“In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet and say to us, Make us your slaves, but feed us.”
― Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Grand Inquisitor
For the last month or so my Wild Detectives Difficult Reads Book Club (DRBC) has been digging through Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. It was originally scheduled for the beginning of the year, with a weekly meeting at the book store – but was cancelled due to the quarantine. Finally, we started back up with Zoom meetings every Wednesday evening, instead of meeting in person. It actually works pretty well.
I made sure I could call into the Zoom meeting from my son’s apartment when I was on my New Orleans trip last week. He is working remotely and is something of a gamer – he had dedicated panel lights and an expensive headset with fancy microphone and the meeting worked really well from his place – I need to up my Zoom game from home now. In particular, everyone said my voice was very clear.
“You sound like a DJ, and you look like one too,” one woman said.
“Look like a DJ?” I replied, “Everyone has always said I have a face for radio.”
But before the meeting I had to get my weekly chunk of reading done (we are about a third of the way through). We had made it up to The Grand Inquisitor chapter (which sort of stands on its own) – the heart of the book and arguably is one of the most famous and influential works of literature ever written. It is also a dense and difficult read.
It was a beautiful day. I took my Kindle, walked down through the French Quarter and picked out a bench along the Mississippi to sit down and work my way through the (e-ink) pages.
The French Quarter is known for a lot of things – but it isn’t really known for a place to hang out and read Russian Literature (though a lot of literature has been written there). For me, however, it was perfect.
And I don’t care what you think… the bars are closed for Covid anyway.
Whenever I see the words ‘The Grand Inquisitor’ I immediately hear Verdi’s music from his opera Don Carlos, from the scene where the Grand Inquisitor, who is blind, is led in and asks “Am I in the Presence of the King?” and proceeds to browbeat the king into ordering the execution of the Marquis of Posa. This is one of the greatest operas of all time, IMHO, especially this act (the third or fourth act, depending on which version of the opera).
I’ll have to give that a listen.
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