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This review is from: Resurrection (Hardcover)
I'm only half way through this but I am just so surprised by it that I thought I'd write something.
It's true that in Resurrection, the novelist's over-riding intent is to portray certain aspects of Russian society- class inequality, a corrupt and absurd legal institute, the emptiness of religious practise- in a powerfully interrogative and accusatory fashion, often at the cost of narrative and characterisation. There are no scenes (as yet) as beautiful as, say, Natasha and Nikolai Rostov remembering their childhood in War and Peace, or Levin in the fields with his serfs in Anna Karenina. Nekhlyudov, Resurrection's protagonist, spends the novel in the grip of a moral paroxysm that leads him to scrutinise the idleness and depravity of his lauded lifestly, and in this portrayal there is little of Tolstoy's usual concern for the minutae of personality that make his other characters so wonderfully compelling.
All of this said, the scrutiny, compassion, anger and precision of this novel is staggering, shocking and utterly riveting. As a masterwork of narrative literature it is, in my opinion, some way short of Toltoy's two more famous epics but it is, nevertheless, an exceptionally forceful work.
(While writing this a (perhaps) suitable companion-piece to Resurrection occured to me- The Devils, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky: that too has a narrative that is occasionally sublimated by its creator's over-riding wish to portray a certain aspect of Russian life in the most serious and critical light).