From A Christmas Carol to War and Peace in # 6degrees

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A Russian Affair

by elisabethm with Thanks ❤

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After reading the nice and interesting blog post of An Argumentative Old Git , I decided to write a # 6degrees blog post. On Kate’s literary blog, Books are my Favorite and Best , each month a different book of inspiration is presented, from which you then have to connect six other books.

A Christmas Carol (1843) by Dickens is the starting point this month .

Scrooge is visited by three spirits, who show him the past, the present and the future. He soon understands that he needs to improve his life. 

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In Pushkin’s The Coffin (1831) we find an on-Dickensian coffin maker with a Scrooge character. He is also visited by ghosts, in large numbers, they celebrate him at night in the living room. He recognizes his deceased clientele and is accused of having scammed their relatives. In contrast to Scrooge, Prokhorov is not impressed enough the next morning to improve his life; he calls his daughters and brings tea. And we hear him thinking: “Bah! Humbug!”

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Those festive ghosts remind me of De Meester and Margarita (1940) of Bulgakov. In this satirical novel, the devil himself visits Stalinist Moscow to organize a ball during Walpurgis Night. The guests are all dead and they all have something on their faces, so they went to hell. Among the guests are celebrities and criminals. They arrive at the party through the fireplace. This is familiar to the reader, but we do not go that way. The most famous quote from the book is “manuscripts do not burn”.

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In 1852 Gogol burned the manuscripts with a large part of the second part of Dead Souls in a fit of bewilderment. Shortly afterwards he died under extremely sad circumstances. Contrary to what the title suggests, Dead Soul is a cheerful novel. Or rather, a cheerful satire about an aspiring landowner travelling through Russia and about the people he meets. Chichikov is accompanied by his faithful servant Petrushka, who smells quite apart, but is completely devoted to his lord.

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And that brings us to another devoted servant: Zechar. Zachar! The meddlesome, lazy, grumbling and gossiping servant of Oblomov. Oblomov was written in 1858 by Gontsjarov as an example of a surplus person. Oblomov has postponed procreation into art, and the first 150 pages of his bed do not come out. He simply refuses to worry about things that are already bothering him, and he hates it when ‘things’ are expected of him. His house is his safe haven.

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From the safe harbour in the Gorochovajastraat, we take a ten-minute walk to the Stoljarnisteeg, to the humble home of another Petersburg literary hero: Raskolnikov. The protagonist of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment (1866) does not stop at plans and dreams; he adds the word to the word and kills old usury. He wants to help the poor with her money and thus make a useful contribution to society, the witch is dead and her money is used for a good cause, but he is consumed by feelings of guilt.

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Crime and Punishment were published in episodes in the Russian literary magazine De Vjestnik. If you had a subscription to that, then around 1866 you were eagerly looking forward every month to the postman because there was not only a new episode of Crime and Punishment, Tolstoy’s War and Peace was also published in De Vjestnik for the first time. . Of course, the reader knew perfectly well that the Russians finally defeated Napoleon, but how did it go with Natasja? Would she finally be reunited with Andrei? The novel is full of cliffhangers, and that has everything to do with the monthly episodes.


Dickens was extremely popular in Russia and both Tolstoy and Dostoevsky were influenced by him and admired him. 

Text and photos © Elisabeth van der Meer 2018

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