Raskolnikov – Part 1: Chapter 1, Stanzas 9 and 10

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In honor of Ss. Cyril and Methodius, Apostles to the Slavs, whose feast-day was 14 February, here are the latest stanzas in my ongoing project of adapting Crime and Punishment to the sonnet-stanza form of Eugene Onegin. It’s been thirteen-and-a-half months since the last update, but, plot-wise, things are, I daresay, on the verge of getting real.

Click here to read the previous stanzas.

I welcome your comments, whether effusive or abusive.

1.1.9

The stairs he climbs are dark and narrow.
‘Still dark… still safe…. That’s good… but think!
Just now, I’m frozen to the marrow!
How, then, will I feel… on the brink
Of –?
’ Rodya all but crashes into
A pair of porters — two old men who
Are lugging down the furniture
From someone’s flat… Fourth floor! He’s sure
It’s from the old crone’s only neighbor.
‘That German clerk is clearing out
… So no one else will be about
If I…. That’s good! Then why belabor
The point? It’s time. I’m doing well….’
He’s at the door. He rings the bell –

1.1.10

And flinches from its tinny tinkling:
Its feeble chime seems to recall
Some distant, half-remembered inkling.
‘That certain sound…? It’s nothing! All
These flats have bells like that! … I know this!
Why did I cringe? It goes to show this
Is still too soon; I’m still too weak
For now!’ The hinges groan and creak:
A little gap; a glimpse; the glitter
Of wary eyes that peek, then spy
The porters and the clerk nearby.
The hag seems reassured a bit: Her
Apartment door now opens wide –
And now, our Rodya steps inside.

Comments

  1. mark thomas says:

    I have read from the beginning. I find it delightful.

  2. Jonathan Webb says:

    Really, really good.

  3. I’m impressed you managed to get “glitter” into this particular story. Point to Nguyen in the great wrestling match between poet and dictionary. Also, I was about to say that if this doesn’t get Quin back in the comments section, nothing will. But you snagged mark thomas, which is even rarer. What next, the return of Cubeland Mystic?

    • I was also going to say that I love the roll-along character of the Onegin sonnet form. Done right, it makes for effortless reading.

      • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says:

        Thanks! As they warn dictionaries, ‘Never wrestle with a poet: You both get shredded, and the poet likes it.’

        And ‘amen’ to your love for ‘the roll-along character of the Onegin sonnet form’. Somebody compared the form to a troika, zooming along behind a team of galloping horses. Those short, tetrametric lines and the quick variations of rhyme scheme really do help (force?) the reader to zip along from one idea to the next. At the end of a long day, I want to read something that is both substantial and — as you put it — ‘effortless’. So I’m trying to learn how to write the kind(s) of lit I’d want to read.

        Yeah, I’m proud to have bagged a mark thomas comment, and hope Quin will chime in.

        And I feel confident speaking for the Korrektiv Kollektiv when I say we could all use a little more Cubeland Mystic in our lives.

  4. Yay! So glad to see more of this.

    Why is the woman bitter?

    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says:

      I was hoping you’d see this latest installment! Thanks much for the positive feedback.

      Yes, the parenthetical ‘(“though no less bitter”)’ in Stanza 1.10 is a little awkward, since it implies — wrongly — that the text had established the bitterness of the old woman’s character at some earlier point. I may try to adjust that, but the propulsive, ‘roll-along character’ of the Onegin stanza form might mitigate the problem: As I’ve planned it, the next stanza(s) are going to follow Dostoevsky closely, describing the old woman’s face, clothing, and apartment’s furnishings in a way that communicates her all-around meanness. We shall see.

      • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says:

        NOTE to POSTERITY

        In the above comments, Rachel and I were discussing an earlier draft of Stanza 1.10, which draft, confusingly, referred to a certain character as being ‘no less bitter’, even though the audience had not, at that point in the story, been informed that said character was ‘bitter’ at all in the first place. Such draft — now, deservedly, superseded — went something like this (emphasis added):

        1.10
        He hears its feeble, tinny tinkling.
        Somehow, the sound seems to recall
        Some certain half-remembered inkling:
        It’s so specific — and yet all
        These flats have bells like that! He knew this,
        But had forgotten in extremis,
        Which proved (again) he was too weak
        This time…. The hinges give a creak:
        A crack of gloomy room, the glitter
        Of little eyes that peer — and spy
        The porters and the clerk nearby.
        Thus reassured (though no less bitter)
        The hag lets Rodya pass (as planned!).
        He steps inside. So there they stand.

        I hope the present note will prevent any confusion posterity might have suffered in its absence.

        -A.N., Esq., OP

        • Ha, awesome.

          I actually liked “though looking bitter,” which–I think–may have made an appearance the other day, because it keeps the point of view (i.e. Raskolnikov’s) intact. Much the same thing is accomplished by “seems reassured,” though.

          • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says:

            Keen eyeball and recall, Rachel: You did indeed catch a look at a draft that has since gone down the memory hole. I’m becoming the George Lucas of Anglophone Crime-and-Punishment Oneginizers.

            Thank you for reading, thank you for your response, and thank you for setting out your rationale. I really appreciate your feedback. I do like the stanza in its current form, but nothing is set in stone.

  5. If Sochi had a poetry category, we would have put our pocket change together and got Angelico out there to win a gold medal for Korrektivlandia!

    This is tremendous stuff – please for to continue.

    Also, after this, consider Oneginizing Jonathan Webb’s greatest dark tales. I think they would bend but not break to the treatment.

    JOB

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