Conversation 3: ‘Christmas Cards’. Episode 7

            “Sorry,” I said, “can we go back a step?” (Fyodor Mikhailovich nodded.) “Right. I kind of half get this. I mean, I do realize that you sometimes have to approach a person or a subject with a certain sympathy or even love before you can fully understand them. No one’s ever going to tellContinue reading “Conversation 3: ‘Christmas Cards’. Episode 7”

Conversation Three: ‘Christmas Cards’. Episode 6

Nevertheless, that didn’t seem to solve the problem. The world we inhabit is this world, here and now, ‘on this bank and shoal of time’, as the eponymous hero of the Scottish play put it. Even if there is an alternative view, a ‘heavenly’ view, so to speak, how is that going to make aContinue reading “Conversation Three: ‘Christmas Cards’. Episode 6”

Conversation 3: ‘Christmas Cards’. Episode 5.

Silence fell. Outside the traffic was still quite busy and there were occasional bursts of talking and laughter from groups of people going up and down the road. But, in a strange way, that just made the silence in the room all the more intense. Fyodor Mikhailovich twitched the curtain again and peered out.            Continue reading “Conversation 3: ‘Christmas Cards’. Episode 5.”

Third Conversation: ‘Christmas Cards’. Episode 4

Fyodor Mikhailovich didn’t answer my last question, but ran his finger slowly along the shelf, as if checking the titles, stopping next to a rather thick paperback. It was a book that was rather popular at that time, Homo Deus. Picking it out, he scrutinized the back-cover, emitting a kind of ‘Hrrumph’. Returning it toContinue reading “Third Conversation: ‘Christmas Cards’. Episode 4”

Third Conversation: ‘Christmas Cards’. Episode 3

Birth and death. The parameters of human existence. Binding us to the earth, irrespective of our wants and wishes. Fyodor Mikhailovich was right: if you held onto that, you’d probably have no difficulty in practicing humility. But there was a problem.             “Humility,” I said, “isn’t a very fashionable virtue. In fact, you could say thatContinue reading “Third Conversation: ‘Christmas Cards’. Episode 3”

Third Conversation: ‘Christmas Cards’. Episode 2

Fyodor Mikhailovich was watching me closely and, after a full half-a-minute, remarked that the picture had been very important to him when he was living in Florence. “Indeed,” he said, “I spent many hours in front of it. It needs a lot of time to take in and, fortunately, Anna Grigorievna and I were livingContinue reading “Third Conversation: ‘Christmas Cards’. Episode 2”

Third Conversation: ‘Christmas Cards’. Episode 1

My third conversation with Dostoevsky took place about a week before Christmas. Laura was out at her team’s Christmas dinner and I wasn’t expecting her back till late. I had finished my marking and only had one more paper to finish off for a conference in January plus a short review to write. Usually IContinue reading “Third Conversation: ‘Christmas Cards’. Episode 1”

Second Conversation: ‘Good Books’. Episode 4

Perhaps I should have expected that answer, but I didn’t.             “The Bible?” I echoed.             “Yes, yes, yes. And, by the way, not only do you not have any Walter Scott, I couldn’t see a Bible on your shelves, either.”             “Really? I’m sure I’ve got one … I’ve certainly got one in my office … thereContinue reading “Second Conversation: ‘Good Books’. Episode 4”

Second Conversation: ‘Good Books’. Episode 3.

It felt a bit awkward standing there, so I suggested we sit down. Fyodor Mikhailovich didn’t object, so we took the same seats we had occupied on the first evening. He smiled. “This is a very comfortable chair,” he remarked. But the manoeuvring had also interrupted the flow of conversation. After a short but awkwardContinue reading “Second Conversation: ‘Good Books’. Episode 3.”

Second Conversation: ‘Good Books’. Episode 2.

It was now early December and already starting to get dark when, after a two o’clock meeting with a graduate student, I left the office to walk home. Even though being a university lecturer allows for a fairly flexible timetable, I had for a long time treated it as a nine to five job, or,Continue reading “Second Conversation: ‘Good Books’. Episode 2.”