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Desert island books- complete works of ONE writer. Watch

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    (Original post by evantej)
    Reading him outside of his aesthetic, historical, political and philosophical (all these fields merge in nineteenth-century Russia, thankfully) context means you are not really reading Dostoevsky. Some texts are more universal than others (I imagine The Devils is incomprehensible to those with no knowledge of Russia, whereas The Double could be enjoyed by pretty much by anyone), but there is a perverse insistence on the nature of Russian nationality that is almost all of his texts from the 1860s onwards, and if you do not understand that (i.e. the extratextual allusions) then a desert island and the rest of time is not going to help.

    It has nothing to do with snobbery.
    It has everything to do with snobbery. Essentially what you're saying is there's a 'correct' way of understanding Dostoevsky, and that this is the only way one can read him.

    Texts can stand alone or be read in a historical and literary context, and to state that one way is more valid than the other is kind of crude, and misses the subtleties involved in different ways of reading.

    As well as that, to assume that most people voting Dostoevsky haven't 'properly understood him' (unlike you, of course)- when they've said nothing whatsoever to indicate this- is quite blatant snobbery.
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    (Original post by missygeorgia)
    It has everything to do with snobbery. Essentially what you're saying is there's a 'correct' way of understanding Dostoevsky, and that this is the only way one can read him.

    Texts can stand alone or be read in a historical and literary context, and to state that one way is more valid than the other is kind of crude, and misses the subtleties involved in different ways of reading.

    As well as that, to assume that most people voting Dostoevsky haven't 'properly understood him' (unlike you, of course)- when they've said nothing whatsoever to indicate this- is quite blatant snobbery.
    I tried to give this post a thumbs up but apparantly I've given you a thumbs up recently and must go and rate other posts a bit first. Anyway, I totally agree.

    Personally, I'd go with Enid Blyton. Being stranded on a desert island is pretty stressful so I reckon some easy-going reading is in order, there's LOADS of them to keep me going plus I think the Famous Five and their can-do attitude would prove inspirational in such a situation
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    Hmm... It's hard. But I really think Margaret Atwood, because I love what I've read of hers so far, and I keep meaning to get more and then invariably need to spend my money on something else. And Cat's Eye is and probably always will be my favourite book.
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    (Original post by riotgrrl)
    I tried to give this post a thumbs up but apparantly I've given you a thumbs up recently and must go and rate other posts a bit first. Anyway, I totally agree.

    Personally, I'd go with Enid Blyton. Being stranded on a desert island is pretty stressful so I reckon some easy-going reading is in order, there's LOADS of them to keep me going plus I think the Famous Five and their can-do attitude would prove inspirational in such a situation
    Don't you think you'd get depressed at the deplorable lack of ginger beer and easily solvable mysteries on the island, though?:erm:
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    (Original post by hobnob)
    Don't you think you'd get depressed at the deplorable lack of ginger beer and easily solvable mysteries on the island, though?:erm:
    I hate ginger beer. And who says there won't be mysteries to solve? Sounds like prime treasure-hunting land to me :p:
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    (Original post by riotgrrl)
    I hate ginger beer. And who says there won't be mysteries to solve? Sounds like prime treasure-hunting land to me :p:
    What sort of treasures could you expect to find on an island like that, though? Crates full of classics discarded by previous cast-aways?
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    (Original post by evantej)
    Reading him outside of his aesthetic, historical, political and philosophical (all these fields merge in nineteenth-century Russia, thankfully) context means you are not really reading Dostoevsky. Some texts are more universal than others (I imagine The Devils is incomprehensible to those with no knowledge of Russia, whereas The Double could be enjoyed by pretty much by anyone), but there is a perverse insistence on the nature of Russian nationality that is almost all of his texts from the 1860s onwards, and if you do not understand that (i.e. the extratextual allusions) then a desert island and the rest of time is not going to help.

    It has nothing to do with snobbery.
    But this is the kind of argument that puts people off certain forms of 'high' culture, especially classical music and canonical literature. The idea that Dostoevsky is only for those whose knowledge and understanding are worthy of him is one I find pretty repellent. I think it's something to be celebrated that so many students on here have mentioned him, and that they're not put off by the difficulty of his work. They may not have a Master's-level understanding of him, but so what?

    When I first started reading difficult, canonical literature I was in my teens; the Luddite riots in Bronte's Shirley went over my head, I didn't grasp that in Raskalnikov Dostoevsky was offering a critique of Westernising utilitarian ideas, I didn't grasp the depth of The Brothers Karamazov's ethical agon, and I didn't get the references to Irish politicians in Ulysses. But I enjoyed all those books immensely, and read them with fascination and admiration. Now when I reread them I understand a great deal more of what is going on; but I'll never forget the excitement and mystery of reading them for the first time. My enjoyment of them back then was different, but no less valid than the enjoyment I get from them now.
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    Proust. In English and French.
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    (Original post by the_alba)
    But this is the kind of argument that puts people off certain forms of 'high' culture, especially classical music and canonical literature. The idea that Dostoevsky is only for those whose knowledge and understanding are worthy of him is one I find pretty repellent. I think it's something to be celebrated that so many students on here have mentioned him, and that they're not put off by the difficulty of his work. They may not have a Master's-level understanding of him, but so what?

    When I first started reading difficult, canonical literature I was in my teens; the Luddite riots in Bronte's Shirley went over my head, I didn't grasp that in Raskalnikov Dostoevsky was offering a critique of Westernising utilitarian ideas, I didn't grasp the depth of The Brothers Karamazov's ethical agon, and I didn't get the references to Irish politicians in Ulysses. But I enjoyed all those books immensely, and read them with fascination and admiration. Now when I reread them I understand a great deal more of what is going on; but I'll never forget the excitement and mystery of reading them for the first time. My enjoyment of them back then was different, but no less valid than the enjoyment I get from them now.
    :ditto:
    I couldn't agree more. There's nothing wrong with reading for pleasure, and if some things go over your head or you miss a couple of clever allusions because you lack some specific background reading, who cares? We're not talking about reading in an academic context, after all. Ultimately this whole artificial 'desert island' scenario is simply about reading for pleasure and/or distraction from boredom. So the idea isn't to list books you're 'qualified' to read, but to list either books which you know you like and will continue to enjoy even after reading them for the 90th time, or books which have been on your to-read pile for ages for one reason or another and which you think you'd enjoy reading.:dontknow:
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    I'd have to go with David Eddings. He's written a fair few and I'm a total fantasy geek although I'm not smart enough for Tolkein (takes me forever and I always get distracted)!
    The best thing to do is take something you know you will enjoy for ages while you are stranded, it's no good trying to look smart because no one will be there to see it.
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    (Original post by the_alba)
    But this is the kind of argument that puts people off certain forms of 'high' culture, especially classical music and canonical literature. The idea that Dostoevsky is only for those whose knowledge and understanding are worthy of him is one I find pretty repellent. I think it's something to be celebrated that so many students on here have mentioned him, and that they're not put off by the difficulty of his work. They may not have a Master's-level understanding of him, but so what?

    When I first started reading difficult, canonical literature I was in my teens; the Luddite riots in Bronte's Shirley went over my head, I didn't grasp that in Raskalnikov Dostoevsky was offering a critique of Westernising utilitarian ideas, I didn't grasp the depth of The Brothers Karamazov's ethical agon, and I didn't get the references to Irish politicians in Ulysses. But I enjoyed all those books immensely, and read them with fascination and admiration. Now when I reread them I understand a great deal more of what is going on; but I'll never forget the excitement and mystery of reading them for the first time. My enjoyment of them back then was different, but no less valid than the enjoyment I get from them now.
    I am not suggesting that there is a right and wrong way to approach literature, and missygeorgia is wrong to suggest that that is what I essentially wrote, but I think that there are good and bad ways to approach literature; there is a clear distinction between the two. In fact, I am writing an article on C.S. Lewis that I hope to publish soon that deals with exactly this issue so I am hardly ignorant of hermeneutics or, to use her words, I am not somehow missing 'the subtleties involved in different ways of reading'; that is, the suggestion that there is a right reading order for The Chronicles of Narnia.

    With regards to Fyodor Dostoevsky, or any writer for that matter, I never suggested that 'only for those whose knowledge and understanding are worthy of him'. What surprised me was that some people picked him when in nine out of ten cases they probably have not even read the majority of his works. In addition, given the abstract context of the desert island, it is not even as if as the reader's understanding of Dostoevsky is going to improve just because they have read it numerous times; Frankenstein's monster in Shelley's Frankenstein and John the Savage in Huxley's Brave New World spring to me!

    Stripping a text from the context in which it was produced, holding it up as something singular, and suggesting that that is a good way to read a text, because to suggest otherwise would be to ignore 'the subtleties involved in different ways of reading' is just crude on every level; the very worst kind of metaphysical thinking. Dostoevsky would laugh at this approach. But of course you would probably suggest that Dostoevsky's views on aesthetics are irrelevant when reading his works, right?

    With regards to Crime and Punishment and Raskolnikov, Dostoevsky was not 'offering a critique of Westernising utilitarian ideas'. He was criticising the materialist/nihilist (Westerniser) in Russian society, who relied upon western values and suggested that Russian society could be reformed (through revolution if necessary) in the mould of western Europe; that is not the same as criticising western values themselves (he was still sympathetic to quite a few of them at this point), because Dostoevsky's philosophies actually relied upon the acceptance of western values in Russian society, and that a reconciliation between some parts of the westernised intelligentsia and the peasants had to take place; that is to say Russia needed to be woken up by the west in order to learn its true role in the world, but now that it has been woken up the west's role and values are not as important and, in some cases (i.e. Raskolnikov's), they are actually dangerous to Russia.

    Sorry, that turned into a bit of a Dostoevsky lecture at the end.
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    (Original post by evantej)
    I am not suggesting that there is a right and wrong way to approach literature, and missygeorgia is wrong to suggest that that is what I essentially wrote, but I think that there are good and bad ways to approach literature; there is a clear distinction between the two. In fact, I am writing an article on C.S. Lewis that I hope to publish soon that deals with exactly this issue so I am hardly ignorant of hermeneutics or, to use her words, I am not somehow missing 'the subtleties involved in different ways of reading'; that is, the suggestion that there is a right reading order for The Chronicles of Narnia..
    That's all very well, but Missy Georgia's post was different to mine, so you should probably be quoting her, not me.

    (Original post by evantej)
    With regards to Fyodor Dostoevsky, or any writer for that matter, I never suggested that 'only for those whose knowledge and understanding are worthy of him'. What surprised me was that some people picked him when in nine out of ten cases they probably have not even read the majority of his works. In addition, given the abstract context of the desert island, it is not even as if as the reader's understanding of Dostoevsky is going to improve just because they have read it numerous times; Frankenstein's monster in Shelley's Frankenstein and John the Savage in Huxley's Brave New World spring to me!

    Stripping a text from the context in which it was produced, holding it up as something singular, and suggesting that that is a good way to read a text, because to suggest otherwise would be to ignore 'the subtleties involved in different ways of reading' is just crude on every level; the very worst kind of metaphysical thinking. Dostoevsky would laugh at this approach. But of course you would probably suggest that Dostoevsky's views on aesthetics are irrelevant when reading his works, right? .
    Why would I suggest that? I'm not saying contextual knowledge and aesthetic sensitivity are not relevant or important; I'm saying that it's possible to read and enjoy the books without being at grad school. When a student picks up Dostoevsky and thinks 'I'd like to read this', that's not to be sniffed at. If they've read one of his books, know a bit about his others and would love to read them too, why not pick them for a Desert Island choice? I mean, I chose Tolstoy because he has such a huge oeuvre and I've only read a fraction of it. I'd like the time to read more.


    (Original post by evantej)
    With regards to Crime and Punishment and Raskolnikov, Dostoevsky was not 'offering a critique of Westernising utilitarian ideas'. He was criticising the materialist/nihilist (Westerniser) in Russian society, who relied upon western values and suggested that Russian society could be reformed (through revolution if necessary) in the mould of western Europe; that is not the same as criticising western values themselves (he was still sympathetic to quite a few of them at this point), because Dostoevsky's philosophies actually relied upon the acceptance of western values in Russian society, and that a reconciliation between some parts of the westernised intelligentsia and the peasants had to take place; that is to say Russia needed to be woken up by the west in order to learn its true role in the world, but now that it has been woken up the west's role and values are not as important and, in some cases (i.e. Raskolnikov's), they are actually dangerous to Russia.

    Sorry, that turned into a bit of a Dostoevsky lecture at the end.
    It wasn't a lecture, because you weren't educating me My example was one among others in a effort to express a point; sorry if you felt it was inaccurate (though critiquing, the word I used, is different from criticising, the word you keep using), but my post wasn't about Dostoevsky's politics, it was about everyone having the right to enjoy great literature. You didn't really answer that point, so never mind.
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    Shakespeare would have been my number one! Tenneesse Williams? I know his back catalogue isn't that large so maybe Oscar Wilde instead.
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    Probably Douglas Adams, because, you know, you'll probably need a good laugh, that said, a desert island would be a brilliant place to re-read War & Peace, or read In Search of Lost Time, which without some significant period of isolation, I fear I might never do. But, on the whole, Douglas Adams I think.
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    Agatha Christie. The literary equivalent of crack.

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    And once I'd read them all I'd reread them and pretend I was a genius who knew all the answers.
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    (Original post by evantej)
    I am not suggesting that there is a right and wrong way to approach literature, and missygeorgia is wrong to suggest that that is what I essentially wrote, but I think that there are good and bad ways to approach literature; there is a clear distinction between the two. In fact, I am writing an article on C.S. Lewis that I hope to publish soon that deals with exactly this issue so I am hardly ignorant of hermeneutics or, to use her words, I am not somehow missing 'the subtleties involved in different ways of reading'; that is, the suggestion that there is a right reading order for The Chronicles of Narnia.

    With regards to Fyodor Dostoevsky, or any writer for that matter, I never suggested that 'only for those whose knowledge and understanding are worthy of him'. What surprised me was that some people picked him when in nine out of ten cases they probably have not even read the majority of his works. In addition, given the abstract context of the desert island, it is not even as if as the reader's understanding of Dostoevsky is going to improve just because they have read it numerous times; Frankenstein's monster in Shelley's Frankenstein and John the Savage in Huxley's Brave New World spring to me!

    Stripping a text from the context in which it was produced, holding it up as something singular, and suggesting that that is a good way to read a text, because to suggest otherwise would be to ignore 'the subtleties involved in different ways of reading' is just crude on every level; the very worst kind of metaphysical thinking. Dostoevsky would laugh at this approach. But of course you would probably suggest that Dostoevsky's views on aesthetics are irrelevant when reading his works, right?

    With regards to Crime and Punishment and Raskolnikov, Dostoevsky was not 'offering a critique of Westernising utilitarian ideas'. He was criticising the materialist/nihilist (Westerniser) in Russian society, who relied upon western values and suggested that Russian society could be reformed (through revolution if necessary) in the mould of western Europe; that is not the same as criticising western values themselves (he was still sympathetic to quite a few of them at this point), because Dostoevsky's philosophies actually relied upon the acceptance of western values in Russian society, and that a reconciliation between some parts of the westernised intelligentsia and the peasants had to take place; that is to say Russia needed to be woken up by the west in order to learn its true role in the world, but now that it has been woken up the west's role and values are not as important and, in some cases (i.e. Raskolnikov's), they are actually dangerous to Russia.

    Sorry, that turned into a bit of a Dostoevsky lecture at the end.
    Hmm, with all due respect, Evan, I think maybe you should just take a step back and reread your own posts, and then maybe you'll realise just how bloody patronising you sound.:erm: Maybe that isn't what you intended, but all I'm hearing at the moment is 'Look at me, I've done a seminar on Dostoevsky, read a lot of secondary material on him, and this is what I've learnt in the process. Aren't I clever? I'm the cleverest reader on this thread by far, and I pity everyone who doesn't have the same grasp of context as I.' It's pretty insufferable, to be honest. Perhaps you should remind yourself that this is a) a lighthearted thread which is b) mainly populated by people who are several years younger than you. And while it may be easy to patronise them and show off your superior knowledge, it's also a bit cheap, because let's face it: any masters-level student of literature who doesn't know a great deal more about the subject than a sixth-former who has never studied it at any serious depth, ought to be ashamed of himself, really...
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    (Original post by superwolf)
    Agatha Christie. The literary equivalent of crack.

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    And once I'd read them all I'd reread them and pretend I was a genius who knew all the answers.
    But Agatha Christie books are absolute page turners, wouldn't you run out of books pretty fast?
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    (Original post by andyyy)
    But Agatha Christie books are absolute page turners, wouldn't you run out of books pretty fast?
    Well there are nearly 100 of them but yeah you have a point. But I'm happy to reread them.
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      Allow me to suggest something a little bit different. Amitav Ghosh. I'm literally wetting myself waiting for parts 2 and 3 of his proposed trilogy and the other novels I have read by him confirm his position, in my eyes, as one of the greatest living authors. That said, Joseph O'Connor was my initial thought, but nothing he has written reaches the standards of Star of the Sea while Ghosh's novels all seem to be of a very high standard.
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      (Original post by Jonah Ramone)
      Allow me to suggest something a little bit different. Amitav Ghosh. I'm literally wetting myself waiting for parts 2 and 3 of his proposed trilogy and the other novels I have read by him confirm his position, in my eyes, as one of the greatest living authors. That said, Joseph O'Connor was my initial thought, but nothing he has written reaches the standards of Star of the Sea while Ghosh's novels all seem to be of a very high standard.
      And that's a good thing?:erm:
     
     
     
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