Onegin, the main protagonist, travels to the country where he meets the idealistic poet Lensky, who introduces him to the sisters Olga (whith whom LenOnegin, the main protagonist, travels to the country where he meets the idealistic poet Lensky, who introduces him to the sisters Olga (whith whom Lensky is in love) and Tatiana (who falls in love with Onegin). So starts this story of love, life, innocence and jaded young dandies who can only love what they cannot have.
This is one of my favourite books of all time. I have read it countless times and I am sure I will continue coming back to it again and again.
It is so simple yet so beautiful and the poetry is incomparable (in original at least, I am not sure what the translation is like).
We had to learn certain passages off by heart at school and, astonishingly, this was one of the very few books that we had to read as part of the curriculum, when I did not mind, in fact, was eager to do so. Tatiana and Onegin were more real to me than many of the people I know today. I remember reciting bits over and over again aloud to myself pretending that I was Tatiana. I WAS Tatiana. Restless and drunk on love, staying up half the night and writing poetry to my first crush (alas, never sent) and crying with her over Onegin's letter at the end.
Tatiana to me is one of the best written female characters in all of literature. She has depth, intelligence, passion but, most of all, integrity. Whereas Onegin is charmingly decadent and devoid of morals and gets his come-uppance well and truly in the end.
My husband and I have one of those relationships that a lot of people would refer to as fraught or even (dare I say it?) dysfunctional. We argue. A loMy husband and I have one of those relationships that a lot of people would refer to as fraught or even (dare I say it?) dysfunctional. We argue. A lot. As people, we are as completely different as it is possible to be. He is an extrovert who thrives on attention, comes from a large family and enjoys physical work and nature. I am an introvert with a single sibling and like nothing better than to read. Our views on everything from the correct way way to bring up one's child to whether god exists are diametrically opposed. Here are a few examples of things we have argued about:
• Whether to leave the curtains open or closed. My husband is convinced that the perverts of the world routinely camp outside our house just to catch a glimpse of me ironing fully clothed in our bedroom.
• Whether the collar on a polo shirt should be worn up or down. In response to his feeble bleatings that he doesn't want his neck to burn, I have very subtly told him that if he wants to look like an unspeakable prole he can very well walk on the other side of the street from me.
• Which is better, Russia or England. I am Russian and my husband is English which, obviously, means that not only are we personally responsible for every action taken by our respective countries throughout history but we are also each charged with the task of defending and propagating the social and cultural mores of those countries to the other.
• Arguments about arguments – whose fault an argument was, who started it (not to be confused with the former), what the argument is about, whether it is happening at all and so on.
You get the gist.
So trust me when I tell you that the arguments and the relationship politics which Yates describes in Revolutionary Road are frighteningly authentic. It is a brilliant account of a marriage going wrong, full of black humour and exceptionally well-written, and I would thoroughly recommend this book just for that.
Frank and April are very flawed characters but very real and intricately drawn. They are selfish, self-absorbed and self-aggrandising, they each rely on the other to make their life worthwhile and make them into the kind of person they want to be and they take themselves and their bullshit far too seriously. Add to this the effect of the mind numbing 50s suburbia and the straight-jacket rigidity of the 50s gender roles and the nuclear family ideal and you get the tragic farce that is Frank and April's marriage.
Some reviewers have argued that the book has become irrelevant because it is set in a world that no longer exists. I don't think so. I think the way we live and function now is not really so brave or so new as we would like to think. Yates is fantastic at picking apart the fictions that we create about ourselves, the personas that we construct (both in our interaction with others and in our own mind) and the values that we ascribe to certain choices and lifestyles and that, I believe, is as relevant today as it ever was. It has certainly given me much food for thought and is still fresh in my memory, even though I read the book several years ago. ...more
Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk is a short novella set in Russian province in the second half of 19th century. The subject matter is pretty powerful: passion,Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk is a short novella set in Russian province in the second half of 19th century. The subject matter is pretty powerful: passion, adultery, murder and betrayal. Yet, for all that, the book is very unsentimental and true to life. It is full of dark humour and the characters are very real and believable. It is a shame that it does not seem particularly well-known in the West, for it is, in my opinion, one of the best works in Russian literature....more
This book encapsulates everything I hate about the sanctimonious pontificating hypocritical nob (technical legal term) that is Leo Tolstoy. The premisThis book encapsulates everything I hate about the sanctimonious pontificating hypocritical nob (technical legal term) that is Leo Tolstoy. The premise is so absurd it is laughable. What we have here is a religious manifesto promoting abstinence and castigating physical love by a man who spent a significant proportion of his life deflowering virgins and impregnating his wife.
It is a short story, so it would be petty to bemoan time spent on it, however, I do sincerely regret having ever picked it up. I read Anna Karenina and War and Peace when I was 16-17 and have always meant to re-read them when I was older and better able to appreciate the subject matter. Post-Kreutzer sonata, I am not sure I can take anything he writes seriously. A waste of letters. ...more