February 26, 2014
At the end of last year I finally completed another one of my life reading goals. That is to say I finished the classic Crime and Punishment. Having found this masterpiece to be a fascinating piece of literature I decided that I would have to tackle another work of Dostoyevsky's and so when I stumbled upon Notes from the Underground and The Gambler at my library I picked up the volume and began to read.
There is something about the nature of suffering that the classic Russian authors seem to understand better than nearly anyone else. Or perhaps it is that they are more capable of conveying the quintessential ingredients behind suffering. Either way, it appears to me that Dostoyevsky's novels serve as the means by which the psychological connection to suffering and pain can be discussed. In Crime and Punishment the suffering of a man who has murdered another individual is the key point of discussion. However in Notes from the Underground the psychology of a man who suffers in love and in life - a miserable man - is the greater discussion point. And further in The Gambler the addiction compulsion of gambling is shown to the reader.
Dostoyevsky's novels here have far less scope than Crime and Punishment and are in more ways novellas than actual novels. However, they each still are self contained and excellently discuss the dilemmas of the mind in times of strife and anguish. It is for these reasons (as well as a very humorous narrator in Notes from the Underground) that they deserve to be read. It is particularly interesting to note that these books in particular were written while Dostoyevsky was in periods of turmoil himself (such as in times of death and debt). Which all goes to show that the axiom of 'write what you know' is very, very true.