Monday, December 10, 2012

Mitya



Around page 420, depending on which edition you are reading, we finally get to the heart of the story, as Mitya finds he has been duped in more ways than one and begins lashing out at everyone.  Dostoevsky gives us an interesting chapter on jealousy, comparing Mitya to Othello, but Mitya knew in his dark heart that everything wasn't as he imagined.  So, the events which follow aren't so much tragic as they are farcical.

By page 450, I'm still not sure whether Mitya killed anyone.  Poor Grigori apparently stumbled and fell on a rock, not as a result of the brass pestle Mitya tossed away.  When Mitya turned to help out the poor servant, he covered himself in blood.  I'm sure it will be atleast a hundred more pages before we find out what actually happened.  In the meantime, Mitya is a fugitive with a wad of 100 ruble notes in his coat pocket.  You figure it won't last him long, just as he had squandered Katya's 3000 rubles before.

He apparently wants to chase after Grushenko, who has left to be with her officer that jilted her five years before, but has apparently sent for her to come to his estate.   First, Mitya puts together a few provisions for the road, including bottles of champagne, jars of caviar and other assorted delectables, which we assume come from the 3000 rubles his father, Fedya, had earmarked for Grushenko.

Dostoevsky sure knows how to string the reader along, and once again I am reminded this was a story released in syndication, a Russian soap-opera if you will, filled with many intriguing twists and turns in what is a very compressed period of time.  Nabokov certainly must have cringed at how Dostoevsky put together this story, as one doesn't get any sense of time in this novel.  Rather, we move back and forward in time, as the narrator piecing together the events that occurred in what amounts to little more than a week in this provincial town.  Nabokov would have also cringed at the translation, which employs a great number of distinctly British collaquialisms, such as "every Tom, Dick and Harry," which Dostoevsky almost certainly didn't use, even if this particular expression can be referenced in Shakespeare.  But, at least now we have some action.

Here's the fateful scene from the 1969 Russian adaptation of the novel.

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