Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Tsypkin, Leonid "Summer in Baden-Baden"

Tsypkin, Leonid Borissowitsch (Леонид Борисович Цыпкин) "Summer in Baden-Baden" (Russian: Ljubit Dostojewskowo - лджубит достоджэвсково) - 1981

Have you ever read a book that consists of just one sentence? Well, neither have I but if you want that feeling, you better start reading this one. A biographical novel about Dostoevsky's travels in Germany with this wife. An interesting perspective, especially if you  have read Dostoevsky's works. This novel reminded me a lot of "The Gambler" since this seems to be the part where Dostoevsky found his story.

The book is not very large but not that easy to read. Sentences sometimes spread over several pages. A thought that starts on one page might be broken up and lead to several other points until taken up again a couple of pages later.

It still is a very interesting book to read, it's amazing when you consider that the author never left his home country, never walked the walks in Baden-Baden like his hero, and still is able to describe them as if he had lived there all his life.

It's a different sort of reading but very well worth it.

From the back cover:

"A complex, highly original novel, Summer in Baden-Baden has a double narrative. It is wintertime, late December: a species of 'now.' A narrator - Tsypkinis on a train going to Leningrad. And it is also mid-April 1867. The newly married Dostoyevskys, Fyodor, and his wife, Anna Grigor'yevna, are on their way to Germany, for a four-year trip. This is not, like J. M. Coetzee's The Master of St. Petersburg, a Dostoyevsky fantasy. Neither is it a docu-novel, although its author was obsessed with getting everything 'right.' Nothing is invented, everything is invented. Dostoyevsky's reckless passions for gambling, for his literary vocation, for his wife, are matched by her all-forgiving love, which in turn resonates with the love of literature's disciple, Leonid Tsypkin, for Dostoyevsky. In a remarkable introductory essay (which appeared in The New Yorker), Susan Sontag explains why it is something of a miracle that Summer in Baden-Baden has survived, and celebrates the happy event of its publication in America with an account of Tsypkin's beleaguered life and the important pleasures of his marvelous novel."

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