwise; that there is no way out for you, that you will never change into a different person; that even if you had enough time and enough faith left to change yourself into something different, you probably would not wish to change; and even if you did wish it, you would still not do anything, because in fact there is perhaps nothing to change into.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky