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Short Story/Novella Collection > White Nights - April 2018-

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message 1: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bob | 4913 comments Mod
Our April 2018 Short Story/Novella read is White Nights by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 82 pages, 1848


message 2: by Michele (new)

Michele | 1008 comments FYI, this is available online here, in several different formats.


message 3: by Bat-Cat (last edited Mar 31, 2018 12:50PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bat-Cat | 1299 comments I listened to this today and loved it.

Here is my review:

“It was a wonderful night, such a night as is only possible when we are young, dear reader. The sky was so starry, so bright that, looking at it, one could not help asking oneself whether ill-humoured and capricious people could live under such a sky. That is a youthful question too, dear reader, very youthful, but may the Lord put it more frequently into your heart!...”

What a beautiful story.

What a master of psychology and philosophy, a meta-fictional and meta-physical poet who can access the entire range of emotions in a single sentence - one who can touch such profound depths of human consiousness as to leave one utterly speechless. Oh, to possess that level of comprehension of the human heart, the knowledge that its depths are bottomless and its rewards beyond understanding. Dostoevsky has the ability to take one to the edge of the abyss, slowly push them over that edge and provide a soft landing. A truly transformational ending to a heartwarming story of the power of unconditional love. There is truly no limit to what is possible.

“May your sky always be clear, may your dear smile always be bright and happy, and may you be for ever blessed for that moment of bliss and happiness which you gave to another lonely and grateful heart. Isn't such a moment sufficient for the whole of one's life?”

Definitely 5 stars.


Terris | 2422 comments It looks interesting. I think I'll try it!


Jehona | 182 comments Definitely worth reading. I'm thankful to this group for making me read it.
I usually hate writers most people love, so I've been avoiding Dostoyevsky since my high school teacher talked about how great his books were. I also usually hate love stories. But this was beautifully written, and sweet and sad.


Vanessa | 6 comments I'm currently reading this right now. I tried at first to search for a study guide online (I'm still working on my reading comprehension skill) but couldn't find any. I hope i do understand the message the author tries to convey.


Shirley (stampartiste) | 722 comments Just downloaded the ebook. I'm looking forward to reading it.


Kathleen | 3797 comments I'm getting a physical copy in a few days from the library.

Beautiful sentiments, Bat-Cat. I love this author too, but have never read any of his short stories. Looking forward to it!

And Vanessa, I've found that these discussion threads really help me when I don't think I'm understanding a story--hearing everyone's thoughts and ideas not only explains things I don't know, but makes me realize how many different ideas you can get out of a story!


Bat-Cat | 1299 comments Beautiful sentiments, Bat-Cat. I love this author too, but have never read any of his short stories. Looking forward to it!

Thanks, Kathleen. This was my first short story by Dostoevsky and I think it made me even more of a fan (if that is possible). I am not usually very taken with short stories as a rule but maybe that's changing. I listened to the audio book and thought it was great. :-)


Carlo | 206 comments some spoilers:

I really enjoyed this. I particularly liked the part in the second night where the protagonist reveals himself to Nastenka and talks about his life, dreams and fears.

Good ending too. I wasn't sure if he was going to be overwhelmed with sadness or become vindictive, but he reacted positively.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

I totally appreciated the high quality of writing but have to be honest - I didn't enjoy this story or like the characters. Anyone else?


siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2051 comments I enjoyed the writing ,a lot..the story, not so much...characters were okay too.


Terris | 2422 comments I just finished! 'Just one moment of happiness' -- wow! :)


Kathleen | 3797 comments Even with the beautiful writing, to be honest, I didn’t enjoy reading this--I found tedious. I think I prefer his style in a longer format where it’s part of a deeper exploration of characters.

But it is Dostoevsky, and I’m very much enjoying having read it, and thinking about the ideas! What does everyone think—is it good to be a dreamer? Is he really happy in the end?


message 15: by Gini (new)

Gini | 196 comments Kathleen wrote: "Even with the beautiful writing, to be honest, I didn’t enjoy reading this--I found tedious. I think I prefer his style in a longer format where it’s part of a deeper exploration of characters.

B..."


Thank you! for saying it wasn't wnderful. I tried reading this one and made it about 20 pages maybe. All I kept thinking was "Get a life." Maybe if I want to ever read this author I need to start somewhere else


message 16: by BAM (new) - rated it 3 stars

BAM Endlessly Booked | 803 comments So what types of pranks do you think Nastenka was up to to deserve her punishment and loneliness?


message 17: by siriusedward (last edited Apr 10, 2018 07:46AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2051 comments Kathleen wrote: "Even with the beautiful writing, to be honest, I didn’t enjoy reading this--I found tedious. I think I prefer his style in a longer format where it’s part of a deeper exploration of characters.

B..."


I don't think he can be really fully happy in a contended sort of way.
Always dreaming.
I mean I love to dream too..but not actually living the real life will only make the dreams more bittersweet.more tinged with a sense of always needing an escape.Don't you think?


siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2051 comments I think Nastenka was selfish fir not setting him free..but playing around and flirting with him..she was too blithe and careless of both men...


Shirley (stampartiste) | 722 comments I just finished this sad little story last night. I agree that Nastenka seemed to be stringing the lonely narrator along, but I don't think she intentionally meant to hurt him. This little story made me think that loneliness was probably a very real way of life in times when it was so difficult for two people in their social "class" to meet and develop relationships. I just think that Nastenka wanted to get married (to get away from her grandmother), and fearing that the lodger had ditched her, she wanted to leave her options open with the narrator, whom she also liked. As to the narrator, I think he was a fearful and shy man who probably took as much enjoyment out of dreaming about love as he did actually experiencing it.

Even with such a sad ending for the narrator, I did enjoy the book.


Thorkell Ottarsson It is interesting to compare this to other short stories and novellas by Dostoyevsky. The protagonist is usually not the one the story is about. The protagonist is usually a witness to the drama happening to other people and we the reader only get to witness that drama from the outside. I don't want to spoil the plot of the other short stories and novellas so I will not go into details there but I there is one other story that is in many ways like this one. It's called A Little Hero and about an 11 years old boy witnessing a love affair and falling in love.

As to this story. I love it. I think the protagonist is wonderful. How he manages to struggle on even though live is not serving him much to keep him going.

There is a wonderful film adaptation of this story called Le Notti Bianche (1957), directed by Luchino Visconti. Marcello Mastroianni plays the protagonist.

Robert Bresson also directed a version called Four Nights of a Dreamer (1971). It is just as good!

There are at least 4 other film adaptations but these are the only ones I have seen. Strange that of everything Dostoyevsky has written that this one has been filmed so often.


message 21: by MKay (new) - rated it 4 stars

MKay | 277 comments Finished a few days ago. It was a nice little story, but I did feel she strung him along. It is nice to have little moments of happiness, but I do not want to base my happiness on anyone person. I felt he needed to interact with others and build some friendships.


Thorkell Ottarsson MKay wrote: "Finished a few days ago. It was a nice little story, but I did feel she strung him along. It is nice to have little moments of happiness, but I do not want to base my happiness on anyone person. I ..."

What you are asking for is another story. This person is not someone who has friends. He is one of the really weird guys every community has, whom no one wants to be friends with. It is not really up to him to build friendships because he tries as hard has he can. It is the people of the city who don't care for him. This is why the houses are his friends.

What makes him such an amazing person is his happy go lucky attitude. Nothing kills his spirit. Even when he is being used and strung along he finds the positive side of it and continues. So even though the story is about what he witnesses (the love story) it is just as much a character study of a happy go lucky outsider.


message 23: by BAM (new) - rated it 3 stars

BAM Endlessly Booked | 803 comments This was depressing. If I were still teaching I would have used this story as a character analysis and had my students draw their visual interpretation of him. Then come up with adjectives to describe his appearance
Is he just a mysterious loner or is he physically repellent? Obviously he accepts his one moment in time and runs with it as if there will never be another. He’s an emotional cripple


message 24: by James (new) - added it

James Catt | 10 comments It remain s one of my favorite works


Hedda | 9 comments Will definitely give this one a go. Loved 'Notes from the underground', which was my first, and very recent, Dostoyevsky experience - feeling I could become quite a fan.


message 26: by Rosemarie (new) - added it

Rosemarie | 1556 comments Hedda wrote: "Will definitely give this one a go. Loved 'Notes from the underground', which was my first, and very recent, Dostoyevsky experience - feeling I could become quite a fan."

You have a lot of wonderful reading ahead of you. I read The Idiot in university and was hooked.


Hedda | 9 comments Rosemarie wrote: "Hedda wrote: "Will definitely give this one a go. Loved 'Notes from the underground', which was my first, and very recent, Dostoyevsky experience - feeling I could become quite a fan."

You have a ..."


Thanks, Rosemarie - 'The Idiot' is on my to-read list :) In fact, have delved into a lot of old Russian writers recently - and very pleased that I have too!


Kathleen | 3797 comments What an interesting idea for exploring this story, Bam!

The Idiot was my first of his too, and this reminded me of that.

His characters are depressing, but in my mind, it's like he brings out some hidden, more-common-than-we-think characteristics and then exposes and dissects those traits with a great deal of empathy. So much empathy, that I find myself relating to them, no matter their circumstances or who they are.


Tammy | 391 comments Can you imagine what this couple would have become had there been a "happy" ending? Oh heavens. Nastenka would have eventually turned bitter and rued the day the lonely dreamer stepped into her life. The last two pages of the story were the best ending for all involved. In the end, Dostoevsky makes the protagonist a noble man. He comes away from the encounter better off than he was. At least he had 4 nights of living and not just dreaming. Nastenka, for her part, comes off no worse or better than she was. She would have married anybody to get free of granny's skirts.

I did not love this maudlin, tear soaked story. The writing was fine, but I found the sticky sweet sentimentality hard to get past. I felt the same way about sad old Werther and his sorrows.


message 30: by Kristina (last edited Apr 18, 2018 12:33PM) (new) - added it

Kristina (krikiriki) I read this last night. The narration (including the translation) was just wonderful, flowing and honest. There is some powerful imagery in those short 80-or-so pages (the narrator's dim and lonely abode, Nastenka's dusty old home and withered away grandmother - I could just feel the claustrophobia creeping up). I gave it 4 stars for the writing even though I'm not too fond of stretched-out monologues.

However, like Tammy, I didn't like the story. It was predictable from the moment the lodger was introduced. Essentially, I kept cringing as the doom of the friend-zone approached, and the ending was by far the tackiest part.


siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2051 comments oh yes..I felt that the Narrator came of as noble too. And the ending was good for him.He is loner who maybe enjoyed his solitude. ... he feels a dreamer who did enjoy life...but is lonely too...
at least at that point..

And I did not like Nastenka because she was too wishy washy.... like she would have married anyone... she should have let the narrator go on his own merry way...I hope he is free from her and happy in his own world...maybe a bit lonely..


Laurene | 10 comments I have mixed feeling about this short story. First of all, it was wonderfully written -- the flow, the imagery, and the character development. I felt for out narrator who can only imagine a relationship with someone, "And I do nothing but dream every day that at last I shall meet someone. Oh, if only you knew how often I have been in love in that way. With an ideal, with the one I dream of in my sleep. I make up regular romances in my dreams." He claims to be shy. But comes across a young women in distress on a bridge. He stops to check if she is alright. Nastenka explains she is upset because she is waiting for her "friend" who she believes she is engaged to but has never shown up to their planned meeting place. Our narrator takes it upon himself to bring the "friend" a letter. For a shy person and only a dreamer -- he really get's involved and puts himself out there. He falls in love with Nastenka -- while Nastenka is waiting for her "friend" --- she realizes she could love our narrator. In four days -- she is ready to leave the one she loves and go off with our narrator. That part is really unbelievable for me. Yes, she get's to escape her grandmother but . . . . Well, we know the rest. Our narrator goes back to his life and is happy because he can treasure this one moment. Hopefully with this one experience, he realizes he is not that shy and puts himself out there. But does not get involved with someone who is in another relationship. I just could not buy into his incapacity to get into a relationship because of his shyness.


message 33: by Suki (last edited Apr 18, 2018 11:03PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 76 comments The imagary in this story is beautiful. My favorite part was when the narrator was talking about his friends, the houses. I wonder if the beautiful little pink house who was painted yellow misses him...

I think our narrator is still dreaming when he meets Nastenka.

"And all I dream of every day is that at long last I will finally meet someone. Oh, if only you knew how many times I've fallen in love like that!..."
"But how, with whom?"
"Why with nobody, with an ideal, with the one I see in my dreams. I create entire love stories in my dreams."

I think he has done this exact thing with Nastenka. After all, he has only met her a few times! He was never in love with Nastenka the woman; he was in love with Nastenka the ideal. There are comments in the thread above that Nastenka will marry just about anybody to get away from her grandmother. Our narrator has a "grandmother" of his own: it is loneliness and solitude, and he too will do whatever he can to escape.

The story is very bitter-sweet-- I felt very sorry for the narrator, but I honestly don't think he ever would have had a happy future with her, but he did get his one whole minute of bliss.


Hedda | 9 comments My goodness, emotions develop and change very quickly, but I guess that is the nature of a short story! It certainly tugs at your heart strings. Beautifully written - easy to read - loved the early description of the city and the houses. Poor man. Actually, no matter how 'silly' or unbelievable, Dostoyevsky seems to manage to write about things I can identify with, no matter how embarrassing... Oh dear :D


message 35: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue K H (sky_bluez) | 3174 comments I just read this and loved it. I agree with Hedda about the early descriptions of the city. The opening passage that Bat-Cat quoted had me hooked!

The story was enjoyable and heartwarming. I agree that it was predictable, but most narratives are. There are only so many possible outcomes to a story.

This was 4.5 stars for me.


message 36: by Matt (new)

Matt (mmullerm) | 818 comments I just started this weekend and am through Nastenka’s history. I haven’t found much to grab a hold of in this story yet. I like the writing and love Dostoevsky, but I’m finding the story rather inane. Maybe I just haven’t read enough yet. I’ll keep plugging away at it.


Tonia (yestonia) | 250 comments I loved this story. I feel a lot more affinity to the lead character than perhaps I would like to - I did wonder how much of Nastenka's story is actually true though. It seems to me she was just saying things to make him feel sorry for her.


message 38: by Matt (new)

Matt (mmullerm) | 818 comments I take back my comment about it being inane. I just finished it this morning, and did enjoy the story overall. I felt sorry for the main character in the end, but I like his optimism.

’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.’


message 39: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue K H (sky_bluez) | 3174 comments Matt wrote: "I take back my comment about it being inane. I just finished it this morning, and did enjoy the story overall. I felt sorry for the main character in the end, but I like his optimism.

’Tis better..."


That is a perfect quote for this story Matt!


Laurene | 10 comments Matt wrote: "I take back my comment about it being inane. I just finished it this morning, and did enjoy the story overall. I felt sorry for the main character in the end, but I like his optimism.

’Tis better..."


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Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 126 comments It is very difficult, despite the writing, despite some good quotes, to love or even appreciate a book when one has no empathy with the protagonists; towards the main male character in this case.
He had no life before meeting the young girl. His love story fails. So he goes back to his non-life.
I know this kind of characters exists. I just don't find the point of reading about them.
It was only up to him to have a real life before meeting the girl.
Whatever the outcome of his story would have been with this girl, his story would have failed.
Because it was for her only a lifeline. She just wanted to persuade herself that it can be the beautiful boat on which she must embark.
I agree, living a story, even if it fails, is better that not living at all. To have loved, even if it was for few days is better than not to have loved at all.
But nothing prevents us, after a failure, to try again and again! Nothing forces us to return to hide in dirty rooms with cobwebs!


message 42: by Cindy (new)

Cindy  | 58 comments I liked his optimism too. I am surprised the narrator was not bitter and angry.


message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

If he felt angry/bitter/any other strong emotion he might have had the impetus to change his quality of life. Instead, he went back into hiding in his "dirty rooms with cobwebs", as Gabrielle said - and I also agree with the point that it isn't too interesting to read about. Maybe that's why it stayed as a short story instead of developing into a long novel? The protagonist went back into his "depression" and stayed there.


Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 126 comments Catriona wrote: "If he felt angry/bitter/any other strong emotion he might have had the impetus to change his quality of life. Instead, he went back into hiding in his "dirty rooms with cobwebs", as Gabrielle said ..."

I agree and I'm happy this wasn't a long novel! 😊


Kathleen | 3797 comments I had the feeling that the reason for the optimism Cindy mentioned is that Dostoyevsky was showing a character who really didn't mind living inside his head, showing that maybe it was okay. When you think about it, a writer has to spend a tremendous amount of time in a dream world in a similar way that this character does ...


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Books mentioned in this topic

The Idiot (other topics)
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Fyodor Dostoevsky (other topics)