I haven’t blogged in a while, being busy with my students, some of whom are studying Great Expectations and some The Idiot by Charles Dickens and Fyodor Dostoevsky, respectively. So I’ve been in the throes of reading both books, especially the Dostoevsky. He’s got very intense plotting, so one always feels “in the throes” of it.
I’ve realized a very important thing: that movie I saw recently, Our Idiot Brother must have been inspired by The Idiot, but it was a somewhat dumbed down version, which is kind of ironic if you think about it. In the movie, the main character is literally really stupid, whereas in Dostoyevsky’s novel he’s actually extremely intelligent but a very nice and sincere guy, so everyone thinks he’s an idiot. However, the movie wasn’t bad. I can see now how it hearkens back to the original novel. In the movie, Ned (played by Paul Rudd) is an innocent and impractical guy who loses his farm and his girlfriend, so he is taken care of by his mother and three sisters. Being extremely honest, Ned proceeds to turn his sisters’ lives upside down by inadvertently revealing the web of lies that they had built up. And interestingly enough, another movie version is in production. It seems it will be closer to the original, though I don’t know whether it will be set in 19th century Russia or whether it will be another modernized American version.
Anyways, reading them side by side made me wonder whether Dickens and Dostoevsky ever actually met in real life. I discovered that there is some uncertainty about whether they actually met. Dostoevsky describes it in his journal, but it’s quite possible he made the whole thing up. Such a meeting, however, has definitely taken place on my book shelf, and I think it’s having a very a good effect on me by making me more smarter and what not.