03 August 2011

Raskolnikov's dream

I've been listening to Dostoyevsky's novels on my mp3 player. I want to post a few excerpts that have struck me as interesting. Here's one: Raskolnikov's dream from near the end of Crime and Punishment. It strikes me as prescient:

He was in the hospital from the middle of Lent till after Easter.
When he was better, he remembered the dreams he had had while he was
feverish and delirious. He dreamt that the whole world was condemned
to a terrible new strange plague that had come to Europe from the
depths of Asia. All were to be destroyed except a very few chosen.
Some new sorts of microbes were attacking the bodies of men, but these
microbes were endowed with intelligence and will. Men attacked by them
became at once mad and furious. But never had men considered
themselves so intellectual and so completely in possession of the
truth as these sufferers, never had they considered their decisions,
their scientific conclusions, their moral convictions so infallible.
Whole villages, whole towns and peoples went mad from the infection.
All were excited and did not understand one another. Each thought that
he alone had the truth and was wretched looking at the others, beat
himself on the breast, wept, and wrung his hands. They did not know
how to judge and could not agree what to consider evil and what
good; they did not know whom to blame, whom to justify. Men killed
each other in a sort of senseless spite. They gathered together in
armies against one another, but even on the march the armies would
begin attacking each other, the ranks would be broken and the soldiers
would fall on each other, stabbing and cutting, biting and devouring
each other. The alarm bell was ringing all day long in the towns;
men rushed together, but why they were summoned and who was
summoning them no one knew. The most ordinary trades were abandoned,
because every one proposed his own ideas, his own improvements, and
they could not agree. The land too was abandoned. Men met in groups,
agreed on something, swore to keep together, but at once began on
something quite different from what they had proposed. They accused
one another, fought and killed each other. There were conflagrations
and famine. All men and all things were involved in destruction. The
plague spread and moved further and further. Only a few men could be
saved in the whole world. They were a pure chosen people, destined
to found a new race and a new life, to renew and purify the earth, but
no one had seen these men, no one had heard their words and their

No comments: