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“Maniac! Holly fool! Strange…But Dostoevsky’s voice full of nervous strain and passionate excitement, rose above the whispering…So Let It be Strange! Let it even be “holly foolishness”. But let the great idea live on!…” (P.P.405-406) from the book “Dostoevsky, Reminiscences” by Anna Dostoevsky, Translation copyright@ 1975 by Beatrice Stillman, Liveright Publishing Corporation, New York, USA

Reminiscences, ADThe full passage from the Notes to this book reads: (P.P.405-406)Восп,АГД

“14. Book 3, Chapter 3, “Confession of a Passionate Heart –in Verse”, V.V. Timofeyeva writes of that reading:

For many, including myself, it was something like a revelation of all destinies… Listening to this reading, I seemed to discern two phrases which explained to me everything in Dostoevsky and in each one of us. It seemed to me that the audience didn’t understand at first what he was reading and kept whispering to one another, “Maniac! Holly fool! Strange…”

But Dostoevsky’s voice,full of nervous strain and passionate excitement, rose above the whispering…

So let it be strange! Let it even be “holy foolishness”. But let the great idea live on!…

And that moving, passionate voice shook our hearts to the depths… Not I alone –the entire hall was aroused. I remember the way a young man, a stranger to me who was sitting beside me, nervously shuddered and sighed, how he flushed and paled, shook his head convulsively and clenched his fingers as if trying hard to restrain them from involuntary applause. And how, at last,  that applause thundered out. These sudden bursts of applause, breaking into the reading, seemed to wake Dostoevsky up. He shuddered, stood up, and remained standing for a moment, motionless, not taking his eyes off his manuscript. But applause grew louder and louder, more and more prolonged. Then he roused himself, as if awakening with difficulty from a sweet dream; and after bowing to the audience, he sat down again to read.”

We are sitting in our Mucha saloon, comfortable arm chairs, holding the books in hands about Dostoevsky’s life (1821-1881), mine – in Russian, his – in English (translated) and talking:

Val (1): What are your impressions about the book, Janko?

Janko (2): Informative, controversial, a lot of questions and many different answers and perspectives.

1: What do you mean by that?

2: Controversial because of comments inundation, rumors spread by friends, acquaintances, fellow writers, poets. These stories leave many partially answered questions.

1: What about the perspectives?

2: The person who reads of Dostoevsky’s life first of all overlooks these controversies and questions, who can create an image of a great humanitarian in an extreme way of a saintly person. The realist who has no illusions about perfection in the person approaches him with his eyes fully opened to the real person, flesh and blood man, both good and bad, dark and light sides of the life. This man who approaches in this way sees himself so, accepts the greatness of Dostoevsky.

1: Who are you? The realist, aren’t you?

2: Fortunately, yes. And you?

1: Myself, consider this Russian stenographic diary of Anna Grigoriyevna Snitkina-Dostoevsky 1846-1918) is very boring and not interesting to read.

2: Why?

1: Her primitive Russian language style is lacking of artistic finesse, no talent for literary work. In the notes and quotations I found more interesting information than in her personal reminiscences. Thanks to the editors who transformed over thirty notebooks of rough drafts, hand written by her on large sheets of paper stitched into a notebook consisting of ninety-two “chapters” of greatly varying length, not always chronologically arranged, some titled and others merely numbered, 798-page manuscript. She worked on her diary at 1911-1916 before her death in 1918 , deciphering and copying out the diary she had kept at the beginning of the marriage in 1894, thirteen years after his death. What could she remember?

2: I agree. As footnotes all the time, or commentaries by people offer more objective views of the facts which are describes they are not authors, not even acquainted with the subject personally.

1: I looked through your English version, my opinion is it is well done by translator Beatrice Stillman.

2: Unluckily, at this point I cannot be a good judge as I read in Russian marginally.

Watch :Dostoevsky, Biography and Reflections, Part 1

1: At times I see the translated versions are better than the originals. To-day’s book for review is the case.

The photos from the Russian book:

2 Comments

  1. Valia,
    I am back to Calgary and having a big pleasure reading your web site.
    Thank you for keeping us updated on the last events and publications.

    Tatiana

  2. Hi, Tatyana, welcome back to Calgary. Perhaps, you have been travelling a lot in Russia, Europe or somewhere else? I am glad that you are reading my “Babulka”, thanks for its appreciation. Drop by one day to our Mucha saloon to exchange the latest news and a nice good cup of coffee or tea by your own preference. See you soon
    Yours,
    Valentina

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