Bobok

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"Bobok" takes place in a cemetery, perhaps similar to this one in St. Petersburg.

"Bobok" (Russian: Бобок, Bobok) is a short story by Fyodor Dostoevsky that first appeared in 1873 in his self-published Diary of a Writer. The title can be translated from the Russian as meaning "little bean," and in the context of the story is taken to be synonymous with gibberish or nonsense.[1]

The philosopher and literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin regarded Bobok as one of the finest works in the literary tradition of Menippean satire, and argues that it encapsulates many of the thematic concerns of Dostoevsky's major novels.[2]

Synopsis[edit]

The story is framed as an excerpt from the diary of a frustrated writer named Ivan Ivanovitch. One day he attends the funeral of a casual acquaintance and falls to contemplation in the graveyard. He hears the voices of the recently deceased and buried, and he listens to their conversation. They discuss card games and political scandals, and they have decided that the "inertia" of consciousness allows them to converse even while in the grave "for two or three months... sometimes even for half a year" according to the character Platon Nikolaevitch. As the deceased prepare to entertain themselves by revealing all of the shameful details of their earthly lives, Ivan Ivanovitch sneezes. The dead are silent afterward. Ivan Ivanovitch leaves the graveyard distressed that depravity exists even in the grave, "the last moments of consciousness," but hopeful that he may visit other cemeteries and finally have something to write about.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dostoevsky, Fyodor. White Nights and Other Stories, edited by Susan L. Rattiner, translated by Constance Garnett. Dover Thrift Editions, 2008.
  2. ^ Bakhtin, Mikhail (1984). Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics. University of Minnesota Press. pp. 144–46.

External links[edit]