I’ve been thinking a lot about opening a new blog section. At first, I only thought of Patch & Works as a working vitrine. But heck, why refrain myself? So here it is, another addition to the “PATCH” part of this site. Here, I’ll be talking literature.
I’m a book-addict; the kind who never leaves the house without slipping a book in my bag,whatever the occasion. I’d like to say I’m curing myself, but truth is, I’m not. I love buying new books, and most of all, reading. I have a plethora of novels I re-read every year (going from the classical Harry Potter series to Schopenhauer’s aphorisms).
To open the series, I’ll be telling you about my September readings. The books are presented in my preference order. Let’s go!
1- THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
A love-hate relationship
If I only had to choose one, I’d recommend in a blink The Brothers Karamazov.
In 2017, I discovered the tale through Bellorini’s staging when the play passed in Lyon. I saw it twice, and felt a little frustration every time, as if I were missing a part of the story. I admit that the fact I fell asleep at each representation for 10 min at the very same moment might have to do with it . I recently decided to pick up the book and see for myself. I’m so thankful for this decision!
Even if it took me a while to finish The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoyevsky’s portrait of Russia blew me away. Through a parricide’s tale, we dive into a world of decadence, cynicism and predestination against a backdrop of religious reflection. This being said, many other themes (and subplots) overlap in the novel such as lost innocence, depravity, ethics, justice, morality, etc. The principal story unravels quite slowly, allowing Dostoyevsky to ponder a plethora of subjects and interrogations.
My book’s edition. Compact, but heavy
BUT WHO ARE THE KARAMAZOVs?
Fyodor Karamazov is a greedy, depraved man on the verge of dying, murdered by one of his offspring. The story revolves around him, his life, beliefs, and his relationship with his three (supposedly four) sons. Each Karamazov brother’s story offers us with a particular point of view on life, religion, and Russia. Dmitri the impulsive, considered as the “truest Karamazov” of all brothers, Ivan the atheist, and the youngest, Alyosha the religious – endlessly tempted as soon as he leaves the convent – each represent a part of Dostoyevsky’s Russia, and of his own fears and doubts. The people gravitating around the Karamazov’s dysfunctional family complete this portrait, igniting passions or dealing with their own torments.
Dostoyevsky’s picturesque descriptions plunges us into this fascinating – though gloomy – atmosphere.
As in The possessed, the novel becomes a playground, where reader and author interact continuously. The narrator plays with us, either commenting on the characters’ personalities / actions, distorting time, or omitting details. In a way, this lecture reminded me a lot of Diderot’s Jacques the Fatalist. The complicity we build with the omniscient storyteller adds a “lighthearted layer” to a dark tale.
The Brothers Karamazov isn’t the usual page-turner summer book you take on the beach (if you do, kudos!). As a fast reader, I thought The Brothers Karamazov would feel like a walk in a park, and allow me to wait for my next Kundera order to arrive. Instead of being “a matter of days”, it transformed into “a matter of weeks”. The language, the plots, the people require
extreme attention. But taking the time is totally worth it.
I think the characters’ diversity easily makes the book a sort of “companion for life”. I can imagine myself re-reading The Brothers Karamazov and identifying, in turns, to different persons. For instance, I think younger me would have totally identified with Alyosha’s questioning on life and religion, whereas present me really identified with Ivan.
Overall, The Brothers Karamazov made me rediscover Dostoyevsky’s (
dark) universe. I particularly loved the author’s take on certitude and morality. Through chores, discussions, hallucinations or even actions, each character is shaken and has to face their initial certitudes.
NEXT STOP, RUSSIA
This was one of my firsts, but certainly not the last Dostoyevsky. Guess what’s on my reading list for October? The Possessed! #neverenough
What about you? What are you reading those days?