So, the great 2018 Big Impossible Book Challenge is kicking off today.
I know, right? Playin’ with live ammo.
So, to recap. This is how the whole blogging thing started for the Married Book Nerds.
In 2016 it was War and Peace. (Long but not impossible.)
In 2017 it was Infinite Jest. (Long and nearly impossible.)
And in 2018 it will be…The Brothers Karamazov.
We will, as always, blog at various intervals throughout this book.
So, why this book. First, it checks off the boxes, which are the following:
- Thought to be impossible
- A “classic” we haven’t read
This one has a fourth criterion, which is why I have always wanted to read it. Kurt Vonnegut, my first adult literary hero, said this about it:
“There is one other book, that can teach you everything you need to know about life… it’s The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, but that isn’t enough anymore.
And, you know, when you see that kind of thing from a guy you admire and used to worship, you sort of think, hey that might be something to check out.
Some academics have jumped in. Here’s an article about Dostoyevsky and Vonnegut that appeared in an actual academic journal and not a blog.
So I’m interested in what Vonnegut means by “everything you need to know” and also why it isn’t enough anymore. Part of that quote could be just Vonnegut’s usual bantery style of writing, but there could also be something to it. We’re going to find out.
We had some consideration as to whether it was too early to go Russian again, but once you go Russian you never go back, a statement which is both somewhat funny and actually completely untrue.
We reviewed various translators. For War and Peace, we went with the Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky translation, inadvertently uncovering a literary controversy. (Apparently, only one of them speaks Russian…I suspect you can guess which one…and she translates the work into English in a direct manner and than Pevear makes it literary and people don’t understand how he keeps the flavor of the original writing if he doesn’t read it in the original).
Anyway, this time we opted for another translator for variety if nothing else: Ignat Avsey, who The Guardian says “breathed new life” into this book. (for one, he titled the book The Karamazov Brothers).
So, anyway. Away we go. Stay tuned.