From July 27 to 30 October this year, I had the great pleasure of celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Fyodor Dostoyevsky by reading The Brothers Karamazov via the #KaramazovReadalong hosted jointly with Becky and Elisabeth. Joining in with us were many other friends who took the opportunity to read, or re-read, one of the great works of world literature.
It was an amazing experience. I am quite sure that I would not have got through the book without such a marvellous community of readers to hold hands with. Not that it is difficult to read, far from it. But there is something about such a large book which seems daunting and off-putting. This is why my copy sat sadly unread on my shelf for many years. But the camaraderie, the posting of daily quotes, the discussions about different translations, all contributed to a shared project which was a joy to be part of. I send a huge bundle of thanks to everyone who participated.
Becky, Elisabeth and I were keen to reflect back on this magnificent ReadAlong once the dust had settled. We were delighted when Mandy also agreed to join in on our conversation, which you can hear on Becky’s brilliant podcast, Tea, Toast and Trivia.
Here’s a photo of us all enjoying ourselves! It was such a fun and thought-provoking session. And amazing to be linked up across four timezones! Heartfelt congratulations and thanks go to Techie Don for making it all happen so smoothly.
And so, what next? Well you might have guessed from the title of this post that we will be continuing our journey into Russian literature in 2022. From 5 January-31 December (yes, for 361 days!) we’ll be reading a chapter a day of War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. There will be more information coming soon about how it will all work, not least with another podcast to welcome in the New Year on 1 January. But for now, let me say that this will be a relaxed reading project and everyone who wants to read, or re-read this iconic book will be warmly welcomed.
I’ll soon be posting a list of links and other resources to go alongside the main event for those who wish to widen their focus. And we’ll be recording a number of podcasts on related themes through the year. If you have any requests for subjects you would like us to cover, please do let us know in the comments here, or on any future posts. We’ll be using #WarAndPeace2022 on Twitter and Instagram for the sharing of thoughts and information as we go along. Please use this hashtag too for anything you’d like to post so that we can find you.
So why not dust off any copies of War and Peace that you have on your shelves and join us in this exciting project. I’ll be reading the translation by Anthony Briggs published by Penguin Classics. But feel free to use any version that you like.
Meanwhile, let’s give the last word to Fyodor while we are still in his 200th anniversary year. I loved reading The Brothers Karamazov and look forward to reading his other many works some time.
‘Why count the days, when one day is sufficient for man to experience all the happiness there is? My dearly beloved, why do we quarrel, why do we show off to one another, why do we bear grudges? Let us go straight into the garden, let us stroll and enjoy ourselves, let us love and exalt one another, let us kiss and rejoice in our life.’The Karamazov Brothers by Fyodor Dostoevsky, tr Avsey