I’m midway through the first year (1873) of Dostoevsky’s proto-blog A Writer’s Diary. (2 volumes, Northwestern University Press, trans. Kenneth Lantz) Basically it’s a whole bunch of short articles, which were published intermittently, and which deal in various subjects – some short stories, some replies to letters he’s been sent, some rants directed at obscure targets, etc. I’m not 100% sure where they were published – I think they were opening essays printed in a weekly or monthly literary journal.
I don’t have much to say about it yet, except that it’s enjoyably idiosyncratic, and certainly marks a great departure from The Idiot and Demons.
I wanted to share a poem of Pushkin’s that Dostoevsky includes in his entry entitled “An Impersonator”, a polemical reply to a priest who has written in D to complain of the “unrealistic” nature of a story that’s been published in his journal (not by D, but someone else). Specifically the priest complains about a description of a deacon given in the story: the history of the deacon’s clothing is apparently inaccurately summarized. Not his clothing, but the history of that clothing as it relates to the institution of the church.
D quotes this poem in reply:
A painting once a cobbler stopped to view,
And pointed out an error in one shoe;
The artist took the brush and made it right.
“There!” said the cobbler, “Now I think you might
Correct that bosom: it’s a bit too bare;
The face as well requires some repair.”
To these complaints Apelles put an end:
“Judge not above the boots, my cobbler friend!” (p. 227)