Day 29: page the end

Posted on November 29, 2007 by Chris Lumens in Demons.

Well, I finished the book. Actually I finished on Monday since I had a whole lot of spare time sitting around the Cleveland and Philly airports, not getting home. Hooray for me or something.

The story really picked up in section three. The last two hundred pages are much more interesting than the first two, which I blame on the fact that Varvara and Stepan aren’t doing very much talking anymore. There’s lots of plotting and scheming, plans for revolutions and murders, fires, and all sorts of chaos. I found all this much more interesting than old washed up philosophers talking about their problems with their vast estates. In the end, it turns out that all these high notions of working for the betterment of society and all amounted to nothing more than an excuse for killing some people and running off in the dead of night to print tracts in another town. Doesn’t sound quite so noble that way, does it?

I guess I didn’t really get much out of this book and there’s a lot left that I don’t understand yet. Sure, I get the point that ideas running out of control can lead to serious problems. But I don’t understand what the purpose of Varvara and Stepan are at all. Why do these characters even exist? In the end, neither of them contributes very much to the story of the book. Nikolai looks like he’s going to be important, but doesn’t go very far either. Pytor seems to be the driving character and he’s never even presented as much of a lead. I guess I just don’t understand why the characters are constructed the way they are.

Also I have problems with the narrator going between omniscience and not, though I can put that aside. Other people doing the reading have already expressed their problems with this book much more eloquently than I have. On the plus side, I don’t think I have quite given up on Russian literature. One book (and admittedly one the author took a completely different approach to from his usual work) isn’t enough to judge an entire country by. However much as I have decided to take a break before tackling more Pynchon, I think I will have to do the same here.

So while we are waiting around to pick another (hopefully much more interesting) Death Pact book, I will finish up reading that cheap copy of War of the Worlds that I bought, and follow that up with Breakfast of Champions. I have a lot of catching up to do with the rest of the world.