“People with new ideas, people with the faintest capacity for saying something new,
are extremely few in number, extraordinarily so, in fact.”
-Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime & Punishment
Everything I find myself reading has to do with the geographical area that I specialize in. For some reason, I find it easier to connect to the characters. If the setting is in Syria, I’ve traveled through Syria and can understand the dynamics and intricacies. Though I’ve only studied Turkey, reading Orhan Pamuk’s Snow was relatable as my political knowledge intermingled between the prose. And so, when I was selecting my literary lust picks for this month, I realized I’ve been reading up on a lot about the status quo in Russia and Ukraine, which inevitably inspired what sat on my nightstand. Novels written by Russians.
crime & punishment, fyodor dostoyevsky
First published in a twelve-part installment in a conservative Russian journal, the novel grips the reader as we’re thrown into Raskolnikov’s consciousness, who is drawn to commit a brutal double murder. From that very moment, we float along in his stream of consciousness as he shares his conflicting feelings of self-loathing and hubris. From despair to redemption. Dostoyevsky paints his scenes with emotional chaos as he engages the reader to question human existence, self-expression. Though a dense read, I have never engaged in prose that was just so mentally binding.
lolita, vladimir nabokov
I was a bit hesitant to read this one actually as I heard it’s quite erogenous, though the prose is absolutely exceptional as it flurries right off the tongue and lip. As you know, my writing here at c&é, is greatly inspired by prose and Nabokov has penned something that I will carry with me for days, months, years ahead. European intellectual Humbert Humbert is haunted by his loss of a young love when he was just an adolescent. And in the midst of overcoming that, he finds himself deeply infatuated with a “nymphet” Dolores Haze, whom he has many names for including Lolita. He blueprints an elaborate plot to get rid of her mother, seduce her, and construct young Dolores into the perfect lover. A bit of wit and a brilliant performance.
an excerpt from lolita
“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita. Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of fact, there might have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, one summer, an initial girl-child. In a princedom by the sea. Oh when? About as many years before Lolita was born as my age was that summer. You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibit number one is what the seraphs, the misinformed, simple, noble-winged seraphs, envied. Look at this tangle of thorns.” -Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
What have you been reading recently?