В конце ноября, в оттепель, часов в девять утра, поезд Петербургско-Варшавской железной дороги на всех парах подходил к Петербургу. Было так сыро и туманно, что насилу рассвело; в десяти шагах, вправо и влево от дороги, трудно было разглядеть хоть что-нибудь из окон вагона.
Towards the end of November, during a thaw, at nine o’clock one morning, a train on the Warsaw and Petersburg railway was approaching the latter city at full speed. The morning was so damp and misty that it was only with great difficulty that the day succeeded in breaking; and it was impossible to distinguish anything more than a few yards away from the carriage windows.
When I studied all things Russian at university, unfortunately wordprocessing, let alone email, blogging etc, didn’t exist. This meant all of the essays I wrote about Dostoevsky and his novels were handwritten and eventually consigned to the history of the dustbin when I moved abroad in the late Nineties. How I wish I had been able to save them on a hard or virtual drive somewhere.
But I couldn’t, which means I don’t have a single word I’ve written about the novels of Dostoevsky to refer to. The other day I discovered a second hand bookshop close to my house in Palermo, Buenos Aires which had a handful of books in English. Among them The Idiot. Tomorrow I go on holiday – ten days to Salvador de Bahia and Morro de Sao Paulo – the last six of them in a hotel in the middle of nowhere. My idea is to reread The Idiot, which I’ve always regarded as my favourite ever novel, and blog while I read, making notes on the impressions I gain each day, saving my favourite quotes to be able to refer back to more easily, and actually Google the Holbein and be able to look at it while I read about it, unlike back in the Eighties when I didn’t have the wherewithal.
If you’ve made your way here it must mean you’re either a friend of mine or a friend of Fyodor’s. Either way I hope you find something interesting to enjoy about The Idiot and might even be moved to join in the discussion. Удачи!