‘You’re not Dostoevsky,’ said the citizeness, who was getting muddled by Koroviev.
‘Well, who knows, who knows,’ he replied.
‘Dostoevsky’s dead,’ said the citizeness, but somehow not very confidently.
‘I protest!’ Behemoth exclaimed hotly. ‘Dostoevsky is immortal!’― Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita
I said it once and I'll say it again. This man knew and understood human nature like no one. His ability to explore the human psyche was outstanding. He wrote about every subject concerning human nature and he did it beautifully. This is the kind of writer who speaks to my soul, who helps me open my eyes and see things from a different perspective, who leaves me with this giant void ironically full of doubts in this absurd little world of ours and makes me think: “We should totally be friends.”
I love this writer. However, I liked this book.
This short story is about a pessimist, apathetic man (he described himself as “ridiculous”) who has been thinking about shooting himself for two months. Then, one rainy night, he made up his mind and decided to do it. While walking home, a girl came across and asked for his help; apparently, her mother wasn't feeling well. He rejected her and even insulted her, and went straight home. At first, that cruel passage kind of shocked me. We are talking about the same kind of indifference towards the world that Meursault felt (in my opinion), but somehow I found Dostoyevsky's protagonist dreadfully indifferent, even though the other one didn't show any emotion after his mother died and kind of killed an Arab because it was a sunny day (but, still, other circumstances). He later explained why he acted that way. And then, he just couldn't stop thinking about that little girl. That fact delayed his suicide. Until he fell asleep and had a quite realistic dream. In that dream, he shot himself and realized he was dead; he was in a coffin, surrounded by darkness, unable to move. However, he could think, he was aware of everything that was going on around him. A miserable situation. And quite irritating, too. The man killed himself for a reason. No more existence, no more feeling, no more thinking. Imagine committing suicide only to find out that you'll keep thinking inside a coffin, for eternity. That would be hell, indeed. Suddenly, our world looks like paradise.
Anyway, more stuff happened. Conclusion? That dream changed the man. He started to look at life from a different point of view. It is a simple idea but well-executed. However, personally, I felt awkward while reading this. And I know, I complain about everything. I want a better world but when I read about it, I feel awkward, almost annoyed. Still, there is just so much LOVE in this short story that... I don't know. I loved the first part of it, but then the narrator's spiritual awakening takes over the whole thing and everything is so sweet and cheery, from perfect people shedding tears of joy to Love-a-Lot Bears vomiting rainbows made of honey. "They liked to compose songs about each other and praised each other like children." … You have to read it to understand...
That was a torturous chapter for me. Then, it got better. Then, preachy.
Anyhow, this is still a Dostoyevsky's story. And there are plenty of insightful reflections to enjoy, as usual. Some beautifully written sentences that describe human nature in all its glory.
When they became wicked, they began to talk of brotherhood and humaneness and understood these ideas. When they became criminal, they invented justice and prescribed whole codices for themselves in order to maintain it, and to ensure the codices they set up the guillotine. (12)
Dostoyevsky, you are immortal.