If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
The story begins in 1882, when Friedrich Nietzsche’s beautiful and mysterious former lover convinces the famous Viennese physician and mentor to Sigmund Freud, Joseph Breuer, to cure Nietzsche of his “despair” so that the world will not be deprived of the “most important philosopher of the next 100 years.” Breuer is known throughout Europe for his use of hypnosis and the “talking treatment” that have been successful in the treatment of hysteria.
Since Nietzsche is skeptical of what Breuer can do for him, Breuer offers the challenge that they might help each other. Through subterfuge, Breuer convinces Nietzsche to remain for 1 month in the Lauzon Clinic. Their bargain: Breuer agrees to treat Nietzsche for his chronic migraine headaches, if Nietzsche, the great philosopher, will listen to and cure Breuer of his own despair. What follows is a brilliant tour de force in which the two men engage in daily discussion, bantering, and intrigue, much like a chess game, jockeying for position, as both men are transformed in unpredictable and astonishing ways.
When he is grown up, Zézé wants to be “a poet with a bow tie…” For the moment, he is a small five-year-old Brazilian who is discovering what life is. At home, he is a true imp who makes silly things on silly things and receives terrible smackings. At school, on the contrary, José is an “angel” with the heart of gold and with the wild imagination which makes his teacher so happy as much as he is gifted and intelligent. However, even for a merry and mischievous child, the life is sometimes difficult in a poor Brazilian family. Then, when he is sad, Zézé takes refuge at his friend, Minguinho, a small foot of sweet oranges, to which he entrusts all his secrecies. My Sweet Orange Tree is an autobiographical novel in which José Mauro de Vasconcelos tells with nostalgia and emotion his Brazilian childhood.
Fyodor Dostoevsky first published Crime and Punishment in 1866 in twelve monthly installments in a conservative journal, Russian Messenger (Russki Vestnik). The novel has always been popular, though reactions to it can fall just about anywhere along the spectrum of love and hate.
Crime and Punishment (like most Dostoevsky stories) is incredibly fluid and is open to a wide variety of interpretations by readers. As Simon Karlinksy suggests in his essay “Dostoevsky as Rorschach Test,” how we interpret Crime and Punishment might be a reflection of our own psychology (source).
Dostoevsky was a brilliant fiction writer, a journalist, and a publisher. He also had a gambling problem, suffered from epilepsy, and had constant financial problems. Like the hero of our novel, he spent time in prison in Siberia. He wasn’t imprisoned for murder, though, but for being a member of the Petrashevsky Circle (source).
Dostoevsky was under tremendous time and money pressure when he was writing Crime andPunishment. We know from his letters (excerpts from which are translated by George Gibian in the fabulous Norton Third Edition) that, in addition to having to produce the monthly Crime andPunishment Dostoevsky installment, he had to come up with another novel for another publisher.
He had borrowed money from a fellow named Stellovsky, in exchange for writing a novel. If he didn’t give Stellovsky this other book by November 1, 1866, Stellovsky would own the rights to all of Dostoevsky’s work for the next ten years! So Dostoevsky set out to do the impossible – write two novels at the same time, one in the morning, one at night. He was terribly depressed about it, but he did it. He handed Stellovsky
The Gambler right on schedule, and Russian Messenger got what you see before you, except in Russian
Imagine if you could surf Facebook … from the Middle Ages. Well, it may not be as far off as it sounds. In a fun and interesting talk, researcher and engineer Frederic Kaplan shows off the Venice Time Machine, a project to digitize 80 kilometers of books to create a historical and geographical simulation of Venice across 1000 years.