Sometimes I think this blogger is a little crazy, and sometimes I think she is brilliant. This is one of those brilliant times. She wrote this poem, it is Ivan Karamazov (from The Brothers Karamazov) speaking to the woman he is in love with.
Last year, beginning of freshman year, a girl(I forgot her name) told me to read this book, it would ‘change my life’. She wouldn’t elaborate further. Now that I’ve read it, maybe I shouldn’t either.
Odd, its one of the most painful books I have ever read, it left me a wreck when I finished it.
But its…comforting. Not in the story, in my own life. That won’t make any sense till you read the book. (And every synopsis/interpretation on the web misses the whole meaning completely.)
Take it as the last testament of a man who bounced from Christian to Socialist and back, “tormented by everlasting sin and injustice–both of one’s own, and the world’s” (quote from character in BK). “Thirsting for belief” and simultaneously very much “I will be a child of this age–a man of unbelief–till the lid of my coffin closes”, and asking ‘the parable of the prodigal son’ to be read to him as he died.
The story is like life in general…beautiful and then ghastly, painful, loads of hatred and love twisted and not so twisted.
It hasn’t got any pat answers, beautiful explanations for tormenting questions, or happy endings. But its…comforting. Read it.
Nastasia: “And who would take me without anything? Ask Gania, there, whether he would. Why, even Ferdishenko wouldn’t have me!”
“No, Ferdishenko would not; he is a candid fellow, Nastasia Philipovna,” said that worthy. “But the prince would. You sit here making complaints, but just look at the prince. I’ve been observing him for a long while.”
Nastasia Philipovna looked keenly round at the prince.
“Is that true?” she asked.
“Quite true,” whispered the prince.
“You’ll take me as I am, with nothing?”
“I will, Nastasia Philipovna.”
“Here’s a pretty business!” cried the general. “However, it might have been expected of him.”
The prince continued to regard Nastasia with a sorrowful, but intent and piercing, gaze.
“Here’s another alternative for me,” said Nastasia, turning once more to the actress; “and he does it out of pure kindness of heart. I know him. I’ve found a benefactor. Perhaps, though, what they say about him may be true–that he’s an–we know what. And what shall you live on, if you are really so madly in love with Rogojin’s mistress, that you are ready to marry her –eh?”
“I take you as a good, honest woman, Nastasia Philipovna–not as Rogojin’s mistress.”
“Who? I?–good and honest?”
“Oh, you get those ideas out of novels, you know. Times are changed now, dear prince; the world sees things as they really are. That’s all nonsense. Besides, how can you marry? You need a nurse, not a wife.”
The prince rose and began to speak in a trembling, timid tone, but with the air of a man absolutely sure of the truth of his words.
“I know nothing, Nastasia Philipovna. I have seen nothing. You are right so far; but I consider that you would be honouring me, and not I you. I am a nobody. You have suffered, you have passed through hell and emerged pure, and that is very much. Why do you shame yourself by desiring to go with Rogojin? You are delirious. You have returned to Mr. Totski [i.e. ex-lover] his seventy-five thousand roubles, and declared that you will leave this house and all that is in it, which is a line of conduct that not one person here would imitate. Nastasia Philipovna, I love you! I would die for you. I shall never let any man say one word against you, Nastasia Philipovna! and if we are poor, I can work for both.”
As the prince spoke these last words a titter was heard from Ferdishenko; Lebedeff laughed too. The general grunted with irritation; Ptitsin and Totski barely restrained their smiles. The rest all sat listening, open-mouthed with wonder.
“But perhaps we shall not be poor; we may be very rich, Nastasia Philipovna.” continued the prince, in the same timid, quivering tones. “I don’t know for certain, and I’m sorry to say I haven’t had an opportunity of finding out all day; but I received a letter from Moscow, while I was in Switzerland, from a Mr. Salaskin, and he acquaints me with the fact that I am entitled to a very large inheritance. This letter–”
The prince pulled a letter out of his pocket.
“Is he raving?” said the general. “Are we really in a mad-house?”
There was silence for a moment. Then Ptitsin spoke.
“I think you said, prince, that your letter was from Salaskin? Salaskin is a very eminent man, indeed, in his own world; he is a wonderfully clever solicitor, and if he really tells you this, I think you may be pretty sure that he is right. It so happens, luckily, that I know his handwriting, for I have lately had business with him. If you would allow me to see it, I should perhaps be able to tell you.”
The prince held out the letter silently, but with a shaking hand.
“What, what?” said the general, much agitated.
“What’s all this? Is he really heir to anything?”
*********(Heir to million roubles. A disreputable guy Rogojin whom Nastasia does not love offers to run off with her.)
(Nastasia speaking to the prince)
“Won’t you be ashamed, afterwards, to reflect that your wife very nearly ran away with Rogojin?”
“Oh, you were raving, you were in a fever; you are still half delirious.”
“And won’t you be ashamed when they tell you, afterwards, that your wife lived at Totski’s [ex-lover] expense so many years?”
“No; I shall not be ashamed of that. You did not so live by your own will.”
“And you’ll never reproach me with it?”
“Take care, don’t commit yourself for a whole lifetime.”
“Nastasia Philipovna.” said the prince, quietly, and with deep emotion, “I said before that I shall esteem your consent to be my wife as a great honour to myself, and shall consider that it is you who will honour me, not I you, by our marriage. You laughed at these words, and others around us laughed as well; I heard them. Very likely I expressed myself funnily, and I may have looked funny, but, for all that, I believe I understand where honour lies, and what I said was but the literal truth. You were about to ruin yourself just now, irrevocably; you would never have forgiven yourself for so doing afterwards; and yet, you are absolutely blameless. It is impossible that your life should be altogether ruined at your age. What matter that Rogojin came bargaining here, and that Gavrila Ardalionovitch would have deceived you if he could? Why do you continually remind us of these facts? I assure you once more that very few could find it in them to act as you have acted this day. As for your wish to go with Rogojin, that was simply the idea of a delirious and suffering brain. You are still quite feverish; you ought to be in bed, not here. You know quite well that if you had gone with Rogojin, you would have become a washer-woman next day, rather than stay with him. You are proud, Nastasia Philipovna, and perhaps you have really suffered so much that you imagine yourself to be a desperately guilty woman. You require a great deal of petting and looking after, Nastasia Philipovna, and I will do this. I saw your portrait this morning, and it seemed quite a familiar face to me; it seemed to me that the portrait- face was calling to me for help. I-I shall respect you all my life, Nastasia Philipovna,” concluded the prince, as though suddenly recollecting himself, and blushing to think of the sort of company before whom he had said all this.
“I am very proud, in spite of what I am,” she continued. “What sort of a wife should I make for you, after all I have said? Afanasy Ivanovitch, do you observe I have really and truly thrown away a million of roubles? …ell, Rogojin, what are you waiting for? Let’s get ready and go.”
“Come along!” shouted Rogojin, beside himself with joy. “Hey! all of you fellows! Wine! Round with it! Fill the glasses!”
“Get away!” he shouted frantically, observing that Daria Alexeyevna was approaching to protest against Nastasia’s conduct. “Get away, she’s mine, everything’s mine! She’s a queen, get away!”
Rogojin was panting with ecstasy. He walked round and round Nastasia Philipovna and told everybody to “keep their distance.”
All the Rogojin company were now collected in the drawing-room; some were drinking, some laughed and talked: all were in the highest and wildest spirits. Ferdishenko was doing his best to unite himself to them; the general and Totski again made an attempt to go. Gania, too stood hat in hand ready to go; but seemed to be unable to tear his eyes away from the scene before him
“Get out, keep your distance!” shouted Rogojin.
“What are you shouting about there!” cried Nastasia “I’m not yours yet. I may kick you out for all you know I haven’t taken your money yet; there it all is on the table Here, give me over that packet! Is there a hundred thousand roubles in that one packet? Pfu! what abominable stuff it looks! Oh! nonsense, Daria Alexeyevna; you surely did not expect me to ruin HIM?” (indicating the prince). “Fancy him nursing me! Why, he needs a nurse himself! The general, there, will be his nurse now, you’ll see. Here, prince, look here! Your bride is accepting money. What a disreputable woman she must be! And you wished to marry her! What are you crying about? Is it a bitter dose? Never mind, you shall laugh yet. Trust to time.” (In spite of these words there were two large tears rolling down Nastasia’s own cheeks.) “It’s far better to think twice of it now than afterwards. Oh! you mustn’t cry like that!There’s Katia crying, too. What is it, Katia, dear? I shall leave you and Pasha a lot of things, I’ve laid them out for you already; but good-bye, now. I made an honest girl like you serve a low woman like myself. It’s better so, prince, it is indeed. You’d begin to despise me afterwards– we should never be happy. Oh! you needn’t swear, prince, I shan’t believe you, you know. How foolish it would be, too! No, no; we’d better say good-bye and part friends. I am a bit of a dreamer myself, and I used to dream of you once. Very often during those five years down at his estate I used to dream and think, and I always imagined just such a good, honest, foolish fellow as you, one who should come and say to me: ‘You are an innocent woman, Nastasia Philipovna, and I adore you.’ I dreamt of you often. I used to think so much down there that I nearly went mad; and then this fellow here[Totski] would come down. He would stay a couple of months out of the twelve, and disgrace and insult and deprave me, and then go; so that I longed to drown myself in the pond a thousand times over; but I did not dare do it. I hadn’t the heart, and now–well, are you ready, Rogojin?”