1 March 2011 § Leave a comment
I’m still here, but haven’t posted recently, firstly because I’ve been ploughing through the Devils, and then got distracted by a trip to Rome and a job interview. I decided to have a break from Dostoevsky whilst on holiday and catch up on some background reading, so I read part one of Dead Souls – one of those gaps in my Russian reading that I’d long been meaning to fill. It was a great read; I’d forgotten just how insane Gogol is. I loved all the portrayals of the dreadful provincial landowners and the constant descriptions of food made my mouth water, even whilst in Italy. And of course there’s the famous troika passage at the end of part I, that Dostoevsky uses in Brothers Karamazov.
It was only after getting back from Rome that I discovered that that was actually where Gogol was living when he wrote Dead Souls (I must have known once, but long forgot), which was a nice coincidence. An American at the hotel where we stayed remarked on our family’s breakfast reading material – “couldn’t help noticing that you and your son have a similar taste in baddies – Horrid Henry and Chichikov”. If I’d known that Dead Souls had been written in Rome, I might not have read it in public for fear of looking pretentious. On the other hand, Husband and Son narrowly escaped a Russian lit pilgrimage.
Back to Dostoevsky now – I finally have a plan for structuring things and I’m finally working on something that could plausibly be a proper book chapter, not just a glorified book review. Watch this space.