Saturday, November 15, 2008

Recommended Christmas Holiday Readings

I could not become anything: neither bad nor good, neither a scoundrel nor an honest man, neither a hero nor an insect. And now I am eking out my days in my corner, taunting myself with the bitter and entirely useless consolation that an intelligent man cannot seriously become anything; that only a fool can become something. - Fyodor Dostoevsky

I don't really read fiction nowadays, but during my younger days I did, but then again Dostoevsky's fiction is so much about human psychology and human frailty that its like non-fiction. Favourite line by him is above (story of my, makes you stop, re-read it again and again. You know someone is a good writer when he can say so many things and make you reflect on so many situations, truths and half-truths ... in so few words. Something for the holiday reading menu - read some Dostoevsky. But if you are intent on impressing your friends, its not pronounced as Dos-toe-sky.

(From Wikipedia) Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881) was a Russian novelist, journalist, short-story writer whose psychological penetration into the human soul had a profound influence on the 20th century novel. Dostoevsky graduated as a military engineer, but resigned in 1844 to devote himself to writing. His first novel, Poor Folk appeared in 1846. It was followed by The Double, which depicted a man who was haunted by a look-alike who eventually usurps his position.

In 1846 he joined a group of utopian socialists. He was arrested in 1849 and sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted to imprisonment in Siberia. Dostoevsky spent four years in hard labor and four years as a soldier in Semipalatinsk.

Dostoevsky returned to St. Petersburg in 1854 as a writer with a religious mission and published three works that derive in different ways from his Siberia experiences: The House of the Dead, (1860) a fictional account of prison life, The Insulted and Injured, which reflects the author's refutation of naive Utopianism in the face of evil, and Winter Notes on Summer Impressions, his account of a trip to Western Europe.

Between the years 1861 and 1863 he served as editor of the monthly periodical Time, which was later suppressed because of an article on the Polish uprising. In 1864-65 his wife and brother died and he was burdened with debts, and his situation was made even worse by gambling. From the turmoil of the 1860s emerged Notes from the Underground, psychological study of an outsider, which marked a watershed in Dostoevsky's artistic development. The novel starts with the confessions of a mentally ill narrator and continues with the promise of spiritual rebirth. It was followed by Crime and Punishment, (1866) an account of an individual's fall and redemption, The Idiot, (1868) depicting a Christ-like figure, Prince Myshkin, and The Possessed, (1871) an exploration of philosophical nihilism.

If you must read one book only by Dostoevsky, it would have to be Crime and Punishment. Followed by Memoirs from the House of the Dead and Notes from the Underground.


walla said...


Kris said...

Never knew that you read material that deep in thought. I will take a look since it look very interesting.

You likely to be in the same age range as me.

Trashed said...

That tagline sounds like my life, too !!!

smile said...

Hi Dali, I've been following your blog for quite awile.I was born before you you have Tv in Malaya,so the "blogger's world" is strange to me.Trying to get in touch with you. Your blog is of great help to people like me. Welldone and keep it up.

Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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