Conversation 6: ‘The Jewish Question’. Episode 3.

When the speaker had finished, the chair (who declared at the outset that he’d never read any Dostoevsky) asked for questions or comments. There was the customary silence. I was even starting to wonder whether anyone else was going to say anything—I had several comments lined up but this wasn’t my home turf, so toContinue reading “Conversation 6: ‘The Jewish Question’. Episode 3.”

Conversation 6: ‘The Jewish Question’. Episode 2

After reading this, I have to say I felt fairly disillusioned with Dostoevsky for a couple of days. On the one hand I wished he’d turn up and explain himself. On the other hand, I was quite glad he didn’t. It might be the end of a beautiful relationship. I even wondered about giving theContinue reading “Conversation 6: ‘The Jewish Question’. Episode 2”

Conversation 6: ‘The Jewish Question’. Episode 1.

            My next conversation with Dostoevsky, the sixth, was both unexpected and painful and in many ways I wished I didn’t have to write it, although it perhaps ended better than at one point I’d feared. The simplest thing is to just tell it like it happened.             There was a lot to think about after ourContinue reading “Conversation 6: ‘The Jewish Question’. Episode 1.”

Conversation 5: ‘Light from the East’. Episode 7.

“Let’s begin very simply,” said Fyodor Mikhailovich. “Do you like the spring? Do you like to see the flowers and the new growth? Do you enjoy the birdsong?”             “Yes, of course—everybody does.”             “Do you love these things?”             “I suppose so, but …”             “But?”             “Not in the way I love Laura. Of course, in a generalContinue reading “Conversation 5: ‘Light from the East’. Episode 7.”

Conversation 5: ‘Light from the East’. Episode 6.

So there I was, laughing with dead people in Kelvingrove Park. Unembarrassed, absurd laughter. I was reminded of how Dostoevsky’s fictional Elder Zosima tells his followers that faith can only be communicated through joy. Perhaps there was no answer to my questions—only laughter? But I wasn’t prepared to let go just yet.             “Excuse us,Continue reading “Conversation 5: ‘Light from the East’. Episode 6.”

Conversation 5: ‘Light from the East’. Episode 5

Fyodor Mikhailovich looked at Solovyov, as if inviting him to speak—which he did.             “Of course, you need a church. I know that many people in your time say that you don’t need a church and you don’t need to go to church to be a Christian and they were saying it in our timeContinue reading “Conversation 5: ‘Light from the East’. Episode 5”

Conversation 5 ‘Light from the East’. Episode 4

I have to admit, I was unnerved. I had never read any of Solovyov’s works, but I knew who he was—a brilliant young philosopher whose lectures on divine humanity had been attended by Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and others and who had made an epochal impact on Russian thought. I also knew that in the last yearsContinue reading “Conversation 5 ‘Light from the East’. Episode 4”

Conversation 5 ‘Light from the East’: Episode 3

Fyodor Mikhailovich looked down and, holding the edge of the bench, shifted his body uncomfortably from side to side.             “You misunderstand me. I know that all men are brothers. Yes, of course. Remember what I wrote about the Chechen prisoner Ali who was with me in the camp and whom I taught to read,Continue reading “Conversation 5 ‘Light from the East’: Episode 3”

Conversation 5: ‘Light from the East’. Episode 2

“It’s a fine view,” I said.             “Mmmm” (non-committally).             “You know they had a Great Exhibition here, two actually—a bit like the one you saw in London, only without a Crystal Palace. But I suppose it was the same idea. Great Britain, land of Industry and Empire. And this is where it happened. JustContinue reading “Conversation 5: ‘Light from the East’. Episode 2”

Conversation 5. ‘Light from the East’. Episode 1.

Over (a late) breakfast, I was eager to put some of the points Dostoevsky had made about his depiction of women to Laura. But it didn’t get very far. She acknowledged (as I’d half-suspected) that she had been playing devil’s advocate (at least in part) and I acknowledged that, of course, she had a point.Continue reading “Conversation 5. ‘Light from the East’. Episode 1.”