Beautiful prose but no idea what it was about!

I've been collecting both recommendations and books that "we should have read" and it's really amazing to find that this book was written in the 1920s, before 1984 and A Brave New World.

The book was originally written in Russian and banned from publication for many decades. The version I've read is apparently a faithful and good translation but I do always wonder if the language has been modified or not (in one section I found a reference to electric toothbrushes - something that was invented some 30 years later).

None the less, the words to this book really are poetry.

The problem I had is that I really wasn't sure where I was in the story. The character thinks he's going insane, but he's actually discovering he has a soul, but often it did read like a madman and hallucinations.

It does end predictably, but only because I've already read the likes of 1984. I can't imagine the impact on a reader reading this back in the late 1920s. It's also worth adding that the writing really does hold up nearly a century later, which is baffling amazing.

So, great stuff for nearly 100 years old, but "just okay" because I struggled to fully follow the character.