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Author Topic: What's wrong with Dostoevsky?  (Read 1807 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: February 02, 2012, 10:37:25 PM »

I am an admitted fan of his works. And while I won't call out a certain few people *cough*//=-) and JR*cough* I am curious why Dostoevsky can be considered overrated and not all that great.
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« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2012, 10:41:38 PM »

was he Orthodox?
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« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2012, 10:46:11 PM »

Well he died with the New Testatment in his lap and thought Jesus Christ was the pinnacle for what humanity should be. There was contention that he treated a few people badly, but I think he was a pretty devout Orthodox at heart.

You couldn't write the things in The Brothers Karamazov without being Orthodox IMO.
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« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2012, 11:00:21 PM »

I really liked some of his stuff (Especially Notes from Underground and Crime and Punishment), but some of it I thought was just ok. I'd say he's underrated in general.  Overrated? Perhaps by some on this board... but then many authors have fans that think them better than they are. And that's a good thing IMO.
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« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2012, 11:03:05 PM »

he reads like a telenovela at times, in my limited interaction with him. i've got little patience for his verbosity.
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« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2012, 11:24:48 PM »

Crime in Punishment is the best novel I have ever read. Period. IMO it is the pinnacle of Western Literary achievement; everything else is just empty babbling or redundant.

I don't even come from the Russian tradition and I recognize his Orthodox mindset. Granted, he is obviously a man of his times influenced heavily by the philosophies of the day, but I think this actually adds to his greatness. In my opinion people have a choice to make: the depressing non-purposeful existentialist existence or the life-giving Truth of Christ. Dostoevsky portrays this struggle marvelously in all of his works.
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« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2012, 11:44:37 PM »

he reads like a telenovela at times, in my limited interaction with him. i've got little patience for his verbosity.
Did you start with The Idiot?
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« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2012, 12:18:19 AM »

Dostoevsky was an Orthodox Christian. Not without reason are four of his novels listed as among the top 100 best books of all time here: http://www.listsofbests.com/list/21-100-best-books-of-all-time

My favorite is his last work, The Brothers Karamazov.

"There is no sin, and there can be no sin on all the earth, which the Lord will not forgive to the truly repentant. Man cannot commit a sin so great as to exhaust the infinite love of God. Can there be a sin which can exceed the love of God? Think only of repentance, continual repentance, but dismiss fear altogether. Believe that God loves you as you cannot conceive: that he loves you with your sin, in your sin. It has been said of old that over one repentant sinner there is more joy in heaven than over ten righteous men. Go and fear not. Be not bitter against men. Be not angry if you are wronged. Forgive the dead man in your heart what wrong he did you. Be reconciled with him in truth. And if you love you are of God. If I a sinner, even as you are, am tender with you and have pity on you, how much more will God." -Elder Zossima, in Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, to a distraught penitent woman who had murdered her husband three years before.
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« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2012, 12:22:03 AM »

Love that quote. Anything Zosima says is amazing.
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« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2012, 01:47:30 AM »

Love that quote. Anything Zosima says is amazing.
Zosima is incredible.

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Dostoevsky’s own faith in God was put to the test in 1878, when his three-year old son Alyosha died of epilepsy. The death of this precious child sent Dostoevsky into deep paroxysms of grief. He made a six-day pilgrimage to the monastery of Optina Pustyn’ near Kozelsk, about 150 miles southwest of Moscow. There he read the Book of Job and pondered the problem of evil. There he also received the counsel of a wise old monk named Father Amvrosy. Dostoevsky reported to him the inconsolable grief of his wife, much as the grieving woman cries out to Father Zosima: “He’s gone, dear father, he’s gone and I will never see him again! His little belt is here, but he’s gone, and I’ll never see him again, I’ll never hear him again!” The monk asked that Dostoevsky give his wife the very same consolation, Anna Dostoevsky later confessed, that Father Zosima gives the grieving mother in The Brothers Karamazov:

"Do not be comforted, but weep. Only each time you weep, do not fail to remember that your little son is one of God’s angels, that he looks down from there and sees you, and rejoices in your tears and points them out to the Lord God. And you will be filled with a mother’s weeping for a long time, but in the end it will turn into quiet joy for you, and your bitter tears will become tears of quiet tenderness and the heart’s purification, which saves from sin."
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« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2012, 02:28:51 AM »

I'm not a big fan of his, possibly in part due to not generally being very into fiction.  I've also only read one of his works - The Brothers Karamazov - but I just found myself repeatedly losing interest in the story line, and often for many, many pages, before becoming interested once more. 
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« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2012, 03:11:09 AM »

may have to check him out..
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« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2012, 03:30:04 AM »

I'm not a big fan of his, possibly in part due to not generally being very into fiction.  I've also only read one of his works - The Brothers Karamazov - but I just found myself repeatedly losing interest in the story line, and often for many, many pages, before becoming interested once more. 


I understand this. I've only read the Brothers Karamazov, and it remains one of my favorite books. But I also had to plow through many pages that seemed unnecessary before I got to the good parts. But the good parts... wow! Pure gold in my opinion.

Perhaps we are victims of our own day and age, where everything is geared towards instant gratification. I imagine that reading his works during his own era was anything but tedious.

I keep telling myself that I need to read more of his works, but I also feel like I should simply read the Brothers Karamazov again. Although I was a Christian the first time I read it, I knew nothing about Orthodoxy. If I appreciated it that much then, I can only imagine how much I'd love it now. But if anyone can recommend another work, please do so. I'm thinking about The Idiot or Crime and Punishment.


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« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2012, 09:07:57 AM »

I'm not a big fan of his, possibly in part due to not generally being very into fiction.  I've also only read one of his works - The Brothers Karamazov - but I just found myself repeatedly losing interest in the story line, and often for many, many pages, before becoming interested once more. 


I understand this. I've only read the Brothers Karamazov, and it remains one of my favorite books. But I also had to plow through many pages that seemed unnecessary before I got to the good parts. But the good parts... wow! Pure gold in my opinion.

Perhaps we are victims of our own day and age, where everything is geared towards instant gratification. I imagine that reading his works during his own era was anything but tedious.

I keep telling myself that I need to read more of his works, but I also feel like I should simply read the Brothers Karamazov again. Although I was a Christian the first time I read it, I knew nothing about Orthodoxy. If I appreciated it that much then, I can only imagine how much I'd love it now. But if anyone can recommend another work, please do so. I'm thinking about The Idiot or Crime and Punishment.


Selam

I personally never found any of Dostoevsky's works tedious or boring -- but I have the mind-set of a 19th century person (I happened to be born in the U.S. but raised mostly by my grandmother who was born in Russia in 1880.)  The first Dostoevsky novel that I read was "The Idiot," which I read when I was perhaps 19 years old, and I related to it as if I were the main character (the "idiot" who believes so fervently and takes all of Christ's teachings literally at face value and tries to LIVE them). The book is a statement about social hypocrisy.  It is a truth that depicts how it has always been a challenge for persons to follow the faith while still living in the material world.  If you've ever seen the old film "Dr. Zhivago," the character Komarovsky states this theme in a comment: "There are two kinds of men. One is high minded, noble, and pure -- the kind of man that society pretends to honor but in fact despises."

In regard to "The Brothers Karamazov" -- In my personal opinion, it is Dostoevsky's best work and the most profound work of fiction I have ever read.
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« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2012, 09:57:46 AM »

Dostoevsky is my favorite writer. All of his works are great reads. He made a few trips to Optina Monastery and the character of Elder Zosima in the Brothers Karamazov is based on St. Ambrose of Optina, who he had conversations with while he was there. Most of Elder Zosima's dialouge in the novel is based on their conversations.

I keep telling myself that I need to read more of his works, but I also feel like I should simply read the Brothers Karamazov again. Although I was a Christian the first time I read it, I knew nothing about Orthodoxy. If I appreciated it that much then, I can only imagine how much I'd love it now. But if anyone can recommend another work, please do so. I'm thinking about The Idiot or Crime and Punishment.


Gebre, just run the full gambit and read all of his other works too. Cheesy If you read The Idiot and Crime and Punishment, you should also add The Dream of a Ridiculous Man and Demons to the list.
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« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2012, 11:10:36 AM »

I've read everything translated into English written by the Big D - IMHO, the greatest author.
To think otherwise, well, is OUTRAGE!  Grin
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« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2012, 01:04:51 PM »

I'm reading The Brothers Karamazov right now. Too bad all I've got is the Garnett translation rather than the Pevear and Volokhonsky's. Maybe that has something to do with why I'm not enjoying it as much as I thought I would.
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« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2012, 02:07:52 PM »

I think the only reason anyone would not revere Dostoevsky as a novelist is because we moderners can't appreciate that kind of pacing. We're used to speed (as Gebre pointed out)! In fact, while I had no problem reading through Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov was pretty tough for me at times (especially the trial), and I've yet to make it through Demons or The Idiot after several attempts, due to my ever shortening attention span. As for what I did read, Crime and Punishment is the best novel I've read, hands down. Finishing it (in the lobby or our hotel in Bangkok... I remember it so clearly) was almost like a religious experience for me! I don't know why, exactly. It just floored me. Karamazov is probably my second best read. Parts of it were incredibly profound and penetrating, but the sheer length of it pushed me to my limit. Still well, well worth the effort. His style of writing takes a lot of extra patience and time to settle into. But he goes deep, and I believe there are very good reasons why he is often considered to be the greatest psychologist in world literature.

Quote
In my opinion people have a choice to make: the depressing non-purposeful existentialist existence or the life-giving Truth of Christ. Dostoevsky portrays this struggle marvelously in all of his works.

Well said and so true, Gisasargavak! This is exactly what I get from Dostoevsky, who was able to see so keenly and fearfully into both.  
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« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2012, 04:20:11 PM »

I keep telling myself that I need to read more of his works, but I also feel like I should simply read the Brothers Karamazov again. Although I was a Christian the first time I read it, I knew nothing about Orthodoxy. If I appreciated it that much then, I can only imagine how much I'd love it now. But if anyone can recommend another work, please do so. I'm thinking about The Idiot or Crime and Punishment.
Selam
The Idiot is very good as is The Gambler and Notes from Underground, Crime and Punishment I actually didn't like as much as his other works. I keep returning to Brothers Karamazov as well just for the Elder Zosima chapter, even though the rest of the book is also excellent. I listened to the whole thing on my iPod maybe 3 or 4 times at work last summer.
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« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2012, 07:59:27 PM »

I'm reading The Brothers Karamazov right now. Too bad all I've got is the Garnett translation rather than the Pevear and Volokhonsky's. Maybe that has something to do with why I'm not enjoying it as much as I thought I would.
Please throw the Garnett version in the garbage. The P&V is the only version for TBK.
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