Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Comment: Snowden in Moscow

Today's NY Times (7/25/13) reports that: "After a month holed up in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, Edward J. Snowden. . . received a change of clothes and copy of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's 'Crime and Punishment,' during a meeting with his lawyer on Wednesday. . . "

The need for a change of clothes requires no comment. But why that particular novel, not that I disapprove. On the contrary, I hope Snowden will share — leak? —  his thoughts on it. 

Should we suggest other Russian novels he might want to consult while "holed up in the transit zone" of the Moscow airport? (Just Russian novels; Kafka, otherwise all too appropriate, need not apply.)

I, for one, would recommend Bulgakov's "The Master and Margarita". Then again, ever since a Russian bartender in Brooklyn told me it was her favorite book, and I re-read it, I recommend that stupendous novel to everyone. On the other hand, I would strongly recommend against "The Brothers Karamazov". which, except for the Grand Inquisitor sequence, is pure wind-baggery.

I can't imagine Snowden finding much to like in "The Brothers Karamazov" — except, again, the riveting and relevant Grand Inquisitor sequence — but who knows?

Snowden is detained in Russia. When detained in Russia, literature becomes essential, as we know. Hence, I further recommend "The Gulag Archipelago".


  1. many great Russian novels, and Snowden will have the time to read them. What about Tolstoy?

  2. Of course, the first work of literature that comes to mind is Everett Hale's short story The Man Without a Country. (Translated into Russian by none other than Kurt Vonnegut.)

  3. sure. but i can see why he turns to dostoyevsky.