Ellie's Reviews > The Possessed: Adventures With Russian Books and the People Who Read Them

The Possessed by Elif Batuman
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's review
Jun 12, 2014

it was amazing

I never thought one could write a book about writing a dissertation. Elif Batuman disproved me by not only doing that, but also writing an exciting, almost crime-novel level of exciting tale of writing a dissertation where books and their authors give life to all sorts of intellectual intrigue. Yes, you can get intrigued by that, especially if the author is Batuman. Some of the intrigue is typical crime-novel matter, like investigating, from the distance of a century, whether Tolstoy was murdered and who/how could have done that, but most of the time you get electrified by following the protagonist's (a graduate student, of course) discoveries of how classic Russian authors influenced each other - and even if you are not remotely interested in literary scholarship Batuman does get you electrified by that stuff. Just for that experience alone I highly recommended her book. It also leaves you not with a grand conclusion but with the sense that the intrigue continues and you can go make your own discoveries. This should be mandatory reading for all college students who want to major in literature.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
June 12, 2014 – Shelved

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