'Where is it I've read that someone condemned to death says or think, an hour before his death, that if he had to live on some high rock, on such a narrow ledge that he'd only room to stand, and the ocean, everlasting darkness, everlasting solitude, everlasting tempest around him, if he had to remain standing on a square yard of space all his life, a thousand years, eternity, it were better to live so than to die at once! Only to live, to live and live! Life, whatever it may be!'
I find that there are three things I love about Doestoevsky. The first is that he gathers all these quotes and ideas from so many different sources (literature, contemporary newspapers, his own experiences) and crystallises them. Above, a character is describing a scene from Victor Hugo's Notre-Dame de Paris but it adds so much to the argument. He somehow applies it with such meaning that I end up reading the same passage again because it affects me so much. I love it.
He conjures up these scenes that stay with me and spring to my mind every so often. In The Brothers Karamazov, it was the melancholy, strange idea of the philosopher who argued against God condemned to walk a million miles before reaching Heaven, who rebelled and just lay on the ground for several years in protest before forcing himself up to just start the journey, or the infamous Spanish Inquisition scene. Here, it's the constant, recurring idea that it's better to spend eternity unhappy and dark but alive turned on its head by the end of the novel, because just facing up to things, facing your own darkness, may be the only real escape.
The second is the humanity in his writing. He writes so eloquently about the things I fear and dislike most (death being the end! injustice!) and yet... I kind of found myself siding with the murderer in this story.
Thirdly, I love that although his books are always concerned with philosophical arguments, his characters aren't just props used to further an argument and nothing more *snarling at Paulo Coelho*. His characters are always so vivid to me. I adored Razumikhin and have a terrible urge to find some Razumikhin/Raskolnikov slash - it surely exists - and that his women aren't all weak-willed things fainting every five minutes. I keep trying to read Tolstoy, who seems to get so much more praise and recognition than Doestoevsky, but I find his work a drag. Damn, I loved this book.