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Master Of Petersburg by J M Coetzee
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Master Of Petersburg (original 1994; edition 2004)

by J M Coetzee

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7341212,734 (3.59)40
Member:mynote1
Title:Master Of Petersburg
Authors:J M Coetzee
Info:Vintage (2004), Edition: New edition, Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:**1/2
Tags:None

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The Master of Petersburg by J.M. Coetzee (1994)

  1. 30
    Summer in Baden-Baden by Leonid Tsypkin (wrmjr66, giovannigf)
    wrmjr66: Another book that fictionalizes part of Dostoevsky's life.
    giovannigf: It's interesting to compare these two stories that feature Dostoevsky as a protagonist. Coetzee writes in a style that more closely resembles a 19th-century novel, but Tsypkin gets much closer to Dostoevsky's personality. Both will be enjoyable to fans of the Russian master's work.… (more)
  2. 31
    The Brothers Karamazov by Fedor Mikhaïlovitch Dostoïevski (xtien)
    xtien: Brilliand novel by Coetzee about a fictional Dostoevsky
  3. 10
    Under Western Eyes by Joseph Conrad (giovannigf)
    giovannigf: Conrad's most Dostoevsky-esque novel (supposedly written as a retort to Crime and Punishment) shares some of the themes and subjects of Coetzee's novel in which Dostoevsky is the protagonist. Both will help you when you're jonesin' for more Dostoevsky.
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English (10)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (12)
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
I recommend this for anyone who's read, at the very least, Crime & Punishment and Demons. I'm not sure how much sense it would make without that background. It's a wonderful piece of art, perfectly structured and paced, and reflects impressively on its themes - generational conflict, what it means to be an author, contemplation vs action - but is depressing in a way I'm not sure I can get behind. Don't get me wrong. I love depressing books. But this one... maybe it's just that Coetzee's more recent work has been so painfully bad, and I can see how he might have gotten there from this one. Maybe that just gets me down. But at the end, the suggestion that a quietist pessimism is the only available response to nihilism is, well, not so much beautifully dark as soul-crushingly morbid. Kind of like a Dostoevsky novel written by an atheist... oh... I see... ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
This book was wonderful. A complex tale of personal relationships and personal struggles in the midst of death and grief. Coetzee really managed to capture the feeling of Dostoevsky and make him come alive for this fictionalized snapshot of his life. ( )
  PolymathicMonkey | Nov 18, 2013 |
This was a strange one, quite the most unusual Coetzee from the ones I’ve read before (Disgrace, Michael K, Heart of the Country, Youth). For a start it didn’t involve South Africa at any point. Neither was it a contemporary time period. But it was laced with the usual dark, foreboding analysis of the human condition we’ve come to expect from the Nobel Prize-Winner.

The novel is set, as the title might reveal, in St Petersburg, Russia although I was half-inclined to think that it might have been a reference to a South African town. It’s set in the 19th century. It opens with a man grieving the untimely death of his son.

As the novel progresses, what started initially as a simple visit to the city turns into a protracted affair. The death is more mysterious than the father thinks. The police get involved. The identity of the father adds a further twist and, as per most Coetzee, there’s plenty of badly-performed, guilt-ridden sexual encounters.

You don’t really enjoy a Coetzee book. They’re usually too brutally honest to be enjoyed. Did I appreciate it? Yes. But I can’t tell you much about why without giving away some of the plot. Suffice to say that the large body of Russian literature I’ve read was a particular help to me. I thought Coetzee did an amazing job of creating the character of the father and weaving him into the story.

Not my favourite Coetzee at all but for those of you who are already drawn to his novels, try this one to get a welcome glimpse of his diverse ability. ( )
  arukiyomi | Feb 27, 2012 |
An easy enough read, but not overly taken with the story. Doesn't stack-up well next to Disgrace. ( )
  simondavies | Sep 30, 2009 |
An easy enough read, but the story was weak. Compared to Disgrace, this book is a poor relative. ( )
  simondavies | Sep 30, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140238107, Paperback)

In the fall of 1869 Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky, lately a resident of Germany, is summoned back to St. Petersburg by the sudden death of his stepson, Pavel. Half crazed with grief, stricken by epileptic seizures, and erotically obsessed with his stepson's landlady, Dostoevsky is nevertheless intent on unraveling the enigma of Pavel's life. Was the boy a suicide or a murder victim? Did he love his stepfather or despise him? Was he a disciple of the revolutionary Nechaev, who even now is somewhere in St. Petersburg pursuing a dream of apocalyptic violence? As he follows his stepson's ghost—and becomes enmeshed in the same demonic conspiracies that claimed the boy—Dostoevsky emerges as a figure of unfathomable contradictions: naive and calculating, compassionate and cruel, pious and unspeakably perverse.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:45:09 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The novel recreates the world of the Russian writer, Dostoevsky, with him as the protagonist. He returns from exile to St. Petersburg to investigate the death of his stepson, officially a suicide, but as he was a revolutionary Dostoevsky suspects murder. By the author of Waiting for the Barbarians.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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