19 5 / 2013
"In 1915, in Geneva, I avidly read Crime and Punishment in the very readable version by Constance Garnett. That novel, whose heroes are a murderer and a prostitute, seemed to me no less atrocious than the war that surrounded us. I imagined at the time that Dostoyevsky was a kind of great unfathomable God, capable of understanding and justifying all beings. I was astonished that he had occasionally descended to mere politics, that he discriminated and condemned.
To read a book by Dostoyevsky is to penetrate a great city unknown to us, or the shadow of a battle. Crime and Punishment revealed to me, among other things, a world different from my own. When I read Demons, something very strange occurred. I felt that I had returned home. The steppes were a magnification of the pampas. Varvara Petrovna and Stepan Trofimovich Verkhovensky were, despite their unwieldy names, old irresponsible Argentines. The book began with joy, as if the narrator did not know its tragic end.
In the preface to an anthology of Russian literature, Vladimir Nabokov stated that he had not found a single page of Dostoyevsky worthy of inclusion. This ought to mean that Dostoyevsky should not be judged by each page but rather by the total of all the pages that comprise the book."