A Dostoevskian End to 2014

“Read Russian literature and alienate your friends”

This quote that I came across on a T -shirt of a really grumpy looking New York fellow passenger aptly sums my social life of the last two months of 2014.

Having purposefully kept myself in the dark about Russian literature I finally gave in and have started bingeing on it. Over the past 3 months I managed to make my way through Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, Gogol’s The Nose and Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground and The Brothers Karamazov. Currently I am glued to Crime and Punishment.

Black, Cold and Wintry New York

It also does not help that New York in winter is cold, bleak and full of black clad unsmiling hurried hunched forms. Or is it just a result of my clouded thoughts that the city seems to resemble 19th century Moscow? All this reading takes its toll on one’s cheer. Especially Dostoevsky. Reading him is a pleasure. A pleasure that is not necessarily pleasant as much as a morbid voyeuristic experience to delve into the darker side of human psyche that is still as relevant as it was in the vast landmass of serf Russia. His insight into the various trains of contradictory thoughts of every character is nauseatingly accurate. His tone is maniacal and pace frantic. In short his style, subject and expertise have without question overshadowed anyone else I managed to read as fillers during this period. And some of them were mighty giants like Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Bulgakov.

Pairing Netflix with Russian Literature

Pairing great books with great TV gets you as a viewer into especially immersive viewing/reading. Some pairings are obvious while some are not. For instance, you would think when reading a book its movie adaptation would make for great pairing but apply this to The Unbearable Lightness of Being and you will be sorely let down. However what I found was that the below two pairings work quite well. And the advantage of pairing a TV series with a book is that the reading time and view times more or less coincides. Here was what I watched when reading Dostoevsky.

Breaking Bad marathons are potent when reading Dostoevsky (though the series seems more a fan of Kafka). It is to each other’s credit that one complements another and not overshadow the other. Luther, BBC’s crime drama with Idris Elba is also a great accompaniment if you want to wallow more in the darkness of criminal psychology.

If you know of any more pairings please do not be selfish and spread the cheer around.

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