Dostoevsky Draws Doodles of Raskolnikov and Other Characters in the Manuscript of Crime and Punishment

Raskolnikov Svidrigailov

Like many of us, Russian literary great Fyodor Dostoevsky liked to doodle when he was distracted. He left his handiwork in several manuscripts—finely shaded drawings of expressive faces and elaborate architectural features. But Dostoevsky’s doodles were more than just a way to occupy his mind and hands; they were an integral part of his literary method. His novelistic imagination, with all of its grand excesses, was profoundly visual, and architectural.

“Indeed,” writes Dostoevsky scholar Konstantin Barsht, “Dostoevsky was not content to ‘write’ and ‘take notes’ in the process of creative thinking.” Instead, in his work “the meaning and significance of words interact reciprocally with other meanings expressed through visual images.” Barsht calls it “a method of work specific to the writer.” We’ve shared a few of those manuscript pages before, including one with a doodle of Shakespeare.

Crime and Punish Doodles

Now we bring you a few more pages of doodles from the author of Crime and Punishment, a novel that, perhaps more so than any of his others, offers such vivid descriptions of its characters that I can still clearly remember the pictures I had of them in my mind the first time I read it in high school.

My visualizations of the angry, desperate student Raskolnikov and the sleazy sociopathic Svidrigailov do not exactly resemble the faces doodled at the the top of the post, but that is how their author saw them, at least in this early, manuscript stage of the novel.

The other faces here may be those of Sonya, police investigator Porfiry Petrovich, recidivist alcoholic father Semyon Marmelodov, and other characters in the novel, though it’s not clear exactly who’s who.

Crime and Punish Doodles 2

Dostoevsky had much in common with his novel’s protagonist when he began the novel in 1865. Reduced to near-destitution after gambling away his fortune, the writer was also in desperate straits. The story, writes literary critic Joseph Franks, was “originally conceived as a long short story or novella to be written in the first person,” like the feverish novella Notes From the Underground. In Dostoevsky’s manuscript notebooks, “extensive fragments of this original work are to be found here intact.”

Franks quotes scholar Edward Wasiolek, who published a translation of the notebooks in 1967: “They contain drawings, jottings about practical matters, doodling of various sorts, calculations about pressing expenses, sketches, and random remarks.” In short, “Dostoevsky simply flipped his notebooks open any time he wished to write,” or to practice his calligraphy, as he does on many pages.

Crime and Punish Doodles 3

The pages of the Crime and Punishment notebooks resemble all of the manuscript pages of his novels in their ornamental haphazardness. You can see many more examples from novels like The Idiot, The Possessed, and A Raw Youth at the Russian site Culture, including the sketchy self portrait below, next to a few sums that indicate the author’s perpetual preoccupation with his troubled economic affairs.

Dostoevsky Self Portrait

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

The Interior of the Hindenburg Revealed in 1930s Color Photos: Inside the Ill-Fated Airship

Hindenburg 1

We’ve all seen the Hindenburg. Specifically, we’ve all seen it exploding, an incident captured on film on that fateful day of May 6, 1937 — fateful for those aboard, of course, but also fateful for the passenger airship industry, which never recovered from this worst of all possible press. The contemporary rise of Pan American Airlines didn’t help, either, so now, when we want to go to a faraway land, we’ve usually got to take a jet. I happen to be moving to Korea tomorrow, and to get there I simply don’t have the choice of an airship (Hindenburg- class or otherwise) nor have I ever had that choice. I’ve thus never seen the inside of an airship — until today.

Hindenburg 2

These color images reveal the interior of not just any old 1930s airship but the Hindenburg itself, looking as genteel and well-appointed as you might expect, with accommodations up to and including, somewhere below its hydrogen-filled balloon, a smoking room. It brings to mind Sideshow Bob’s offhand comment on one Simpsons episode lamenting the passage of “the days when aviation was a gentleman’s pursuit, back before every Joe Sweatsock could wedge himself behind a lunch tray and jet off to Raleigh-Durham.” But then, it also brings to mind another episode in which Bart gets a checkbook printed with flipbook-style images of the famous Hindenburg disaster newsreel footage.

Hindenburg 3

That clip, often dubbed with Herbert Morrison’s “Oh, the humanity!” reportorial narration, has familiarized us with the last large passenger airship’s exterior, but these images of its interior have had less exposure. For more, have a look at a Dirigible and Zeppelin History Site, which offers a wealth of detail on the Hindenburg‘s passenger decks, control car, flight instrument, flight controls, crew areas, and keel.


The more you learn about airships, the more intriguing a form of travel they seem — until you learn about all the other disasters that preceded the Hindenburg, anyway. And that aside, given its top speed of 84 miles per hour, it would take a similarly retro airship at least seven times longer to get me to Korea than a jet, so I guess I’ll have to stick with the airlines for now.


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Colin Marshall writes elsewhere on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinemaand the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future? Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Hear the Writing of French Theorists Jacques Derrida, Jean Baudrillard & Roland Barthes Sung by Poet Kenneth Goldsmith


Jacques Derrida, Jean Baudrillard, Roland Barthes… to my freshman ears, the names of these French theorists sounded like passwords to an occult world of strange and forbidding ideas. I started college in the mid-90s, when English departments gleefully claimed poststructuralism as their birthright. Academic campaigns against the fuzzy logic of these thinkers had not yet gathered much steam, though conservative culture warriors were already on the warpath against postmodernism. Very shortly after my introduction to French poststructuralist thought, analytical positivists launched formidable campaigns to banish critical theory to the margins.

The backlash against obscurantist theory made a good case, with public shamings like the “Sokal Hoax” and Philosophy and Literature’s Bad Writing Contest. Such displays made the work of many European philosophers and their adherents seem indeed—as Noam Chomsky said of Derrida, Slavoj Žižek, and Jacques Lacan—like so much vacuous “posturing.” But as potent as these critiques may be, I’ve never cared much for them; they seem to miss the point of more creative kinds of theory, which is not, I think (as philosophy professor Eric Schwitzgebel alleges) “intellectual authoritarianism and cowardice,” but instead an exploratory attempt to expand the rigid boundaries of language and cognition, and to enact the meanderings of discursive thought in prose that captures its “errantry” (to take a term from Martiniquan poet, novelist, and academic Edouard Glissant.)

In any case, the debate was not new at all, but only a later iteration of the old Continental/Analytic divide that has long pitted exponents of Anglophone clarity against the sometimes awkward prose of thinkers like Kant and Hegel. And I happen to think that Kant, Hegel, and, yes, even later Continentals like Derrida—despite the deliberate obscurity of their writing—are interesting thinkers who deserve to be read. They even deserve to be sung, badly, by poets—namely by conceptual poet Kenneth Goldsmith, who is also founding editor of Ubuweb, senior editor of PennSound, and onetime host of a radio show on gloriously weird, free-form radio station WFMU.

With his natty sense of style and serious appreciation for absurdity, Goldsmith has sung to listeners the work of Walter Benjamin, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Sigmund Freud; he has given us an avant-garde musical rendition of Harry Potter; and he has turned selections of Theodor Adorno’s grim Minima Moralia into 80s hardcore punk. Now, we bring you more of Goldsmith’s musical interventions: his goofball singing of Derrida over an icy minimalist composition by Anton Webern (top); of Baudrillard over a lounge-pop instrumental by Francis Lai (middle); and of Roland Barthes over the Allman Brothers (above).

As an added bonus, if you can call it that, hear Goldsmith warble Marxist theorist Frederic Jameson over Coltrane, just above. Do these ridiculous musical exercises make these thinkers any easier to digest? I doubt it. But they do seem to say to the many haters of critical theory and postmodern French philosophy, “hey, lighten up, will ya?”

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30 Minutes of Harry Potter Sung in an Avant-Garde Fashion by UbuWeb’s Kenneth Goldsmith

Theodor Adorno’s Critical Theory Text Minima Moralia Sung as Hardcore Punk Songs

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

An Animated Kurt Vonnegut Visits NYU, Riffs, Rambles, and Blows the Kids’ Minds (1970)

Kurt Vonnegut never graduated from college, but that didn’t stop him from visiting college classrooms, or from giving commencement speeches (nine of which were published last year in a volume called If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?: Advice to the Young). If you’ve experienced a Vonnegut speech, you know he had a tendency to riff and ramble. But he also entertained and educated. Above, the latest video from Blank on Blank captures the essence of a Vonnegut classroom visit, animating a talk the author gave to a class at NYU on November 8, 1970. Topics include: the paranoia that goes into writing and the exhaustion it brings about, his childhood in Indiana, the death of his parents, and his odd concept for a new short story called “The Big Space Fuc%,” which features a warhead filled with sperm. It leaves the kids a little stunned.

The full talk originally aired on WBAI 99.5 FM New York and now resides in the Pacifica Radio Archives. You can listen to the full, unedited tape below.

Looking for free, professionally-read audio books from For example, John Malkovich reading Breakfast of Champions? Or James Franco reading Slaughterhouse-FiveHere’s a great, no-strings-attached deal. If you start a 30 day free trial with, you can download two free audio books of your choice. Get more details on the offer here.

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The Emily Bronte Sand Sculpture

emily bronte sand

Creative commons image by Tim Green on Flickr Commons

In the town of Bradford, near Leeds in the UK, they’ve imported more than 30 tons of sand to build nine sand sculptures across the city, as part of what’s called the Discovering Bradford project. Above, you can see one that caught our eye, thanks to the Vintage Anchor twitter stream. It’s a life-size sand sculpture of Emily Brontë, created by Jamie Wardley, an artist who belongs to the collective, Sand in Your Eye. Brontë was born in Thornton, a short hop, skip and a jump away from Bradford. For more culturally-inspired sand creations, see the Relateds below.

via Vintage Anchor/Keighley News

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Two Guitar Effects That Revolutionized Rock: The Invention of the Wah-Wah & Fuzz Pedals

In the late 50s, a fearful, racist backlash against rock and roll, coupled with money-grubbing corporate payola, pushed out the blues and R&B that drove rock’s sound. In its place came easy listening orchestration more palatable to conservative white audiences. As sexy electric guitars gave way to string and horn sections, the comparatively aggressive sound of rock and roll seemed so much a passing fad that Decca’s senior A&R man rejected the Beatles’ demo in 1962, telling Brian Epstein, “guitar groups are on their way out.”

But it wasn’t only the blues, R&B, and doo wop revivalism of British Invasion bands that saved the American art form. It was also the often unintentional influence of audio engineers who—with their incessant tinkering and a number of happy accidents—created new sounds that defined the countercultural rock and roll of the 60s and 70s. Ironically, the two technical developments that most characterized those decades’ rock guitar sounds—the wah-wah and fuzz pedals—were originally marketed as ways to imitate strings, horns, and other non-rock and roll instruments.

As you’ll learn in the documentary above, Cry Baby: The Pedal that Rocks the World, the wah-wah pedal, with its “waka-waka” sound so familiar from “Shaft” and 70s porn soundtracks, officially came into being in 1967, when the Thomas Organ company released the first incarnation of the effect. But before it acquired the brand name “Cry Baby” (still the name of the wah-wah pedal manufactured by Jim Dunlop), it went by the name “Clyde McCoy,” a backward-looking bit of branding that attempted to market the effect through nostalgia for pre-rock and roll music. Clyde McCoy was a jazz trumpet player known for his “wah-wah” muting technique on songs like “Sugar Blues” in the 20s, and the pedal was thought to mimic McCoy’s jazz-age effects. (McCoy himself had nothing to do with the marketing.)


Nonetheless the development of the wah-wah pedal came right out of the most current sixties’ technology made for the most current of acts, the Beatles. Increasingly drowned out by screaming crowds in larger and larger venues, the band required louder and louder amplifiers, and British amp company Vox obliged, creating the 100-watt “Super Beatle” amp in 1964 for their first U.S. tour. As Priceonomics details, when Thomas Organ scored a contract to manufacture the amps stateside, a young engineer named Brad Plunkett was given the task of learning how to make them for less. While experimenting with the smooth dial of a rotary potentiometer in place of an expensive switch, he discovered the wah-wah effect, then had the bright idea to combine the dial—which swept a resonant peak across the upper mid-range frequency—with the foot pedal of an organ.

The rest, as the cliché goes, is history—a fascinating history at that, one that leads from Elvis Presley studio guitarist Del Casher, to Frank Zappa, Clapton and Hendrix, and to dozens of 70s funk guitarists and beyond.

Art Thompson, editor of Guitar Player Magazine, notes in the star-studded Cry Baby documentary that prior to the invention of the wah-wah pedal, guitarists had a limited range of effects—tape delay, tremolo, spring reverb, and fuzz. Only one of these effects, however, was then available in pedal form, and that pedal, Gibson’s Maestro Fuzz-Tone, would also revolutionize the sound of sixties rock. But as you can hear in the short 1962 demonstration record above for the Maestro Fuzz-Tone, the fuzz effect was also marketed as a way of simulating other instruments: “Organ-like tones, mellow woodwinds, and whispering reeds,” says the announcer, “booming brass, and bell-clear horns.”


In fact, Keith Richards, in the Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”—the song credited with introducing the Maestro’s sound to rock and roll in 1965—originally recorded his fuzzed-out guitar part as a placeholder for a horn section. “But we didn’t have any horns,” he wrote in his autobiography, Life; “the fuzz tone had never been heard before anywhere, and that’s the sound that caught everybody’s attention.”

The assertion isn’t strictly true. While “Satisfaction” brought fuzz to the forefront, the effect first appeared, by accident, in 1961, with “a faulty connection in a mixing board,” writes William Weir in a history of fuzz for The Atlantic. Fuzz, “a term of art… came to define the sound of rock guitar,” but it first appeared in “the bass solo of country singer Marty Robbins on ‘Don’t Worry,’” an “otherwise sweet and mostly acoustic tune.” At the time, engineers argued over whether to leave the mistaken distortion in the mix. Luckily, they opted to keep it, and listeners loved it. When Nancy Sinatra asked engineer Glen Snoddy to replicate the sound, he recreated it in the form of the Maestro.

Guitarists had experimented deliberately with similar distortion effects since the very beginnings of rock and roll, cutting through their amp’s speakers—like Link Wray in his menacing classic instrumental “Rumble”—or pushing small, tube-powered amplifiers past their limits. But none of these experiments, nor the pedals that later emulated them, sound like the fuzz pedal, which achieves its buzzing effect by severely clipping the guitar’s signal. Later iterations from other manufacturers—the Tone Bender, Big Muff, and Fuzz Face—have acquired their own cache, in large part because of Jimi Hendrix’s heavy use of various fuzz pedals throughout his career. “Like the shop talk of wine enthusiasts,” writes Weir, “discussions among distortion cognoscenti on nuances of tone can baffle outsiders.”

Indeed. Those early experiments with effects pedals now fetch upwards of several thousand dollars on the vintage market. And a recent boom in boutique pedals has sent prices for handcrafted replicas of those original models—along with several innovative new designs—into the hundreds of dollars for a single pedal. (One handmade overdrive, the Klon Centaur, has become the most imitated of modern pedals; originals can go for up to two thousand dollars.) The specialization of effects pedal technology, and the hefty pricing for vintage and contemporary effects alike, can be daunting for beginning guitarists who want to sound like their favorite players. But what early players and engineers figured out still holds true—musical innovation is all about creating original sounds by experimenting with whatever you have at hand.

Cry Baby: The Pedal that Rocks the World has been added to our list of Free Documentaries, a subset of our collection 725 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc.

via Priceonomics

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Download 10,000 of the First Recordings of Music Ever Made, Courtesy of the UCSB Cylinder Audio Archive


Three minutes with the minstrels / Arthur Collins, S. H. Dudley & Ancient City. Edison Record. 1899.

Long before vinyl records, cassette tapes, CDs and MP3s came along, people first experienced audio recordings through another medium — through cylinders made of tin foil, wax and plastic. In recent years, we’ve featured cylinder recordings from the 19th century that allow you to hear the voices of Leo Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky, Walt WhitmanOtto von Bismarck and other towering figures. Those recordings were originally recorded and played on a cylinder phonograph invented by Thomas Edison in 1877. But those were obviously just a handful of the cylinder recordings produced at the beginning of the recorded sound era.

Thanks to the University of California-Santa Barbara Cylinder Audio Archive, you can now download or stream a digital collection of more than 10,000 cylinder recordings. “This searchable database,” says UCSB, “features all types of recordings made from the late 1800s to early 1900s, including popular songs, vaudeville acts, classical and operatic music, comedic monologues, ethnic and foreign recordings, speeches and readings.” You can also find in the archive a number of “personal recordings,” or “home wax recordings,” made by everyday people at home (as opposed to by record companies).

If you go to this page, the recordings are neatly categorized by genre, instrument, subject/theme and ethnicity/nation of origin. You can listen, for example, to recordings of JazzHawaiian MusicOperas, and Fiddle Tunes. Or hear recordings featuring the MandolinGuitarBagpipes and Banjo. Plus there are thematically-arranged playlists here.

Hosted by UCSB, the archive is supported by funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Grammy Foundation, and other donors.

Above, hear a recording called “Three minutes with the minstrels,” by Arthur Collins, released in 1899. Below that is “Alexander’s ragtime band medley,” featuring the banjo playing of Fred Van Eps, released in 1913.

via Metafilter

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W.B. Yeats’ Poem “When You Are Old” Adapted into a Japanese Manga Comic

Yeats Manga

Click on images to view them in a larger format.

Last week we featured Julian Peters’ comic-book adaptation of T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” That might seem like an ambitious enough classic-literature-to-comics adaptation for any artist’s career, but the Montreal-based art history grad student Peters has put himself on a larger mission. If you take a look at his site, you’ll find that he’s also adapted poems by “Italy’s foremost poet of the First World War” Giuseppe Ungaretti, Seamus Heaney’s 1969 poem “The Given Note,” and John Philip Johnson’s “Stairs Appear in a Hole Outside of Town.”

Yeats Manga 2

You see here the versatile Peters’ visual interpretation of W.B. Yeats’ “When You Are Old,” a natural choice given his apparent poetic interests, but one drawn in the style of Japanese manga. In adapting Yeats’ words to a lady in the twilight of life, Peters has paid specific tribute to the work of Clamp, Japan’s famous all-female comic-artist collective known for series like RG VedaTokyo Babylon, and X/1999.

Yeats Manga 3

Clamp fans will find that, in three brief pages, Peters touches on quite a few of the aesthetic tropes that have long characterized the collective’s work. (You’ll want to click through to Peters’ own “When You Are Old” page to see an extra illustration that also fits well into the Clamp sensibility.) Yeats fans will no doubt appreciate the chance to see the poet’s work in an entirely new way. I, for one, had never before pictured a cat on the lap of the woman “old and grey and full of sleep” reflecting on the “moments of glad grace” of her youth and the one man who loved her “pilgrim soul,” but now I always will — and I imagine both Yeats and Clamp would approve of that. You can read and hear Yeats’ 1892 poem here. If you click on the images on this page, you can view them in a larger format.

Yeats Manga 4

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Colin Marshall writes elsewhere on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinemaand the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future? Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Download the Software That Provides Stephen Hawking’s Voice

hawking capitalism future

Creative Commons image via NASA

Ah to be possessed of a highly distinctive voice.

Actress Katherine Hepburn had one.

As did FDR

And noted Hollywood Square Paul Lynde…

Physicist Stephen Hawking may trump them all, though his famously recognizable voice is not organic. The one we all associate with him has been computer generated since worsening Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, aka Lou Gehrig’s disease, led to a tracheotomy in 1985.

Without the use of his hands, Hawking controls the Assistive Context-Aware Toolkit software with a  sensor attached to one of his cheek muscles.

Recently, Intel has made the software and its user guide available for free download on the code sharing site, Github. It requires a computer running Windows XP or above to use, and also a webcam that will track the visual cues of the user’s facial expressions.

The multi-user program allows users to type in MS Word and browse the Internet, in addition to assisting them to “speak” aloud in English.

The software release is intended to help researchers aiding sufferers of motor neuron diseases, not pranksters seeking to borrow the famed physicist’s voice for their doorbells and cookie jar lids. To that end, the free version comes with a default voice, not Professor Hawking’s.

Download the Assistive Context-Aware Toolkit (ACAT) here.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Her play, Fawnbook, is currently playing in New York City. Follow her @AyunHalliday

Gravity Visualized by High School Teacher in an Amazingly Elegant & Simple Way

Just a few miles down the highway from Open Culture’s gleaming headquarters you will find Los Gatos High School, where Dan Burns, an AP Physics Teacher, has figured out a simple but clever way to visualize gravity, as it was explained by Einstein’s 1915 General Theory of Relativity. Get $20 of spandex, some marbles, a couple of weights, and you’re all good to go. Using these readily-available objects, you can demonstrate how matter warps space-time, how objects gravitate towards one another, and why objects orbit in the way they do. My favorite part comes at the 2:15 mark, where Burns demonstrates the answer to a question you’ve maybe pondered before: why do all planets happen to orbit the sun moving in a clockwise (rather than counter-clockwise) fashion? Now you can find out why.

via Coudal

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