I’m ploughing my way through Crime and Punishment on the Kindle at the moment which got me thinking about some of the other Russian novelists I’ve read (ok, all two of them). I must admit, I’m really enjoying it and there’s something about the character of old Russia itself which is mysteriously appealing to a Westerner. It’s not just the exotic names but also the historic element and the social turmoil which provides such a dramatic backdrop.
The only other Dostoyevsky I’ve read is Notes from the Underground which I picked up because (a) it was on sale, (b) the name sounded familiar and (c) I liked the cover. What struck me with that novel was the startlingly realistic narrative voice which sounded so modern for its time (it was written in 1864). He writes at times in the manner of a conversation between narrator and reader, second guessing and openly pre-empting the reader’s reactions and thoughts. These insights are so acute that I would only have to read on a few lines to find him putting into words the very thing I was struggling to phrase in my mind. Rather than find it too knowing, I enjoyed these psychological observations and the feeling of being united with another mind across time and space. Which isn’t meant to sound as pompous as it does.
So, having enjoyed Notes, I thought I’d tackle a better known work. Crime and Punishment shows the same understanding of human nature but in even more extreme conditions. I’m only about half way through although one of the drawbacks of an e-reader is not knowing at a glance how much more is left. I’ll post some thoughts when I finish.
On a similar note, I’m very excited about Joe Wright’s forthcoming adaptation of Anna Karenina, which was my first venture into the Russia novel and the reason why I decided to give Dostoyevsky a go. It immediately became one of my all-time favourite novels so I hope it lives up to his previous films (Atonement, Pride and Prejudice…) The recently released stills look stunning. I’m also really interested to see what they do with the Levin character, who is the real hero for me. Anyone of a romantic disposition should check out his proposal to Kitty. *gulp*