The Possessed : Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, Paperback Book

The Possessed : Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them Paperback

3 out of 5 (1 rating)


Roaming from Tashkent to San Francisco, this is the true story of one budding writer's strange encounters with the fanatics who are devoted - absurdly! melancholically! ecstatically! - to the Russian classics. Combining fresh readings of the great Russians from Gogol to Goncharov with the sad and funny stories of the lives they continue to influence, The Possessed introduces a brilliant and distinctive new voice: comic, humane, charming, poignant and completely, and unpretentiously, full of an infectious love for literature.


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Good but not as good as I thought it was going to be. Ms Batuman too openly displays the exoskeleton of the book by her frequent references to her attempts to become a writer. With this volume of memoirs from her time as a student and researcher she has succeeded. But it amounts to little more than a collection of anecdotes of her travels to the East on various short study and research assignments linked with pieces of literary criticism culled from her student tutorial submissions and rewritten in a more reader friendly, journalistic style. It's always good to read the reactions of visitors to a new country and culture. They see things in a naive, innocent way that gives some clarity. Ms Batuman does that well enough. But the whole doesn't amount to very much. We gain no new insights into Russian literature or culture and not a great deal about Ms Batuman herself.

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