- Also check our best rated Biography reviews
Winter Notes on Summer Impressions (Oneworld Classics) Paperback – 1 Sep 2008
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
"With his usual comic and cruel candor, Dostoevsky concedes that his observations may be sour and jaundiced, and it is characteristic of him that he does not conceal his bias." --Saul Bellow, Nobel Prize winner --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From the Back Cover
In June 1862 Fyodor Dostoevsky left Petersburg on his first excursion to Western Europe. Ostensibly making the trip to consult Western specialists about his epilepsy, Dostoevsky also wished to see firsthand the source of the Western ideas he believed were corrupting Russia. Over the course of his journey he visited a number of major cities, including Berlin, Paris, London, Florence, Milan, and Vienna. He recorded his impressions of everything he saw, and published them as "Winter Notes on Summer Impressions" in the February 1863 issue of Vremya (Time), the periodical he edited. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The most worthwhile material, though, comes when Dostoyevsky comments on the great Russian debate of te nineteenth century whether to try to be 'European' and westward-looking, or (as he himself believed as a Slavophile) to focus on bringing about Russia's mystical, unique destiny, without slavishly copying Europe, both good and bad. There is plenty on the latter, especially on poverty and despair among 'the masses' in London, as well as well-aimed critiquse of the aloof Anglican church and the French bourgeoisie.
All in all, for anyone who treasures his novels or are curious as to his view of the world, this is a worthwhile read.
Dostoyevsky gives us a biting and cynical portrait of the French: parvenus and bourgeois who make a mockery of 'liberté, égalité, fraternité'.
In England, he is confronted with child prostitution in London's Haymarket: a most terrible and moving scene of a child of only six, black and blue beaten, barefoot, who tries to lure him to have sex with her. On the other side of the social spectrum, the Anglican clerics preach a religion for the wealthy and don't even hide it. A most pregnant sketch of the fat and the meagre.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
"It may be that reality around us looks none too lovely even yet; but then we are so wonderful ourselves, so civilized, so European that the common people feel sick at the very sight of us. We have now reached the point where the common people regard us as complete foreigners, and do not understand a single word of ours --- and this certainly is progress, whatever you say. We have now reached a point where our contempt for the common people and the basic principles of their being is so profound that even our attitude to them is stamped with a new, unprecedented and kind of supercilious disdain...and this is progress, whatever you say.
"And then how self-confident we now are in our civilizing mission, with what an air of superiority we solve all problems, and what problems! There is no soil, we say, and no people, nationality is nothing but a certain system of taxation, the soul is a tabula rasa, a small piece of wax out of which you can readily mould a real man or a homunculus --- all that must be done is to apply the fruits of European civilization and read two or three books. And then how serene, how majestically serene we are, because we have solved all problems and written them off."
For some strange reason, this passage made me think of the current situation in the United States.
Maybe we need to craft our own solutions to our problems, and not rely on the Wisdom of the French!
"Whatever you say," this is a very interesting book, in which Dostoevsky sometimes sounds just like H. L. Mencken.
By the way, Joseph Frank, who wrote the book on Dostoevsky, thinks that "Winter Notes on Summer Impressions" is, in an important way, a preliminary draft of that strange masterpiece, Notes from the Underground.
Highly recommended for a cold winter night!
I love the part when he is in Germany visiting Cologne:
"The bridge is excellent, of course, and the town is justly proud of it, but I thought it was too proud of it. Naturally this made me angry. Besides, the collector of pennies at the entrance to the marvelous bridge should not have made me pay that reasonable tax with an air of fining me for some misdemeanor of which I myself was not aware. I don't know, but it struck me that the German was trying to bully me."
It goes on and I'm not going to rewrite the whole thing here.
What has struck me is that this book, written more than a hundred years ago, sounds more fresh than most of the modern writers combined.
Reading the latter is less of a chore, because the DIARY is about a thousand pages in length, and WINTER NOTES is less than a hundred pages, being a collection of short newspaper articles.
Dostoevsky hated nearly everything about the West. He loathed the bourgeois as much as Flaubert, but for different reasons, that is, he despised "modernity", especially in regard to Christianity, whereas Flaubert's bete noire was contemporary philistinism.
Dostoevsky's belief that "Russian Christianity" was unique, that it would lead befuddled Christians elsewhere to the true gospel of Jesus is beyond absurd. Lunatic nonsense is a true description of what he believed, "sinning your way to Jesus", as, I believe, Nabokov characterized it, and "playing creeping Jesus", as Auden said.
Still, the power of the four great novels and a few of the shorter works makes Dostoevsky's biography an important part of understanding him. It's always puzzled me that KARAMAZOV is a total triumph in spite of the "religious" theme. And the way Dostoevsky contradicts his own beliefs in his fiction, particularly in THE IDIOT, speaks volumes about the "intentions" of a novelist and their bearing on his work.
The disdain that Nabokov showed for Dostoevsky, for example in his essay on CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, demonstrates that dislike of the man isn't a good basis for lit crit. To find CRIME AND PUNISHMENT unacceptable because of its scenes of religious sentimentality is willed ignorance of the overall power of this great novel.
Still, knowing the kind of man Dostoevsky was is important background for understanding his great novels and stories.
He gives us a biting and cynical portrait of the French: parvenus and bourgeois who make a mockery of 'liberté, égalité, fraternité'.
In England, he is confronted with child prostitution in London's Haymarket: a most terrible and moving scene of a child of only six, black and blue beaten, barefoot, who tries to lure him to have sex with her. On the contrary, the Anglican clerics preach a religion for the wealthy and don't even hide it. A most pregnant portrait of the fat and the meagre.
A book to recommend.