Today in 1821, Fyodor Dostoevsky was born in Moscow. One of the great Russian writers, his first novel, Poor Folk, was published in 1846 when he was just 25.
Shortly after, in 1849, he was arrested for supposed conspiracy against the government, he and his fellow “conspirators” were sentenced to death, but received a stay of execution at the very last moment from the tsar. He was instead sentenced to exile and hard labour in Siberia until his release in 1854. Classified as especially “dangerous,” Dostoevsky’s hands and feet were shackled the entire time of his imprisonment.
Dostoevsky’s most famous novels were written after his Siberian exile:
A man who truly experienced the heights and depths of life, it’s not surprising that his writing carries a weight and a keen insight into the human mind and heart. At just 18-years-old, Dostoevsky wrote this to his brother:
Man is a mystery: if you spend your entire life trying to puzzle it out, then do not say that you have wasted your time. I occupy myself with this mystery, because I want to be a man.
This week we have a Sherlock mystery, an allegory, a WWII autobiography, and the first novel of a young writer. Whose first line will rise above the others this week — or at least draw me in to keep reading further?
I don’t know about you, but nothing says cozy quite so well as a warm cup of tea and a good book. And plenty of authors throughout history have said as much, too. One of my favourite literary tea quotes is from C.S. Lewis:
You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.
Of the four seasons, spring and autumn seem to inspire the most poetry. And, though I love spring, there’s something about the melancholy blazing glorious “end” of autumn that has long made it my favourite season.
I wasn’t expecting to have trouble finding book titles beginning with K, but I had to hunt through my shelves to come up with these four — the only four I own. And yes, I do realize that technically, To Kill a Mockingbird would usually be considered a T-titled book. But, today it gets to stand with the Ks.
Let me admit up front that today’s first-line winner surprised me.
I love bookish gifts — the kind that make you smile as you imagine someone brainstorming the idea. Today’s literary giveaway offers two such products, and they tap in to two different senses: seeing and smelling.
Thanks to PADDYWAX and DesignDifferent one of you can win a bundle of bookish gifts that’s as good for the nose as it is for the eyes.
“Everyone matters or no one matters,” Adam Carter declares during an episode of the BBC show, MI-5, which I happened to rewatch in the midst of reading Twelve Years a Slave. I remember being struck by the line when I saw the episode the first time, but in the light of Solomon Northup’s real life struggles, its truth struck me even more sharply this time.
This is the attitude that Solomon seemed to choose throughout his life — whether he was considering himself, slaves, or slave owners.
I first heard of Solomon Northup earlier this year when my friend, Amanda, suggested our book club read his memoir, Twelve Years a Slave. We added it to our to-read list, and the conversation moved on. But when we found out it was going to be released as a film this fall, we decided to bump it up the list and read it in September in order to be prepped for its October 18th release date.
I was not prepared for the power of Solomon’s story.