Saturday, June 19, 2010

It's a June Miracle!

My father’s a big fan of Russian literature. Over the years, that’s led to some nice perks for me. At his advice, I read The Master and Margarita (which I’ve briefly gushed about on here), The Brothers Karamazov, and War and Peace. As I’m sure most of you will agree, that’s a pretty worthwhile crowd. Out of them, Dostoevsky’s probably his favorite, and he only lets off recommending Notes from the Underground when he’s pushing Crime and Punishment instead. Early last year, I noticed that I had a copy of Notes From the Underground (And two other short works, etc) in my possession. I assumed that he’d put it there, at some point, for me to read. At the time, however, I was reading something else, and I decided to get to it later. I promptly forgot about its existence.

I’ve been reading Crime and Punishment lately, and a fairly conservative rendering of my impression would be something along the lines of: Wow. Seeing as he was such a fan of it, I was discussing the book with my father one afternoon. He said that I should read Notes… next and went to get it. I began to tell him that I already had his copy, but when he came back he was holding something called Great Short Works of Fyodor Dostoevsky, which was assuredly not the volume I had. When I asked why he had two, he said that he didn’t, and when I described the book to him, he said he’d never seen it.

I fetched the book and showed it to him. After a few seconds, a light dawned in his eyes. “This is the book I first read Dostoevsky in,” he said. “I lost it thirty years ago and bought this edition to replace it.” How did it end up with my stuff, if it was lost before I was conceived? I have no idea. What I do know is that both collections have, if one ignores Notes… itself, entirely different contents, so this all worked out quite well for me.

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