Renaissance art has never looked more out-of-place than in Dan Brown's latest and well-researched treasure hunt. At its very best, Inferno is a readieRenaissance art has never looked more out-of-place than in Dan Brown's latest and well-researched treasure hunt. At its very best, Inferno is a readied manual for brief and quick research on the prime art locations in Florence and Venice, peppered with a few collected facts and artifacts that would otherwise take one quite some time to look up. Perhaps it is my dislike for such a miniaturization of the stupendous art that is covered in the book, but by attempting to make his plot bigger than the concerned artists themselves, the author scores major negatives at credibility. That said, it is a fair improvement over his previous books, especially over his last book, The Lost Symbol. Where I think he returned to solid ground this time was picking the right premise for his kind of a novel, and building an apt, coherent plot around it, which his last book could have done so much better with. However, much cannot be said about his kind of a novel to begin with. ...more
My first brush with Russian literature ( in the unabridged form ! ) so as you can imagine, it was quite an experience. I picked this book up after I fMy first brush with Russian literature ( in the unabridged form ! ) so as you can imagine, it was quite an experience. I picked this book up after I found out that there was a Tolstoy novella named after the Kreutzer Sonata, which I had listened to a couple of years ago.
The book delineates the disastrous circumstances surrounding the married life of the central character, which compel him to murder his wife. The anti-Christian, pessimistic ( even dystopian ) views that are central to the novella are channeled through the protagonist, namely Podnischeff, who narrates his former predicament and the final few encounters that led to the killing, to a stranger he meets on a train. Podnischeff, who is of opinion that marriages are merely social licenses to indulge in debauchery, explains why murdering his spouse was the right way to end the turmoil he had found himself in. In the midst of the marriage that had already turned fatally sour, a young, charming Parisian shows up, offering to take violin lessons for the wife, who, stuck between her own marital angst and a desire to free herself from the constrictions of the household, gets attracted towards her temporary tutor. In the dark consternation following this realization that his wife was beginning to get intimate with another man, Podnischeff blindly invokes the extreme step.
I loved every page of this book. The characterization of Podnischeff, not unlike that in a bildungsroman, begins right from when he was 16 years of age and his views on women, marriages, sex, society, religion, music and violence, though outrageous at times, are exceptionally well argued. Finding himself justified at the intersection of these turbulent arcs of thought, the character makes his decisive, horrifying move. Most of the book consists of rigorous ratiocination ( the conversation with the stranger ) interspersed with a few narratives of unsavory incidents, which, being brilliantly described, will put the reader to some unease.
Since I cannot provide a background of any of Russian literature yet, I can only claim that by itself, this book is outstanding. It has whetted my appetite for more Tolstoy. ...more