July 8th, 2003
It is not a story of characters where it is clear immediately who is in the wrong, with dark evil intentions and good intentions. No. It is the story of helplessness in the face of one’s own inaction, one’s own inability or (something else) to be so clearly and boldly good or evil. (And later on realizing that one cannot be so boldly good or evil forever. One relapses.)
July 9th, 2003
The two most important acquaintances a human being will identify, overall, is first God–or an idea close to that–and second, the fellow human being. Of God, one has scriptures and tidings of the institutions to fall back on. Of the second, most humans are limited in their understanding to their [own] experience. To understand from a point of view of a [another] human being, the point of view which is wholly outside of one’s [own] real experience is not an easy quality to achieve. It is not a skill. It has something to do with Tolstoy’s view of humanity.
It is striking to me how the basic ideas were already in my head so early on. And they never really changed in the published version of the novel, even after a decade.