Idiots and Devils

26 January 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve finished the Idiot, and finally written something about it as well. I have to admit that I struggled a bit with this one – not the book itself, or even finding something to say about it, but with ordering the whirlwind of thoughts and impressions that was swirling around my head afterwards.  I still think there’s a lot that I haven’t said yet, but there are things like biographical details that I want to check, so some of it will have to wait. The point of the things I’m writing at the moment is to get down my own, raw impressions, before I go and read what everyone else has to say. I wouldn’t be able to do this if I were producing an academic study, or even when writing a student essay, but this way is fun.

One thing I didn’t manage to work into my first piece on the Idiot, but which I’m going to share now, is Lebedev’s very silly attempt at interpreting the book of Revelation, because it made me smile. He thinks he has identified the “star of wormwood” that the angel hurls to earth and which poisons all the rivers (Rev 8 v 11):

And would you go so far as to say that the waters of life had not weakened and become polluted beneath this “star”, under this network in which men are entangled? And don’t try to frighten me with your prosperity, your riches…and the rapidity of the means of communication! There is more wealth, but less strength; the binding idea is no more; everything has become soft, everything is flabby and everyone is flabby.

Which “network” does he mean? It sounds like a technophobic evangelical railing against the evils of the internet doesn’t it. Oh, is Dostoevsky being prophetic again?

No, the network that has got Lebedev so worked up is the railway network.

Now I’m starting on the Devils, or the Demons, or the Possessed, whichever translation you prefer. My edition has Devils.


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