Josh's Reviews > The Possessed: Adventures With Russian Books and the People Who Read Them
The Possessed: Adventures With Russian Books and the People Who Read Them
Feb 02, 2012
A book I wish I'd written - but then doesn't saying that show that I've missed the deeper lesson of The Possessed, meaning the lesson of all fairy tales, which as Joseph Campbell put it goes something like "Where you stumble, there is your treasure"? Well then, let's try it again. Elif Batuman is a romantic soul and a romantic soul can fall in love with anything; so her book - which explores, at least as well as Huey Lewis or Drew Barrymore, the unlikely, overwhelming and occasionally creepy Power of Love - reminds us either a) that the person we're looking for isn't "out there" at all, or b) that the person we're looking for is everywhere, under every tea cosy and sofa cushion. In this way she proves herself a great reader of Russian literature, which remedied its status as the uncoolest kid at the international table by shouting loudly that it didn't care where anyone else was sitting, it was going to do its own thing. Did it really mean that? (wonderful sentence) Yes...and no. But it believed in the inherent interestingness of both itself and the world. Less Sontag than Paglia and less Paglia (thank god) than V.S. Pritchett, the lovable, prickly, hilarious Ms. Batuman seems to believe the same. All hail dame Elif.
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February 2, 2012 – Shelved