Thursday, June 21, 2007

One down, many to go

So I finally managed to finish reading The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Actually, I flew through the first 550 pages in less than a week (which is quite a feat considering much vies for my attention). Of course, I only use that as an excuse; the truth is that I like to take my time when I read (translation: slow reader here). Talk about layered-speak!

Anyhow, I drug my feet through the last 47 pages. If you’ve read any of Dostoyevsky’s work, perhaps you’ll understand. No, it wasn’t because the plot is complicated and sometimes cumbersome to read; several passages read as if he had nothing better to do with his time than to write and write and write about that one scene – as if he anticipated to be paid by the word rather than for the complete work. Rather, what restrains my rush to finish one of his novels is, as one could guess by reading some of his book titles (Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Possessed…), that Dostoyevsky probes a man’s/woman’s darkness – as in spiritual, social, political darkness, and the result is always tragedy. Regardless of the riveting storyline and the richness of each character, the end of the story is shrouded also in terrible darkness.

I have to admit that I like the reality of this type of resolution – stories that have neat and tidy endings hardly ever ring true for me. Open ended endings and tragedy seem more realistic. Am I a pessimist? I like to think I’m a realist. But with this book, I grew so fond of the “hero” Myshkin that I wasn’t in a hurry for his demise to unfold. It may be because Poetroad has a colleague that reminds me very much of Myshkin. Or I may not have been in the right frame of mind to suffer the loss with the hero. Darn empathy. Always gets in my way.

Nevertheless, The Idiot is an excellent read.

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