Travelling the World with Books

A blog in which I describe a literary project to Travel the World with Books. I will include synopsis's of the books, historical context, conversations with my reading partner and my thoughts on the books. Feel free to comment any thoughts or recommendations for foreign books I can read.


5. 10th April 2018

A Small Update

Till the end of the next half-term (within the English school holidays system) entries on this blog will be rather sparse - this is because I am and will be on an english literature course which consumes a large amount of my reading time with books I’m unable to include in the project (due to them all being by English authors). I have also recently been very busy preparing for an important music audition which occurred yesterday (in case you're wondering I found out right away I’d been successful). Till I can dedicate all my reading time to this I’ll try my best to write what I can about what I’ve read.


Fyodor Dostoevsky

If you have checked the booklist, the next on the list for reading is Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel ‘The Idiot’, of course from Russia. As I have yet to read a large enough chunk of the book (147/652 pages), and therefore am unable to supply well formed opinions, I am today going to write about the life of the author - Fyodor Dostoevsky.

    Themes from the life of Dostoevsky can bee seen throughout his literature. Just from what I’ve read so far in The Idiot, we see the main character exploring the mind of a man close to a certain death, a situation that Dostoevsky found himself in after being arrested in 1849 due to being a member of an anti government group. We also see the complex reasons for love and marriage and it’s complex consequences in both The Idiot and Dostoevsky's life: the author himself had two wives and a long affair, whilst in the story Ganya wants to marry Nastasya for her dowry, whilst she wants the same for revenge on him and Rogozshin wants her hand for what is apparently passion. A third parallel is the crippling effect of gambling and debt on a man’s health, which both Dostoevsky and the character General Ardalion experienced.

    Dostoevsky was born in Moscow, 1821. Both his mother and father died prior to his reaching adulthood. One, his mother, died of illness; the other of murder. This exposed him to the power of both ill fate and the consequences of sins; a theme in his books. From an early age he was interested in literature; though trained as a military engineer, he quickly left the career to pursue writing. During this time he wrote ‘Poor Folk’ and ‘The Double’, both on the topic of the psychology of men in struggles, a theme in all his books. After the cold greeting of the latter Dostoevsky’s life became aimless and unproductive, with an unsuccessful marriage, an affair and long bounts of bad health. In this period he wrote ‘Notes from the Underground’ and ‘Memoirs from the House of the Dead’.

    With a new wife Dostoevsky wrote the first of his greatest novels, ‘Crime and Punishment’, and, as either a fine work of art or an enjoyable crime thriller, this book was warmly greeted by many. Following this came ‘The Possessed’, ‘The Idiot’ and then ‘The Brothers Karamazov’. This last book was even praised by the famous psychologist Sigmund Freud. Soon after this ultimate work was published, Dostoevsky died.

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