Books, Journal

Damn those Russians

I’m nearing the end of Crime and Punishment. Dostoevsky is my (new) favorite author. Being in love with his works is like being in a disastrous relationship — you know you’ll go insane if you stick around, but you stick around anyway.

I’m a little concerned about my mental health. I’ve returned the book to the library, so that I can read it only in the library (and avoid sleepless nights).

Don’t take my word for it though; it probably won’t stir such a strong reaction in most readers. It’s a masterpiece nevertheless, and it’s not that depressing (if you judge objectively). It just intimidates me, personally, as most of the thoughts of the author resonate deeply with mine.

I’ll write a review of the book once I finish it. After that, I’ll be saying goodbye to Dostoevsky for a while. There’s only so much pessimism one can endure, even if it is laced in the most wonderful gift-wrap.

Meanwhile, here’s a few lines from one of his short stories:

For, after all, you do grow up, you do outgrow your ideals, which turn to dust and ashes, which are shattered into fragments; and if you have no other life, you just have to build one up out of these fragments. And meanwhile your soul is all the time craving and longing for something else. And in vain does the dreamer rummage about in his old dreams, raking them over as though they were a heap of cinders, looking in these cinders for some spark, however tiny, to fan it into a flame so as to warm his chilled blood by it and revive in it all that he held so dear before, all that touched his heart, that made his blood course through his veins, that drew tears from his eyes, and that so splendidly deceived him!

Do you realize, Nastenka, how far things have gone with me? Do you know that I’m forced now to celebrate the anniversary of my own sensations, the anniversary of that which was once so dear to me, but which never really existed? For I keep this anniversary in memory of those empty, foolish dreams! I keep it because even those foolish dreams are no longer there, because I have nothing left with which to replace them, for even dreams, Nastenka, have to be replaced by something!

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