Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Russian literature

Here's another thing I don't really get... why great Russian literature is so great. Granted, I only have limited experience -- Anna Karenina and now The Brothers Karamazov -- but they are leaving me a little cold. Maybe it's the translations; they can be off-putting. Very stilted, using words and phrases in ways that seem unnatural for English language speakers. I don't get why they aren't translated more naturally, but then I don't know the first thing about Russian so maybe the translations are spot-on. I have to say I'm enjoying Dostoevsky more than Tolstoy; at least he has a sense of humor! And lest anyone think I'm a complete Philistine, let me say that I like the books overall and I think parts of them are brilliant. I'm just a little underwhelmed.

Can you guess, gentle reader, which is which?

Maybe it's the beards that make them cranky. Maybe a long beard catching random things in it that you have to comb out makes you stop and think about the big picture, the big questions in life. Does God get food caught in his beard? No, God doesn't eat. Does He? Does He get stars caught in his beard? No, He's not corporeal. Is He? Does He exist? Do I exist? Is there life after death or just bleak black nothingness? Do I look hot in a beard or what?

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