- Oradea, Bi, Romania
- member since September 26, 2007
Rascolnikov’s last login was Saturday, December 10, 2011.
Hello Rascolnikov! Hope you are well! I'm finishing Dostoevsky's short novel The Gambler today. I hadn't seen any reviews from you for a while and wondered if you had read it. It is a fascinating, compelling story written in less than a month. Amazing!
You are so right; it is amazing to have this kind of conversation half way around the world! I'm glad to have this community, and appreciate your enthusiasm for these writers, because I know of very few people who take the time these days to read the kind of literature I like the best. It's even worse now that the economy is so difficult and people are working harder than ever at their jobs; it's so much easier to see a movie in 90 minutes and be done. Your post reminded me to find a book of literary criticism I read long ago, George Steiner's "Tolstoy or Dostoevsky," in which he suggests that Tolstoy is in the epic tradition of Homer, and Dostoevsky is in the tragic dramatic tradition of Shakespeare. Steiner places them both at the top of the literary pantheon, but points out that readers tend to lean more towards one or the other. It's an interesting observation.
By the name you've chosen for this forum, I surmise that you are a big fan of Dostoevsky. Me too. And, frankly, when I read War & Peace as a young man it did not affect me as deeply as Dostoevsky's best. But, looking back, I'm afraid that was my shortcoming, not Mr. Tolstoy's! At this point in my life, I must say that Tolstoy's understanding of the human condition, and his ability to put his insights into crystal-clear prose, is unequaled by anyone else I've read. As a literary artist, he creates characters who are believable because they are not icons or stereotypes. Like our friends, we think we know what his characters are going to do. And, like our friends, we are sometimes very surprised. Sometimes delighted; sometimes disappointed, but often shocked or surprised. I have heard that Tolstoy may have "borrowed" some of the imagery of the battles from Stendhal's Charterhouse of Parma. Although I'm not sure about that, you may find that book worth reading too. But when it's all said and done, nobody can touch L. N. Tolstoy. We toss the word "genius" around pretty liberally today, so I generally try to avoid it. But, in my opinion, there is no other word that can describe Tolstoy. Anyone who can write books like War & Peace and Anna Karenina and then repudiate them while starting a non-violent approach to political dissent that is picked up by Gandhi and then Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., deserves a label like that. If you can deal with a LONG book and lots of Russian names, I suspect you'll enjoy War & Peace. I hope you will let us know what you think.
I stuck with Lost Illusions to the very end but, ultimately, wished I hadn't bothered. I found it pretty heavy handed, to be honest: angelic (i.e. dull) heroes being done down by conniving villains etc. The only memorable aspect was a brilliant depiction of the publishing industry in Paris at the time.
If you like to discover the writer behind the book, Tolstoy will not disappoint. Read and enjoy Ivan Ilych and you will know something about Tolstoy. Tackle War and Peace when you have time to saturate yourself in it. It took me over 50 pages to get all the names affixed to the right people: there is a name one has among dear friends, another in the bosom of the family, another in society, etc. W&P is a book on the grand scale, both within and without, by a great man who is also a great thinker and writer. Do not miss it. The war scenes are long, tense and dramatic. The interior questioning by some persons is keen. I am hesitant to see the film recently made about Tolstoy's early life. It hasn't had wonderful review, in any case.
Welcome to 1001 books. You can keep track of the books you have read from the book, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die here and join in the discussions on the books we are reading for the month (from the book) or you can argue the merits of the list as some enjoy doing. We hope you will want to join in our discussions. The current books are at the top of the list for that month. If there is any way I or Mossflower can answer your questions about the group or about Shelfari, let us know.
If you don’t own the book the list can be found http://www.listology.com/content_show.cfm?content_id=22845. A downloadable list of the second edition is available at http://johnandsheena.co.uk/books/?page_id=160.