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Summer in Baden-Baden by Leonid Tsypkin
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Summer in Baden-Baden (1981)

by Leonid Tsypkin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4881431,440 (3.78)46
  1. 10
    The Master of Petersburg by J. M. Coetzee (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. 00
    The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoevsky (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Der Roman "Ein Sommer in Baden-Baden" von Zypkin basiert auf dem autobiografischen Roman "Der Spieler" von Dostojewski.
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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
What a hidden gem this is. Tsypkin weaves together his own spiritual journey to Dostoevsky’s last house in St. Petersburg in the present with Dostoevsky’s travels abroad in the past, in particular to Baden-Baden, where the author was so famously addicted to gambling. His style is fast-paced and breathless, perfect to the feverish nature of the story, and he uses all the right touches, paying homage to Russian literature, but at the same time, remaining clear-eyed, sober, and accurate.

I’ll be frank: Dostoevsky is shown to be irritable, petty, jealous, obsessive, and an overall pain in the ass. He’s extremely awkward, and blurts out all the wrong things in social situations. His treatment of his second wife is poor, pawning off her things again and again to throw money away at the roulette wheel. His meetings with the polished and Westernized Turgenev are memorably described: “Tugenev’s eyes had followed him through the lorgnette extremely intently, as if the lorgnette’s owner were afraid he would be bitten by a mad dog at any moment…”. Each had some level of grudging respect for the other, but because of their personalities and differing views on the West, conflict was inevitable.

Dostoevsky had been humiliated in prison, suffered from epileptic fits, was afraid of being laughed at, and desperately wanted to be accepted. He knew what suffering was, and gave alms to every beggar he saw, almost to a comical degree. He knew the power of spirituality, but at the same time knew doubt, and channeled that into scenes like that of the Grand Inquisitor in The Brothers Karamazov. He once begged for a pardon for a drunk who had literally punched him in the face, and then paid the man’s fine when it was levied. He knew he was deeply flawed, and sought forgiveness and redemption.

Tsypkin’s own story is also quite touching. A doctor whose position was punitively reduced after his son and daughter-in-law emigrated to the United States in 1977s, he wrote in his spare time for the sake of writing, never expecting to be published in the Soviet Union. This book was smuggled out of the country in 1982 and published in America; Tsypkin got word of that from his son and “was an author” for seven days before having a heart attack and dying.

In one of the interesting bits of introspection, Tsypkin wonders why he and other Jews like Dostoevsky despite his anti-Semitism, even if it was pretty common in the 19th century. “…it struck me as being strange to the point of implausibility that a man so sensitive in his novels to the sufferings of others, this jealous defender of the insulted and injured who fervently and even frenetically preached the right to exist of every earthly creature and sang a passionate hymn to each little leaf and every blade of grass – that this man should not have come up with even a single word in the defence or justification of a people persecuted over several thousands of years – could he have been so blind? - or was he perhaps blinded by hatred?” And later: “what, in fact, was I doing here? - why was I so strangely attracted and enticed by the life of this man who despised me and my kind (and deliberately so or with his eyes wide open, as he liked to put it)? – why had I come here under cover of darkness, walking along these empty and godforsaken streets like a thief?...”

There are no simple answers, or really any answers, proffered. One suspects it’s appreciation for Dostoevsky’s tortured soul, his humaneness, and his great depth as an author. This book is certainly a must for any fan of Dostoevsky, or of Russian literature in general, and I wish I had read it while on my own spiritual journey to Dostoevsky’s House-Museum in St. Petersburg. However, the book speaks to such basic truths and is so well written, I would recommend it to anyone.

Quotes:
On humiliation:
“…and once again he was flying downhill, bruising himself painfully against things and feeling that he had nothing to hold on to – and that whole theory of his about falling was worthless – he had simply invented it to make his injuries less painful, presenting the wounds to himself and everyone else surrounded by the self-sacrificial halo of some great ‘idea’ – but do we not all do the same thing, deceiving ourselves time and again as we think up convenient theories designed to soften the blows continually rained on us by fate or to justify our own failures and weaknesses? – and is this not the explanation of the so-called crisis which Dostoevsky went through during his penal servitude? – could his morbid pride ever have become reconciled with the humiliations to which he was subjected there? – no, he had only one way out: to consider these humiliations as his just desserts – ‘I bear a cross, and I have deserved it,’ he wrote in one of his letters…”

On Pushkin, I found it insightful and likely true:
“…but you will probably never find as fierce and passionate an admirer of Pushkin as Dostoevsky, for whom Pushkin may have been just as unattainable an antithetical dream as Stavrogin, embodying as he did harmony of spirit (though it may only have appeared that way), a high sense of honour (did Dostoevsky know how loyally Pushkin used to bow to Count Orlov at the Mariinsky Theatre?), strength and constancy of character (did Dostoevsky realized that the Decembrists did not really trust Pushkin very much, considering him both unstable and indiscreet?) and finally the nonchalance of a seducer who always achieved success (here there is really nothing to add in brackets, as Pushkin’s perfection in this sphere was genuinely beyond dispute) – or perhaps the antithetical element lay elsewhere: Dostoevsky the prose-writer was perhaps the most passionate poet and romantic of his age, while Pushkin the poet was possibly the most sober realist of his – but the most important thing, however, was that they lived in different times so that Dostoevsky managed to avoid being the object of one of the poet’s sarcastic epigrams – and if had been, Pushkin would undoubtedly have been ranged with all the other literary enemies of Dostoevsky and might even have held a leading position.”

Lastly, this ending, which reminded me of another Doctor-Author, Anton Chekhov:
“…and the girl went on ahead, like a guide, or perhaps she was simply ashamed of her parents – and in the haloes around the street-lights on Svechnoy Lane snowflakes were slowly circulating – I was approaching the Ligovka, and somewhere behind me was a semi-dark, endlessly straight street all covered in snow which the wind was piling into drifts, lined with silent tenement buildings and with the darkest and most silent of all – at the corner.
A few minutes later I was already in the tram heading towards Gilya’s house, and half an hour later after that I was once again chatting with her, sitting on Mozya’s sofa, as she told me about the Blockade, about Mozya, about the year ’37, and outside lay the wintry Petersburg night, and each time a tram clattered past down below, the whole house together with Mozya’s lamp shuddered, like a ship straining at its moorings.” ( )
2 vote gbill | Dec 24, 2015 |
This may well be the most extraordinary book I know. T. found his breathless style interweaving the past with the present, the inclusion of stark black-and-white photographs (reminiscent of Sebald), in isolation from contemporary world-literature. Living in the Soviet Union, a medical researcher by profession, Tsypkin wrote without hope of being published, solely for the drawer. We must thank Susan Sontag for rescuing this work. She tells us in the Introduction how she rediscovered an obscure edition, about Tsypkin’s life and much more: she calls the book an ‘I-novel’ known in the Japanese literature as shishosetsu : an autobiographical novel with fictional episodes - in the past: the summer Dostoyevsky spent in Baden-Baden, in the present: the narrator in search of Dostoyevsky. It is one of the rare books I like to re-read again and again. If you love Dostoyevsky don’t miss this book! (XII-15) ( )
  MeisterPfriem | Dec 6, 2015 |
Written in a breathless, Thomas Bernhard-like style, every sentence a paragraph, sometimes lasting for pages--full of clauses and hyphens--describing Dostoevsky as compulsive, tortured by perceived slights and humiliations, and his wife as long-suffering yet infinitely patient, while the author himself is melancholic and transfixed. ( )
  giovannigf | Sep 3, 2012 |
There are some books that are so good, that are so in tune with the reader’s current obsessions, that they create a conflict in the reader, a conflict between awe for the achievement of the author, and a kind of burning jealousy and sullen disheartenment that the author had the idea and executed it first. This is the book that I should have written, dammit!

This slim novel has two intertwined narratives and worlds. In the first, the narrator ‘Tsypkin’ is on a train journey from Moscow to Leningrad at some point during the late Soviet period. Day is waning, and it is deep winter. He is reading on his journey the Diaries of Anna Grigoryevna Dostoevskya, the writer’s second wife. He arrives in Leningrad, stays with an old friend, and in the morning goes to visit the Dostoevsky museum in Kuznechny Street. His impressions of his journey and his visit to Leningrad are interwoven with the impressions which arise in his mind engendered by the book he is reading, which form the second narrative.

In this narrative, the Dostoevskys are on their way to Baden Baden in the summer of 1867 to escape from the writer’s creditors. They stay in the spa town for a few months, where Dostoevsky is consumed with his passion for gambling and plagued by terrible fits of epilepsy, Anna is pregnant with their first child, they are harassed by money worries and ill treated by the natives of the town, and continuously insulted and humiliated.

This brief synopsis does little to convey the great power of this book, however, which lies chiefly in its prose style, and in its method...

Read the full review on The Lectern ( )
17 vote tomcatMurr | Dec 18, 2010 |
Hooray! I loved this book so so so much. Such a wonderful style. And so ably translated, maintaining the long, looping sentence structure from the Russian. I cried when I read this. It was fantastic. ( )
  eas311 | Jul 12, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Originaliteten ligger ikke mindst i bogens kombination af fiktion og dokumentarisme. Tsypkin vil fremstille Fjodor Dostojevskijs psyke og adfærd og samlivet med hustru nummer to, den purunge stenograf Anna, så det fænger som en roman, men uden at komme i modstrid med de eksisterende kilder.
Det sker ved at kombinere Dostojevskij-parrets rejse til Tyskland i 1867 med forfatterens egen togrejse fra Moskva til Leningrad godt 100 år senere. Tsypkin har en udgave af Annas dagbog med i toget som rejselekture.
På den måde samles begge tidsplaner i forfatterens bevidsthedsstrøm med raffinerede overgange imellem. Og via forfatterens bevidsthed føres læseren glat ud og ind ad ægtefællernes tankebaner og følelsesture.
Tsypkins stil er påfaldende. Illusionen om bevidsthedsstrøm skaber han ved at skrive i store afsnit, hvor sætning hobes på sætning med bindeord, tankestreger, kommaer, men uden punktummer før næste indrykning og afsnit. Der er grund til at gratulere oversætteren, Ole Husted Jensen, med, at det også fungerer på dansk.
At kalde det en af århundredets bøger er nok at tage munden for fuld. Men det er en fin og speciel læseoplevelse, stilsikker og anderledes.
added by 2810michael | editJyllands-Posten, Peter Ulf Møller
 
Den ukendte læge Leonid Tsypkins roman om Dostojevskijs ægteskab var en sensation, da den takket være Susan Sontag vendte tilbage til Rusland fra USA. Nu er det sindrige værk heldigvis også nået til Danmark ... (Er det) så også en god bog? Ja, det er det ... (Tsypkins) stille standardsprog er smukt i lange, leddelte episoder på flere sider med utallige, melodiske indskud og umærkelige overgange mellem hans egen tid og rejse og så Dostojevskijs tid og rejse. Sammenfletningen af de to spor er elegant og uhyre musikalsk ... Og efter at have lagt bogen fra sig mærker læseren, at hun har været i selskab med levende mennesker – endda så vanskeligt forståelige mennesker som Fjodor Mikhajlovitj Dostojevskij og hans hengivne, totalt udsatte og netop i hengivelsen mærkeligt stærke kone.
added by 2810michael | editPolitiken, Marie Tetzlaff
 
»En sommer i Baden-Baden« er en perle af en roman. Ingen, der holder af litteratur bør snyde sig selv for at læse den. (-) Det er ikke muligt at yde denne roman retfærdighed på få linier. Som en novelle af Jorge Luis Borges rummer den på få sider adskillige verdener. Det er hele den russiske litteratur, det er Dostojevskijs sind og hans historie om fangelejr og besættelse af dæmoniske kræfter. (-) Den er sublimt oversat af Ole Husted Jensen, og forlaget Batzer og Co. fortjener en varm tak for at have gjort dette mesterværk tilgængeligt for danske læsere.
******
added by 2810michael | editBerlingske Tidende, Ditlev Tamm
 
Leonid Tsypkins roman om Dostojevskij, "En sommer i Baden-Baden", er en drøm af en bog. (-) Jeg fik bogen af en, der vil mit bedste og kender mig bedre end jeg kender mig selv. Det er den bedste bog, jeg har læst de seneste fem år. Da jeg var færdig med den, læste jeg den forfra. Den hypnotiserer læseren. (-) En lysende åndemaning. Modig, mild og mesterlig.Tak til oversætteren Ole Husted Jensen og ære være forlaget Batzer & Co for deres satsning
added by 2810michael | editKristeligt Dagblad, Johannes Møllehave
 

» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Leonid Tsypkinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Frank, AlfredTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holt, Heleen tenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keys, AngelaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keys, RogerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sontag, SusanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Uijterlinde, ArjenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vonhoff, JosTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
And who knows . . . perhaps the only purpose which mankind aspires to in this worls is the perpetual process of achievement, in other words - not any specific goal, but life itself.
How tiring, how arrogant are these tricks of yours, and yet at the same time how fearful you are!

~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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Dedicated to Klara Mikhaylovna Rozental'
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I was on a train, traveling by day, but it was winter-time -- late December, the very depths -- and to add to it the train was heading north -- to Leningrad -- so it was quickly darkening on the other side of the windows -- bright lights of Moscow stations flashing into view and vanishing again behind me like the scattering of some invisible hand - each snow veiled suburn platform with its fleeting row of lamps melting into one fiery ribbon -
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0811215482, Paperback)

A lost masterpiece and one of the major achievements of Russian literature in the second half of the 20th century.

Summer in Baden-Baden was acclaimed by The New York Review of Books as "a short poetic masterpiece" and by Donald Fanger in The Los Angeles Times as "gripping, mysterious and profoundly moving."

A complex, highly original novel, Summer in Baden-Baden has a double narrative. It is wintertime, late December: a species of "now." A narrator—Tsypkinis on a train going to Leningrad. And it is also mid-April 1867. The newly married Dostoyevskys, Fyodor, and his wife, Anna Grigor'yevna, are on their way to Germany, for a four-year trip. This is not, like J. M. Coetzee's The Master of St. Petersburg, a Dostoyevsky fantasy. Neither is it a docu-novel, although its author was obsessed with getting everything "right." Nothing is invented, everything is invented. Dostoyevsky's reckless passions for gambling, for his literary vocation, for his wife, are matched by her all-forgiving love, which in turn resonates with the love of literature's disciple, Leonid Tsypkin, for Dostoyevsky. In a remarkable introductory essay (which appeared in The New Yorker), Susan Sontag explains why it is something of a miracle that Summer in Baden-Baden has survived, and celebrates the happy event of its publication in America with an account of Tsypkin's beleaguered life and the important pleasures of his marvelous novel.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:08 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The narrator recounts his journey to Leningrad as the story of the 1867 travels of Fyodor Dostoyevsky and his new wife, Anna Grigoryevna, also unfolds."A complex, highly original novel, Summer in Baden-Baden has a double narrative. It is wintertime, late December: a species of "now." A narrator?Tsypkinis on a train going to Leningrad. And it is also mid-April 1867. The newly married Dostoyevskys, Fyodor, and his wife, Anna Grigor'yevna, are on their way to Germany, for a four-year trip. This is not, like J. M. Coetzee's The Master of St. Petersburg, a Dostoyevsky fantasy. Neither is it a docu-novel, although its author was obsessed with getting everything "right." Nothing is invented, everything is invented. Dostoyevsky's reckless passions for gambling, for his literary vocation, for his wife, are matched by her all-forgiving love, which in turn resonates with the love of literature's disciple, Leonid Tsypkin, for Dostoyevsky. In a remarkable introductory essay (which appeared in The New Yorker), Susan Sontag explains why it is something of a miracle that Summer in Baden-Baden has survived, and celebrates the happy event of its publication in America with an account of Tsypkin's beleaguered life and the important pleasures of his marvelous novel."--Back cover.… (more)

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