Recently I decided to read a collection of Dostoevsky’s short stories and novellas that I picked up several years ago and never got around to reading. It was a potent reminder of a time in which my thinking about women and society congealed into the present form they take now, sans the refinement of reading Game articles and paleo-con and individualist anarchist thought.
Let me get to the direct statement, and save the time of those need practice in reading for length, depth and complexity; to wit, all one needs to know about the nature of women and politics could be gained from reading Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.
I’m not saying it’s free from fictional flourish, or aping the sort of gritty realism pioneered by French novelists around that time, but even the philosophical novels of Dostoevsky ring truer than the earnest platitudes of Zola.
Let’s start with the two novelists in question. Tolstoy was the alpha’s alpha, both in the sense of wooing women and in being the natural leader of men. He spent most of his youth in dissolute debaucheries which he carefully chronicled in his diaries at the time. When he married, he married on the condition that his much younger bride read his diaries and accept the illegitimate children he had sired with his serfs. She married him and stayed with him even as he grew extremely radical in his old age.
Dostoevsky was beta, and quite aware of the fact. He was balding epileptic with a severe gambling addiction. His choice in women was either motivated by pity, such as his first wife, who was tubercular, or masochism such as his affair with the wife of a friend of his (which involved almost no sex, but insane amounts of shit-testing, such as when his mistress had him remove her stockings, then sent him off…). His usual mode was either rejection, either by the woman, or by himself in a fit of pique (yeah, some of us do that. God knows why). Still he ended up married to his younger secretary, who put up with him gambling off their savings and spending days in the aftershocks of fits due to the incredible power and vision of his fiction and letters. In other words, his voice made up for the incredible weaknesses of character.
So, both these guys wrote a lot. Russian novels got the reputation they have for a reason, you know? For the Game interested male, if one had to choose only one novel to read, I would suggest Anna Karenina as the selection. In it you will find a portrait of what a woman is like, both in her strengths and in her weaknesses, and in the character of Levin, of how an alpha tames the wilder aspects of his life and harnesses them for his and societies’ benefit, while remaining true to himself.
One should note that from Tolstoy’s letters at the time, that in the process of writing the novel, the characters and situations took on lives of their own beyond the authorial prerogative. Tolstoy, being quite the misogynist, set out to make Karenina a shameless hussy, yet in redrafting, he found a more rounded person emerging, one that embodies both the ultimate weaknesses and strengths of a woman’s character. I believe that is one thing that is not emphasized enough in modern discussion of the sexes, namely that women have certain strengths that men cannot have due to their essential nature. Moreover, if a man can overcome his more base aspects through self-reflection and conscious action, such as removing the dross of passivity and hapless Peter Pan syndrome that consumes the modern male, so to can women over their baser aspects of narcissism and vapidity. All one needs is to simply make people believe that working on ourselves is one of the primary goals of life and that our natural self is rather like a hunk of coal instead of a diamond, instead of the other way around as it is now. We are not born special, we must submit ourselves to intense fire and pressure in order to be worth anything.
Besides Anna Karenina I would suggest the two short stories of The Death of Ivan Illyich and The Kreutzer Sonata. The former as illustrative of what truly matters in life and the later as illustrative as how not to conduct a relationship with a woman, though Tolstoy wrote it with the mind that men should not have truck with women at all (yeah, it’s easy to say that when you’re in your late 60s, would your younger self have bought it, Leo?)
Okay, exceeded my allocated time for writing this post so it’ll have to be continued. I may make this a series if there’s any interest.
Next post, Dostoevsky!