Archive for November 9th, 2008

If the works of any man could make his biographer write in exasperation as thus: “All the while I was writing the biography I had to fight off a revulsion that kept rising within me,” we know it has to be that of Fyodor Dosteovsky. Leo Tolstoy was in full agreement with Nicholas Strakhov, who was the biographer. Such classics as The Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and Brothers Karamazov have passed into our treasury of literature as supreme examples of this Russian genius.
Tolstoy, a great author himself, ridiculed Dostoevsky’s exaggeration, his implausibility, inchoate style, his grammatical errors, and his mania for peopling his imaginary universe with epileptics, alcoholics and paranoiacs. Tolstoy never did experience such ups and downs and sordidness as he did. Dosteovsky was sick in himself, who thought of himself noble and happy and yet lacked courage to see any further than himself. To quote his biographer again,” He was vicious, envious, depraved and spent his life in a state of emotional upheaval and exasperation that would have made him appear ridiculous had he not been so malicious and so intelligent.”
Where Mozart rose above the immediate circumstances over his disappointments and misery the Russian writer sank under, into lower depths. How much more sickening one can get than his boasting about his encounters with little girls and not having any repugnance over them? Once Turgeniev, the author of Fathers and Sons bristled at his confession and asked rather angrily why he was telling him that. “ I just wanted to show how I despise you,”was his answer. He rearranged his life, however scabrous or demeaning it might have been, into works something that still have universal appeal.
Our life is real, transient reality to be precise, while such works as that of Dostoevsky or Kafka fall within the realm of supra-reality that we can accept as self-evident. Can we explain why life must overload a sensitive child with the violent death of his father however brute he may have been, and all other attendant distresses as in the case of Dostoevsky? For that matter can one reasonably explain why a bright child of three suddenly fall victim to cancer? Or a child, an apple of the eye of its parents, before their eyes fall a victim of hit and run case? Try to explain it in a way its parents can understand then perhaps we may be able to stand in judgment of his life as he lived apart from his works.


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In one hand George bid one club. The bidding came around the fourth time and it was still one club. His opponent said of George’s partner, ”He is not even trying,”.
George replied, ”Oh he is very trying.”

At the Hoyle Club one evening one of the player was particularly garrulous. Taking as much of his chatter as he could, Kaufman asked, ”Bamberger, don’t you have ever have an unexpressed thought?”
When he grew ill and infirm, his memory began to fail. It was then he rather than embarrass himself stopped playing cards.

Once Kaufman was asked to write the introduction to a book. It was sent to him in manuscript form, and he found it peppered with glaring mistakes in spelling.
“Ï’m not very good at it myself, ”he wrote to the author, but the first rule about spelling used to be that there is only one ‘z’in ‘is’.

“I don’t see why you people carry on so much about the income tax” a millionaire said in George’s company. “I managed very well in spite of it,” He enumerated his various corporate holdings in Cuba, Canada and Switzerland which elicited the following rejoinder, ” Well, Gilbert,” Kaufman observed, “You have one advantage over us. You’re a goddamn crook!”

Kaufman’s hypochondria was a fair game even for Kaufman. An old friend recommended a physician whose knowledge of the theatre was remarkable.
“The kind of doctor I want,” said he, “is one who, when he is not examining me, is home studying medicine.”

In his youth Kaufman revelled in pun, a sample of which is given below:
‘One man’s Mede is another man’s Persian’.
‘A man had two daughters, Lizzie and Tillie, and Lizzie is alright but you have no idea how punctilious’.

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