It will be! It will be!

31 March 2011 § Leave a comment

Life gets exciting. I’ve quit my job and I’m going to be working part time, which suddenly frees up lots of time for Dostoevsky and means that I can now take this whole book project seriously. I’ll have time to think properly, to read everything I want, and above all to sit quietly and write.

What has really grabbed me while I’ve been reading the Jospeh Frank biography is Dostoevsky’s relationship with the people of Russia. He started off with all sorts of romantic notions about the Russian people, and the reason he got involved in revolutionary politics was a passionate desire to work for the emancipation of the serfs. It was, ironically, this that got him arrested and sent to Siberia where he actually came into day-to-day contact with the peasantry and had rather a shock. He then had to struggle to reconcile his earlier romantic ideas of Russia with the brutal realities of real life. I’m interested in this because anyone like me who loves Russia has to face a similar conflict. So much awful stuff happens there, and always has done, at a national level and at the level of the ordinary people, but I’ll still cheer for their football and ice-hockey teams.

Dostoevsky’s obsession with the nature and causes of crime, and of suffering, also link into his prison experiences and I think there’s a connection there too with his need to examine and analyse Russia.

So my book plan is to group his major characters together by type – we see several distinct personalities and ideas gradually developing through the novels, and I think this will be a useful way to link everything together. I think it will also allow me to draw on my own experiences in Russia too, to see how Dostoevsky’s Russians are still alive today, because after all this isn’t going to be a serious academic study, and I have some good stories to tell.

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