The Brothers Karamazov

I thought I’d try and get at least ONE post in here during the month of August…

I recently completed my first Dostoevsky novel, The Brothers Karamazov. Having finished War and Peace only a couple of months ago, another long, involved Russian novel seemed risky. Dostoevsky is nowhere as “easy” to read as Tolstoy. Karamazov involves lengthy discussions of religion and philosophy. The impatient, instant gratification American in me wished some of these had been edited out. But then it certainly would not have remained true to Dostoevsky’s vision.

Like War and Peace, Karamazov deals with complex themes. And what could have been a simple murder story turns into something far deeper in Dostoevsky’s hands. Thankfully, the Russian patrinomics were easier this time around. Perhaps I’m just getting used to reading Russian literature.

For me, the novel can be summed up in the Devil’s lecture to Ivan (in his dream):

    Precisely because we are of a broad, Karamazovian nature–and this is what I am driving at–capable of containing all possible opposites and of contemplating both abysses at once, the abyss above us, an abyss of lofty ideals, and the abyss beneath us, an abyss of the lowest and foulest degredation… Two abysses, two abysses, gentlemen, in one and the same moment–without that we are wretched and dissatisfied, our existence is incomplete.

The Brothers Karamazov was, for me, a difficult read. It’s not the kind of novel that encouraged me to keep reading, breathless to see what happened next. However, it certainly needs no endorsement from me as to its place in classic world literature.

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2 Responses to The Brothers Karamazov

  1. brian dela concepcion says:

    For me, Brothers Karamasov is a very great novel which tackle on religion and philosophy. Its quite difficult to understand but not discouraging to read even if it has over 700 pages…yes! just like you, I read it breathlessly and very excited to what might happen next. Its interconnection between philosophy and religion is very wise. Perhaps even the some priests dont know how to interpret what he posted.
    In addition, this novel allows me to explore Russia more and more—from its religion to its philosophical thoughts

  2. jimnyc62 says:

    Brian, to clarify, the book did not leave me breathless to continue, unfortunately. However, I was always interested even it was a book that I could easily put down. But, like you, the book also allowed me to explore aspects of Russia that I certainly didn’t know much about.

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