the mortal enemy of videogames

You and Tom Scharpling are too often too correct, is the problem

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internet video of that kid saying I’m not sorry you broke your elbow, but it’s me saying: I’m not sorry your estate in Rozhdestveno, Leningrad Oblast was seized and collectivized by Bolshevik forces during the Great October Socialist Revolution


sounds like we need a little less sixteen candles, a little more death of the author in here

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I think is is more or less how I read his criticism as well. I also haven’t really read about Dostoevsky’s whole life but this:

All the humiliations and hardships he endured are described in detail, as also the criminals among whom he lived. Not to go completely mad in those surroundings, Dostoyevsky had to find some sort of escape. This he found in a neurotic Christianism which he developed during these years. It is only natural that some of the convicts among whom he lived showed, besides dreadful bestiality, an occasional human trait. Dostoyevsky gathered these manifestations and built upon them a kind of very artificial and completely pathological idealization of the simple Russian folk. This was the initial step on his consecutive spiritual road.

There’s something I can’t put my finger on that bothers me about boiling an author down to simply what they’ve gone through as if hardship somehow atrophies someone’s ability to develop and communicate a life philosophy. Or maybe I am misreading what he said.

What Nabokov calls “neurotic Christianism” was what drew me to keep reading Dostoevsky when I found him. In reality I think he was neither dogmatic nor haphazard about his religious themes. And I think that expecting utmost philosophical consistency from an author (or anybody) grappling with the subject of their books is a bit naive.

Dosto is how I got introduced to the problem of evil in christian theology as well as broader subjects of the foundation of morality and ethics from a christian pov. Whether or not he was too heavy handed or too concerned with literature being “about something”, in the end I enjoyed that he wrote his atheists characters and points of view in good faith. At least it seemed that way at the time, maybe if I read him now I’ll be able to see the inner workings of that magic trick. But even his pious characters didn’t seem to be created as a way to signify a stable christian worldview devoid of self-doubt.

I guess this is more addressing Dostovsky on his own and not Nabokov’s criticism, but at the time I read Dostoevsky’s major works I kept wondering how someone can write books with latent political/religious/philosophical themes without having some characters be simple mouthpeices, strawmen, or “perfect” embodiments of a particular life-philosophy.

I felt that this seemed to have been one of Dostoevsky’s main concerns with the novel as a medium, whether he succeeded in removing himself from the equation is another thing. Through him, I learned about Mikhail Bakhtin and his work on Dialogue in Dostoevsky (see Dostoevksy section in this wikipedia article if interested). In hindsight exploring this was huge for me back then though ever since I’ve become a bit more skeptical about whether Dostoevsky achieved what Bakhtin thinks.

Ah, I’ve tried to look in multiple bookstores around and I couldn’t find a single spanish edition of any of his works, my only option is amazon :/


You’re not misreading, he’s being chickenshit: faux sympathy that evaporates beside calling prisoners “bestial,” the aside about an ancestor having been Dostoyevsky’s prison warden, the unrolling of this litany of personal misfortunes failures only to unsympathetically dismiss the subsequent work as carrying forward “neurosis”. Generally condescension to readers who may find themselves moved by aspects of the work as though in doing so they’re being hoodwinked into signing on to the author’s inchoate politics and substandard technical tricks. He’s doing commonplace academic bullying to impress undergrads. Good call about Bakhtin btw

when I run into this problem, I just ask my local Spanish-language bookstore that normally stocks religious books to special order what I’m looking for from their supplier

Like the discovery of love, like the discovery of the sea, the discovery of Dostoevsky marks a memorable date in our lives. It usually corresponds to adolescence; maturity searches for and discovers serene writers. In 1915, in Geneva, I avidly read Crime and Punishment, in the very readable English version by Constance Garnett. That novel whose heroes are a murderer and a harlot seemed to me no less terrible than the war that surrounded us. I looked for a biography of the author. Son of a military surgeon who was murdered, Dostoyevsky (1821-1881) knew poverty, illness, prison, exile, the assiduous exercise of letters, travels, the passion of gambling and, at the end of his days, fame. He professed the cult of Balzac. Involved in a vague conspiracy, he was condemned to death. Almost at the foot of the scaffold, where his companions had been executed, the sentence was commuted, but Dostoyevsky served four years of hard labor in Siberia, which he would never forget.

He studied and expounded the utopias of Fourier, Owen and Saint-Simon. He was a socialist and pan-Slavist. I had imagined that Dostoyevsky was a sort of great unfathomable God, capable of understanding and justifying all beings. I was astonished that he had ever descended to mere politics, which discriminates and condemns.

To read a book by Dostoyevsky is to penetrate into a great city, which we ignore, or into the shadow of a battle. Crime and Punishment had revealed to me, among other things, a world alien to me. I began reading Demons and something very strange happened. I felt that I had returned to my homeland. The steppe of the work was a magnification of the Pampa. Varvara Petrovna and Stepan Trofimovich Verkhovensky were, despite their awkward names, irresponsible old Argentines. The book begins cheerfully, as if the narrator did not know the tragic end.

In the preface to an anthology of Russian literature Vladimir Nabokov declared that he had not found a single page of Dostoevsky worthy of inclusion. This means that Dostoevsky should not be judged by each page but by the sum of pages that make up the book.


Lol. A true master.


Personally I’ve never found too much value in this method. I just find it impossible to approach a book as if it wasn’t written by a person, especially when aspects of their personality are so readily apparent in the style and content. Are not novels a means of communication, from one person to another? Even anonymous works contain hints as to what sort of person wrote them and why, which aid greatly with our understanding what they mean. I wouldn’t go so far as to take a strictly biographical approach, as I find that incredibly boring – such as those who spend their time determining which real-life French noble goes by which name in Proust – but I would definitely think there’s something missing if we don’t at least try to reckon with the author as a person.

Though maybe I’ve just always misunderstood the whole idea. I can’t say I’ve ever looked too deeply into it. Also, I don’t know if you were just joking.


“Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote” is relevant here. Even as Pierre attempts to divorce the text from its original context, he cant help but place it in a new context due to his own biography (and bibliography.) While the story is sympathetic to his goal, it undermines it completely by centering Pierre Menard as opposed to the text itself.

I thought the idea behind death of the author was to expand the horizon of criticism beyond the author’s intentions with a work, or to at least acknowledge that the horizon was always far beyond the author’s intentions.


yes I think you have it right

The title is a little misleading. The essay itself is arguing for a expanded view of a text’s range of meanings and effects, and that biographically-led criticism is a conservative (and capitalist/positivist) position

It’s an argument for expanded perspective:

We know that a text does not consist of a line of words, releasing a single “theological” meaning (the “message” of the Author-God), but is a space of many dimensions, in which are wedded and contested various kinds of writing, no one of which is original: the text is a tissue of citations, resulting from the thousand sources of culture.


Okay I had it completely wrong then. I’m sure someone explained that to me in school and then I made up my own version at some point.

the titular phrase comes from this passage, which more states plainly the thrust of the argument:

The reader has never been the concern of classical criticism; for it, there is no other man in literature but the one who writes. We are now beginning to be the dupes no longer of such antiphrases, by which our society proudly champions precisely what it dismisses, ignores, smothers or destroys; we know that to restore to writing its future, we must reverse its myth: the birth of the reader must be ransomed by the death of the Author.


I do remember a time during a first-year English class at my community college when a guy was arguing with the teacher about something and then after class was over, walked up to her and said, “Have you ever heard of ‘Death of the author?’”


i was making a fall out boy joke


nabakov was really a big dweeb and was very resentful—yeso made a joke about his family’s estate being taken away by the bolsheviks but it’s clear he harbored a lot of resentment and anger by having his life upended by history. i’ll even be charitable and recognize that the feeling of exile and abandonment he felt must have been large crosses to bear.

it’s not impossible to imagine this aggrieved mourning for a more genteel existence made its way into his criticism of literature, most especially russian literature. i mentioned earlier that i also detect a bit of playful bombast in his lectures, a purposeful flattening to make a point. this doesn’t make his criticisms less goofy or more agreeable, but it does make them interesting.

regardless, that nabokov was able to make what i’d consider great art in spite of his questionable taste is impressive and should give hope to us all.


i guess it’s also worth mentioning that nabokov thought jd saligner (particularly the short stories) was like, the best fucking thing going in american fiction and was pushing the entire medium forward. i reread nine stories a year or two ago and was left feeling cold, unimpressed, and slightly embarrassed, but i also wouldn’t expect someone who loves that book to feel equal admiration for big dos.

tbh it’s been a few years since i read nabokov too. it’s possible my apologia is unwarranted. but wg sebald really liked him (and now that i think about it, the same complaints here i’ve seen leveled against vlad could easily be pointed toward max—academic, obfuscated, too clever by half……much to consider)


upper-class neuroses = hot
proletarian neuroses = not

just for the sake of accuracy here, Rozhdestveno was Vladimir’s estate, his family had 2 others




This is one of my favorite threads on the forum because even though I am probably at least almost smart enough to follow it, ultimately I’m just too lazy to read enough to meaningfully participate in it. Just want all of you bookworms in here to imagine that while you engage in rich multifaceted discourse with each other, I’m laying on the bed stomach down with my chin propped up on both palms and my feet dangling in the air like a teenage girl at a slumber party, punctuating the back and forth by popping the pink bubblegum bubbles I blow


I’m in a vaguely similar boat, in that while I probably am smart enough to participate in these discussions, I’ve put off looking at this thread for so long that it’s ballooned into a 2000 post monstrosity that’s too intimidating for me to jump into.