I don’t do New Year resolutions. There are enough unexpected disappointments in life without me setting myself up for more. This year, however, I have resolved to do something. When I decided to do it, I hadn’t realised it was a New Year resolution but it happened in early January and it’s a resolution, so I guess that makes it a New Year Resolution.

A friend of mine has been on a project to re-read the collected works of Charles Dickens. He’s currently reading “Hard Times” and I asked him how it was going. He said it was hard and then sighed. “I’ve actually been looking for someone who will do the Russians with me.” At which I replied, “I’ll do the Russians with you.” Then I amended that to, “Well, at least I’ll try to do a few at any rate. I’ve never managed to complete a Russian properly, other than Nabokov and I don’t know if you can really call him a Russian in that sense.”

By this time you’ve hopefully caught on to the fact that “doing the Russians” means “reading the works of Russian writers”. It took another friend, who was listening to us, a while to wrap their heads around the fact that not only was there nothing carnal about “doing”, but the Russians in question were not only physically absent from the geographical vicinity but also dead. What can I say? I’m a wild child.

So there you have it. My resolution for 2011 is to read the major works of Leo Tolstoy (by which I really mean only “Anna Karenina” and “War and Peace”). If I manage this, preferably without getting addicted to vodka, then we reward ourselves with Dostoyevsky. “Anna Karenina” is also going to be the first book I read as an iBook, which is something I’m rather curious to experience. Just in case I need a breather or two, I’ve got Keith Richards’ “Life” as well. Any decade that begins with me alternating between an adulterer and a junkie can’t be too bad.

5 thoughts on “The Russians

  1. Every time I begin to read Anna Karenina, I think, “Wow, this is not so bad, I’m really enjoying it…why didn’t I complete it the last time?…” And then, within 3 days, I drop it. The book is great. My span of attention – not so much. All the best!

  2. Like Huey Long, I’m partial to re-reading The Count of Monte Cristo every few years. This inevitably leads to the fictionalized account of Huey Long in All the King’s Men — the enduring classic of Southern Literature by Robert Penn Warren. Has anyone captured the languid charm of Louisiana with the bitter taste of betrayal better? How the heck did Jindal win there?

  3. Aquatic, I can report that the first 100 pages haven’t been that much of a chore. That leaves me with a mere 3,700 to go. (It’s a 3,857-paged iBook.)

    Chetna, Like many Eng. Lit. students, I had my phase of just being in love with the idea of Joyce and at that time, I read all his big ones. Finnegan’s Wake was more trying than Ulysses, incidentally. But yeah, it would be good to go back to them. Maybe next year… if I survive the Russians.

    Sui, What is it about The Count of Monte Cristo?? It’s right up there with the maudlin novels of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay in my list of “Inexplicably Popular Books”.

    • > What is about The Count of Monte Cristo…
      Guys respect a man who can hold a grudge, and the women appreciate revenge is a dish best served cold.

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