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Fyodor Dostoevsky

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I just finished reading Notes from the Underground and my thoughts about Dostoevsky have completely changed based on this tiny book.

 

Is it bad that I can relate to the narrator? He is far from likeable, yet I feel he reveals some of our innermost vices that we try to hide from society. The second part of the book in particular is a raw illustration of humanity - all of its hatreds and disgusts laid out to bare.

 

 

 

I especially enjoyed Dostoevsky's comparison of the real world to the novels that we read, and how we can often allow fiction to get into our heads and end up residing within a world of fantasy - something that I can relate to.

 

I was also struck by the narrators description of men of 'consciousness' and men of 'action.' These are certainly terms which, once again, I can relate to, and certainly when reading this book I felt like Dostoevsky had a real grasp of humanity. This work made me appreciate his fantastic insights into the depths of the human mind in a way that none of his other novels have.

 

Undoubtedly there are times when I have felt that a life 'underground' may be a life of luxury and happiness, yet this book helped me realise how truly isolating such an adventure can be, and how another persons presence can have so much more of an impact upon our own thoughts and temperament in a way that residing underground can ever have.

 

 

 

If anyone is considering giving Dostoevsky's works a go, I would highly recommend beginning with Notes from the Underground. It really has changed my opinion of him.

Edited by Angury

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At the start of 2016 I said to myself that this year I will finally read some of Dostoevsky's works and in late April I started reading The Idiot. I followed that with The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment, all in about one month. I know I am in minority when I say this but for me Dostoevsky didn't click.

 

First of all, he is a bad/average writer. Tolstoy imo is a much better writer and I am referring here strictly from a literary view (Tolstoy and Nabokov also thought the same thing apparently but Nabokov was a weirdo, especially when it comes to the stuff he told his students so don't take his word for it). Of course one could say that the language barrier is one issue and probably translating a Russian novel in any language makes it lose its charm but this does not happen to good writers like Jane Austen or Virginia Woolf. 

 

People usually talk about his "psychological" writing as well but that's really an overstatement. Read any existentialist philosopher and see how easily he can dismiss Dostoevsky's ideas, especially the ones on religion. Some characters are interesting though and the interaction between them is great (he does this especially well in The Brothers Karamazov) but that's not enough to grant him the literary status he now holds. 

 

I'd take Tolstoy or Bulgakov any day over Dostoevsky. 

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Got over halfway through 'Crime and Punishment' which really gripped

me at the start; then life intervened, and I decided that I really could not

care less what happened next,or what the final outcome was!

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At the start of 2016 I said to myself that this year I will finally read some of Dostoevsky's works and in late April I started reading The Idiot. I followed that with The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment, all in about one month. I know I am in minority when I say this but for me Dostoevsky didn't click.

 

First of all, he is a bad/average writer. Tolstoy imo is a much better writer and I am referring here strictly from a literary view (Tolstoy and Nabokov also thought the same thing apparently but Nabokov was a weirdo, especially when it comes to the stuff he told his students so don't take his word for it). Of course one could say that the language barrier is one issue and probably translating a Russian novel in any language makes it lose its charm but this does not happen to good writers like Jane Austen or Virginia Woolf. 

 

People usually talk about his "psychological" writing as well but that's really an overstatement. Read any existentialist philosopher and see how easily he can dismiss Dostoevsky's ideas, especially the ones on religion. Some characters are interesting though and the interaction between them is great (he does this especially well in The Brothers Karamazov) but that's not enough to grant him the literary status he now holds. 

 

I'd take Tolstoy or Bulgakov any day over Dostoevsky.

I would recommend Notes from the Underground if you haven't read it yet. I felt the same way as you about his works, but I found Notes from the Underground to be very in depth.

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I would recommend Notes from the Underground if you haven't read it yet. I felt the same way as you about his works, but I found Notes from the Underground to be very in depth.

 

Noted. I am rather burned out with him at the moment but I will come back and read all of his works eventually. A friend of mine also mentioned this book so now I have two reasons to read it sooner than later. 

Edited by MrCat

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Got over halfway through 'Crime and Punishment' which really gripped

me at the start; then life intervened, and I decided that I really could not

care less what happened next,or what the final outcome was!

 

The same happened to me as well! It just didn't grip me enough. I intend to finish it eventually though. I've read "The Double" since that and enjoyed it, so I definitely need to give "Crime and Punishment" another go.

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I've read two of Dosteovskys novels now - Crime and Punishment & The Brothers Karamazov.I have to go against general opinion and say that I found it difficult to enjoy these novels. The writing was nothing out of the ordinary, and I felt like I didn't get much out of the stories. I feel like I'm really missing something, given the reputation of all of these works - perhaps these are novels I need to come back to when I have had a bit more 'life experience.'I feel like this describes his books best - they feel more like essays about philosophy and psychology than they do a story. And of course I love novels to have these types of nuggets stored inside them - but I'd rather have to go digging for them inside a well-written and in-depth story arc.I'd love to hear more peoples views on his work, as I feel quite bad having a negative view of such a prolific writer.

Way back in the mid 80s I had him down as my favourite author.

Crime and Punishment primarily and then The Idiot.

Over the years I failed to read in full the Brothers Karamazov as I found it dull. Dunno what I make of him all told any longer.

Edited by itsmeagain

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Apropos essays versus plots, I recall reading at one point that many of these lengthy Russian novels actually are meant to be consumed much like philosophical and political tracts. Apparently 19th century Russian government often didn't permit a great deal of social criticism from its literati, so instead of writing straight up analyses of current events, people would often write coded novels addressing the issues in a round about sort of way. The drawback of course is that for us, removed from social context, the lengthy philosophical passages may induce drowsiness, while a contemporary of the author would instantly be aware of the real subject under discussion. 

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Apropos essays versus plots, I recall reading at one point that many of these lengthy Russian novels actually are meant to be consumed much like philosophical and political tracts. Apparently 19th century Russian government often didn't permit a great deal of social criticism from its literati, so instead of writing straight up analyses of current events, people would often write coded novels addressing the issues in a round about sort of way. The drawback of course is that for us, removed from social context, the lengthy philosophical passages may induce drowsiness, while a contemporary of the author would instantly be aware of the real subject under discussion.

That is very interesting. It certainly provides a different perspective to Dostoevsky's writing style. I have his novel, The Idiot, sitting on my bookshelf, so I might give his works another try. Perhaps having read, and been so influenced by Notes from the Underground, I will have a more sympathetic view of his other novels.

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That is very interesting. It certainly provides a different perspective to Dostoevsky's writing style. I have his novel, The Idiot, sitting on my bookshelf, so I might give his works another try. Perhaps having read, and been so influenced by Notes from the Underground, I will have a more sympathetic view of his other novels.

 

Oh, I'm glad that I've inspired you to give it another go, and hopefully my information is applicable to this particular work, because it has been a little while since I read about this tradition, and I sadly don't remember exactly which novels followed it. 

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On 9/28/2011 at 10:53 PM, Mashunja said:

Exactly! Some of his less popular books are way more interesting to read.

 

I think it is not the reputation.It is a great novel, but it doesn't stand rereading. Everything is predictable and there is nothing to gain in a second reading. The Idiot , to me ,is a very interesting novel --- and after three readings too it's very fresh. The Brothers Karamazov is a great novel --- the greatest in world literature for its sheer thematic grandeur. 

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So far,  I like Dostoyevsky. Crime and Punishment was a terrific read. I couldn’t put it down - by the time I finished it, I felt almost drunk!

The Idiot is on my shelf, waiting to be read. I’ve tried reading Notes from the Underground but didn’t get very far - maybe I should give it another go.

 

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Just to add ( I’m not sure how to edit here) a out of people seem to have good things to say about Dostoevsky’s The Brother’s Karamazov. I’ll try that one too.

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10 hours ago, Loretta said:

Just to add ( I’m not sure how to edit here) a out of people seem to have good things to say about Dostoevsky’s The Brother’s Karamazov. I’ll try that one too.

 

You will be able to edit your own posts once you've made 10 posts :) (you currently have made 8 posts, so you're almost there!).

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So after this one I can? Great 👍

 

(‘predictive text’ can be a nuisance when you can’t change it)

Edited by Loretta

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Hi guys,

If anyone wants to discuss Dostoyevsky’s “The Idiot”, I’m here:)

I find it rather unpredictable and gripping, but that’s what goes without saying, I guess.

This book is also very touching: I can’t imagine how one can feel no sympathy towards Prince Myshkin!

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