Giannis Dalianis reads A Gentle Creature by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The second round of Readings, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center online audio series, is dedicated to emblematic works of the global literary scene from the last two centuries, which tell tales from the lives of “everyday heroes” from the past. Eminent Greek actors invite the SNFCC’s online audience to join them on a journey through important versions of the human adventure, distinguished for their literary value and artistic depth, under the direction of Io Voulgaraki.
Following on from William Faulkner and A Rose for Emily, which was presented in November, December introduces Thomas Mann and his novella Little Herr Friedemann, read by Maria Kechagioglou (09/12), and A Gentle Creature by Fyodor Dostoevsky, read by Giannis Dalianis (30/12).
Fyodor Dostoevsky, A Gentle Creature
In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s astounding novella A Gentle Creature (1876), a desperate man attempts, through a relentless monologue in the first person, to unravel the yarn of his memories. His wife has just taken her own life. In the mind of the forty-year-old man, thoughts succeed one another feverishly. A harrowing question haunts his mind: “Why?”. Logic and emotion intertwine, and he tries to work out what went wrong with his original plan: he married a sixteen-year-old girl, simple, quiet and polite, with the intention of turning her into the perfect wife to share his future with. After some time, however, the plan crumbles and the marriage falls apart. When it’s already too late, the man wonders: “Two o’clock at night. Her little shoes stand by the bed as if waiting for her… No, seriously, when they take her away tomorrow, what will become of me?”.
Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, The Idiot, Demons, and The Gambler are only five of the most famous titles of classic literature signed by Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (1821-1881), one of the greatest novelists of all time, who exerted significant influence over the leading authors of the 19th and 20th centuries (Hesse, Kafka, Nietzsche, Joyce, Tolstoy, Hemingway, Woolf), as well as upon the movements of hyperrealism and existentialism, while also being considered the forerunner of Russian symbolism and expressionism. In his works, Dostoevsky dissects his contemporary society with chilling precision, emphasizing, through his realistic – often cynical – narratives, the miserable lives and daily struggles of the poor and the lowly. Dostoevsky himself, in fact, suffered through humiliating torture when he was convicted and imprisoned by the czarist regime as a conspirator and advocate of liberal views in support of utopic socialism.
A Gentle Creature is presented in the translation by Lefteris Vogiatzis and Eirini Levidi, which was commissioned for – by now historic – production of Nea Skini at the “Cyclades Street Theater”. The production was staged in 2007, directed and performed by Lefteris Vogiatzis.
We would like to thank Eirini Levidi for her kind permission to perform this reading of the text.
We would like to thank Alexis Karaiskakis-Nastos, who played the cello on the recording of the musical score.
Io Voulgaraki was born in Athens in 1985. She studied drama at the National Theater of Greece Drama School, and Greek Philology at the University of Athens Faculty of Philosophy. She continued her studies at the Russian Institute of Theater Arts (GITIS) in Moscow, from where she graduated with honors. Since 2013, she has worked with all the major theater organizations in Greece: the National Theater, the National Theater of Northern Greece, the Onassis Stegi Cultural Center, the Athens & Epidaurus Festival, and the Greek National Opera. Outside of Greece, she has collaborated with the Russian Academic Youth Theater (Moscow) and the Grotowski Institute (Wroclaw). She is a founding member of the PYR theater company, which has been active on the Greek theater scene since 2013. She has taught acting at the Athens Conservatoire Faculty of Drama since 2015.
The themed events programming Faces of the Hero is realized thanks to the exclusive grant by Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF).