This blog is usually about books I find at flea markets and tag sales, but really it is about good reading, enjoyable reading that stimulates the imagination and gives readers insights into this crazy world of ours.
I have written before about the trailblazing troika Pushkin, Gogol and Lermontov, three earnest young men whose common goal was nothing less than the creation of a first-rate national literature for their mother country.
And do you know what? They succeeded. I remember when I was 14 years old I started The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I read the first chapter and had to put it away for three years before I could finish the book.
Everything is in there: the bastard Smerdyakov, the drunken patriarch and his purse of gold, the pestle, Ivan and his brain fever, Stinking Lizaveta, Alyosha (played by William Shatner in the movie) the simple soul who cannot fail to win your heart.
Then there is the stinking corpse of Father Zossima and abive all the disquisition of the Grand Inquisitor, which inspired T.S. Eliot when he wrote Murder in the Cathedral.
I acted in that play. I played the third priest, “Or sit and bite your nails in Acquitaine. In the still small circle of pain within the skull you still shall tramp and tread your endless round of thought…” [Full citation on request]
So Dostoyevsky wrote probably the greatest novel in history, the only book that I would ever recommend more highly than The Count of Monte Cristo, and Dostoyevsky said, “We all came out of Gogol’s Overcoat.” [He’s referring to a story by Gogol called The Overcoat.]
Gogol and Pushkin, and later Lermontov, were like Ricardo and Malthus, as described by a contemporary: “They hunted together in search of the Truth, and huzzaed whenever they found her, without caring who found her first.”
If you would like to know more about these three earnest young men who created Russian literature and their hero, Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, you really ought to read Gogol’s Art: The Search for Identity by Laszlo Tikos.
I am a duffer. Laszlo is a scholar. Write BATI Publishers, PO Box 263 Leverett MA 01054. Or email me and I’ll make sure you get a copy.