Friday, October 28, 2016

165. The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
1879-1880
Around 800 pages












I was just reading something, I think it was Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, where the narrator said that The Brothers Karamazov can only be read and enjoyed once.  I am going to have to take his word for it, as I never plan on trying to read this again.  Brilliant?  Yes.  Grueling? Absolutely.

I don't think even know where to begin my summary of this one.  I suppose the plot is kind of secondary to the philosophical discussions in the novel, but I am a stickler, so here goes.  Um...patricide?  Confusing pet names?  Brothers?   Karamazovs?

This is Dostoyevsky's final novel.  I know many people proclaim this to be his masterpiece.  Perhaps it is.  He certainly packed the book with enough philosophical material for the reader to use it as a blueprint for how to live life.  Still, the sheer density of the book precludes it from being an enjoyable read.  I fell in love with The Idiot (fortunately, talking about the novel this time) because he told an engaging story that happened to be sprinkled with insight.

I can't believe I am finally through with Dostoyevsky.  I'll miss you, even though you were kind of a sleazeball.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Sigmund Freud called this "the most magnificent novel ever written."

A copy of this book was found on Leo Tolstoy's nightstand when he died.

UP NEXT: Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace.  Ugh, I already had to sit through the movie and now I have to read it?  Damn the Listmakers and my dog-like obedience to authority.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

164. The Red Room

The Red Room
August Strindberg
1880
Around 300 pages













I have spent the last month reading "scary" list novels in preparation for Halloween (even my mother thought I was a dork for that one).  Of course, having already read Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Shining, there wasn't that much of a selection, but I did enjoy few remaining titles that I shoehorned into fitting my theme (In Cold Blood, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and House of Leaves).  Anyway, onto The Red Room.

Basically, the novel tells the story of Arvid Falk, a young civil servant in a seemingly loveless marriage, who dreams of escaping the monotony of bureaucratic work.  He wants to become a writer, but becomes disillusioned by the corruption associated with publishing.  He finds a great group of friends to complain about stuff with, though, so I wish he would stop bitching.

So we get a Swedish, slightly worse version of Lost Illusions by Balzac.  Apparently, this is considered the first modern Swedish novel.  I definitely think I would have enjoyed it more if I was Swedish, as I had a hard time putting Falk's journey in context.

It would have probably worked better in Swedish as well.  Some of the phrases used just seemed odd, but I am going to blame the translator for that one.  I guess it is good to expand your literary horizons and read novels from every part of the world. At least, that's what I told myself to get through this one.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Wasn't translated into English until 1913.

UP NEXT: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky.  I have already read this so expect another review up very shortly!