[Lit&Lang] Wonderings_Finally someone said it! a.k.a. My lovely experience with Russian Literature.

A very short post. Perhaps a silly one. (But that’s just me.)

There are certain things many pieces of Literature don’t talk about—certain characters, emotions, little details… but Russian Literature do.

(Of course, forgive me for my sweeping statements. Of course. Sheesh.)

And here’s a post of me delighting on this little thing:

“The door, which, like all warehouse doors, framed a wavy summer darkness (you can see the same tenderly chaotic darkness by closing your eyes and pressing the lids with your fingers), led into a vast barn.”

This is from Yuri Olesha’s Envy, pg 277 in my The Portable Twentieth-Century Russian Reader edited by Clarence Brown.


What I want to concentrate is this part: “same tenderly chaotic darkness by closing your eyes and pressing the lids with your fingers”

Every single adverbs and adjective speaks to me—both separately and in harmony. Blame my lack of experience… but who says that? I feel like I’ve been pleasantly intruded by the one sensation I solitarily knew, never having chatted about anyone about pressing-lid-sensation with your fingers. And the fact that it was used to describe “wavy summer darkness”? The description was truly, fucking amazingly, on point.

(Because have you ever done that? Your eyes acutely feel the warmth of the socket. The darkness first greets you in its own mysterious calm way. And then you see little wavy blobs of light, usually green… Your eye feels the pressure growing—it’s tense!)

Thus, in some weird way, the experience with this little section was heartfelt and intimate.

But I have a bit more to say. Dostoyevsky himself was a refreshing and revolutionary change from school readings like To Kill a Mockingbird (which I despise), The Lord of the Flies (which I respect), or even The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (which I also respect). Would I ever forget the narrator, revealing to me that “despair too has its moments of intense pleasure, intense delight, especially if you happen to be acutely conscious of the hopelessness of your position”? Or just the whole rambling in general! The rejection of reasoning brought my past self to shame, and further understanding and sympathy for human-ness… (From Notes from the Underground, my edition from The Best Short Stories of Fyodor Dostoevsky translated by David Margarshack.)


Or, even say, Bely’s concept of “cerebral play” from Petersburg. That brilliant man has finally given me the word to describe this amalgam of fancy, surrealness (and the consequent feeling of…. detachment), and weird emotions. Thank you dear sir. Thank you. (And we all know from 1984 how important there is to be a “word” to define anything, don’t we?)

But here’s my conciliatory ending to it all, as I am ever conscious about my status as mere undergraduate student. Perhaps I just haven’t read enough to know. It’s both a frustrating and yet a hopeful conclusion—why, I wish to make conclusions too! But also—may the next Dostoyevsky be discovered!