— UNDER CONSTRUCTION —
Few authors have had as depressingly bleak outlook on human nature as Dostoyevsky, one of the greatest of all Russian authors, or managed as successfully to juxtapose that with hope and Christian values. Dostoyevsky’s experiences in prison led him to reject western liberal philosophies like Nihilism and Socialism, and orient himself towards a more traditional morality, hemmed in by suffering, humility and submission, coupled with a penetrating psychological insight that gave his novels tremendous emotional power.
Dostoyevsky was a master at creating mood, of taut psychological portraits, and in his masterworks – Crime & Punishment, the Brothers Kamarazov, the Idiot, among others – he showed a talent for creating tension and darkening atmosphere in dialogue exchanges. Too, unlike Tolstoy, he didn’t lose focus, but kept his plot lines taut and didn’t goo off on fishing expeditions (as I have more than once remarked rather sourly to my wife).
I was once on a train from Berlin to Vienna and read Crime and Punishment, and came to the conclusion it was probably the most depressing – and atmospheric – novel, the most bleak evocation of time and place, that I have ever read. It absolutely kept me away from Dostoyevsky until now (although the Brothers Karamazov is on my list of books to at least start one of these days). However, having gone through The Idiot, I’m mollified – the dark passages of souls in torment are there, but the atmosphere is created here through dialogue, not through statements of thought and deed.
(the rest of this review will follow after the Club meeting so as to avoid spoilers)