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03/23/2014

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I once read a comment about Dostoyevsky in which his prose style was compared to one of those crazy whirling lawn watering ... things -- winter has gone on so long, I can't even remember what they are called! The point was that his prose seems to spray haphazardly in every direction. A finely calibrated control over his characters was not one of his strengths.

Congratulations on finishing the book. It is a long haul. I've just re-embarked on Don Quixote, and I won't be surprised if it takes me 5 months or more to get through.

Are you looking for "sprinkler", or something more specific? I wouldn't necessarily say that about the prose, but it describes the behavior of the characters pretty well.

Don Quixote is on my list. Not sure when I'll get to it. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who can take so long to get through a book. Part of the problem is that I never want to read just one thing at a time.

Yes, "sprinker" is the word I was looking for. Thanks.

I have the same problem: multiple books at any one time translates into slow progress on all fronts.

I am rather embarrassed by the fact that I haven't finished a book by Stratford Caldecott that I was given a review copy of and started months ago. Must get back to it soon. Before Demons.

I always have more than one book going at a time, but I almost never read two works of fiction simultaneously, unless it happens to something like a novel and a book of stories. But that's pretty rare.

I'm due for a reread of Bros. K. -- maybe this year. Last year I read Demons for the 2nd time, and the year before that C&P. I've read Notes From Underground numerous times.

If you read Kristen Lavransdatter, be sure to get the new translation that isn't in archaic English.

I liked that archaic English translation. But apparently the new one is more accurate, so I guess I'll try it at some point.

I like the old translation, too. But Undset considered it to distort her artistic intent. The original translation also soften some parts, such as the seduction scene.

I find life goes so much more smoothly if I just assume everyone is crazy. :)

But I'm guessing the characters in the Bros. K must be close to barking mad.

Not too far wrong.

I haven't yet read The Master of Hestvikin, though I've owned it for years. Has the new person (people?) translated it, too?

Dunno.

Because I couldn't resist doing a search on "Russians are crazy": Here's Definitive Proof That Everything Is Crazier In Russia

The jellied meat does it for me. ;)

Yes, all very much as I would expect. Though I'm pretty sure I've seen some similar jellied meat sort of thing here...well, we don't consider it a treat, anyway.

Here's a sample scene from BK. I just skimmed it so I'm not sure if it's mentioned that the bite on Alyosha's finger was from a boy.

American's should take pause, though, from an observation of W.H.Auden's that American and Russia are more alike than America and England.

One of the big differences between Dosty and other major 19th century novelists is that he is much more of a novelist of ideas than the others. You don't read him so much for the plots, or even the characters, but for their psychology and the ideas they represent.

Right. I can't remember whether it was in some discussion here, or with one of the friends mentioned above via email, but at some point I said, re Crime and Punishment, that I found myself thinking at times that he should just forget about the story and focus on the ideas. I really expected a lot more dramatic tension in C&P than is there. I would put BK somewhat higher in that respect (and in general for that matter). But still, the philosophical sections of the book, which probably make some readers impatient, are the high points to me.

Of course it really wouldn't be the same if he only spoke abstractly, and the characters and their doings are more than just placeholders for ideas. But it's true that the weight is on the ideas.

Jellied meat is not by any means restricted to eastern Europe; and it can be delicious.

Hmm...well, I can't say it looks all that great, though ham is always an attractive proposition. What kind of flavor does the jelly have? I think the texture would bother me a little even if the taste was good.

That particular jelly is flavoured with parsley.

"One of the big differences between Dosty and other major 19th century novelists is that he is much more of a novelist of ideas than the others. You don't read him so much for the plots, or even the characters, but for their psychology and the ideas they represent."

This is pretty much what think of Chesterton's fiction. I've only read Fr. Brown, The Man Who Was Thursday, and Notting Hill, but my sense is the characters as complex individuals aren't that important. I contrast him to Lewis, who I think had a real knack for spiritual psychology that Chesterton seems not to excel.

I've also read only those three (not all of Fr Brown by a long shot), and a handful of miscellaneous short stories. I've never been able to work up any enthusiasm for them as fiction, of ideas or otherwise. Or at all, for that matter. I know a lot of people think they're great but I don't get it.

I had the same reaction to Brothers K, Mac. Upon finishing it I did turn to the front (of a different translation of course) and probably re-read a third before I felt I could go on to something else. Some of these novels you really feel like there is nowhere else to go except back to the primary source I guess. With that said, and how much I loved it too, ... I do really prefer Tolstoy, and no, his characters are not crazy. He is more of a writer where you love all his characters regardless of their particular personalities just because he makes you see them so well. So even if they are unlikeable (Anna's husband comes to mind) you still feel empathy for them. Not sure that same empathy exists for several (all?) of Dostoevsky's characters.

I read Anna K when I was in my 20s, early 20s I think, and although I don't remember many specifics, I do recall Anna herself as a vivid and sympathetic character. Which is good, as I was beginning to think Grushenka and Katarini Ivanovna, Lise, et.al. were typical Russian women.

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