Friday, July 1, 2011

A Tragic Revelation about the Russians

I know, finally, why all the Russian novels are so miserable: they were written in the Russian language. 

You thought Raskolnikov was tragically tormented over that durned theft-turned-double-murder, right? Well, I'm here to tell you that his crimes were but a minor contributing factor. It was only when he realised that he'd never be able to pronounce the ninth Russian vowel that his descent into madness began. And Anna Karenina - someone told her that her stress changes after verb conjugations had been wrong for years, and that's when she realised that life was unbearable. Ivan Denisovich was only sentenced to Siberia when he failed to identify whether the farmer threw the sickle at the wife, or the wife threw the farmer at the sickle. Had Pasternak written in French, Dr Zhivago and Lara might have gotten married and had eight children. Eugene Onegin - the Brothers Karamazov - need I go on? The tragic trajectory of all Russian protagonists has been profoundly influenced by the language which imbued them with life. 

My Russian classes are administered by old-school teachers and supplemented by Soviet-era textbooks; after four hours a day, I feel like I've been run over by a freight train. Brute memorisation is the only way to survive, and even then it still feels like my teachers would like nothing more than to rap my knuckles and make me stand with my face to the wall. One week down, three to go. I'm already looking forward to life without language class.

On the other hand, I can already have fairly coherent conversations about vegetables and buses, so I guess it's not all bad.

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