Dostoyevsky Delight: "WHITE NIGHTS"

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Offline Gopa B. Caesar

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Dostoyevsky Delight: "WHITE NIGHTS"
« on: November 09, 2013, 03:17:33 PM »
"White Nights" (Russian: Белые ночи, Belye nochi) is a short story by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, originally published in 1848, early in the writer's career.

This moving story starts with a line which can/may keep you fascinated for the rest of the days you breath on earth. It addresses its readers and declares, "It was a wonderful night, such a night is only possible when we are young, dear reader."
 
« Last Edit: November 09, 2013, 06:10:23 PM by Gopa B. Caesar »

Offline Gopa B. Caesar

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Re: WHITE NIGHTS
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2013, 03:18:13 PM »
Like many of Dostoyevsky's stories, "White Nights" is told in first person by a nameless narrator; the narrator is living in Saint Petersburg and suffers from loneliness. He gets to know and falls in love with a young woman, but the love remains unrequited as the woman misses her lover with whom she is finally reunited.

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Re: WHITE NIGHTS
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2013, 03:21:48 PM »
The short story is divided into six sections:

First Night
Second Night
Second Night
Third Night
Fourth Night
&
Morning

Offline Gopa B. Caesar

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Re: WHITE NIGHTS
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2013, 03:22:56 PM »
First Night

The story opens with a quotation by Ivan Turgenev, from his poem The Flower:

        "And was it his destined part
        Only one moment in his life
        To be close to your heart?
        Or was he fated from the start
        to live for just one fleeting instant,
        within the purlieus of your heart."

The narrator describes his experience walking in the streets of St. Petersburg. He loves the city at night time during which he feels comfortable in the city. He no longer feels comfortable during the day because all the people he was used to seeing were not there. He drew his emotions from there. If they were happy, he was happy. If they were despondent, he was despondent. He felt alone when seeing new faces. He also knew the houses. As he strolled down the streets they would talk to him and tell him how they were being renovated or painted a new color or being torn down. He lives alone in a small apartment in Saint Petersburg with only his older, non-social maid Matryona to keep him company.

He tells the story of his relationship with a young girl called Nastenka (a diminutive of the name Anastasia). He first sees her standing against a railing while crying. He becomes concerned and considers asking what's wrong but eventually steels himself to continue walking. There is something special about her and he is very curious. When he hears her scream, he intervenes and saves her from a man who is harassing her.

The main character feels timid and begins shaking while she holds his arm. He explains that he is alone, that he has never known a woman, so he is timid. Nastenka reassures him that ladies like timidity and she likes it, too. He tells her how he spends every minute of every day dreaming about a girl that would just say two words to him, who will not repulse him or ridicule him as he approached. He explains how he thinks of talking to a random girl timidly, respectfully, passionately; telling her that he is dying in solitude and how he has no chance of making a mark on any girl. He tells her that it is a girl's duty not to rudely reject or mock one as timid and luckless as he is.

As they reach Nastenka's door, the main character asks if he will ever see her again. Before she can answer, he adds that he will be at the spot they met tomorrow anyway just so he can relive this one happy moment in his lonely life. She agrees, stating she can't forbid him not to come and she has to be there anyway. The girl would tell him her story and be with him, provided that it does not lead into romance. She too is as lonely as the narrator.

Offline Gopa B. Caesar

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Re: WHITE NIGHTS
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2013, 03:23:39 PM »

Second Night

On their second meeting, Nastenka introduces herself to him and the two become friends by relating to each other. She exclaims that she has been thinking and knows nothing of him. He responds that he has no history because he has spent his life utterly alone. When she presses him to continue on the matter, the term "dreamer" pops up as the main character explains that he is of that archetype. The main character defines " 'The dreamer' - if you want an exact definition - is not a human being, but a creature of an intermediate sort."

In a precursor to a similar speech in Notes from Underground, the narrator gives a verbose speech about his longing for companionship leading Nastenka to comment, "...you talk as if you were reading from a book".

He begins to tell his story in third person as he call himself "the hero." This "hero" is happy the hour when all work ends and people walk about. He references Vasily Zhukovsky as he mentions "The Goddess of Fancy". He dreams of everything in this time; from befriending poets to having a place in the winter with a girl by his side. He states that the dreariness of everyday life kills people while he can make his life as he wishes it to be at any time in his dreams.

At the end of his moving speech, Nastenka sympathetically assures him that she would be his friend

Offline Gopa B. Caesar

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Re: WHITE NIGHTS
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2013, 03:24:15 PM »

Nastenka's Story

The third part is Nastenka relating her life story to the narrator. She lived with her strict grandmother who gave her a largely sheltered upbringing. Her grandmother's pension being too small, they rent out their house to gain income. When their early lodger dies, he's replaced by a younger man closer to Nastenka's age much to her grandmother's distaste. The young man begins a silent courtship with Nastenka giving her a book often so that she may develop a reading habit. She takes a liking to the novels of Sir Walter Scott and Aleksandr Pushkin as a result. One day, the young man invites her and her grandmother to the theater running The Barber of Seville.

Upon the night that the young lodger is about to leave Petersburg for Moscow, Nastenka escapes her grandmother and urges him to marry her. He refuses immediate marriage, stating that he does not have money to support them but he assures her that he would return for her exactly a year later. Nastenka finishes her story at the end of this, noting that a year has gone and he hasn't sent her a single letter.

Offline Gopa B. Caesar

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Re: WHITE NIGHTS
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2013, 03:24:52 PM »

Third Night

The narrator gradually realizes that despite his assurance that their friendship would remain platonic, he has inevitably fallen in love with her. But he nevertheless helps her by writing and posting a letter to her lover and hides away his feelings for her. They await his reply for the letter or his appearance; but, gradually, Nastenka grows restless at his absence. She takes comfort in the narrator's friendship. Unaware of the depth of his feelings for her, she states that "I love you so, because you haven't fallen in love with me." The narrator, despairing due to the unrequited nature of his love for her, notes that he has now begun to feel alienated from her as well.

Offline Gopa B. Caesar

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Re: WHITE NIGHTS
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2013, 03:25:36 PM »

Fourth Night

Nastenka despairs at the absence of her lover and his reply even though she knows that he's in St. Petersburg. The narrator continues to comfort her to which she's extremely grateful, leading the narrator to break his resolve and confess his love for her. Nastenka is disoriented at first, and the narrator, realizing that they can no longer continue to be friends in the manner that they did before, insists on never seeing her again; however, she urges him to stay. They take a walk where Nastenka states that maybe their relationship might become romantic some day, but she obviously wants his friendship in her life. The narrator becomes hopeful at this prospect when during their walk, they pass by a young man who stops and calls after them. He turns out to be Nastenka's lover into whose arms she jumps. She returns briefly to kiss the narrator but journeys into the night with her love leaving him alone and broken hearted.

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Re: WHITE NIGHTS
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2013, 03:26:10 PM »

Morning

    "My nights came to an end with a morning. The weather was dreadful. It was pouring, and the rain kept beating dismally against my windowpanes".

The final section is a brief afterword that relates a letter which Nastenka sends him apologizing for hurting him and insisting that she would always be thankful for his companionship. She also mentions that she would be married within a week and hoped that he would come. The narrator breaks into tears upon reading the letter. Matryona, his maid, interrupts his thoughts by telling him she's finished cleaning the cobwebs. The narrator notes that though he'd never considered Matryona to be an old woman, she looked far older to him then than she ever did before, and briefly wonders if his own future is to be without companionship and love. He however refuses to despair;

    "But that I should feel any resentment against you, Nastenka! That I should cast a dark shadow over your bright, serene happiness! ...That I should crush a single one of those delicate blooms which you will wear in your dark hair when you walk up the aisle to the altar with him! Oh no — never, never! May your sky be always clear, may your dear smile be always bright and happy, and may you be for ever blessed for that moment of bliss and happiness which you gave to another lonely and grateful heart ... Good Lord, only a moment of bliss? Isn't such a moment sufficient for the whole of a man's life?"

Offline Gopa B. Caesar

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Re: WHITE NIGHTS
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2013, 03:29:47 PM »
The star-crossed lovers have been haunting many a scholar/maker since its inception, and that dreamy city were often revived in films.


Film adaptations

    Le notti bianche, a 1957 Italian film by Luchino Visconti
    White Nights, a 1959 Russian film by Ivan Pyryev
    Chhalia, a 1960 Hindi film
    Four Nights of a Dreamer, a 1971 French film by Robert Bresson
    شب های روشن (The White Nights), a 2002 Iranian film
    Iyarkai, a 2003 Tamil film
    Ahista Ahista, a 2006 Hindi film
    Saawariya, a 2007 Hindi film
    En la ciudad de Sylvia, a 2007 Spanish film
    Two Lovers, a 2009 American film

Offline Gopa B. Caesar

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Re: WHITE NIGHTS
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2013, 03:31:07 PM »
Le Notti Bianche (English: White Nights) is a 1957 Italian film directed by Italian neorealist Luchino Visconti. The movie takes its title and basic plot from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s 1848 short story, White Nights.

A lonely young man, Mario, meets a lonely young woman, Natalia. Mario (Marcello Mastroianni) is lonely for social reasons; he is a stranger and a newcomer to town. Natalia (Maria Schell) is lonely because she has always lived in isolation, even in the heart of the city. Her loneliness is intensified because she is in love with a man (Jean Marais) who may not ever return to her, but who continues to occupy her heart to the exclusion of any other possible relationship.

In turning the Dostoevsky story into a film, Visconti eliminated the first-person narration and made Natalia less of an innocent, and at times something of a hysteric and a tease. For his part, Mario rejects obvious offers of romantic attention from other women in the story, holding on to a fruitless obsession.

Mario thanks the young woman for the moment of happiness she has brought him. However, he is left alone at the end of the film, befriending the same stray dog he met at the beginning. He is back at square one, and has put more energy into pursuing the fantasy of an obsession rather than any prospect of real love.

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Re: WHITE NIGHTS
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2013, 03:36:56 PM »
Chhalia is a 1960 Hindi film. Directed by Manmohan Desai it stars Raj Kapoor, Nutan, Pran, Rehman and Shobhna Samarth. Raj Kapoor plays his stereotyped "simple guy with a heart of gold" role yet again. Laxmikant Pyarelal were the assistant music directors; they would go on to be music directors for most of Manmohan Desai's films. The story is loosely based on the "White Nights" written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky but is focused on the issue of estranged wives and children in the aftermath of partition.

Chhalia was shot in black-and-white and had has some songs such as "Chhalia Mere Naam" and "Teri Raahon Mein Khaden Hain Dil Thaam Ke".

This film is not to be confused with 1973's unrelated Chhalia. The 1973 film was shot in colour, and it starred Nanda, Navin Nischol, and Shatrughan Sinha. It was directed by Mukul Dutt; music was by Rahul Dev Burman.

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Re: WHITE NIGHTS
« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2013, 03:38:50 PM »
Four Nights of a Dreamer (French: Quatre nuits d'un rêveur) is a 1971 French drama film directed by Robert Bresson and starring Isabelle Weingarten. The film was entered into the 21st Berlin International Film Festival.

Like several other films made in various countries, the film is loosely based on the story White Nights written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

The film begins in Paris with Jacques, an unidentified young man, trying to hitchike a ride. He travels to the countryside with a family and spends the day walking alone. He whistles and rolls somersaults. The scene cuts back to traffic at night in the city, and the opening credits appear. The next scene is of Marthe, standing at a bridge, at the brink of suicide. Jacques is walking by and stops her. He urges her back onto the street, indicating a police car stopped nearby. They sit by the bridge and chat about their lives. The scene cuts to flashbacks.

Marthe is a young woman who lives with her mother in a flat. To make ends meet, her mother rents a spare bedroom to male boarders, the most recent of which is a graduate student. In one scene during the flashback, Marthe stands nude in front of her mirror, either scrutinizing or admiring her body. While doing this, she hears the boarder knocking on her wall. She ignores him at that point, but eventually Marthe and the boarder become lovers, without her mother knowing. Sadly, immediately after their affair begins the boarder has to move to the United States to study at an American university for a year. The lovers promise to be faithful to one another and reunite at the end of the year. At the present time, Marthe has learned that her lover returned to Paris several days ago and has made no attempt to contact her, leading to her despair and suicide attempt.

Jacques' story is also told in flashbacks at this time. He is a young artist who lives alone in a desolate little flat that doubles as his studio. In the present time, Jacques comforts Marthe and advises her to write to her lover. Marthe says she will, but she asks if Jacques might take the letter for her to friends of her lover and return with his response the following night. When Jacques wonders how the letter could be procured so quickly, Marthe pulls her letter, addressed and ready, out of her pocket.

During the daytime scenes of the movie, Jacques works on his paintings. Part of his artistic process involves recording himself on a tape recorder telling the story of meeting Marthe and loving Marthe. He also records himself repeating Marthe's name. While he paints, he plays his recordings. He also listens to the recordings while delivering Marthe's messages and, in one scene, while riding a bus, scaring two middle-aged women.

Jacques' canvases are large, around 6ft by 4ft. He paints with them flat on the floor, crouching over them. He uses broad strokes and primary colors. The paintings are abstract, and he works on two paintings at a time. Jacques acts as messenger between Marthe and her lover. The lover never writes back to Marthe, and she is devastated. But by the fourth night, she professes her love for Jacques, who loves her as well. They kiss, and he buys her a red scarf.

Marthe and Jacques are walking down the street, arm-in-arm, when they run into Marthe's former lover. Marthe runs to her lover and kisses him. Then she runs back to Jacques and kisses him. Finally, she returns to her former lover, and they walk off together, leaving Jacques alone. Jacques returns to his flat and paints, listening to his recordings.

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Re: WHITE NIGHTS
« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2013, 03:41:13 PM »
Iyarkai is a 2003 Tamil film directed by S. P. Jananathan and produced by A.E.Gunasekaran. The film stars Shaam, Arun Vijay, Kutti Radhika and Seema Biswas. This film was a low-budget production and the soundtrack was composed by Vidyasagar. This love story is set against the backdrop of a lost ship on an island. It enjoyed relative success in the Kollywood box office. The soundtrack was a great hit but most importantly, the film won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil for 2003, competing with Virumaandi and Pithamagan as that year's submissions. This movie is loosely based on Dostoyevsky's "White Nights".

yarkai is a familiar love triangle that plays out in unfamiliar surroundings. It revolves around a girl and the two men who love her but by placing the happenings in a port town of Rameswaram, the director manages to give the proceedings a fresh feeling.

Marudhu (Shaam), an orphan and sailor, lands in Rameswaram and decides to give up his sailing life and settle down there. He develops a liking for Nancy (Radhika), who sells fruits and other items to sailors on ships that have arrived at the port. But Nancy still holds a candle for the captain of a ship that docked there three years ago. The captain (Arun Vijay) had promised her that he would return in a year but three years later, Nancy has still not given up hope.

She is in a dilemma whether to choose the captain or Marudhu and finally selects the former leaving mixed feelings of joy and sorrow.

    Director: S.P.Jananathan
    Story/ Dialogue / Screenplay: S.P.Jananathan
    Cinematography: N.K. Ekambaram
    Music: Vidyasagar
    Producer:A.E.Gunasekaran

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Re: WHITE NIGHTS
« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2013, 03:45:02 PM »
Ahista Ahista (Hindi: आहिस्ता आहिस्ता, translation: Slowly) is a Hindi film starring Abhay Deol, Soha Ali Khan and Shayan Munshi. It was released in August 2006. This film marks the directorial debut of Shivam Nair with a story much closer to the Fyodor Dostoevsky's short story, White Nights, on which an earlier Raj Kapoor film Chhalia was also based.

This story is woven around aimless youth Ankush Ramdev (Abhay Deol) who scrapes a living by acting as a witness in Delhi's marriage registrar bureau and a girl Megha (Soha Ali Khan) who has run away from her home in Nainital, to get married to her love Dheeraj (Shayan Munshi).

Fate intervenes and Dheeraj does not show up at the Marriage Registrar's Office. Dejected, Megha is forced to rely on Ankush's generosity. Ankush helps Megha by getting her a job at a local old age home so that she has the security of a roof over her head. As time passes Megha begins to realize her potential as an educated girl who had earlier dedicated her life to her boyfriend and that relationship, thinking that there was nothing more to her. She realizes that she was wrong, and finally there comes a day when she tells Ankush that she is glad Dheeraj stood her up at the Marriage Bureau. Else, she would have never known who she really was.

At the same time Ankush realizes that the meager amount he earns each day is not enough for him. He still has to repay the loan he had taken for Megha's sake. So he starts working as a bank's representative who opens bank accounts for a commission. Slowly he starts increasing the number of hours working at his new job and reduces those spent at the Marriage Registrar's Office.

A day comes when he is able to repay the loan he had taken for Megha. On learning of this Megha reprimands him for doing so much for a girl who was a stranger for him. But now Ankush is earning 5 times more than he was before. He has a much more respectable job and a future. Ankush believes he has changed because of Megha and her faith in him. Life progresses well for Ankush. Soon he gets an offer to join the same bank as an Area Supervisor, at a handsome salary. Ankush hesitates, as fluent English is a pre-requisite.

Megha inspires Ankush giving him the confidence to realize that all he needed was an opportunity in life to succeed. A relationship develops between Megha and Ankush. Megha decides to leave her past with Dheeraj behind and embrace the future with Ankush by her side.

Everything seems to be falling in place for Ankush when Dheeraj returns. He is persistent in his search for Megha and Ankush's new found happiness crumbles.

Ankush tries to force Dheeraj to return to Nainital. He tries all his wits and energy to do this, but does not succeed. He even shows Dheeraj the death certificate of Megha, so that he can return, but Dheeraj has complete faith in his love and Megha.

One day Ankush's friend gives Dheeraj the whereabouts of Megha. This is on the same day Megha and Ankush have planned to get married. On seeing Dheeraj in the mirror, she gets angry at him and asks him to leave. Dheeraj agrees, but he also insists her to listen to what had happened to him when he was coming to Delhi from Nainital. He was preyed in a plot of RDX in the train. He somehow escapes from the plot. Megha realizes that what Dheeraj did was not intentional and was just a situation in which Dheeraj was trapped.

Megha talks to Ankush and tells him that she cannot live without Dheeraj and finally Ankush realizes that he is just a friend to her. In the end Ankush becomes the witness of the wedding of Dheeraj and Megha but asks for his regular fees, severing all connection to Megha and Dheeraj love story.