(Russian writer/photographer Leonid Andreyev,..."A pessimistic, moody man (who had already tried to end hi “Madness is a fire dangerous for jesting”
(Russian writer/photographer Leonid Andreyev,..."A pessimistic, moody man (who had already tried to end his life by shooting in 1894)...")
I-Characters and context. Anton Ignatyevich is a bright mind, a talented physician. Alexis Saveloff is an artist married to Tatiana Saveloff. Anton thinks he,himself, doesn’t love Tatiana, but he cannot bear the idea of Tatiana loving Alexis. So he plans a murder: Alexis’.
Anton is a chess lover, he deems himself second only to Lasker. Anton views himself as an excellent actor. He’s confident on himself, on the divinity and power of his own mind.
Tatiana never believed in Anton’s love; she loves Alexis; it’s a happy marriage. Alexis didn’t deserve Anton’s respect: because his literary output was petty and empty. Anton will kill him, because Tatiana loves Alexis.
II-Planning. Anton considered the possibility of inoculating Alexis with an incurable disease. Then he moves to psychopathology: a field of vast possibilities, he’s familiar with; madness can be faked. So he fakes two episodes of insanity. In one, he punches someone…the Saveloff couple being present. The second episode takes place at the Kurganoffs; the Saveloffs are absent. Anton fakes sadness, and the feeling of being “strange to all of them”; so he calls the people assembled: “liars, vipers!!!”; head dizzy,...a roar-like outburst….followed by the question: “where am I?”.After that simulation Anton returned home; he slept like an infant; he read Guy Maupassant.
III-Murder day. As planned, on the 11th of December 1900, Anton perpetrates the murder of Alexis, right before Tatiana’s eyes; at the exact hour planned: 18 p. m. … . After the execution, Anton still had time to go home and have a chat with frightened housewife Vasilyevna. Then the voice heard: that he really was “insane”; not Vasilyevna’s voice…or….but his own. He felt the terror. He got arrested at 21 p.m….by the police.
IV-At the psychiatric hospital. Anton is no more the same person. He wonders about madness. But mainly he wonders constantly about the questions:did I simulate madness or was I really mad? Am I insane or not? What am I?..
He ponders on father: a clever attorney who drank much. Father once asked Anton: son, what will become of you?; Anton replied: don’t worry…I am not talented, I will kill a Rothschild or rob a bank. Father accepted it as a jest. Anton thought he didn’t know his son’s soul.
Anton has no recollections of his mother. Only pimpled-face aunt Anphisa, who strangled herself; she used to make the sign of the cross over Anton, every night. Anton now thinks: is suicide a sin?
Two nights, no sleep. Assistant doctor Petroff refused the doses Anton wants, of Chloral amide. Anton demands the doses. Anton his assaulted by the question: simulation or reality?. So he asks help from the learned men: those in charge of telling about his psychic condition. ”Help me erudite men”.
He recalls: “I loved no one on earth but myself, not the vile body but my freedom, my thought”….”none can save me, none is stranger than I, I am the sole enemy of my “I”.
“I wished judges to sentence me to hard labor”. So (erudite men)-report me in normal health!
He’s got nurse Marsha around. He thinks she’s good, but “you don’t know Chemistry or Physics”; you’re a child, almost a plant.
Anton considers her insane:the noiselessness of her walk, her face reflecting other faces, alone she lacks all expression,"like the face of a corpse"...she cannot read: she doesn't know Russia is an empire and there are other empires; yet she prays every evening.She knows something.
Marsha asks Anton: DO YOU NEVER PRAY TO GOD?; ..."NEVER",replied Anton.
-do madmen sleep like infants? ... -they suffer ...they have the desire to howl.
“Like Nanse I tried to reach the poles of moral life”; …”playing like Othello …I felt the actual need to slay?
Marsha has departed. Anton for a while wished to howl, to scratch himself with his nails, to tear his clothes…”like that ward fellow. He tries walking on four, and howl…then he laughed; there’s no desire at all, just a thought.
-Marsha tell me of whom shall I seek help?
One ward mate is leaving; he handed Anton one million in (colored ribbons-like) currency; mate says: “I will declare myself a saint…I will banish the Pope”; mate is bound to Rome.
V-Judgment Day. Judge asks Anton: what do you have to say to your justification? Four expert psychiatrists attend; they do not agree; they have “opinions equally divided”. For a while Anton played the deaf role…then said:”nothing”.
So, what do you think dear reader: insane or normal?
This story will surely plunge you into cogitations, which surely will involve these questions: What is a crime? When does it start,…the criminal impulThis story will surely plunge you into cogitations, which surely will involve these questions: What is a crime? When does it start,…the criminal impulse? Who’s to judge about it and its corresponding/just penalties?
Nietzsche praised Dostoyevsky, for his Psychology. I too.
I’m basing my review on the movie by Joseph Sternberg,with the same title, in 1935. Though not much of a cinematic feat (director would have agreed), the book’s story is there, so finely translated into moving pictures.
The story is about a talented mind, a lawyer called Rodion Kaskolnikov who graduated with honors. Yet, life doesn’t smile at him, afterwards. He lives in utter anonymity though his articles on criminology are excellent. He’s got new theories: he distinguishes the ordinary mind from the extraordinary mind; punishing both in the same way is an error. On his room he displays the pictures of Napoleon and Beethoven. Geniuses. Nevertheless, he hardly has the money to pay his poor room. He tells the female landlord: “I am contemplating life”.
At a pawnbroker he witnesses others misery and his own…in the hands of a powerful female broker who decides with merciless, greedy judgment on the money value of items brought in. RK wants 50 rubles for his watch; the pawnbroker gives him only 10. He sees Sonya selling her cherished Bible,…and the poor kids; even the money he’s gotten he gives it away to the kids,…and one ruble to Sonya, who, per chance, complains she’s just lost hers.
At home RK gets rebelled against the system: against money itself. In his mind he crafts a plan: to kill the pawnbroker; he’ll be perfect since he knows the criminal mind. He’ll get away, somehow.
But though his articles are of the best quality, and the police-head gets RK as a sort of consultant, things get bad for RK: he becomes a suspect of murder.
RK now is rich because his editor pays well. He thinks he can proceed with his mindset: “you cannot prove” it; he’s told the police.
Only Sonya will save him, with her faith. By the end of the movie RK is willing to confess his crime and accept the corresponding punishment of going to Siberia. Yet Sonya will be waiting. Time won’t matter. She’s the one who saw him as “the finest man” she had ever met.
By the end of the movie RK told Sonya: “You've taken my sin on yourself”.
Nabokov was a Russian writer born in 1899, of an aristocrat family of St Petersburg… ;a polyglot, he came to be. He emigrated (Nabokov´s perspective)
Nabokov was a Russian writer born in 1899, of an aristocrat family of St Petersburg… ;a polyglot, he came to be. He emigrated to the US and there he wrote Lolita.
He lectured at Cornel University for 10 years. From 1961 till 1977 he lived in Montreux, Switzerland, in a hotel, with his wife. There, he continued his other passion: butterflies (how an expert he was on that!). He had many of the alpine type, to collect.
(perspective on the couple)
A hotel barman would say of them: it seemed wife wrote more than the author, because he spent “many hours roaming …in butterfly hunting”. They gave no tips.
Yet, I still don’t understand why Montreux reminded him of Russia. The expatriate would say in his last years of life: “there’s nothing to look at”, in Russia.
I’ve heard about the censorship the novel was subjected to. Lolita was refused by four publishers in the US; only in France it got published by Olympic Press. It was a book like “Naked Lunch” or “Lady Chatterley's lover”: censored. Nabokov had later to write an essay affixed to the book,(to appease angers??) where he spoke about: “how reader and writer meet at the …misty mountain of imagination”.
Martin Amis wrote about Lolita’s prose: it was like “a muscle-bound man”; a show-off? I wonder.
It seems Nabokov liked Kafka: Thomas Mann and Rilke were dwarfs, compared to Kafka.I've seen a [funny?] footage of someone pretending to be Nabokov lecturing on Kafka's Metamorphosis bug:"some (Jews) don’t know they have... wings".
I haven’t read it all…just seen some footage of the film made.The first pages suggested me the story of a fixation (in the psychoanalytic sense): scholar Humbert Humbert’s: on a 12-year-old girl called Dolores.