crime & punishment

I finally finished reading Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. It feels like I’ve been reading it for a long time, but I think that’s because I’ve only been reading it in short bouts, and not very frequently. It’s a bit mentally “heavy”, for want of a better word. Reading it for a long stretch without a break just seemed to weigh down on my brain.

But now that it’s done, it feels weird to not be reading it anymore. I guess it’s like the weight was lifted, and I’m still pushing but not finding the familiar resistance there.

That’s not to say I didn’t like Crime and Punishment. At least, I like it better than The Idiot, which I don’t think I really understood. This one had me thinking a lot, but I feel like I understood it better. But I did read The Idiot quite a long time ago, so maybe I’m just more mature and wise or something. Having said that, though, I still feel like I need to reread it one day in order to get a better grasp of everything. 

Did I truly understand it, or did I actually miss the point?

And there is something else that compels me to reread it, even though it’s not as beautifully written as certain other classics I’ve read. Well, that could also be the translation/version I read. I got it second-hand, so it’s quite an old copy. There were several parts that sounded very dramatic and exaggerated, like literary convulsions. But sometimes I feel like that was all intentional, because the whole thing is full of feeling and torment and anguish.

Anyway, with classics like this, I always feel like there’s no real need to go into much detail about the story and meaning and implications, etc, etc. So much has already been written about these classics, and there are so many interpretations and analyses in existence.

I only wish to add that I didn’t particularly like the epilogue. Most of it was fine, until the last few pages, which felt like too much of a backflip, and left a strange aftertaste. If/when I ever reread Crime and Punishment, I’ll have to try to remember to avoid the epilogue, or at least stop before I get to the very end.

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little surprises

When I was a kid, my sister and I attempted watching a film version of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. It was whatever version was out in the ‘90s, and I have the impression that it was aired on TV quite regularly (not every month or something, but every so often it was on again).

It is definitely possible that my memory does not serve me correctly on this, but my first attempt to watch this probably did not last beyond ten minutes. To be fair, I would have been quite young, and the storyline was unlikely to have interested me much. After this, I don’t think I would have gone past a second or third attempt.

Fast-forward through twenty years or so (give or take), and I never had any intention of reading the book either, such was my unfavourable (albeit prematurely formed) opinion of the story. At least, that’s where things stood at the end of last year. Continue reading

The Idiot

Last week I finished reading Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. I think it took me about four months to finish it — not just because it’s a difficult book, but because I haven’t had a lot of time and energy for reading, which, in itself, is a shame.

This is not the first Dostoevsky I’ve read, but it’s the first I’ve read in over ten years. I read both Notes from Underground and The Grand Inquisitor while I was still in high school, and found it fascinating (or so my notes at the time say), but my reading tastes went in other directions, and didn’t return to classic Russian literature until I picked up Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina a couple of years ago.

Although I tried to allow a bit of space between these two tomes, my mind is naturally going to compare the two. This, of course, might be quite unfair, especially since I rank Anna Karenina as one of the best novels I’ve ever read. Continue reading

love and cholera

I’ve been meaning to write and post this blog entry about Love in the Time of Cholera for a while now (a couple of weeks, really) but just haven’t gotten around to polishing it off. It’s gotten to the point where I think if I leave it much longer, I’ll never come back to it, and so, complete or not, here are some thoughts on Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera…  Continue reading

Anna Arkadyevna Karenina

When I was reading Anna Karenina, I pretty much took it with me everywhere on the off-chance that I’d have time to read a bit more. Yes, it took a long time to finish, but just think how much longer it would’ve taken if I hadn’t taken it everywhere – I might still be reading it now.

The people I work with know that I always have a book in my bag/locker, and the other bookish people at work know that I’m always reading one book or another, as are they. During the course of reading AK, I talked to a few of these colleagues about it. I think only two others had read & finished it before and, while they both liked the book, neither of them liked Anna’s character.  Continue reading

and so it ends

This was just going to be a short post to say that I have, on this day, finished reading Anna Karenina (by Leo Tolstoy, not that I really need to state that), but, as it turns out, I’m not very good at writing short posts (surprise, surprise). Still, I’ll try to keep this kind of short, or at least not terribly long. (It’s less than 700 words – does that count?)

No spoilers here – just some general comments, and quotes from other sources.

Continue reading