Monday, October 08, 2007

"My Date with Dostoyevsky" - Part II

Well, the best laid plans o' mice and men oft' go awry ... My original plans to read The Brothers Karamazov one chapter per day (and thus finish it by Halloween) have slowed considerably, not only due to reading a dozen other things simultaneously for school, the Newberry, the Biblioholics A, and pure fun, but also because The Brothers K simply cannot be rushed at such a daily pace. In two months' time I have managed to finish the first four books ... roughly just short of a third of the novel ... and while I will not achieve my "goal" in terms of time, I have come to appreciate just why this novel is considered a masterpiece!

Talk about a novel that is totally character-driven! What is interesting is that Dostoyevsky was a huge fan of Dickens's novels, but there is little similarity between the two. The Brothers K has a plot that crawls, but that's fine ... He pauses on each character, whether major or minor, and allows each one to philosophically interact with others. So while an entire section of the novel (say, Book II) has very little in the way of action, the philosophical complexity and characterization fuel the reading experience!

For several years now, I've been intrigued by the ways in which certain authors demand a particular method (or style) of reading. Milton seeks a "fit reader," but the way you read Joyce is different from the way you read Pynchon, and the way you read Dickens is clearly not the way you read Dostoyevsky. So as I read and teach Paradise Lost and Little Dorrit, and enjoy Naguib Mahfouz and David Foster Wallace, I must shift into fourth for evenings with Dostoyevsky! : )

Great stuff so far!

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