January 30, 2014
Poetry vs. prose debate solved in Russia—with a knife
by Martin Rouse
Last week in the land of Dostoyevsky and vodka, an enduring debate reopened when a 67-year-old man asserted his belief that “the only real literature is prose.” Unfortunately for him, his poetry-inclined friend asserted his belief that the only real way to shut someone up is to kill them.
As reported by RIA Novosti, a 53-year-old former teacher is currently in custody for the alleged January 20th stabbing death of his friend, resulting from a disagreement over the relative merits of poetry and prose. The suspect escaped from the scene, but was later apprehended and faced with charges of murder—punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Exact details of their argument were sadly not released.
Almost like an homage, the prose of the statement released by the federal Investigative Committee would certainly have been pleasing to the deceased, had he been alive (“The literary dispute soon grew into a banal conflict, on the basis of which the 53-year-old admirer of poetry killed his opponent with the help of a knife,” it lilts). Alas, thanks to the greats of Russian prose—Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, and of course alcohol (needless to say, the men in question were drunk)—this is not to be.
When all is said and done, 15 years may seem like scant punishment for a man who brutally stabbed his friend and then hid from the police. But wouldn’t the world be a better place if every passionate reader were guaranteed lighter sentences in court? Undoubtedly. Plus, as every sensible person would agree, poetry is in fact better than prose.