Dostoevsky as MUSH Log

I am a lifelong fan of Russian literature, especially the fine works of Fyodor Dostoevsky. I love Notes from the Underground and Crime and Punishment. I decided to try out Daily List by reading a free translation of The Brothers Karamazov. I had started reading it once a long time ago and I figured I would finish it. The translation is very spotty in places but the copy is readable — I would recommend springing for the Penguin Books version.

The Brothers Karamazov is about three brothers, Dmitri, Ivan and Alexey, who were abandoned by their father after their mothers died. Dmitri has a different mother than Ivan and Alexey. Old Fyodor is a drunk who hates everyone. The cook, Smerdyakov, also hates everyone and he might or might not be Old Fyodor’s illegitimate. And girls are involved: the beautiful Katerina Ivanova, the trollop Grushenka, the crippled Lise. And here’s a bit of plot:

Dmitri is engaged to Katerina Ivanova but for some reason his father Fyodor wants to marry her so Fyodor has gotten Grushenka involved and Dmitri is obsessed with Grushenka but now Ivan is moving in on Katerina Ivanova who is having fainting fits and Alexey (Alyosha) simply wants to marry poor crippled Lise and make his family whole but Ivan is an atheist and Dmitri is crazy and Smerdyakov is plotting to get them to all kill each other…

Eventually the plot devolves to stabbing and deep introspection of the soul because:

– It’s a Russian Novel
– It always devolves to stabbing
– The soul needs some serious introspection

And reading along… I get this strange feeling I have read all this before. I feel deja-vu.

A good, solid, Russian gothic novel is everything a MUSH devolves into given five minutes and half a playerbase: lots and lots of people sitting around discussing how they are quite upset, then going on a huge monologue about God for a few pages, some tension, perhaps a good war or two if reading Tolstoy, and then someone gets a good, solid stabbing. Then after something finally happens everyone — yes — sits around in cafes and discusses everything again! Wash, rinse, repeat. (This ties back well into Rob’s post about romance novels.)

This sort of thought leads me down the path to all sorts of MUSH-like genre games where the novel reads an awful lot like a MUSH log with some better language, punctuation and spelling:

– Romance games, where everyone sits around and talks.
– Jeeves and Wooster games, where everyone sits around, talks, drinks, and fails to shoot pool.
– Russian novel games, where everyone sits around, talks, drinks, stabs, and angsts.

I, personally, will be the first person to app on the Jeeves and Wooster MUSH.