So I wrote last week about how I’ve jumped back on the Russian literature train (the darkest, gloomiest, most morbidly hilarious train there is) and I cannot believe how much I have missed the ride.
(Alas, Wolf Hall has been relegated to the far corner of my bedside table, YET AGAIN. One day Ms. Mantell! One day I will finish your oeuvre.)
But back to the goods.
The Brothers Karamazov is a bloody long novel – my translation is 985 pages long (I’m a sucker for Penguin Classics and will go to my death promoting their superior products), but reading it doesn’t feel like a slog.
It feels like I am blazing through the work – paragraphs and pages flying by in the blink of an eye.
I need to emphasize that this isn’t a bad thing.
In fact, when I say that reading this work reminds me of travelling by train, that wasn’t just my attempt at a heavy handed simile.
As I sit and read, I watch as fantastical landscapes whiz past – bright colours, flashes of light, villages, country sides, peasants, gentry – all stream together, and I have make sure that I don’t get dizzy and lose my place.
Because the book is delirious; it makes me feel delirious.
And passionate, and hilarious, and brilliant.
Also, another thing that I seem to have forgotten is just how much Russian people (in particular, Russian men) love, LOVE to soliloquise.
(That is, of course, if I’m to take Dostoevsky’s prose as a truthful representation of 19th century Russian conversations.)
Because goodness gracious do his characters ever enjoy a monologue and a half.
And if they’re not monologuing, they’re falling prey to crazed, impassioned fits.
Sometimes they’re doing both at the same time.
Not that I have any right to call out anyone for their liberal use of hysterics when waxing eloquent on a matter at hand (pot being black et. al.)
HOWEVER, it never fails to leave me breathless and a little exasperated every time Dmitry starts beating his chest, or when old papa Fyodor starts acting like a classless arsehole (or buffoon by his definition.)
But mostly I am just bowled over by the writing. The attention to detail, the tangents, the word play, the physical descriptions of characters, ranging from the lowliest urchin to the highest ranking official – they all enthrall me.
They ravage, they provoke, they inspire.
I’m about a fourth of the way through, and I find myself fidgeting throughout the day, wishing that I could crack open this tome and once again lose myself in the provincial world of Alyosha and his brothers. To relish in their dialogues, their anguishes, their fears.
It also makes me reminisce about my trip to the motherland.
Two weeks gallivanting about St. Petersburg, presenting my writing around town, exploring museums and art galleries, dancing until the wee hours of the morning, eating dinner at midnight, and drinking coffee so strong it would tickle your fingertips.
What about you friends? What are you reading these days? I want to know.
Spokoynoy nochi, malyshi!