Dostoevsky, for me, is the finest writer to put pen to paper. However, The Idiot is not the masterpiece that Crime and Punishment, The Brothers KaramaDostoevsky, for me, is the finest writer to put pen to paper. However, The Idiot is not the masterpiece that Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, or even The Demons is. Which is not to say that it isn’t a fantastic book, it is. But, it lacks any real bite.
Myshkin as Christ, a Christ that is faithful to the scriptures, or at least as close as a man can get, ends as being equivalent to an ‘idiot’ devoid of darkness or sexuality, he cannot navigate through society. When confronted with this modern society, or at least a complex society, his innocence and good nature cause as much harm as good, as if irony, sarcasm, cynicism is a necessity. These are really great ideas flowing through the book, but a character who isn’t in internal conflict, or dangerous, or lustful, is not really a Dostoevsky character. It becomes farce without the comedy.
The real problem is that although there are a few great characters in this book, there aren’t enough of them. Myshkin is a poor Alyosha (Brothers Karamazov), Rogozhin isn’t featured enough, Ippolit is not anywhere as interesting as Kirilov (Demons) or Stavrogin (Demons) etc. Only Aglaya and her mother Mrs Epanchin, are really great characters.
However, it is still a great book and I am sure I’ve missed a lot of the books more subtle ideas and I will at some time re-read this book. But it won’t be before I’ve re-read the others first.
A study of how the human spirit will never be rational. That humanity will turn to spite before it conforms and that the heart rules the head. How weA study of how the human spirit will never be rational. That humanity will turn to spite before it conforms and that the heart rules the head. How we will injure ourselves and then try to rationalize it and justify our stupid actions.
The role of madness in society and its structure. The true purpose of power. Farce. The prophetic nature of Dostoyevsky. Wow! How can you not read it?The role of madness in society and its structure. The true purpose of power. Farce. The prophetic nature of Dostoyevsky. Wow! How can you not read it?
The book is in three parts; social farce, political nihilism and then the psychology or rather the madness. The book is rather funny in places with a very critical eye on suburban/inner city life. The strange parallel nature of the 'Revolutionist's' and certain aspects of modern day terror. The length of the book allows Dostoyevsky to then impart devastating news quickly as it really is (these people deserve more than a footnote in history) while decimating a whole life of which you can identify and mourn their loss, while not actually liking them.
On the negative side, this translation or the narrator tends to make mistakes in continuity, which can make reading a little confusing. It doesn't have the philosophical punch of his other books (which may or may not be a bad thing). Dostoyevsky does tend to despise his characters in this book, they do come across as either stupid, cruel or laughable, and there are only moments of warmth.
*Read the appendix chapter in between the book as it is meant to be the 10th chapter in part 2, and is essential to the book and understanding Stavrogin....more
I didn’t like any of the characters, I thought several times about putting this book down and never picking it up again, Tolstoy’s pessimism is outstaI didn’t like any of the characters, I thought several times about putting this book down and never picking it up again, Tolstoy’s pessimism is outstanding (and I’m a massive Dostoevsky fan), it is very, very long. But, after all this I can’t shake of the feeling that I have read a truly great novel (I couldn’t care less if Tolstoy believes this isn’t a novel, it is). Every reason I disliked this book was part of its artistry – its realism, the capricious nature of people and events, its unconventional story telling. It wasn’t until I reached around the 600 page mark did this book in fact start to explode with brilliance, honesty, and intelligence. There are several moments, not key to the story or indeed to any of the main characters, that are devastating in their cruelty and sublime description – the death of a prisoner (there are several) which tend to stand out. These moments of text, that are generally a page or two in length, puncture the books otherwise lengthy mundane prose with key points that for me define the book – this being somewhat like life, a week of monotony with a brief moment that defines it. One last thing I would also add is that although Tolstoy may not directly strike the reader as a pessimist, any close reading exposes Tolstoy’s viewpoint varying from indifference to horror, spite to malevolence. He does not hope much for mankind. ...more
Sharik's choice as a dog between being free and hungry or fed with no freedom, is a good allegory for our political options (Capitalism or Communism/SSharik's choice as a dog between being free and hungry or fed with no freedom, is a good allegory for our political options (Capitalism or Communism/Socialism). But, there doesn't seem to be any clear target for his satire (that not necessarily being a bad thing). 'Heart of a Dog' is a good read, but not as impressive as 'The Master and Margarita'....more
I was utterly disappointed when reading Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness', although it is still a good book. 'Lord of the Flies' is what I thought 'Heart oI was utterly disappointed when reading Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness', although it is still a good book. 'Lord of the Flies' is what I thought 'Heart of Darkness' would be. I like most people have seen the film, and thought yes 'man is a savage beast at heart, yeah, yeah, get it, etc'. NO! NO! You didn't! The books understatement of horror is very subtle, the fact that you can finish this book thinking man is constructed to behave and children if not taught can become savage. No! No! The children are savage because their parents are too! This is set during the World War II, there are subtle hints that the plane crash may have been caused by the atomic blast over Hiroshima (However, this may be my reading of the book!). Moments of cruelty and savagery are at the beginning, and permeate the entire book. 'Piggy' as a symbol of the rational, intellect, logic, etc, speaks common sense, order, yet is ignored, jeered, then finally brutally killed.
The fit Simon endures while confronted with what appears to be the 'beast', or the 'Lord of the Flies', the stick sharpened on both sides, the chanting, the breakdown of order, the horror, the horror ...
This book is now one of my favourites, and do not underestimate it. Read it closely and think upon it, it sends shivers down the spine. A spine that once belonged to a savage and can so easily be once again....more
Not being a particular fan of short stories, I thought I'd give Chekhov the apparent master of them a go (insert your argument for or against here!)
EaNot being a particular fan of short stories, I thought I'd give Chekhov the apparent master of them a go (insert your argument for or against here!)
Each story is interesting enough, but I just find short stories never really having enough to get your teeth into. However, 'A Boring Story', 'Ward No.6', 'The Hunstman' and a few others are absolutely perfect, not to say the rest aren't very good, but specifically A Boring Story and Ward No.6 are the finest short stories (if not novella's, as they tend to be the longer stories!) I have read.
I wasn't expecting much, as I'm not a massive fan of the movie and I think Alex is nasty piece of work. But after reading about 40 pages in, it did stI wasn't expecting much, as I'm not a massive fan of the movie and I think Alex is nasty piece of work. But after reading about 40 pages in, it did start to get rather interesting.
The whole moral question is explored well 'is it better to have an 'evil' man, or a man who cannot choose to do 'evil', and if he cannot choose is he still a man?' However, the end does seem to contradict the argument as his ultra-violence is blamed on Youth!?! In a sense that he is obliged to act in a certain way, because of youth. This doesn't really matter, as the main reason for reading this book, is the incredible use of language, nadsat, to be precise. Which after a while does start to make sense and the book intensely readable. Alex is still a shit though, but a rather charming shit.
Oh my brothers, this'll put knives in your moloko, a right real horrorshow....more
I would recommend on reading this book to choose your translation carefully. The Vintage version is an especially good one. As the use of language isI would recommend on reading this book to choose your translation carefully. The Vintage version is an especially good one. As the use of language is beyond most people's concept of artistic license, but in a good way. Zamyatin writes in such a strange use of language with words randomly made up and odd metaphors, which in this particular book adds to the attack on the ever increasing human crutch 'logic'. There is a character who is always being described as 2 dimensional or something very sharp "he was all profile" "his blade like nose" "his hands where like a sheet of paper". The use of maths, logic, metaphor and human irrational desire is an outstanding playing field of contradiction and paradox, that makes the book intensely readable. However, it does lack consistency and is only in my opinion slightly better than 'A Brave New World' (although not quite as clever), but not as good as 1984 (although it is probably the best written of the three, depending on translation!). 'We' is well worth the read....more
You gotta ride this submarine to the end, ... CAN YOU HEAR ME! Funny as hell. When they find the American dream is fantastic. A burnt down strip jointYou gotta ride this submarine to the end, ... CAN YOU HEAR ME! Funny as hell. When they find the American dream is fantastic. A burnt down strip joint, that's now a heroin den....more