For my next read after Brothers K, I returned to White Nights and Other Stories, which includes several Dostoyevsky short stories translated by Garnett. This collection was a mixed bag; in spite of that, I give it a cumulative 4 out of 5 stars based on enjoyment level.
- The first and feature story is White Nights, a very romantic, fanciful sketch about unrequited love. Previously, I had read some quotes from it online, and reading the entirety, I was not disappointed. The ending was so depressing, but the story itself was bittersweet and thought-provoking. Recommended if you want to read Dostoyevsky in a nutshell.
- I skipped Notes from Underground, having already read it.
- A Faint Heart was a psychological mystery, reminiscent of Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener” which I read in September. (Not to sound like a broken record, but it is worth mentioning that Dostoyevsky’s so-called “existentialist” themes are sometimes compared to Kafka, as was “Bartleby,” and I think I must have a knack for finding this genre everywhere!) It was very intriguing and also depressing.
- A Christmas Tree and a Wedding centers on a minor character from “A Faint Heart” – at least, I think it does. Either that, or two characters share the exact same name. This Yulian Mastakovitch reminded me of Totsky from The Idiot. I really have nothing else to say, except the story made me sick, and also, that Dostoyevsky is very good at portraying evil characters going about their “everyday” disgusting pursuits.
- I got a bit lost reading Polzunkov – not quite sure what it was about.
- A Little Hero was another strange plot, about a boy who has a crush on an unhappily married woman. Kind of a coming-of-age story, borderline inappropriate, vaguely Dickensian.
- The last story Mr. Prohartchin is about an eccentric old man and his irrational fears. Definitely Dickensian. Not gripping, but one of those interesting, obscure sketches that gives you a good idea of “life back then.”