Writers, pt. I

The Russians

A long time ago, when I was in 10th grade, I was finishing my books in my English class way ahead of schedule. So my teacher found a solution and sent me across the hall to another classroom with a copy of Anna Karenina. Game changer. I dove into that complex, beautiful world and my understanding of story, of art, of depth, of philosophy, etc. changed. All of it. A different world existed. It challenged my ability to read and track and to comprehend.

After that point, I read War and Peace over the summer. As well as other of Tolstoy’s works. I dabbled in Gogol. I was turned onto Chekov through The Cherry Orchard.

And then I fell into Dostoevsky and it was true love. First was Crime and Punishment, then The Idiot, Notes from the Underground and more. Finally, The Brothers Karamazov.

There is so much I could try to say. But really there isn’t a point. The Brothers Karamazov is beyond seminal. It’s beyond genre. It beckons. It pushes the reader away. The characters are multivalent, at first “one note” in the way you are lead to them, but by interaction and intervention in each others’ lives, shiny and sullied, heroic, stoic, mad, despondent, guilty and naïve. All of them.

It’s a soap opera, a circus, a family. It’s the shame of poverty, the sadness of wealth, the mismatched, inappropriate assumptiveness of all people. The excess of emotion actually right-sizes the grandiosity of the journey. It is at once holy, unbelievable and heart-breaking.

Shit. I just tried to say it. Oh well, you get my point. I got a lot out of it. The last time I read it, I got the newer translation, which got more of Dostoevsky’s humor. Still incredible. Still my favorite book.


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