Saturday, January 22, 2011

Thoughts at the half way point of Uncle's Dream and Other Stories

When it comes to the big names in Russian literature there is always a choice to go for one of the well known novels or if you have read those or fancy something showing a bit of variety to opt for the short story collections.

In this case this book has been on my shelf for about four years with its crisp untouched pages reminding me that I have not picked it up. So in the spirit of reading some of the books I have been meaning to get to for years this was picked up but within a few pages there were no regrets.

The collection kicks off with A Weak Heart which takes you straight into classic Dostoyevsky territory with two clerks living almost hand to mouth in a shared room. One reveals to the other that he is in love and about to be married and they rush off to see the fiance.

But a comment made between the two friends on the way back makes the betrothed realise that his companion intends sharing even in his joy and that forces him to spiral in despair. Faced with an insurmountable mountain of work the clerk literally goes out of his mind with worry leaving his proposed marriage and life in tatters.

Then comes White Nights which is a tragic tale of love. A man falls in love with a woman who feels that her former lover has betrayed and forgotten her. As she seeks comfort and a shoulder to cry on the prospect of love stirs in a very lonely man. He reveals that he has rarely mixed with other people or ventured out into St Petersburg but having come across this girl crying one night and heard her story he plans a future for himself with her. But then the former lover returns and all of his hopes are dashed and he retreats, but this time bitterly, into his seclusion.

A full review will follow soon...

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