The upstairs bathroom, the one most convenient to the home "office" where I set up my laptop on weekends, has three books balanced atop the tank behind the throne, books which I have grabbed off a shelf on the landing on my way in there at different times, in different moods:
- A paperback copy of Spy Hook, part of Len Deighton’s wonderful Bernard Sampson trilogy of trilogies.
- A simplified-for-children paperback of The Adventures of Robin Hood.
- An elegant little hardbound edition of Crime and Punishment, published by Barnes & Noble, with gilt-edged pages and a built-in ribbon bookmark (original price: $4.95, with 10% off for members).
Just now I was in there and scooped up the Dostoevsky masterpiece (which I would have listed as my favorite novel when I was in college, but which I haven’t read all the way through since), and opened to this passage:
When the soup had been brought, and he had begun upon it, Nastasya sat down beside him on the sofa and began chatting. She was a country peasant-woman, and a very talkative one.
“Praskovya Pavlovna means to complain to the police about you,” she said.
“To the police? What does she want?”
“You don’t pay her money and you won’t turn out of the room. That’s what she wants, to be sure.”
“The devil, that’s the last straw,” he muttered, grinding his teeth, “no, that would not suit me … just now. She is a fool,” he added aloud. “I’ll go and talk to her to-day.”
“Fool she is and no mistake, just as I am. But why, if you are so clever, do you lie here like a sack and have nothing to show for it? One time you used to go out, you say, to teach children. But why is it you do nothing now?”
“I am doing …” Raskolnikov began sullenly and reluctantly.
“What are you doing?”
“What sort of work?”
“I am thinking,” he answered seriously after a pause.
Nastasya was overcome with a fit of laughter. She was given to laughter and when anything amused her, she laughed inaudibly, quivering and shaking all over till she felt ill.
“And have you made much money by your thinking?” she managed to articulate at last.
The perpetual curse of the intellectual! It can be so hard to get any respect, especially from these pleasant peasant types…
But in that moment, taking a break from blogging as I was, it occurred to me: If Raskolnikov had had the outlet of a blog, maybe he wouldn’t have murdered the old woman and Lizaveta. Maybe he would have gotten it out of his system, clacking away at his keyboard there in his garret. Maybe he could even, with the help of his enterprising friend Razumikhin, have sold some ads on his blog; who knows?
But then something else occurred to me: In his own, tortured, 19th-century way, Raskolnikov was a blogger, or had been before he had shut himself off from the world. Wasn’t that his undoing? Hadn’t Porfiry read his rantings about Napoleon and other rare, "superior" creatures stepping over their inferiors to achieve great things? Wasn’t that just the kind of indiscreet stuff that people put on blogs today, with little concern for the consequences of revealing their madder thoughts?