The Petty Demon is one of the funniest Russian novels. It is also the most decadent of the great Russian classics, replete with naked boys, sinuous girls, and a strange mixture of beauty and perversity. The main hero, Peredonov, is as comical as he is disgusting. He is at once a victim, a monster, a silly hypocrite, and a sadistic dullard. The plot moves from Peredonov's petty quest for a promotion to arson and murder via one of the most incredible and uproarious scandal scenes in world literature, the masquerade ball, which the boy Sasha attends as a beautiful geisha.