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SEEKING DOSTOEVSKY

It took me years to discover The Possessed, also known as Demons, or The Devils. 
I had long since read The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment, two of his four major novels. He was definitely one of my favorite writers. But somehow, when my husband (a Russia scholar) gave me a paperback copy of The Possessed, I couldn't get into it. It's not that I didn't try. But somehow, it was slow going in the beginning, there was a confusingly large number of characters, and I couldn't grasp what Dostoevsky was trying to say. Then one day, I just decided to dig in and figure it all out. Before too long, I was not only reading the book about revolutionaries and aristocrats with (apparently) no conscience but I became obsessed with it. As if I was possessed by it. Why? One reason is the main character -- who some analysts say isn't really the main character. A man who is arguably the most-complex character I've ever encountered. There have probably been more articles, books, book chapters, internet sections, etc. etc., about this one guy -- called Nickolai Stavrogin (or Stavrogin, for short) -- than any other literary character I've ever encountered. Is he a prince, or an antiChrist? Is he good or evil? Is he wisely attractive to women, or cold and lukewarm? Is he capable of nobility or crippled by inhumanity? Is he promiscuous or longing for attachment? There are elements of other literary characters in him -- Byron, Steerforth (in Dickens's David Copperfield), maybe Heathcliff... or is he Sui genesis? Or is he all of those things? I'd say honestly that he was capable of good and evil -- a person who believed himself devoid of conscience who was overcome by conscience. I really recommend getting to know him -- and the book. Dostoevsky was one hell of an author.