September 18, 2016

The Brothers Karamazov (and 3 other books)

So many of my literary heroes have cited The Brothers Karamazov as one of their favorites that it had been on my must read list for quite some time.

I'd tried to convince my book club to read it on several occasions, but they'd always over-ruled me. Today, more than 2 months after I started it as my only English literary reading goal of the sabbatical year, I finally finished it.

I really wanted to love this book.  Instead, for the most part, I spent this reading task feeling like it was hard homework (assigned by me, to me, so no one but myself to blame).  My attitude was bad enough that at times, E joked that I was hate-reading the thing.

Perhaps like other hard efforts, it will pay dividends in the future and I will appreciate it more than I do now.

For the time being, I'm proud I finished (but I'm generally more annoyed at a literary joke I feel was pulled on me). I felt the book had too much drunken navel-gazing/violence and I just couldn't relate to most of the internal philosophical struggle with the concepts of Russia, Russian Christians, God, and Brain Fever (not kidding, almost every major character essentially falls into some sort of mental illness at some point).  I kept waiting for the obvious linguistic beauty or other passages that would help me understand why I'm a fan of the writing of so many folks who are a fan of this book.  Sadly, it hasn't happened (yet).

I had visually read 3 other books since my last visual books post, and I enjoyed each of these more than The Brothers Karamazov.


Uprooted
Naomi Novik

A very enjoyable young adult fantasy novel with a young woman coming of age, the development of magic and balance of powers within a kingdom -- at all times very creatively playing off of the myth of baba yaga.  Well told.
Armada
Earnest Cline

Nowhere near the opus that Ready Player One was, but an enjoyable romp down the "video game players actually have useful skills in intergallactic warfare" path.
The Man Who Made Vermeers: Han Van Meegeren
Jonathan Lopez

(A gift from Arvay). Very educational discussion of art forgery and media and how Van Meegern became the most highly compensated living artist of his day by faking Vermeers.  Sad and distressing at times, but all-in-all, very educational about human nature, WWII, and the desires we all have to believe the pretty story.

3 comments:

Cat said...

I'm actually getting concerned at how poorly I tolerate classic books these days. I used to love them but when I tried reading a classic (can't remember what) recently, I ran out of patience at the old language and convoluted sentences. Maybe the gift of the Brothers K was reintegration for you into classic language and literature that you might use for more pleasure with other books?

Angela said...

You know, I feel like there's enough classic literature out there that you just can't really beat yourself up about any particular one. Perhaps I'll just skip this one.

I also heard Armada was not as great as RPO, but I'll have to grab Uprooted!

bt said...

Thanks for the support, both of you.

@Cat -- I don't have general allergies to the classics. I've read a few in the last few years that I've loved (but none Russian unless you count Lolita). I think this just wasn't my gig.

@Angela -- happy for you to learn from my efforts. The next time you struggle through a classic I think I want to read but report back that it wasn't awesome, I'll be following your advice, guaranteed.