Thursday, March 13, 2008

House of Meetings - post IV

The book ends with the narrator screwed up in rage and waiting for death to come in the form of a syringe injected into the arm. He reads the letter that his brother had written to him before he died.

In that letter the true nature of the brothers are exposed. Both are destroyed by the state but one reacts by seeking solace in pacifism while the narrator resorts to violence. That violence was not only set down by his experience, as a rapist in the Second World War but is almost ingrained in his genes.

He seeks solace at the end by the idea that those genes are running into the sand because the Russian population is in terminal decline.

"I’m only doing what Russia is doing. And she tried it once before. Russia tired to kill itself in the 1930s, after its first decade of [Stalin]. He was already a cadaver, millionaire about ten times over, even before the Terror. But he did need Russians to go on producing Russian. And they stopped. After the starling census of 1936, the state jolted into action: crash kindergartenisation, maternity medals, a resolemnised marriage ceremony, the legalisation of inheritance, and the criminalisation of abortion. It was a general strike, of a kind; and the state broke it. What will the state do now?"

A review will follow soon…

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