Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Great chat up lines in literature (2)

The second in a (very) irregular series, so far only including Dostoevsky:

"Why or how I have come to love you I do not know. It may be that you are not altogether fair to look upon. Do you know, I am ignorant even as to what your face is like. In all probability, too, your heart is not comely, and it is possible that your mind is wholly ignoble."

Alexei Ivanovich to his beloved, Polina, in The Gambler

1 comment:

Hari said...

Enjoyed the analysis. I was really glad to see some insightful writeup from a kindred soul on this novel͵ rare as it is͵ it being often considered a minor work. The scenes involving the Grandma were magnificent indeed. I disagree with the earlier commentator͵ though. In my view the epilogue doesnt really indicate a new self realization for Alexei that wasnt there earlier. From the beginning we see Alexei grappling with his acute sense of the ideal on the one side (which he seeks to identify with Polina) and the miserable level to which the world (including himself - so acutely aware he is of his insignificance) reaches upto the ideal. This disconnect directs all his actions. Perceiving the “ideal“ in Polina he is ever ready to debase himself before her. Yet he is smart enough to perceive the inadequacies of the other worldly characters (except the mysterious Mr Astley). The moment when Polina goes away from his room he mistakenly thinks her in love with the frenchman (I forget his name). Finding his ideal character fallen to the depths he finds his world fallen apart and throws it all. Until the second meeting with Mr Astley it continues but Astley now having realized Alexei is “beyond redemption“ and unlikely to attract the affections of Polina anymore - shares the truth with him. Was Astley playing the role of a villain? I cant decide though I can argue either way.