Sunday, January 16, 2011

Fragment 0116

Dostoevsky wrote of Pushkin: He is one of the greatest of Russians who is still far from  being interpreted and understood properly. After Pushkin no one has said anything new.
Dostoevsky’s own project – his depiction of the burden of consciousness- has its seeds in this poem by Pushkin, composed on the occasion of the poet’s thirtieth birthday:

Gift haphazard, unavailing,
Life, why wert thou given to me?
Why art thou to death unfailing
Sentenced by dark destiny?

Who in harsh despotic fashion
Once from Nothing called me out,
Filled my soul with burning passion,
Vexed and shook my mind with doubt?

I can see no goal before me:
Empty heart and idle mind.
Life monotonously o'er me
Roars, and leaves a wound behind.

Perhaps only Dostoevsky could have found the real anguish in the lines Vexed and shook my mind with doubt? and used them as a springboard for his own depictions of enraged consciousness:

What right did this Nature have to bring me into the world as a result of some eternal law of hers? I was created with consciousness, and I was conscious of this Nature: what right did she have to produce me, a conscious being, without my willing it?...

From 'The Sentence'

October 1876

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