Monday, March 12, 2012

The Best Short Stories of Fyodor Dostoevsky

A snappy collection of Dostoevsky's short stories. I'm enjoying them as much for his writing as for his psychology. It's certainly isn't *light* reading, but in small amounts like this I'm able to ponder the message in each one. The last couple of story's eluded me this time around, though. I'll put them back on the shelf and save them for another time.

White Nights: A torturous love story with lovely scenery and descriptions of St. Petersburg. The end had me on the fence about whether to throttle Nastenka for being such a heartless tease, or just to forget her and admire the narrator for having the maturity and attitude to see the positive side of being stood up. Falling in love seems to have happened much too quickly here for anyone's good.

The Honest Thief: This one was much better. Forgiveness and unruffled attitude at its best. It's about being strong enough to know when you're being duped and being compassionate enough not to call it. Remember the children's story The Giving Tree? I know people who've rolled their eyes at the tree's willingness to give and give and give himself away; but isn't selfless giving also courageous? The actions of Gandhi and Mother Teresa certainly make me think so. In fact one could apply this same thinking to the previous story to make it more understandable or at least acceptable.

The Christmas Tree and a Wedding: The words 'sad' and 'hopeless' come to mind. A quick, easy-to-read story that had me wondering how the Russian's of old could live with themselves. Lighten up already!

The Peasant Marey: While in prison, Dostoevsky relays a childhood reminiscence of an encounter with a wolf.

Note from the Underground: Except for a few nuggets of wisdom and humor, this is the most rambling and self-contradicting story I've ever come across. I just didn't get it.

A Gentle Creature: Oh man . . . I had to call this one, too.

The Dream of a Ridiculous Man: Saving this for another time.

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