Thoughts On: The Possessed: Part III - For The Fear Of God


The Possessed: Part III - For The Fear Of God

Quick Thoughts: The Possessed (Бесы, 1871-2)

A final look at Dostoevsky's novel.

I have stumbled to the end of Dostoevsky novel. I have stumbled because I have so often found myself without any real footing. I was deeply immersed into the first part of this novel for it was very apparent that Dostoevsky really wanted to know who his first two main characters, Verkhoversky and Stavrogin senior, were. This interest fatigued as the plot thickened and we no longer explored happenings around character, and instead focused on happenings revolving around and expositing ambiguous and confusing ideologies that eventually lead to chaos and destruction.

In the third part of The Possessed, chaos explodes, yet the ashes of blazes lit settle rather quickly - which is to say that the resolution of this narrative is somewhat abrupt. The ending, which I did not find satisfactory, expressive, affecting or particularly meaningful, sees morality emerge through nihilism as fear and weakness. The story that is then constructed has three main phases. We open with pretension, move into nihilism and end with moral fear. Ethic and religion hang over each of the three phases, and so it ultimately appears that Dostoevsky documents a disregard for God and truth, a rebellion against such transcendent meaning and then finally a catastrophic realisation of puniness and stupidity before such meaning - call it love, truth, life, whatever you may.

I fail to see genius and depth in Dostoevsky's narrative, primarily for the confused and obtuse exploration and, more importantly, presentation of character and drama. And it is ultimately the drama of The Possessed that I am most disenchanted by; I did not feel substance and urgency in the action, in its framing and presentation. I hazard to say that this is an overrated book. If I were a more experienced reader, I would have faith and confidence in my own analysis. Alas, all I can do is sit in the fact that I could not open up to The Possessed and, equally, it did not open up to me.

I end by turning to you. Have you read The Possessed or any other Dostoevsky novel? What are you thoughts?

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