Read Summer in Baden-Baden by Leonid Tsypkin Roger Keys Angela Keys Susan Sontag Online


Summer in Baden-Baden was acclaimed by The New York Review of Books as "a short poetic masterpiece" and by Donald Fanger in The Los Angeles Times as "gripping, mysterious and profoundly moving."A complex, highly original novel, Summer in Baden-Baden has a double narrative. It is wintertime, late December: a species of "now." A narrator—Tsypkinis on a train going to LeningrSummer in Baden-Baden was acclaimed by The New York Review of Books as "a short poetic masterpiece" and by Donald Fanger in The Los Angeles Times as "gripping, mysterious and profoundly moving."A complex, highly original novel, Summer in Baden-Baden has a double narrative. It is wintertime, late December: a species of "now." A narrator—Tsypkinis on a train going to Leningrad. And it is also mid-April 1867. The newly married Dostoyevskys, Fyodor, and his wife, Anna Grigor'yevna, are on their way to Germany, for a four-year trip. This is not, like J. M. Coetzee's The Master of St. Petersburg, a Dostoyevsky fantasy. Neither is it a docu-novel, although its author was obsessed with getting everything "right." Nothing is invented, everything is invented. Dostoyevsky's reckless passions for gambling, for his literary vocation, for his wife, are matched by her all-forgiving love, which in turn resonates with the love of literature's disciple, Leonid Tsypkin, for Dostoyevsky. In a remarkable introductory essay (which appeared in The New Yorker), Susan Sontag explains why it is something of a miracle that Summer in Baden-Baden has survived, and celebrates the happy event of its publication in America with an account of Tsypkin's beleaguered life and the important pleasures of his marvelous novel....

Title : Summer in Baden-Baden
Author :
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ISBN : 9780811214841
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 176 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Summer in Baden-Baden Reviews

  • Steve
    2019-02-09 00:05

    Leonid Tsypkin’s Summer in Baden-Baden is a novel about one man’s love for the literature of his country and, in particular, for the writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Tsypkin, a medical researcher by day, pursued another, more passionate vocation in the evenings. This remarkable day by day regimen is chronicled by Tsypkin son in the book’s introduction: Every day, he left at a quarter to eight sharp for his work at the Institute of Poliomyelitis and Viral Encephalitis, situated in a distant suburb of Moscow, not far from the Vnukovo airport. He came back home at six p.m., had dinner, took a short nap, and sat down to write--if not his prose, then his medical research papers. Before going to bed, at ten p.m., he sometimes would take a walk. He usually spent his weekends writing as well; for a change he would work at the Lenin Library, gathering materials for his book on Dostoyevsky. My father craved every opportunity to write, but writing was difficult, painful. He agonized over every word, and endlessly corrected his hand-written manuscripts. Once finished with editing, he typed his prose on an ancient, shiny German typewrite, “Erika”--World War II loot, sold by one owner to the next until an uncle gave it to my father in 1949. And in that form his writings remained. He did not send his manuscripts to publishers, and did not want to circulate his prose in samizdat because he was afraid of problems with the KGB and of losing his job.Tsypkin, who died in 1982, would not live to see Summer in Baden-Baden published. His writing life was clandestine, and his one attempt to obtain an exit visa out of the Soviet Union failed due to the tensions between East and West over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Nevertheless, as Susan Sontag observes in the introduction, Tsypkin predicament and passion didn’t require an audience. Sontag marvels at Tsypkin ability to write “without hope or prospect of being published,” and poses the question attendant to Tsypkin accomplishment: “what resources of faith in literature does that imply?” The Dostoyevsky that emerges in Tsypkin’s novel is consistent with that represented by other biographers: paranoid, epileptic, anti-Semitic, addicted to gambling, but also a man possessing a great heart and an uncanny prophetic insight into the world to come. The difference, however, is Tsypkin’s Dostoyevsky is Dostoyevsky from the inside out. The key event around which the novel is built is Dostoyevsky’s 1867 trip to the gambling tables of Baden-Baden in Germany. Accompanying him is his young wife, Anna Gregoryevna, a stenographer who met and worked with Dostoyevsky while the author was writing Crime and Punishment. Anna quickly discovers (they are newlyweds) that life with “Fedya” will not be easy. Yet, going back to their first meeting in a St. Peterburg apartment, she has, from the start, sensed his genius and clings to it like a “mast.” In Tsypkin’s portrayals of the couple’s love-making, the reader observes a mystical union (or feverish dream-scape) easily as surreal as any scene found in Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, or The Possessed: That night, when he went to kiss Anya, they swam away again together, rhythmically thrusting out their arms from the water and raising their heads to take in gulps of air--and the current did not sweep him away--they swam towards the receding horizon, into the unknown, deep blue distance, and then he began to kiss her again--a dark triangle appeared, upturned--its apex, its peak, pointing downwards, forever inaccessible, like the inverted peak of a very high mountain disappearing somewhere into the clouds--or rather the core of a volcano--and this peak, this unattainable core, contained the answer both terrible and exquisite to something nameless and unimaginable and, throughout his life, even in his letters to her, he maintained his incessant struggle to reach it, but this peak, this core, remained forever inaccessible. There are times, however, during the lovemaking (or, interestingly, the gambling), when the “yellow-lynx” eyes of the prison commandant intrudes into Dostoyevsky’s thoughts. The trauma of a beating in Siberia will haunt him the rest of his life, adding further revolutions to the manic engine of the writer, sometimes reducing him to impotence, or even triggering an epileptic fit. Parallel to Dostoyevsky's story is that of the unnamed narrator. As Sontag points out in the introduction, the novel operates as a double narrative--which, considering Dostoyevsky’s interest in the Double, could be Tsypkin’s inside joke. On the surface, the narrator’s story appears secondary to the Dostoyevksy story. Both stories are linked by the narrator’s imagination, but the link is such that the division between the two stories is ultimately artificial. Though the details are fewer, we know the narrator is Jewish and lives in the modern day Soviet Union--and that he admires Dostoyevsky. Beyond that, we know little more. Family members make brief appearances, and it is a book (Anna Gregoryevna’s Diary) borrowed from an aunt that sets the novel into motion. As the novel progresses, the narrator slowly reveals more of himself, until at last he must address the gnawing issue of Dostoyevsky’s hatred of Jews. I leafed through, in the slightly wavering circle of light cast by the bulb from beneath the green lamp-shade, the penultimate volume of Dostoevski’s works, containing Diary of a Writer for 1877 or 1878--and finally I stumbled on an article especially devoted to the Jews--‘The Jewish Question’ it was called--and finally I should not have been surprised to discover it because he was bound after all somewhere or other to have gathered together in one place all those ‘Jews, Jewesses, Jew-boys and Yids’ with which he so liberally besprinkled the pages of his novels--now as the poseur Lyamshin squealing with terror in "The Possessed," now as the arrogant and at the same time cowardly Isaiah Fomich in Memoirs from the "House of the Dead" who did not scruple to lend money at enormous interest to his fellow-convicts, now as the fireman in "Crime and Punishment" with that ‘everlasting sullen grief, so sourly imprinted on all members of the tribe of Judah without exception’. . .The issue is a paradox and the narrator’s conclusion a question: and it struck me as being strange to the point of implausibility that a man so sensitive in his novels to the sufferings of others, this defender of the insulted and the injured who fervently and even frenetically preached the right to exist of every earthly creature and sang a passionate hymn to each little leaf and every blade of grass--that this man should not have come up with even a single word in the defence or justification of a people persecuted over several thousands of years--could he have been so blind?--or was he perhaps blinded by hatred?--The narrator next moves the question to himself, as he speculates whether such an admiration--from a Jew--is, in fact, a “cannibalistic” act or perhaps a shield in a hostile culture: --but it is possible, however, that this special attraction which Dostoyevsky seems to possess for Jews reveals something else: the desire to hide behind his back, as if using him as a safe-conduct--something like adopting Christianity or daubing a cross on your door during a pogrom-- But, in the end, the narrator rejects this interpretation, concluding instead that it is also love for this sometimes hostile--but also great--culture and nation that overrides and forgives. The model or vehicle for forgiveness in Dostoyevsky’s story is not Dostoyevsky - who falls on his knees at seemingly every other moment--but his second wife, Anna, with whom the narrator clearly identifies. Through the difficult summer of 1867, Anna sees Dostoyevsky at his worst, but she indulges him and gives him space and money, along with her own jewelry to pawn, which he quickly blows at the gambling tables again and again. For, despite Dostoyevsky’s erratic behavior, she also sees the writer of Crime and Punishment and the “mast” of his genius, and how she must cling to this mast. Tsypkin’s Anna becomes so essential, and her appearance comes at such a pivotal time in Dostoyevsky’s life, that it’s difficult to imagine the writer without Anna nursing him through his epileptic fits, depressions, and wild mood swings. Without her, would the great novels to come even have been written? By novel’s end, we move forward in time (and time is a slippery beast in this novel) toward the end of Dostoyevsky’s life. The reader sees and appreciates fully the love Anna bears for her husband. In one long, beautiful passage, Tsypkin poignantly paints the last scene of a literary marriage. I was struck by the contrast between Dostoyevsky’s death and Tolstoy’s own bitter end. The Dostoyevskys denouement is far sweeter and enduring than Tolstoy’s bitter tramp through the snow: --‘I shall die today, Anya,’ he said quietly, continuing to look at her in the same way-- and she went up to him and, taking his hands in hers, began trying to convince him that things would turn out all right and that the doctors did not consider his condition dangerous, but pushing her hands to one side and continuing to whisper, because he was unable to speak loudly, he asked her to pass him the copy of the Gospels given to him by the wives of the Decembrists when he had been in penal servitude and which he always kept with him, covering it with many pencil marks in the margins - and opening it at random without looking down at the page, he asked her to read out loud the third verse from the top, and she read: ‘And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness’--‘You see,’ he said, ‘ “Suffer it to be so now” so I shall die’--and he shut the book, and Anna Grigor’yevna, kneeling down beside him, took his hand in hers once again and he put her hand to his lips, kissing it, and then he fell asleep, breathing peacefully and evenly, and she stayed there kneeling, afraid to move in case she should wake him up, and when he did wake up, it was already late morning, and he wound up his watch himself, then he asked her to let him clean his teeth and to help him get dressed, and when he began to comb his hair, attempting to make it cover his bald patch, and Anna Grigor’yevna, fearing that it would cost him too much effort, took the comb from him and tried to do it for him herself, he became irritable and started to ask very loudly, even shouting why she was doing it from the wrong side, so that, although, she was afraid that this loud display of temper might not be any good for him, at the same time she was glad to see his irritable reaction, which gave her hope that he might recover since it was so characteristic of him, but when, with help, he had nearly got himself completely dressed and was about to pull on his socks, blood appeared on his lips, and chin once again--Summer in Baden-Baden is a difficult book that requires some familiarity with Dostoyevsky’s life and works. Tyspkin moves freely and sometimes confusingly through time, blurring the lines between the narrator’s life and Dostoyevsky’s life. But this is intentional. Armed with some Dostoyevsky basics, and primed with Sontag’s superb introduction, the patient reader will be rewarded not only with a fine modernist meditation on one of Russian literature’s greatest writers but also the story of one writer’s devotion to the writing life.

  • William1
    2019-01-29 07:24

    Susan Sontag enthused over this one and, indeed, it’s a beautiful book. Touching on the lyrical at times, which is amazing considering it was translated from the Russian. It helps to have read some Dostoyevsky, but that’s not essential.

  • Liel
    2019-02-21 06:29

    Once or twice in our lives, we are fortunate enough to stumble upon a hidden masterpiece, a book so entrancing that its obscurity strikes one not so much as an act of cultural oversight but as a natural disaster, leaving in its wake throngs of readers deprived of the book's great and terrible beauty. Luckily, in recent years the cult of "Summer in Baden-Baden" has grown considerably, with the book finding its way here, as it did in its native Soviet Russia, from friend to awestruck friend, passed around semizdat-style. Any attempt at definition is bound to fail, as Leonid Tsypkin -- a haunted and supremely talented writer who has never seen this, his only work, published in his lifetime -- has invented a brand new hybrid genre, bringing together literary criticism, biography, novellas and travelogues. For good measure, however, the plot is as follows: The narrator, Tsypkin himself, is riding the train form Moscow to St. Petersburg in the 1960s or 1970s. He is reading a book, Anna Dostoyevsky's account of her travels with her husband in the year 1867, when the two, then newlyweds, left Russia for a summer in the German spa town of Baden Baden. Dual accounts emerge: On the one hand is the great author, his fame far from fully recognized, his finances in disarray, his sexuality ill at ease and his psyche ravaged by a growing addiction to gambling. He runs around Baden Baden, a town awash in splendor, fuming at the sight of his fellow compatriots, Goncharov and Turgenev, both adored by the critics and in possession of considerable fortunes. One moment he is ecstatic, bursting into casinos with crystal chandeliers and plush carpeting in the hope of winning instantaneous wealth. The other he crawls back to his modest apartment, paralyzed with guilt, begging his young wife's forgiveness. Tsypkin has concocted here not so much a biography as a fantasy, however well-grounded in fact, and he enriches his text with subtle allusions to Dostoyevsky's work, small nuggets that are bound to delight fans of the great author. But the book is as much Tsypkin's story as it is Dostoyevsky's; on a parallel track to Fyodor and Anna's woes, Tsypkin recounts his own journey, one that ends with a pilgrimage to the author's house in St. Petersburg. This, I believe, is the truly masterful part of the book, as Tsypkin weaves together political commentary, lamenting the crumbling Soviet Union, with literary criticism, pondering the shortcomings of his idol, an unhappy, anti-Semitic wretch of a man who nonetheless transcended the barriers posed by his wounded soul to become one of humanity's sharpest observers. Tsypkin style, to be sure, is likely to frighten some, especially on first glance: The book itself is written in long, breathless sentences, sometimes a paragraph long. Although the book is short, its density is uncommon, demanding a slow and meditative pace, boundless patience, and a real admiration for Tsypkin's uncommonly artful sentences. Despite the difficulty it presents, it is an immensely moving book, one in which love and fame and wealth and friendship and failure are all cut open, analyzed as seldom before, making the reader a bit sadder, a bit smarter, a bit more aware.

  • Ben Winch
    2019-02-23 00:04

    Susan Sontag writes:The literature of the second half of the twentieth century is a much traversed field, and it seems unlikely that there are still masterpieces in major, intently patrolled languages waiting to be discovered.‘Intently patrolled’ – I like that! At a time when most publishers won’t accept unsolicited manuscripts, let alone pay them proper attention when they do! When even agents don’t accept them! It’s like some Kafkaesque doorkeeper fable! Maybe in the seventies it was different, though with the invention of the word processor in the eighties the submissions must have flooded in. My dad wrote three novels in the eighties – no publisher, to my knowledge, ever read them. My uncle wrote a huge novel before he died, which both my parents thought was a masterpiece, but my mum couldn’t find an agent willing to take on a dead author and, again, no publisher read it. In the nineties I held a job (briefly) as ‘slush pile’ reader for Random House. I’d receive a package of manuscripts in the mail, skim or occasionally read them, write a small (sometimes very small) ‘report’ on each, bill the publisher for my time taken and never hear from them again. Money in the bank, sure, and another package of manuscripts, but never a word on the work I’d done. Was I, then, doing the ‘patrolling’? Maybe to Sontag it’s inconceivable that any but professionals already on the radars of the so-called patrollers could come up with these masterpieces, but not to me. The frightening thing is how many hidden masterpieces there must be, in all languages, and it can only be getting worse.Meantime, I’m not even convinced that Summer in Baden Baden is a masterpiece. The comparison to Bernhard – gimme a break! Read The Lime Works and tell me just stringing every sentence out with ‘ands’ and extended parentheses is the equivalent of that virtuosity. Yeah, it sweeps you up; oftentimes it sweeps you (or swept me) up and over what it sought to convey, and by each seemingly interminable sentence’s end the last thing you feel like is re-reading it. Nor did I feel any great insight into Dostoevsky, and if (as Sontag claims) it’s supposed to depict some great love affair, I didn’t get it: endless squabbling (often culminating in threats of suicide from Fedya) and endless making up. Not a relationship I found unique or interesting. There’s Dos’s anti-semitism, which particularly stings the Jewish Leonid Tsypkin – but it’s barely explored. There’s Tsypkin’s (or the narrator’s) own life – but again, it’s wafer-thin. A good early draft, then, unbalanced by excessive focus on Dos’s gambling (tedious, well-illustrated early on then drawn out ad nauseum) and too little clarity in the present-day sections? Cos I mean, yeah, it was good. It flew by. But didn’t it feel just slightly pointless? True, this genre (a slightly more focussed Sebaldian journey that’s hardly fiction at all) is a hard sell for me. But to me this is one more reason to take a break from the past and start ‘patrolling’ the present. (And by this, Susan, I mean more than just digging around in secondhand bookshops.)

  • Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
    2019-02-08 06:18

    Leonid Tsypkin strongly felt what now appears to be a universal human need: to be a fan of someone or something. But he was cursed by fate. He lived in a place and at a time when there was no one to worship but God yet God was itself banned as a matter of state policy and there were no rock stars, actors, great athletes, football teams or anything one could substitute for God. Tsypkin was born in 1926 in Minsk. His parents were Russian jews. He was a young boy when the Stalinist purges, the Great Terror, started. His father, his father's two sisters and a brother were arrested. His father tried to commit suicide while in prison but survived and later got out. His father's aforementioned three siblings all perished. When Minsk was captured by the Germans in 1941 it was the turn of Tsypkin's grandmother, another aunt and two little cousins to die, murdered in a ghetto. He and his father, however, managed to escape from Minsk with the help of his father's former patient. Later, Tsypkin himself became a doctor like his parents.He married and had a son, Mikhail.He had always loved literature and the arts and at some time toyed with the idea of writing full time or becoming a film director. But he was afraid he may not be able to support his family with any of these careers. So he stuck with being a doctor, devoting much of his time on research.He did manage to write some poems, two novellas and this one, his longest. But none of these was ever published in Russia during his lifetime. His son Mikhail and the latter's wife were granted exit visas in 1977 and they migrated to the United States. Two years after, Tsypkin himself, his wife and mother applied for exit visas but were denied. The emigration of his son to the United States had caused him a lot of trouble: his salary (the only source of livelihood for the family) was cut by 75% and he was treated as a pariah in the research institute ran by the government where he worked. He was trappped.It was at this period (1977 to 1980) that he wrote this novel. After it was finished, and with no prospect of having it published in the country, he managed to smuggle a copy of the manuscript out through the help of a journalist friend who had managed to leave early in 1981. In September that year, he, his wife and his mother re-applied for exit visas. The following month his mother died, aged 86. A week later the denial of their application came.In early March 1982 he was told by the head of the Moscow visa office that he will never be allowed to emigrate anywhere. Days later, his son Mikhail, who was then studying in Harvard, told him that this novel will be published, on installment, at a Russian-emigre weekly based in New York. The first of these installments appeared on 13 March 1982. A week later, or on 20 March 1982, Tsypkin died of a heart attack. It was his 56th birthday. He never got to see any of his work in print or came to know of the readers' reaction to any of his literary output. How would he have reacted to Susan Sontag's introduction here where she gushed that she would include this novel "among the most beautiful, exalting, and original achievements of a century's worth of fiction and para-fiction" we will never know.This is a part-historical, part-imaginary and part-autobiographical fan blog written long before the age of the internet and using, not a laptop, but a World War II-vintage Erika typewriter. The object of Tsypkin's fanboyism was the only type of idol the KGB then will not suspect you of hatching a plot to destabilize the regime: a Russian author dead for about a century with an apolitical body of work: Fyodor Dostoevsky.A true fan he was, for only a true fan would do what Tsypkin did before actually wiriting this novel amidst the hopelessness and tribulations of his sorry life. First, he scoured the libraries and archives to do research on Dostoevsky. Then, camera in hand, he went to Leningrad to take photos of places which had a part in Dostoevsky's life AND that of the characters in his novels. That is why in between paragraphs of this novel the reader will be occasionally confronted with images of streets, buildings, walls, holes, stairways, rooms and the like all without any human beings in them as if even in these images of places Tsypkin did not want anyone but Dostoevsky and his characters to magically appear and re-enact the incidents of their lives.It seemed a historical fact that in the summer of 1867 Dostoevsky and his young wife Anna travelled across Russia to Baden-Baden (then a popular resort town). But his anti-semitism, his gambling addiction, his compulsive almsgiving, his use of swimming as a metaphor for the sex act--were these still facts or were they just imagined by Tyspkin? (sorry, but I read my Dostoevsky more than 30 years ago).The scenes here go from Dostoevsky's time to Tyspkin's own time in the 1970s as if the century which separates these times had been compressed to make the past and the present happen simultaneously through the medium of this novel. Tyspkin was like an Elvis Presley impersonator dressing up like him and singing his songs to relive what had long been gone. This is one desperate longing expressed through prose.

  • Bob
    2019-01-28 07:23

    Seemingly everyone who reads this says "How could such a good book be scarcely known?" (and the circumstances under which it was published at all are remarkable).The unnamed narrator, basically Tsypkin himself, is taking a train from Moscow to Leningrad in the late 70s in winter - it is dark and cold, the sodium lights of each town flash by. He is reading the "Diary" of Dostoevsky's second wife, Anna, and uses this to retell two episodes from their life together - a summer in Baden-Baden just after they were married, scarcely idyllic because Dostoevsky's well-documented gambling obsession dominates their days, and a quick flash-forward to his deathbed. There's also an interlude on Pushkin, an aside pondering Dostoevsky's anti-Semitism and a few more topics.Tsypkin (and his narrator) was from a family of accomplished doctors, cultivated and having a great literary enthusiasm. The state of Russian Jews having progressed from the outright murderousness of the Stalin era to a constant state of civil and professional discrimination, the book closes with him staying with an aunt in one of those formerly grand now-crumbling apartments, shared with several other families, because he has traveled to Leningrad to continue his research on Dostoevsky.His prose style is exhilarating and remarkable and almost unprecedented - every sentence is a long paragraph and weaves together four threads. Susan Sontag's introduction (a big reminder that I am way behind in reading her), says he could be compared to Thomas Bernhard or W. G. Sebald but observes there's almost no chance he could have been familiar with either.The book was published in New York in 1982 in a Russian emigre literary journal, the manuscript having been smuggled out of the USSR. Tsypkin's decision to give his blessing to his son and daughter-in-law emigrating to California a couple of years prior effectively ended his professional life and scotched his own requests to leave - he had already declined to attempt to publish any of his two decades of literary work as samizdat for fear of actually going to jail, so the fact that the book can be read is some kind of victory.

  • James
    2019-01-30 05:19

    "I was on a train, traveling by day, but it was winter-time -- late December, the very depths -- and to add to it the train was heading north -- to Leningrad -- so it was quickly darkening on the other side of the windows -- bright lights of Moscow stations flashing into view and vanishing again behind me like the scattering of some invisible hand . . ."(Leonid Tsypkin, Summer in Baden-Baden, p 1). So begins a literary doppleganger in the sense that there are two narratives, one of Leningrad and today and Leonid Tsypkin, and one of Petersburg and yesterday and Fedya and Anna. Tsypkin's novel mesmerizes with two stories that enthrall with emotion and truth. A taut gem of historical fiction that gets to the heart of Dostoevsky and appeals to all who have loved his work. The story clings to the real events of Dostoevsky's life torn form the pages of Anna's Diary and other sources that intertwine with Tsypkin's own modern journey. Among the themes of the book are those of all great Russian literature as seen through the painful experiences of Dostoevsky's own vices and the dreamlike desires of the narrator. I was fascinated as the novel flowed back and forth between the first person I reflecting the narrator's memories and the third person scenes of fedya and Anna -- between past and present. The taut lyricism that keeps the novel short, even through the use of long sentences is difficult to compare with any other novel I have read. However, in its uniqueness I would place it with Rilke's Notebooks of Malt Laurids Brigge. Different in many ways but just as unique in its ability to haunt one's memory. Sadly, the author did not live to see the English-language publication of this novel. Like other great Russian authors he worked in the medical profession, but he left us a gift based on his passion for literature.

  • Jim
    2019-02-07 02:10

    This is a strange sort of novel, written by one who never lived to see it published, but withal one of the greatest works produced during the Soviet era. Picture a doctor who is obsessed with the life of Dostoyevsky, who sees his own life as if it were in lock step with that of earlier writer. He recreates his life, and that of his second wife Anna Grigor'yevna, so vividly that I will have a difficult time unlinking it from this work.Picture this memory of Anna Grigor'yevna's while her husband lies dying:[S]he was on her knees before her dying husband, her husband, Fedya, who used to come to her every evening to say goodnight, used to write long, passionate letters to her from Bad Ems, where he would travel every summer to take the cure, who used to cause jealous scenes at readings of his works whenever she exchanged a quick word with anyone or he thought she was looking at someone, and then they would walk home separately, but he would not be able to keep it up, and he would catch up with her and ask her to forgive him, saying that if she refused, then he would throw himself on his knees before her there and then—and she would forgive him, and they would walk on together—and supporting her carefully by the arm, he would look into her eyes and then, leaving her for a moment, would dash into a shop and buy her some sweetmeats—nuts, raisins, bon-bons—and when they arrived home they would drink tea and he would produce the sweetmeats for her and the children, but if she had a cold, he would get irritated and ask her to stop sneezing, and this made her laugh, and in the end he would start to laugh as well.Did you notice that this is all one sentence with phrases strung together by ands or other conjunctions. The translation by Roger and Angela Keys is so spot on that Leonid Tsypkin's sesquipedalian sentences would flow like a river in flood.Summer in Baden-Baden is such a good book that it makes me want to re-read what Dostoyevsky I have already read and maybe include some of the obscure ones I haven't, such as The Insulted and the Injured and A Raw Youth.

  • Vilma
    2019-02-20 00:18

    Leonid Tsypkin was a researcher, an author of over 100 scientific papers, by nighttime a pathologist and a writer who wrote for the pleasure and love of literature alone, literally for the drawer. During his lifetime his readership didn´t include more than family members and some of his son´s friends from University. He was not associated with any of the Soviet dissident circles, the samizdat underground movement and surely not an officially recognized writer. Fortunately Tsypkin managed somehow to let his manuscript be smuggled out of the country and one week before his death at the age of 56 it was published in serial form in a newspaper in the United States. He never saw any of his pages in print.This, should I call it a novel, a travel-diary, a memoir?, is undoubtedly the product of art but even more so it is a highly accurate biography of Fyodor Mikhailovich. Not a biography in the strict sense of the word with dates and whereabouts but a biography of the soul, of the mind of a great writer, even as one can expect with a high portion of fiction or as Susan Sontag wrote in her marvellous, essay like, introduction: "Nothing is invented. Everything is invented."Of course this is not a literary study of Dostoyevsky, as we are dealing with a literary work, the novel, the characters of which the author, Dostoyevsky, his wife Anna Grigor´yevna, and some more people, operate in a dark and chilly St.Petersburg, or in the summer of Baden, Basel and the intermediate Tver, all of them literally valid and in fact meticously studied, in particular the spirit and gloomy atmosphere of Dostoyevsky´s life and of Tsypkin´s.In the Soviet Union of the 1970s, our narrator who is Tsypkin and not Tsypkin, makes a journey by train en route from Moscow to Leningrad, where he arrives at the end of the book and visits the Dostoyevsky-museum. He flips through the diary of Anna Grigor´yevna, Dostoyevsky´s second wife, immersed in reading"(...)I took from the suitcase in the rack above me a book I had already started to read in Moscow and which I had brought especially for the journey to Leningrad, and I opened it at the page held by a bookmark decorated with Chinese characters and a delicate oriental drawing - and in my heart of hearts I had no intention of returning the book borrowed from my aunt who possessed a large library, and because it was very flimsy and almost falling apart, I had taken it to a binder who trimmed the pages so that they lay together evenly and enclosed the whole thing in a strong cover which he pasted the book´s original title-page - the Diary of Anna Grigor´yevna Dostoyevskaya produced by some liberal publishing-house still possible at that time - either ´Landmarks´, or ´New Life´, or one of those - with dates given in both Old Style and New Style and words and whole phrases in German and French without translation and the de rigueur ´Mme´ added with all the dilligence of a grammar-school pupil - a transliteration of the shorthand notes which she had taken during the summer following her marriage abroad."while she recalls their journey in the opposite direction a century before our narrator, which will lead them to Germany, a Summer in Baden-Baden, and Dresden. The novel is set mainly on these two narrative threads, but always there are the flashbacks, memories and impressions. We sense something of the difficult and complex character of the Russian writer, about his gambling, his memories of humilitation in the prison camp and his great love for his wife - but also a mixture of passion, anger, demands and rejection. In an almost surprisingly subtle and carefully but manically, obsessively crafted manner the author describes the process of being, of imagining Dostoyevsky, with trivias, metaphors, his rise and his fall, a capital wounded person, jealous, selfish, abusive as to the last detail, not so much a tragic figure but pathetic, a reckless gambler, neurotic; with all the subleties of the mind, his mentality, how Fedya is walking down the street, creating in his fevered imagination scenarios of victory and vengeance, of elevation and forgiveness.Tsypkin reveals himself as a master of the word and the pen: there is a strong interdependence of time, of past and present tense, of third and first person narrative and the single sentences are exaggerated up to two or three pages without any breaks or paragraphs or time to breath, which makes it a frustratingly slow, exhausting and demanding read. He skillfully moves between the two temporal main levels, pushes additionally alot of background info in-between just to move forward again to the actual here and now and the lines of what is and of what was are blurred almost to extinction. Jose Saramago and Thomas Bernhard come to mind, two writers who are similar stylistically but Tsypkin had, as he was never allowed to leave his country, no chance of reading and there is no proof that he was even aware of their literary achievements. His style is totally his own witout any notable outside influence.The fully enjoyment comes probably only under one condition: the reader should have read Dostoyevsky´s major works up to "Crime and Punishment" as there are many references from Tsypkin to them. Many allusions require a certain knowledge of the literary world of Czarist Russia, of Dostoyevsky´s relationship with Turgenev and Tolstoy, also of the Soviet Times Solzhenitsyn is there without being named...

  • Lauren
    2019-02-20 08:12

    As many of you who follow me on Goodreads probably know by now, Dostoyevsky is my favorite author, and I am incredibly passionate about reading and analyzing his works. Thus, I am often wary about fictitious portrayals of him (for an excellent interpretation, I strongly recommend watching the Russian TV series, "Достоевский: Жизнь, Полная Страстей"-- "Dostoyevsky: A Life Full of Passion"). I had recently read J.M. Coetzee's "The Master of Petersburg", and found it overall disappointing and unfairly harsh in its treatment of its central character-- Dostoyevsky. Tsypkin's "Summer in Baden-Baden" is, unlike Coetzee's novel, based on true events, and highly historically accurate. It is a narrative about Fyodor Dostoyevsky's life, mainly focusing on his years abroad in Germany with his wife, Anna, shortly after their marriage. But it is also a novel about Tsypkin himself, who, while reading Anna's "Reminiscences" on a train voyage, imagines Anna and Fyodor on their own journey nearly a century earlier.Tsypkin, while not entirely unflawed in his portrayal of Dostoyevsky, nonetheless excels at making his version of the author seem genuine. He agonizes through Dostoyevsky's long battle with gambling addiction (which he finally gave up after the birth of his and Anna's daughter, Lyubov) and the toll it takes on Dostoyevsky as well as those around him. Tsypkin's peculiar style-- run-on sentences which form entire paragraphs-- while excessive at some points, works powerfully here. Readers feel the frantic pain of obsession along with Tsypkin's Dostoyevsky as he desperately attempts to achieve some semblance of control even as his life spirals helplessly downward-- and even, perhaps, as he enjoys that fall.The Dostoyevsky portrayed in "Summer in Baden-Baden" is also a man constantly haunted by the suffering he endured as a political prisoner in Siberia. At last, a fictional portrayal of Dostoyevsky which gives proper weight to this issue! Tsypkin perhaps takes historical liberties in believing that Dostoyevsky was flogged while in prison, but such an occurrence could very well have happened. As in Tsypkin's portrayal, the real Dostoyevsky rarely spoke about his prison experiences. Instead, they often manifested in cruel outbursts toward others. This is one of the first works I have encountered which properly grasps the fact that, while still worthy of blame, Dostoyevsky's losses of temper were often not born of cruelty for its own sake. Rather, they were the physical manifestation of deep and undiagnosed psychological wounds.And Tsypkin gives to Anna as well the complex portrait she deserves. In the pages of his novel, she is not merely a submissive pushover. Rather, she undergoes an intense transformation throughout the novel, and matures just as she does in the pages of her "Reminiscences". At first a good-hearted but inexperienced young woman, she unwittingly enables her husband's gambling addiction by giving him money and endlessly forgiving him for losing it. Nonetheless, by the final scene of Tsypkin's novel, readers glimpse the much more self-assured Anna who took charge of the family's finances and thus allowed Dostoyevsky to become the great writer we know today. In its final scene, the novel skips ahead many years to the night of Dostoyevsky's death in 1881 (at only age 59, from a lung hemorrhage). It is here the Tsypkin's full potential as a writer is realized, in heartbreakingly beautiful prose (I actually teared up a bit): "[Anna] realized with horror that this was actually happening, and that she was on her knees before her dying husband, Fedya, who used to come to her every evening to say goodnight, used to write long, passionate and incoherent letters to her... if she had a cold, he would get irritated and ask her to stop sneezing, and this would make her laugh, and in the end he would start to laugh as well" (139). In my opinion, Tsypkin's great triumph in "Summer in Baden-Baden" can be seen in the deeply human characters he creates. He is sympathetic in his narrative, understanding that although our pasts may mark us, they do not define who we can become. His Dostoyevsky is imperfect but kindhearted in the end, an often-troubled soul who managed nonetheless to transcend his own difficulties and prejudices and to make the world a better place. Tsypkin, like Anna, manages by the end of the novel to care for Dostoyevsky as a human being,rather than as an untouchable idol.

  • Jim Elkins
    2019-02-07 08:14

    Wonderful book, if by "wonderful" you also mean claustrophobic, smelly, obsessive, unrewarding, culturally isolated, and erudite beyond any point. This is a slightly fictional recreation of a summer Dostoevsky spent in Baden-Baden, written by a Russian author and Dostoevsky maniac (what is politely known as an "independent scholar") who is otherwise unknown, and now long dead. Susan Sontag attempts to raise this Lazarus of a manuscript, but it is really all about being dead: Dostoevsky's own life, on the edge of disaster; Tsypkin's life, cut off from the literary world and enslaved to his obsession; Sontag's literary resurrection project, doomed, now that she is dead, to the endless catalog of well-meaning introductions.Stupendous book.

  • Kobe Bryant
    2019-01-23 06:06

    Wow this guy can really write

  • Frederik
    2019-02-04 07:24

    Avant mon voyage á Baden-Baden la semaine prochaine, je me suis préparé en lisant cette petite allégorie sur Dostovjevski, ces problemes d´addtiction de jeux et son séjour á Baden-Baden et ses victories (et beaucoup de défaites) autour des tables de jeux au plus vieux casino d´Allemagne dans cette ville de spa mythique dans la région de Schwarzwald. Pour les hard-core fans du plus grand écrivain russe de l´histoire.

  • Shaun
    2019-02-22 02:21

    This extraordinary novel, first published in 1981, one week before the author's sudden death, was recently brought to the attention of the reading public by critic Susan Sontag just before her death.The novel dramatizes Fyodor and Anna Dostoyevsky's tempestuous relationship, focusing on a summer trip the couple took to Baden-Baden in 1867. If it were that simple, the novel would still be great. What makes this book a "must read" is that the story of Anna and Fyodor is neatly folded inside an autobiographical account of Leonid Tsypkin's own travels, and folded again into scenes and moments from Dostoevsky's writing and "from the wider Russian literary heritage."At times I became lost "between the real and the imagined, the beautiful and the ugly," in this multi-framed novel, Tsypkin's "wild, uncontainable prose took over to produce its own crazed reality." Tsypkin's writing style here is not unlike Joyce's free-associative prose in "Ulysses" or that of Woolf in "To The Lighthouse." In the rhythms of his writing, "as he imagines his way toward the insanity of Dostoevsky's love for Anna, he catches the very movement of Dostoevsky's thought, of his paranoia, his desperation, and his brilliance."Susan Sontag's equally brilliant Introduction to this particular edition, which may exist in every English translation after July 2001 for all I know, discusses Dostoevsky's rampant anti-Semitism:"Loving Dostoevsky, what is one to do -- what is a Jew to do -- with the knowledge that he hated Jews? How explain the vicious anti-Semitism of 'a man so sensitive in his novels to the suffering of others, this jealous defender of the insulted and injured'? And how does one understand 'this special attraction which Dostoevsky seems to possess for Jews'?" Susan Sontag's Introduction then examines the history and substance of the intellectual elite and powerful "earlier Jewish Dostoevsky lovers" ultimately concluding:"In the end, there is no resolution of the anguishing subject of Dostoevsky's anti-Semitism, a theme that comes surging into 'Summer in Baden-Baden' once Tsypkin reaches Leningrad. It seems, he writes[:]'strange to the point of implausibility . . . that this man should not have come up with even a single word in the defense or justification of a people persecuted over several thousand years . . . and to this tribe I belonged and the many friends and acquaintances of mine with whom I had discussed the subtlest problems of Russian literature.'Yet this hasn't kept Jews from loving Dostoevsky. Tsypkin has no better explanation than the fervor of Jews for the greatness of Russian literature -- which may remind us that the German adulation of Goethe and Schiller was in large part a Jewish affair, right up to the time Germany started killing its Jews. Loving Dostoevsky means loving literature."Susan Sontag ends her opening remarks in her Introduction as follows, "If you want from one book an experience of the depth and authority of Russian literature, read this book. If you want a novel that can fortify your soul and give you a larger idea of feeling, and of breathing, read this book." Summer in Baden-Baden gives Dostoevsky to us in a new and vital way, and in doing so promises to redraw the map of contemporary fiction. That it should be rescued from the dark by a woman at the end of her life, in an act that is itself a testament to the love of literary fiction, is almost uncannily fitting.

  • David
    2019-02-19 04:13

    It can be difficult not to feel resistant when someone mentions "Sebald" in recommending a book. Sebald is one of the few unimpeachable masters of prose since 1990, with any one of The Emigrants, The Rings of Saturn, or Austerlitz enough to earn him that title.So you can see what a compliment it is for me to say that this is indeed a fine novel that mines the same sort of vein that Sebald so richly mined. It's a little more focused, in some ways, a looping, streaming, compassionate meditation on Fyodor Dostoevsky's later years, through the eyes (and based on the diaries) of his wife Anna. The foibles and failings (including his anti-Semitism) of the great author are on full display and meditated upon with compassion and perspective. This is all woven into the narrator's train journey to (then) Leningrad during which he will visit the final home of Dostoyevsky.The prose is beautiful, allusive, and strong, and the fascination with creativity and the challenges of life propel things forward. You need not have read any of Dostoyevsky's novels to necessarily enjoy this one, but it will certainly deepen the experience.A powerful and great work.

  • Eileen Souza
    2019-02-09 04:05

    This was a simulatneously excellent and awful book, so I'm going to give it 3 stars.First the good, so you can understand the bad. This book was written by a doctor in 1980 Soviet Union, and snuck out to be published abroad. the author was not a known writer, and because of his particular circumstances, he did not have access to any writings of fiction, biography etc. Because of this, he wrote a book which is completely unique! It's a combination of his musings as he reads a book about Dotoyevsky (Crime and Punishment) while on a trip, and what he believes actually happened during the parts of the book that he was reading. It was a fascinating combination of memoir, daydream, autobiographical fiction. From a purely educational perspective, I'm glad that I got to read this. It was so unusual to read a book written by someone who had basically never read a book as we think of it.Now for the bad parts - there was no sentence structure - and I'm not being picky here. Literally, the sentences lasted for pages, and would change subject 14 times. Each paragraph was it's own sentence. There were also no chapters, so there was no chance to rest, pause, etc. It drove me insane. Also, the person writing the book was of jewish descent, but Dostoyevsky was a racist pig. A really really obvious ass. I could not understand why the author really liked this guy enough to daydream about him, especially since Dostoyevsky had a huge inferiority complex and basically yelled and screamed about everything at everyone. Not someone I would choose to spend time with, and certainly not research to the exhaustive detail that Tsypkin did.At the end of the book he states that he likes Dostovesky for the same reason that minorities take on the characteristics of the majorities everywhere. It allowed him to look at the world the the gentiles eyes (not exactly a good example of a non-jewish human being, this guy was a jerk) and also so that he could fit in as a literary critic of some intelligence, since Dostoyvesky did write a very well known book.I'll never read the whole book again, but I might read the last 40 pages or so again.

  • Katie Grainger
    2019-02-16 08:11

    I seriously struggled with Summer in Baden-Baden, not because of the subject matter but because of how the book is structured. With no chapters and the incredibly long sentences I found it hard to concentrate on the subject matter. It is probably a ridiculous excuse but I kept looking forward to when the sentence would end- I found it detracted from the story.However despite my problems with the book the story of Leonid Tsypkin the author is quite fascinating. His love for Russia literature flows through the novel, it is amazing that this book ever came to print at all.This was not an enjoyable novel for me but I don't think that should detract anyone from reading it. Just not for me.

  • Jeffrey
    2019-02-05 00:13

    At times this book, in which each paragraph is a run-on sentence, wore on my nerves. In time, however, I came to appreciate its feverish intensity and closed atmosphere, and the final part, in which the narrator weaves a beautiful description of walking through Petersburg/Leningrad on a winter night together with a portrayal of Dostoevsky's death, is superb. As someone who has spent countless hours walking through various cities and towns on winter nights, I found Tsypkin's description of his own walk through Petersburg one of the best evocations of any experience I've ever read. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in twentieth-century literature (especially Russian) or, of course, Dostoevsky.

  • Rosemarie
    2019-02-19 08:33

    This book contains a story within a story. The narrator of the story is reading the diary of Dostoevsky's second wife while riding a train to Petersburg(Leningrad),The book is about Dostoevsky as a writer, a family man, but most of all as a compulsive gambler. The author conveys to us how an intelligent man, who knew he had a problem, stills continues to gamble so much that he has to pawn jewelry and clothing to pay the rent. The gambling takes place in the casino in Baden-Baden, hence the title of the book.The book is also about the narrator, who is fascinated by Dostoevsky, and even visits the museum dedicated to the author. This is an interesting many- layered book for readers who want to know more about Dostoevsky and the characters he created in his novels.

  • Lysergius
    2019-02-18 04:28

    Another great Susan Sontag recommendation. Tsypkin reminds me very strongly of W.G. Sebald. The same effortless, atmospheric prose, complete with black and white photographs to underline the point. The difference is the fact that Tsypkin uses almost no paragraph breaks, so his prose flows on uninterrupted by any change of direction, blending the author's own experience with that of his hero Dostoyevsky. A must read for all fans of Russian literature

  • Lazarus P Badpenny Esq
    2019-02-09 03:19

    Like the train tracks that carry the narrator northwards to St Petersburg in quest of Fyodor Dostoevsky's last resting place these parallel narratives, illustrated throughout with Tsypkin's own photographs, retrace the events of the Russian writer's life touching upon his professional jealousies, his turbulent marriage, and the addiction to gambling that rendered him indebted to money-lenders and, ultimately, exacerbated his embittered anti-semitism.

  • Pat
    2019-02-16 02:22

    This book is amazing! The essay by Susan Sontag that tells the impossible tale of how this book got published is inspiring to say the least. The short and concise novel tells two stories: one about Dostoevsky and his suffering and the other from the point of view of the author and why he is fascinated with Dostoevsky. Seamlessly!!! It touched such a deep place in me that I had dreams. A must read.

  • Inna
    2019-01-28 02:33

    Brilliant novel on the weakness which is part of creativity (summer in Baden-Baden is a very low point in Dostoevsky's life when he, being a compulsive gambler, gambled everything away - the money he gambled belonged to his heavily pregnant wife who was with him). The other dimension of the novel is a writer trying to deal with his admiration for Dostoevsky in spite of the latter's virulent antisemitism.

  • Melissa Kapow
    2019-01-25 02:14

    I have never read a book like this, it's that simple. Page-long sentences, beautiful prose, and a subject that pulls you in and keeps you there. I found myself googling the works of art he was describing and it added another dimension to my appreciation of not only Tsypkin, but Dostoevsky himself. Stellar.

  • Ant
    2019-02-23 04:15

    Ένα βιβλίο καλοδουλεμένο, σχεδόν ένα μικρό αριστούργημα, χωρίς υφολογικές φιοριτούρες, ωστόσο αρκετά απαιτητικό λόγω της πληθώρας των διακειμενικών αναφορών του, που ακροβατεί με χάρη ανάμεσα στο μυθιστόρημα και στο λογοτεχνικό δοκίμιο.

  • Roberta Perez
    2019-02-03 02:27

    Conhecer a intimidade de um grande escritor, suas falhas e seus vícios. Saber que o autor deste livro nunca conseguiu colocar o pé para fora da Rússia e mesmo assim consegue descrever lugares por onde nunca passou. Romance curto, bela narrativa e com um conteudo intrigante. Adorei!

  • Kathryn
    2019-02-18 07:33

    So glad I read this slim, intense, layered, brilliant, dense, melancholy book. I didn't expect it to be a love story!

  • Hossein Hamidi
    2019-02-03 06:11

    خوانشِ اولیه ، هزار و سیصد و نود و پنج تا نود و شش . این کتابِ بس پیچیده را در عرض یک سال آن هم در شرایطِ بد زنده گی ام ، نا تمام گذاشته و رهایش کردم تا شاید در زمانِ مناسبی ادامه اش دهم.

  • Deanne
    2019-02-14 08:34

    Enjoyed reading this book about Dostoevsky, interesting take on the man. Particularly enjoyed the photographs in this edition of this book.

  • Andreas
    2019-02-07 05:32