Monday, May 14, 2012

Crime And PunishmentCrime And Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Audio CD
Published 1991 by Audio Adventures (first published 1866)

“Life had stepped into the place of theory
and something quite different would work itself out in his mind.” (Epilogue)

Raskolnikov is born in Dostoevsky’s mind and he’ll become the image of the modern hero (or the post-modern hero).
Beyond the Romantic hero, where individual thoughts (forgetting faiths, religions, etc.) leads toward winning results;
Raskolnikov’s character is beyond the will of power, beyond the good and the evil, he is looking for life without theories.

Crime and Punishment’s alchemy: Dostoevsky gathers together his characters to create a scene where people, like chemical substances, react involving a transformation.

Crime and Punishment reflects the classical elements: Earth, Water, Air, and Fire.
An idea: Raskolnikov is the image of the Earth; Sonia suggests Water; Razumihkin Air; and Crime Fire.

Crime working as Fire is an element that destroy, change, and it’s the root of a new life.

Razumihkin is the element who brings freshness to the other characters, and works like the air intruding in a stifling room.
Sonia suggests water , more heavy than air. Like Razumihkin Sonia brings cleanness, and works like the water of a river carrying Raskolnikov towards a new life (as before, without theories).
Raskolnikov reminds Earth: Dostoevsky was an adherent to the current ‘pocvennicestvo’ (a word coming from ‘pocva’, which means soil or earth). The main idea of pocvennicestvo was the bond between pocva / earth and Russian people; a bond with the return to popular principles rooted in the soil.

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Oryx and CrakeOryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oryx and Crake
by Margaret Atwood
Seal (2004), Mass Market Paperback, 464 pages

“To stay human is to break a limitation.” (page 362)

Snowman is an hermit who lives among the Crakers, a bio-genetic modification of human-like creatures. The Crakers are also called The Children of Crake.
Snowman, a man once known as Jimmy, tells to the Crakers about Oryx and Crake: a woman and a man of the past.
Snowman invents for the Crakers a religion based on Oryx, the guardian of the animals, and Crake, the creator God.
In flashbacks, Snowman reveals his past: Jimmy and Crake were friends since their childhood. Their favourite pastimes was to play computer-games: one of these is called Extinctathon, a game which requires an immense knowledge of extinct animals and plants species.
Surfing on the web, Jimmy and Crake find an Asian child website where both friends are affected by the eyes of a young girl.
After finishing school, Jimmy becomes a writer, and Crake a bio-engineer.
Although many years had passed, Crake haunted by the girl of the Asian website, finds her, and she takes the pseudonym of Oryx.
Jimmy and Crake become Oryx’s lovers.
Crake creates a virulent genetic disease that kills most humans, except for Jimmy (he was unknowingly vaccinated by Crake).
Crake’s project was to create a world of intelligent life: the Crakers. He wants to replace all Homo Sapiens with the Crakers, a peaceful and environmentally friendly human-like creatures.
Crake also wants that Jimmy acts as a Guardian of the Crakers.
When Crake meets Jimmy they talk about the disease, already spread throughout the world. The meeting ends up with Crake killing Oryx, and Jimmy shooting Crake.
Jimmy, now Snowman, reminds his promise to Oryx and becomes the Guardian of the Crakers.
Jimmy’s job with the Crakers could be hopeless: “Hopeless, hopeless.
What is work? Work is when you build things
What is build? - or grow things
What is grow? - either because people would hit and kill you if you didn’t or else because they would give you money if you did.
What is money?
No, he can’t say any of that. Crake is watching over you, he’ll say.
Oryx loves you.” (page 436)

Margaret Atwood gathers from all around the world suggestions about genetics, diseases, and ideas about present and future of the world.
“Maybe that’s the real him, the last Homo Sapiens - a white illusion of a man, here today, gone tomorrow, so easily shoved over, left to melt in the sun, getting thinner and thinner until he liquefies and trickles away altogether. As Snowman is doing now.” (page 271)

Snowman wears a watch (not-working) suggesting that the world-time has stopped, or better the time works like a circle:
every a while returns the Genesis.

The main character of Oryx and Crake is Snowman (the Yeti, the abominable snowman: an ape-like creature), maybe Atwood is referring to Darwin’s idea about the humankind coming from the apes. This time Snowman is a witness (as Guardian) of the new race (the Crakers).

Atwood suggesting her secular version of the Genesis abandons the unanswered questions of the Bible, recovering, resuming, and telling about a new ape (Snowman) picking up broken pieces so to start again the circle of life.
Like the apes, Snowman has to abandon the stage: “Time to go.”

Although Oryx and Crake reminds other ‘bleak’ books (such as The Road by Cormac McCarthy), the second part of the book (when Snowman starts the journey searching for food), is narrated under a new light: the light of knowledge, knowing the future means knowing where the circle of the time has to start again.

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