Dostoevsky is pretty awesome

Yes, I know it’s a bit of an understatement, and I’m certainly not the first to appreciate his writing. But I’m currently reading The Idiot, and find a couple things about it very interesting, and even amazing.

1. The facility with which he slides between Russian and French, and the fact that high society in Russia during the time he was writing had that same capability. How many people do you know that can seamlessly incorporate relevant phrases in another language into their conversation, simply because another language helps them to more precisely express their thoughts? The whole concept of a privileged nobility gaining their position by heredity seems pretty silly to me, but these people were educated.

2. I was really struck by the poignant nature of Dostoevsky’s description of a man sentenced to death and granted a last-minute reprieve. I thought, “how could he dig so deeply into the emotions at play?” Then I read his biography, and discovered that he had lived that scenario before being exiled to Siberia in the 1850s. What a fascinating man. Everything he writes is based on not only careful observation, but intimate experience with the emotions and situations he describes. How lucky are we that he had these experiences, and was a brilliant writer on top of it all?

3. There are almost too many characters to keep track of in his novels, and yet each has a very specific purpose, and tells a unique and interesting story through their development throughout the novel. The intricacy of the interplay between his characters is nothing short of brilliant.

Knowing more about him, I now plan to read a detailed biography, and revisit his other works that I read, enjoying them now through a different lens. Can’t wait.





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