Thursday, May 27, 2010

Read It: Week 1

Read It: Week 1

I am starting a new segment in my blog where I will be reading to you snippets of some of my favorite works of literature. I will be reading to you poems and articles, short passages from stories and novels, etc. Every week I will upload one audio file and you, my readers, are welcome to share passages from your favorite literary works too.

This week I will read to you the final pages from Fyodor Dostoevsky's Notes From The Underground. This novella, which is undoubtedly one of the classics of English literature, stars, unlike other pieces of literature, an antihero. Like many other characteristic works by Dostoevsky, this novella too projects a hero who changes deftly from the role of a victim to that of the dispenser of humiliation. Here too, like his other long works, Dostoevsky belabors, and many a time contradicts his own ideas. Yet, in the end, he manages to put forward a static image of a dreamy antihero who is morally corrupted and emotionally torn. The protagonist in this novella (who is anonymous and writes from a dark cellar) talks at length about reason and intellect, about the false pretensions of the adoptive European culture, and the totalitarianism that ultimately comes from Utopianism.

I found the last two pages of the novella most interesting; especially the part where he talks about the importance of pedantic regimen in our lives. He feels that we (the novella is addressed to a fictional audience) are so dependent on books and scriptures for our intellectual training that there might be a day when we would no longer be begotten by living parents but fathered by abstract ideas.

 Dostoevsky's dry humor is strikingly attractive, and I am sure those of you who tend to marvel on the darker sides of life will find ample pleasure in this piece of literature.