Mark Twain or Dostoevsky? Parallel Lives of Great Nations

My interlocutor today is Ivan Semyonovich, a big politics fan and literature admirer and we are talking about   Mark Twain (1835-1910) and Dostoevsky ( 1821-1881), about America and Russia.

marktwainI.S. A cosmic Plutarch writing “The Parallel Lives of Great Nations” could not find a more rewarding subject. Perhaps it could be called Mark Twain or dostoevskyDostoevsky?

V.N. Mark Twain? We read his “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” which was our favorite classic novel during the student years where he produced one of the wisest meditations on race in all American literature.

I.S. Oh, yes, he was a defender of racial equality, John Stewart, M.L. King, Barack Obama and the rest of America are in his debt. I greet new president of America Obama and pay respect in front of him for his up-to-date innovations in social and political life of the USA.

V.N. Dostoevsky was also a huge contributor in Russian social, political life through the literature. We remember his “Devils”, don’t we? Nechaev’s terrorist network and ugly consequences happened to be later under Communism. The Russians can no more forget the millennia of Mongolian occupation, the tradition of expansion across Europe and Asia, the sacredness of Tsarist autocracy, the identity of State and religion, the traditions of secrecy and police tyranny, of knouting and Siberian exile. As well as the Americans cannot forget the millennia of Magna Charta tradition, of parliaments, Bills of Rights, constitutions, habeas corpus, common-law judges, free land, copious immigration, and a moving frontier.

I.S. I myself suffered a lot because of Stalin’s persecutions, that is why I praise Mark Twain as the creator and protector of human liberty and Dostoevsky for his personal life feat in the name of Russia’s rescue and finding her way.

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