Friday, July 10, 2009

The Russian sensibility; or how to deliver the unvarnished truth

When asked by Raskolnikov's mother and sister to describe him, whom they haven't seen for three years, Razumihin eschews the western, diplomatic approach:

What am I to tell you? I have known Rodion for a year and a half; he is morose, gloomy, proud and haughty, and of late- and perhaps for a long time before- he has been suspicious and fanciful. He has a noble nature and a kind heart. He does not like showing his feelings and would rather do a cruel thing than open his heart freely. Sometimes, though, he is not at all morbid, but simply cold and inhumanly callous; it's as though he were alternating between two characters. Sometimes he is fearfully reserved! He says he is so busy that everything is a hindrance, and yet he lies in bed doing nothing. He doesn't jeer at things, not because he hasn't the wit, but as though he hadn't time to waste on such trifles. He never listens to what is said to him. He is never interested in what interests other people at any given moment. He thinks very highly of himself and perhaps he is right."

And the sister's response to this character assassination of her brother?
"You've told us a great deal that is interesting about my brother's character... and have told it impartially. I am glad."

Perhaps, then she deserves Razumihin's next triumph of tact:
"Do you know, Avdotya Romanovna, you are awfully like your brother, in everything, indeed!"

I'm often criticised for my bluntness, but Razumihin is a class act...

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