Saturday, April 24, 2010

Today's Book

It may surprise younger readers to learn that there is a world of literature that pre-dates Sins of My Father, and even Lenin.  It is a rich world, populated by the likes of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, with their immensely long books and even longer character names.

Today we recommend one of Dostoevsky's less famous works, The Devils (aka The Demons and The Possessed).  It recounts the adventures of a group of 19th Century community organizers.  As Wikipedia recounts the plot:

The novel takes place in a provincial Russian setting, primarily on the estates of Stepan Trofimovich Verkhovensky and Varvara Stavrogina. Stepan Trofimovich's son, Pyotr Verkhovensky, is an aspiring revolutionary conspirator who attempts to organize a knot of revolutionaries in the area. He considers Varvara Stavrogina's son, Nikolai, central to his plot because he thinks Nikolai Stavrogin has no sympathy for mankind whatsoever.
Verkhovensky gathers conspirators like the philosophizing Shigalyov, suicidal Kirillov, and the former military man Virginsky, and he schemes to solidify their loyalty to him and each other by murdering Ivan Shatov, a fellow conspirator. Verkhovensky plans to have Kirillov, who was committed to killing himself, take credit for the murder in his suicide note. Kirillov complies and Verkhovensky murders Shatov, but his scheme falls apart. He escapes, but the remainder of his aspiring revolutionary crew is arrested. In the denouement of the novel, Nikolai Stavrogin kills himself, tortured by his own misdeeds.

 Does any of it sound familiar?

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