This is not the first time that I have put my hands on Dostoevsky. Ever since, I was told of him by my elder brother and in a way recommended by him, I never left an opportunity to get a possession of his novels whenever and wherever it was available. Crime and Punishment and The House of Dead are with me for long times but still unread. The first time I read Dostoevsky was his short story White Nights. The movie Saawariya was based on the story. I was told about this fact by my brother who also asked me to go through the story. I must admit, it was a great experience.
Since then, Dostoevsky's persona has intrigued me. I've got to read few articles on him and all of them have posed so different an identity for him that it has really been difficult for me to create a clear idea in my mind as to what he actually was. It is simply not possible to characterise a varied talent such as him by reading just one of his short stories. Maybe, in future, when I have read a few more of him, I would be able to have a better idea about him.
Lately, as I already told, I have started The Possessed. It is a long novel and hence, for a person like me who is so irregular with reading, I don't know whether I would be able to finish this one. Still in the very early parts of the book where still the character building is going on, there have been some instances where in one can have an idea of the author's opinion on issues like nationalism, rebellion etc. One such instance of his opinion on nationalism is being shared here. An excerpt...
“...It all springs from the charming, cultured, whimsical idleness of our gentry! I'm ready to repeat it for thirty thousand years. We don't know how to live by our own labour. And as for the fuss they're making now about the 'dawn' of some sort of public opinion, has it so suddenly dropped from heaven without any warning? How is it they don't understand that before we can have an opinion of our own we must have work, our own work, our own initiative in things, our own experience. Nothing is to be gained for nothing. If we work we shall have an opinion of our own. But as we never shall work, our opinions will be formed for us by those who have hitherto done the work instead of us,...These lines written for Russia in the 18th century still hold true for any other country in the modern world. Everybody is running behind someone with some ideas. So what they are unrealistic and only rhetorical, everybody just celebrate the ideas. Nobody is ever going to perform their part of the duties and think that everything will come to them served in the platters. They tend to forget that the ideas will remain only ideas till someone starts to work on them. It is not the ideas that are important but the thought of the hard labour that should go behind the execution of ideas is what makes the difference. Nothing is to be gained for nothing.
...For the last twenty years I've been sounding the alarm, and the summons to work. I've given up my life to that appeal, and, in my folly I put faith in it. Now I have lost faith in it, but I sound the alarm still, and shall sound it to the tomb. I will pull at the bell-ropes until they toll for my own requiem!...”