Novel Greatness

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture
Submitted by Kyrel Zantonavitch on Sun, 2017-11-26 11:27

Crime and Punishment (1866) is better written and more enjoyable than The Brothers Karamatzov (1880). Steppenwolf (1927) is better written and more enjoyable than The Glass Bead Game (1943). Even The Fountainhead (1943) is better written and more enjoyable than Atlas Shrugged (1957). The latter three are all overlong, overwritten, and overwrought.

Fyodor Dostoevski, Herman Hesse, and Ayn Rand spent considerably too much time and effort on their magnus opuses. Their ambition was admirable. But their actual accomplishment was far less so.

Yes, these last three novels are genuinely profound and undeniably outstanding. The stories they tell are a wonder to behold and truly magnficent.

But these masterpieces should have been shorter, simpler and directer. They should have been more stylized and intense. This would have made them faster, easier, and more pleasant to read. It even would have made them more moving and powerful.

Less overt intellectualism and more graphic action would have helped render them thus. And there still would have been plenty of room for explicit philosophy -– as with their earlier novels.

Ultimately, these three marvelous and stunning novelists should have used their awesome abilities and powers to make two new novels –- not one. Such a literary strategy probably would have taken about the same time and effort. But the results would have been considerably more spectacular.

That said, there's still a helluva lot to enjoy in these three climactic stories and tour de forces. They are ingenious works and remarkable achievements which have a depth, breadth, and greatness not found in their earlier novels.

Still, Dostoevski, Hesse, and Rand never should have written them. At least, not in the lengthy, ponderous, stilted, inhibited, overdetailed, overrefined way that they did.