Summer in Baden-Baden

Summer in Baden-Baden

A Novel

Book - 2001
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Summer in Baden-Baden has a double narrative. It is wintertime, late December: a species of "now." A narrator--Tsypkinis on a train going to Leningrad. And it is also mid-April 1867. The newly married Dostoyevskys, Fyodor, and his wife, Anna Grigor'yevna, are on their way to Germany, for a four-year trip. Dostoyevsky's reckless passions for gambling, for his literary vocation, for his wife, are matched by her all-forgiving love, which in turn resonates with the love of literature's disciple, Leonid Tsypkin, for Dostoyevsky.
Publisher: New York : New Directions Books, [2001]
Copyright Date: ©1987.
ISBN: 9780811215480
Branch Call Number: TSYPK
Characteristics: xxi, 146 pages ; 21 cm
Alternative Title: Leto v Badene. English

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einstein_5
Mar 21, 2018

p. 84-85, 88: ....the speed of his fall exhilarated him more and more – if he had been unable to cross a particular barrier in his movement towards the summit and was now hurtling downwards, then was there not also some kind of line or boundary here which would stop him? – because, after all, there were no external circumstances here, and all he had to do was surrender himself to this movement, to this physical principle, and so, shutting his eyes, he continued to fly downwards, the familiar figures performing their round-dance, now already somewhere above him, grinning and pointing their fingers at him again, winking and smirking meaningfully at each other – Turgenev with his majestic bearing, his lion’s mane and his lorgnette directed towards him, Goncharov, wheezing after his six-course breakfast, Nekrasov and Belinsky, maundering on abstractly about some extraneous subject, Panayev with his pendulous, moist moustache and his drunken stare, and beyond them more figures and faces, familiar and unfamiliar, all exchanging glances and winks, pointing towards him – but, strangely enough, their dance seemed somehow pathetic – and they had not been privileged to experience the dizzy descent he had surrendered to – and the humiliating things were always median and mediocre, aiming at moderation and discretion – and this was precisely what they were – only an all-consuming, all encompassing idea could liberate a man, make him free and place him above everything else, even if the means of realizing this idea had to be a crime – and all these worthy gentlemen were incapable not only of surrendering themselves to such an idea, but even of beginning to comprehend it, and they were all constantly engaged in calculation and circumspection, subordinating their lives to material considerations.

....once again he was flying downhill, bruising himself painfully against things and feeling that he had nothing to hold on to – and that whole theory of his about falling was worthless – he had simply invented it to make his injuries less painful, presenting the wounds to himself and everyone else surrounded by the self-sacrificial halo of some great ‘idea’ – but do we not all do the same thing, deceiving ourselves time and time again as we think up convenient theories designed to soften the blows continually rained on us by fate or to justify our own failures and weaknesses? – and is this not the explanation of the so-called crisis which Dostoyevsky went through during his penal servitude? – could his morbid pride ever have become reconciled with the humiliations to which he was subjected there? – no, he had only one way out: to consider these humiliations as his just deserts – ‘I bear a cross, and I have deserved it,’ he wrote in one of his letters – but in order to bring this about he had to represent all those earlier views of his, for which he had suffered, as erroneous and even criminal – and this he did, unconsciously, of course – the human psyche’s need for self-preservation, especially the psyche of a man not too strong in spirit...condemned him to this, not only against the dictates of reason, but radically altering any rational argument, adapting it to his own subconscious requirements, and only occasionally, at extreme moments in his life, like a voltaic arc in the submerged darkness, would those suppressed and saturated visions and images blaze up, illuminating with their merciless light scenes and tableaux from his life in penal servitude and exile, and then, shuddering, he would be forced to do mental battle with those who insulted him, being defeated even in this domain....

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IulianHectorNarada
Mar 17, 2018

p. 114-6: I leafed through…the penultimate volume of Dostoyevsky’s works, containing the “Diary of a Writer” for 1877 or 1878–and finally I stumbled on an article especially devoted to the Jews–‘The Jewish Question’ it was called–and I should not have been surprised to discover it because he was bound after all somewhere or other to have gathered together in one place all those ‘Jews, Jewesses, Jew-boys and Yids’ with which he so liberally besprinkled the pages of his novels–now as the poseur Lyamshin squealing with terror in “The Possessed”, now as the arrogant and at the same time cowardly Isaiah Fomich in “Memoirs from the House of the Dead” who did not scruple to lend money at enormous interest to his fellow-convicts, now as the fireman in “Crime and Punishment” with that ‘everlasting sullen grief, so sourly imprinted on all members of the tribe of Judah without exception’, and with his laughable way of pronouncing Russian which is reproduced in the novel with such particular and fastidious pleasure, now as the Jew who crucified the Christian child and then cut off its finger, relishing the child’s agony (Liza Khokhlakova’s story in “The Brothers Karamazov”)–but most often he would depict them as nameless money-lenders, tight-fisted tradesmen or petty thieves who are not even fully portrayed but simply mentioned as little Jews or some other term implying the lowest and basest qualities of the human character…although in fact there was no special theory–only fairly hackneyed arguments and myths (which have not lost their currency to this very day, incidentally): about the way Jews send gold and jewels to Palestine, about world Jewry which has ensnared practically the whole globe in its greedy tentacles, about the way Jews have mercilessly exploited and made drunkards of the Russian nation which makes it impossible to grant them equal rights, or else they would completely consume the Russian people etc.–and I read all this with a pounding heart, hoping to discover in these arguments…at least some ray of hope, at least some movement in the other direction, at least some effort to view the whole problem from a new angle…and it struck me as being strange to the point of implausibility that a man so sensitive in his novels to the sufferings of others, this jealous defender of the insulted and the injured who fervently and even frenetically preached the right to exist of every earthly creature and sang a passionate hymn to each little leaf and every blade of grass–that this man should not have come up with even a single word in the defence or justification of a people persecuted over several thousands of years–could he have been so blind?–or was he perhaps blinded by hatred?–and he did not even refer to the Jews as a people, but as a tribe…and to this tribe I belonged and the many friends and acquaintances of mine with whom I had discussed the subtlest problems of Russian literature, and to this tribe also belonged Leonid Grossman…and the many other Jewish literary critics who have gained what amounts almost to a monopoly in the study of Dostoyevsky’s literary heritage–and there was something unnatural and at first glance even enigmatic in the passionate and almost reverential way in which they dissected and to this day continue to analyse the diaries, notebooks, rough drafts, letters and even pettiest biographical details of this man who despised and hated their race–perhaps it was a kind of cannibalistic act performed on the leader of an enemy tribe–but it is possible, however, that this special attraction which Dostoyevsky seems to possess for Jews reveals something else: the desire to hide behind his back, as if using him as a safe-conduct -- something like adopting Christianity or daubing a cross on your door during a pogrom--although one cannot exclude the simple fervour of Jews here which has always been particularly strong in questions concerning Russian culture and the preservation of the Russian national spirit…

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IulianHectorNarada
Mar 21, 2018

p. 93-94: Fedya went over to the edge of the platform and cried out: ‘Farewell, Anya, I am about to throw myself over!’ – and somewhere far beneath them the blue Rhine meandered picturesquely and Baden-Baden spread out with its gothic churches, its sharp-ridged tiled roofs and its luxuriant green parks and gardens – and down there, to the left of the red-brick church, surrounded by greenery, was the white, almost toy-like building of the Kurhaus where, in the smoky air beneath the yellow light of chandeliers, money was being staked and lost with hands stretching out towards it, greedily raking it in – and all these gamblers were like marionettes from a puppet-theatre with some invisible person pulling invisible threads, and the puppets in their tailcoats with their yellow, waxen features jerking about, performing their unnatural movements – and how extraordinarily different all this was from the immense spaces revealing themselves as he gazed from the edge of the platform!

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einstein_5
Mar 21, 2018

p. 72-3: ….that crowd of all too familiar faces, which continued to laugh…shouting out with dull, pig-headed incomprehension as it pointed up at him, with its enormous crude corporate finger smeared with dirt, bringing to mind the finger of one of the crowd in the painting of the ‘Deriding of Christ’…Christ, wearing a crown of thorns which looked like barbed wire, sat on some steps, contemplative and detached…and one of the crowd, a strapping, coarse-looking fellow with sagging cheeks and a bulbous, red nose – a philistine’s face – pointed a stubby, hairy finger at Him – and sticks and stones were being flung towards the man on the steps, and someone had spat in His face, already marked by physical violence . . . . and he climbed higher…towards the very peak of the mountain, where, in a violet storm-cloud torn by flashes of lightning, lay the hidden Palace of Crystal, the dream of humanity, his dream which he had cradled and nurtured…almost to the point of purposely mocking it

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