Every night I dream of Russia. Nineteenth-century Russia, as I bounce back and forth between Moscow, Petersburg, and various country estates.
All because of The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, by Elif Batuman.
Writing in the New York Times Book Review, critic Liesl Schillinger captures the book's essence.
Hilarious, wide-ranging, erudite and memorable, “The Possessed” is a sui generis feast for the mind and the fancy [...]. And, unlikely though this may sound, by the time you’ve reached the end, you just may wish that you, like the author, had fallen down the rabbit hole of comp lit grad school.
I couldn't wait to read Russian novels after finishing Batuman's essays. Thus, my own adventures with War and Peace—and gala evenings at the opera, duels, and dashing counts, not to mention chaotic military skirmishes and bleaker-than-bleak field hospitals. I had avoided Tolstoy's epic forever, but it's not hard to read. Just long. And glorious. That, too.
Three weeks in, I'm halfway through. If you'll excuse me for the moment, I have a couple of pages between here and the end, on page 1215.
Das vi danya.