Archive for the ‘Psychological Novel’ Category

In re: Dostoyevsky

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Having greatly enjoyed Crime and Punishment, my wife and I are immersed in The Brothers Karamazov.  I just finished a segment in which Alyosha tries to give two hundred rubles to the man his brother Dmitri insulted and beat up.  At first it seems the man will accept the money, which he needs more than desperately, but in a sudden access of pride, he throws the money on the ground and stomps angrily away.

I was moved to think that the moral is: There are good deeds that cannot be performed.  It is an odd thought, is it not?  We are brought up to think that good deeds are always possible and it is our responsibility to perform them when the opportunity presents itself.  But human nature is such that a determination not to be the recipient of charity, say, can make impossible the fulfillment of a charitable person’s desire to give it.  In other words, charity is not a one-way street.  Both the donor and the recipient must agree to it.

As I think about it, I recall many fictional situations in literature in which charity is refused on the grounds that it requires too much of a sacrifice of personal image, a sacrifice of “honor” (which, as we also know from literary example, covereth a multitude of sins).  Still, the fact remains.  There are good deeds that cannot be performed.

In re: Jeffrey Eugenides

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

I read Jeffrey Eugenides book The Virgin Suicides. It’s the only one of his I’ve read that I’ve liked. I didn’t like The Marriage Plot, and I didn’t like Middlesex. My curmudgeonly persona thinks he got the Pulitzer prize for Middlesex because the committee somehow missed The Virgin Suicides the year it came out and tried to make it up by giving him the prize for Middlesex.