• 176 syf.
    ·2 günde·Beğendi·9/10
    Собачье сердце = Sobach'e serdtse = The Heart of a Dog, Mikhail Afanasevich Bulgakov (1891-1940) endured the difficult experience of having to live under the pressure of censorship, but has nonetheless left some interesting books that allow us to know what he thought about the process that has taking place in the newborn Soviet Russia. "Heart of a dog" is one of those books. It was written in 1925, but it wasn`t published in Soviet Russia until 1987, due to the fact that it can easily be interpreted as a critical satire regarding the URSS.
    Anyone who's ever read The Master and Margarita already knows that Bulgakov is a rebel, an anarchist, and damn good and funny with it.
    Our hero is one such dog. The first-person narrative of dog in first few chapter will put a knowing smile on face of anyone who has observed dogs closely. Bulgakov is a master of the outlandish and the surreal. And this book is full of both. Just when you think Bulgakov can’t get any more outrageous, he surprises you with odd twists and turns.
    The story begins with a charming tale of a stray dog (later called Sharik) but this is no Walt Disney tale, for this dog becomes the pet of notarious, renowned Moscow professor of medicine who plants human glands into the dog’s body and the dog Sharik becomes the human Sharikov, But what kind of human is he?. Sharik can talk, and asks everybody to call him first "Mr. Sharikov", and afterwards named himself "Polygraph Polygraphovich Sharikov". He also walks like a human being, and somehow resembles one... But can he think, or does he merely repeat what he hears, specially Marx`s teachings? Has the doctor`s experiment ruined a perfectly good dog, making him a perfectly despicable "human" being that threatens to denounce counterrevolutionaries and chases cats?
    You really should read it yourself. It isn`t long, but it is quite interesting. What is more important, it is open to many interpretations, and you can always find your own. Some people believe that for Bulgakov Sharik represented the failure of those who try to create new beings (exactly what was supposedly being done at that time in the URSS, with the "soviet man"). Others highlight the glimpses of Soviet society that "Heart of a dog" allows us to have, and think that the aim of the author was to give the reader at least an idea of what it was like to live in the URSS at that time...
    These few possible interpretations don't exclude others, so Heart of a Dog is definitely worth reading, if nothing else because it's a cultural artifact, a rare voice of dissension from the early days of the Soviet Union.
  • There are two persons within me, one who is alive in the full sense of the world, and another who reflects and judges the first.
  • -the heart hardens and the soul closes in on itself.
  • 243 syf.
    ·4 günde·Beğendi·9/10
    One of the most interesting, eye-opening books I've read. I’m familiar with Russian literature, I know Russian, but the more I read, the more I'm falling in love with them.
    It's one of those Russian classics that's always on those lists. A Hero of Our Time has an interesting format. It's split into sections but these sections are all very different and sometimes don't even involve our "hero" Pechorin.
    The story is set in the Caucasus Mountains and is full of detail about the terrain, the local people and the lives of the Russian nobility who travelled to the spas in that area. Lermontov tends to mock those society travellers although I could not help thinking that they would also be a large part of his intended audience.
    Pechorin’s story is told in three parts. First through the eyes of a former comrade, second the eyes of a fascinated onlooker who by chance inherits his journals, and lastly through his own words.
    It is only by looking at the three vignettes as pieces to a whole that the reader gets a feel for Pechorin’s motivations, who he is as a person and how he comes off as a character to others. In fact, without those first two sections, his story wouldn’t have as much meaning or significance, in my eyes.
    I haven't really touched on what happens in the novel - but what was important for me was the character of Pechorin. His exploits, adventures and charades in the army, in society, the Caucasus, they are mere extensions of who he is as a person. He has flaws, he can be ruthless, he can be tragic but I am a fan of the Byronic Hero.
    I was also fond of the last chapter, The Fatalist due to the more philosophical nature of discussion. This reminded me a lot of The death of ivan ilyich, with its emphasis on how the old view the world differently: forever bleak. The death of ivan ilyich.
    I must go on and read Lermontov's poems in the near future, and I can recommend A Hero of Our Time to those who are already acquainted with Russian literature.
  • 842 syf.
    ·10 günde·Beğendi·9/10
    It has been years since I've read a book by such a descriptive writer. He is rapidly becoming a favorite of mine. This book was recommended to me by one of friends from Russia “Dinara”
    First of all, this book is over 800 pages, so I found it a little challenging to start because I didn't want to carry it around with me to read on the bus (too bulky) and I was so tired each night that I couldn't read more than a page or two. But I finally got a chance to read a small chunk of it in one sitting and that was it for me. I loved it and couldn't put it down.
    Secondly, the books plot, twists, and pace would make a great book in itself. What caught me is without trying to shove it down your throat is the Author's love of people. Good, bad, ugly, beautiful, extremely poor, extremely rich, strange, and even straight out hell types of people. The author and main character who portrays himself as no pillar of society seems to have an intense love of humans and human nature. Not only are the characters and what they do complex but no matter how deep or shallow they are in crime ranging from petty scammers to murderers and even torturers, in by far most cases he pulls the good out of them and demonstrates that even though people get themselves in these situations regularly, that we consider heinous crimes, there is actually good in them that may be hidden deep but is in every human being.
    As the novel opens, the reader is introduced to Lin, a man who has escaped his Australian jail and arrives in Bombay, hoping to hide in India's vast populace. Early on, Lin is forced to realise that India is a beast unlike any other; culturally, racially, and economically. It is, however, home to many who have the same idea, hiding from their criminal pasts elsewhere. These include Karla Saarinen, a woman who occupies Lin's mind and dreams from the moment he lays eyes on her. As Lin befriends others who have recently arrive in country, seeking to blend into the billions around him with vague and beige back stories, he meets a tour guide, Prabaker (Prabu). Their connection is almost instantaneous, soon becoming an entertaining pair throughout the narrative. Prabu is able to help Lin make numerous connections in and around the city. While they venture out to better explore Bombay and eventually other parts of the state, Lin learns the cultural differences between India and his Australian upbringing. As Prabu and Lin continue their adventures, the latter finds himself living in the city's slums and opens a medical clinic to cater to the poorest population, where Lin becomes involved with the shady underworld and black market living.
    Throughout the book, Lin crosses paths with those whose simple conversations turn philosophical and force him to digest complex analyses to the universe's most basic concepts. When offered a position working in forged passports by the Bombay Mafia, Lin accepts, if only to explore new pathways to survival. His living in the slums of Bombay prove not only eye opening, but life changing in ways that the reader can only understand by being enveloped in the larger narrative. Even as Lin is able to build himself up in his new homeland, he is broken by the cruelest and most sadistic Indians, especially when his identity is learned and extradition considered. Roberts offers so much in this narrative that it is hard to summarise or believe that this is the life of a single man on the run. However, where truth ends and fiction commences, the reader is permitted a front seat for everything and the chance to change alongside Lin throughout. A must read by any and all who want to offer up all they feel they know, only to finish the book and question everything.

    On the upside, the descriptions of India and its people are fantastic. Life in the city and in the small village is graphically portrayed and I really felt I was living these sections. Some of the characters were exceptional – I particularly loved Prabhaker, Didier, Vicram and the scarily insane Habib. I don't want to give anything away but I will say there are scenes that left me variously laughing out loud, desperately sad and/or pretty much revolted and scared witless – the latter particularly coming to the fore when our hero was temporarily incarcerated in Bombay’s Arthur Road Jail. It's a book that really does stretch the emotions. I also enjoyed the way the underlying themes of freedom, loyalty, love (lots of love) and betrayal played out through the narrative.
    Read it because it is an expansive story in so many ways. Read it for the vivid descriptions of Bombay, war-torn Afghanistan and many other places. For the range of the human condition that is explored, the very believable portrayal of the life of an escape prisoner at the edges of society and the multitude of characters he encounters. All these are bright and believable. There are lessons hard learned that are painful and powerful in their retelling.
    Finally, I was captivated by Shantaram. While the book is not strictly autobiographical, the storytelling is convincing enough that it feels like it could be. You can tell that Roberts is, in a montaignesque* way, really trying to know and represent himself as faithfully as possible. It's impressive how he is able to return to his past self's state of mind--it reminds me of Proust in that sense, the realization that who he is now isn't who he was, but at the same time, trying to accurately identify with that past self.
    * Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), French humanist and philosopher