Solzhenitsyn writes about one day in the life of Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, a prisoner within the frozen walls of a "special camp" inShort and powerful.
Solzhenitsyn writes about one day in the life of Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, a prisoner within the frozen walls of a "special camp" in Soviet Russia. The descriptions are no less and certainly more than teeth-chattering, toe-numbing, and snot-freezing cold.
I don't know how good the translation was, but if it was bad I couldn't tell.
I loved this scene of a robust argument between two inmates on art:
"But listen," he resumed. "Art isn't a matter of what but of how." X 123 struck the table angrily with the edge of his hand. "To hell with your 'how' if it doesn't arouse any worthwhile feeling in me."
I agree with X 123, wholeheartedly. Although, if one does the "how" well that can't hurt, but it's definitely not a god to be worshiped and bowed down to. Especially if one wants to write good stories.
I did not enjoy the light-hearted presentation of the accuser, the obfuscation of the historical Jesus Christ, nor the endiThe Master and Margarita...
I did not enjoy the light-hearted presentation of the accuser, the obfuscation of the historical Jesus Christ, nor the ending of the novel. But I did enjoy Bulgakov's imagination, writing style, satire, allegory, and allusions (even if I missed most of the allegory and most of the allusions, ignorant reader that I am).
I usually review my reads through two lenses: reader response and Jesus Christ (as revealed in the Bible). Therefore I had to give this book a 3 starred rating. I liked much of it as I read it, but it would have received 4 or 5 stars if Bulgakov had not been so obviously rejecting and advocating for the rejection of Jesus Christ as God the Son.
I ask you, how can a reader enjoy a book to the utmost when the author attacks the one treasure the reader holds dearer than life itself?
Exactly, there is bound to be some recoil.
The light-hearted portrayal of the accuser (satan, the devil, the little red demon with a pitch fork and bifurcated tail, woland) was most ironic. Ironic because satan, yes, does exist. Ironic because Bulgakov has Berlioz (one of those whom Bulgakov is attacking within this novel) deny the existence of satan, but then Bulgakov seems to implicitly deny the existence of satan as laughable by portraying his own satan (Woland) as an immoral being, but somehow not really that evil because of his absurdity, because of Woland's antics.
The truth is evil is far more evil (like that?) than Bulgakov treats it in his novel. Perhaps I am being unfair here, because the whole novel is an allegory (in some sense) of Soviet repression. At the same time, though, Bulgakov does not know what true evil is, thus his portrayal of the accuser is weak and amateurish at best. At worst it makes light of evil, of rebellion, of rejecting Christ and resting in our own pride.
Bulgakov's portrayal of the Christ is pathetic. Christ is pictured more as a brother to satan rather than as the true God. Jesus is more of an enlightened lunatic who somehow seems to rule above satan, perhaps as an older brother to a childish and innocuous little brother.
Bulgakov decries atheistic Soviet Russia, but then implicitly hails atheism as being the true state of reality. For evil to be evil there must be a standard. Jesus Christ is that standard. He is good, good is defined by Him. Bulgakov's railing against Soviet repression becomes hollow because Bulgakov does not know what real evil is....more
Tolstoy wrote with deep psychological insight, detailed description, and wit. My favorite of these three shorts was, I think, The Cossacks. The endingTolstoy wrote with deep psychological insight, detailed description, and wit. My favorite of these three shorts was, I think, The Cossacks. The ending was abrupt and twisted my gut. It was realistic, but he made it hurt....more
Dostoevsky is a master at uncovering the depths of humanity. He does not hold back, but goes at it (humanity) with every bit of strength and affectionDostoevsky is a master at uncovering the depths of humanity. He does not hold back, but goes at it (humanity) with every bit of strength and affection he has (or had). To him humanity is not something to be looked down upon nor to be exalted to the place of glory.
He is satiric, playful, dark, despairing, hopeful, and everything in between. He captures life as it is and not as what some may hope it is or despair of.
Notes from Underground is an insightful and enjoyable read. He castigates those who would neglect man's fallen soul, man's utter depravity and constant striving to live for one's own desires. He seems to give us not much hope in this short story for the redemption of man. Perhaps he gives us hope near the end in the form of love, which actually is no real hope at all apart from Christ, nevertheless Dostoevsky's excoriation of those who would deny the truism that the natural inclination of men is to pursue their own disadvantaged interests is beautiful. He does this plainly and with ease by showing the heart of one man living in his underground....more
Crime and Punishment was the first book I read by Dostoevskii. And it was the second book I had ever read by a Russian author, the first being War andCrime and Punishment was the first book I read by Dostoevskii. And it was the second book I had ever read by a Russian author, the first being War and Peace (I'd always wanted to read War and Peace because I'd heard it was about Napoleon in Russia, and I had always thought it was a non-fiction work; I was surprised when I discovered it to be a novel). War and Peace brought me to Crime and Punishment and Crime and Punishment felled me with one read, to be forever thankful for Dostoevskii.
It is a cliche, I know, but I fell in love, with a book!
(I subsequently proposed, but it turned out that Crime and Punishment was going steady with War and Peace, which makes sense when I think about it, but still...)
Crime and Punishment made me drool, it tore me up inside, it literally made me cry, it made me laugh, it made me hope, and it gave me pleasure.
The whole book is, really and essentially, about pride, about the desire of one man to be his own god. Nihilism was just an obvious expression of this desire, and easy for Dostoevskii to excoriate. I love Dostoevskii for this, because he always went to the heart of life, he knew the stakes of the grander story, and he knew its ending.
And in the end Raskolnikov begins to see it too. Suffering does not, by its own, bring redemption. But the suffering and the rising of one God-man does. The homage goes to Jesus Christ....more