Monday, January 12, 2009

Winter Notes on Summer Impressions - post I

The introduction by Kyril Fitzlyon sets this up in an odd way reducing your expectations from the very start.

“The neglect from which Summer Impressions has so far suffered at the hands of literary critics is due to a variety of reasons of which style is not the least. Dostoevsky, never a good stylist had at that time only a very slender experience as a journalist and he was obviously trying to evolve a way of writing that would enable him to put his ideas across in the most digestible form he could think of. Unfortunately the most digestible form he could think of was one which retained all his most glaring faults of style – repetitiveness, excessive colloquialism, discursiveness, slipshod grammar – and added two of its own: forced breeziness and waggish humour. The reader must make up his mind to disregard them. If he does, he will be amply repaid.”


Having those words echoing in your head you wonder where you go from there and the reality is nowhere very clear.

Dostoevsky opts to tell his readers why he has chosen to make a trip, something he has never done before, out of Russia visiting Germany, France and England.

But the way he tells you is more to do with Russia than the places he goes with the first three chapters sharing his thoughts on why Russians travel and what they hope to see when they get there.

“People love the West in this country; they love it and when it comes to a certain point they all go there.”


You start to yearn for a little bit of travelogue after a while wondering quite what his impressions of Europe itself have been rather than just his feelings about fellow Russians.

More tomorrow…

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