The Reader Suffers The Loss of Dostoevsky.
By Max G. Bernard
Copyright 2010 Max G. Bernard, all rights reserved.
It was, I believe, sometime in the spring of 1968 that someone at a party at my apartment on Halsted Street in Chicago, unbeknownst to me at the time, stole my entire collection of books by Dostoevsky. I was attending Roosevelt University at the time, and had been going there since September of 1965.
There had to be close to 200 people at the party. I had done up a ditto stencil to make invitations to the party, and then just passed them out at school. There were a lot of people I knew, but also a lot of people that I didn’t. Somewhere in the crowd, apparently, there was someone who coveted the works of the epileptic Russian novelist.
Whoever that person was, I believe they were operating under some strange compulsion. They couldn’t leave well enough alone. And they couldn’t be satisfied by merely taking Crime and Punishment, or the Brothers Karamokov or The Gambler or The Idiot or Notes From Underground. They had to take them all.
I believe that I’m the sort of person who, had I been asked, would have lent this person the entire collection. No Questions Asked. But no request was made. Nor were the books ever returned. I do hope that they were read.
Books in my possession usually wind up being read. Not always, however. One book that I have which I have never read is The Guilty Head by Romain Gary. I did start it once, recently. It was given—or perhaps “lent”—to me by my Danish friend Vaughn, who thought I would enjoy it, and who seemed to suggest that it was a book with some profound lesson for me to grasp.