March 18, 2016
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
Of all the writers I’ve read, Tolstoy is best able to capture the totality of human nature. Again and again, I was floored by the depth of his characters’ internal worlds, his ability to sketch out the motivations and contradictions and fantasies of people whose circumstances are so varied and different from his own.
Anna Karenina is, for those that don’t know, the story of an aristocratic woman who has an affair. There’s also a lot about a guy who likes farming. That’s it. As far as plots go, it’s not the greatest hook, but around this unexceptional subject is more insight into the human condition than you’ll find in a hundred best sellers. Read the rest of this entry »
March 14, 2011
The Master and Margarita is a smart satire of Stalin’s Russia and a bold reinterpretation of Christian mythology, but what I loved most about it is its lush imaginativeness, its beautiful, dark images of an unhappy maidservant fleeing her former life on a flying pig, or Satan’s ball with its ape jazz band and crystal pool of wine, attended by histories greatest villains like Caligula, Messalina and, just for fun, polar bears.
Its plot can be summarised as: the devil pays a visit to Stalin’s Moscow. It is written in the kind of tight, Russian prose that you find in Dostoevsky, but with a playfulness that sometimes has the author breaking the fourth wall, while the novel’s structure is, to put it bluntly, weird. Read the rest of this entry »