Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Narrator of Demons on Writers

“Never before had she seen such writers. They were impossibly vain, but quite openly so, as if thereby fulfilling a duty. Some (though by no means all) even came drunk, but it was as if they perceived some special, just-yesterday-discovered beauty in it. They were all proud of something to the point of strangeness. It was written on all their faces that they had just discovered some extremely important secret. They were abusive, and considered it to their credit. It was rather difficult to find out exactly what they had written, but there were critics, novelists, playwrights, satirists, exposers among them.” (Demons, p. 22. Trans. Pevear and Volokhonsky)

Dostoevsky’s narrator in Demons is hilarious, despite his claim to objectivity: “as a chronicler, I limit myself simply to presenting events in an exact way, exactly as they occurred.” Then again, maybe his humor is objective. Maybe the writers just were exactly as he described them…

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