On Romancing The Devil Warning This review might contain spoilers even outside the hidden spoiler alert regions I honestly am not capable of discriminating The book is not about the murder or about who did it, those things were very apparent before half the book was completed the narrator taking special pains to spoil all suspense for his readers at the very beginning harkening back to the days of greek drama and Euripides according to whom, the effect of a story, even a whodunnit, was not in epic suspense about what was going to happen next, but in those great scenes of lyrical rhetorics in which the passion and dialectic of the protagonists reached heights of eloquence Everything was to portend pathos, not action, which was always there only as a container for the pathos, to give it form This was probably done so that the typical clue seeking aspects of a mystery does not detract his reader from addressing the real, the painful questions littered all across his treatise, almost with indecent abandon view spoiler After all, we were shown by Dostoevsky varying degrees of foreshadowings of every event that eventually became turning points in the plot starting with the numerous leading comments of the narrator including the one in the opening paragraph, Zosima s prediction of suffering for and apology to Dimitri and Smerdyakov s not so subtle clues to Ivan among many others And do not forget that Dostoyevsky even gave us the alternate route that Mitya could have taken in the Zosima narrative the parallels in that story are too numerous to list out here hide spoiler Contrary to widespread rumor, this is a far from bleak book While every character has his or her own misery, and it all takes place in a place called something like cattle roundup ville , the moments of religious ecstasy and moral clarity are heartbreaking in their frequency it s hard not to wish that one had such bizarre events going on around one in order to prompt such lofty oratory.The story involves Ivan, Dmitri, Alyosha, and Smerdyakov, four brothers with a rich but notoriously lecherous father, Fyodor All four brothers were raised by others, Fyodor having essentially ignored them until others removed them from his care In the beginning of the book, Alyosha is in the monastery, studying under a famous elder name Father Zosima Dmitri has just left the army and stolen a large sum of money from a government official s daughter, who he has also apparently seduced, all while pursuing a lawsuit against Fyodor for his inheritance and canoodling with his own father s intended, the local seductress Grushenka Ivan, the intellectual in the family, has just returned from I think Petersburg Dmitri is violent and impulsive, referring to himself as an insect, and gets into fistfights with Fyodor several times Smerdyakov works for Fyodor as a lackey, having gone to France to learn to cook at some point in the past It s unimaginably complicated and digressive than all this, and just trying to follow this crucial sum of three thousand rubles through the story is almost impossible But anyway, Fyodor is killed and much of the book hinges on which brother killed him and why When I first read this book in high school, my teacher who was a devout Catholic, a red faced drunk who wore sunglasses to class, and the most enthusiastic reader of Russian literature imaginable asked everyone who their favorite brother was Was it Ivan, the tortured skeptic Dmitri, the scoundrel who tortures himself for every wrong he commits but can t help committing Or Alyosha, the saintly one who always knows the right thing to say Certainly Smerdyakov is no one s favorite At the time I went with Ivan I was in high school, after all, and his atheism and pessimism were revolutionary to me But now Ivan seems rather selfish and callow, and I can t help siding with Dmitri, the one Dostoevsky uses almost as a case history of conscience Like Shakespeare, Dostoevsky gives his characters all the space to talk like gods, clearing pages upon pages for their reasoning and dialog Dmitri fumbles with Voltaire and is clearly not overly literate, but in some ways that s apropos, because his main problem is the constant internal conflict between his desires and his ethics which is only partly resolved when he chooses to become responsible for not only what he does, but also what he wants The most famous passage in the book, Ivan s tale of the Grand Inquisitor, is, to me, far less interesting than Zosima s meditations on the conflict between justice and the collective good The elder Zosima is a kind of Christian socialist who grapples with the typical mid 19th century Russian issues of how to build a equitable society without the extremes of coercion that the Tsar used to turn to, while also ensuring public morality and avoiding the kind of massacres that characterized the French Revolution an event that seems to have been even traumatizing for Russians than it was to the French due to the enormous cultural influence France had there at the time Zosima s answer is unworkable and in some ways naiive, but the discussion is well worth it, so than Ivan s somewhat simplistic dualism of Christ vs the Inquisitor Dostoevsky was a cultural conservative in the sense that he was constantly renewing his commitment to the obligations imposed on Russians by the Orthodox Church At the same time, he was committed to the pursuit of joy through kindness and community and a kind of interpersonal fair dealing in a way that transcends his political concerns and is inspiring to see articulated in the lives of people who are as confused as the rest of us.It s a huge, messy book, but so worth the effort It took me about three months to read carefully, though my reading has been flagging lately, as well I read this while listening to Hubert Dreyfus s accompanying lectures at Stanford on existentialism and this book which are available on iTunes U, and even when I felt his readings overreached, it was a good way to reread a tough and subtle work like this. The Brothers Karamasov Is A Murder Mystery, A Courtroom Drama, And An Exploration Of Erotic Rivalry In A Series Of Triangular Love Affairs Involving The Wicked And Sentimental Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov And His Three Sons The Impulsive And Sensual Dmitri The Coldly Rational Ivan And The Healthy, Red Cheeked Young Novice Alyosha Through The Gripping Events Of Their Story, Dostoevsky Portrays The Whole Of Russian Life, Is Social And Spiritual Striving, In What Was Both The Golden Age And A Tragic Turning Point In Russian CultureThis Award Winning Translation By Richard Pevear And Larissa Volokhonsky Remains True To The Verbalinventiveness Of Dostoevsky S Prose, Preserving The Multiple Voices, The Humor, And The Surprising Modernity Of The Original It Is An Achievement Worthy Of Dostoevsky S Last And Greatest Novel 837 Bratia Karamazovy The Karamazov brothers ,Fyodor Dostoevsky Abstract The Brothers Karamazov is a passionate philosophical novel set in 19th century of Russia that enters deeply into the ethical debates of God, free will, and morality It is a spiritual drama of moral struggles concerning faith, doubt, and reason, set against a modernizing Russia.Characters Dmitri Fyodorovich Karamazov, Ivan Fyodorovich Karamazov, Alexei Fyodorovich Karamazov, Pavel Smerdyakov, Agrafena Alexandrovna Svetlova, Katerina Ivanovna Verkhovtseva, Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov, Father Zosima, the Elder, Ilyusha, Nikolai Krassotkin 2002 1335 2 1367 1376 2 96462050701 9646205062 19 1390 2 9786001900532 1 9786001900518 2 9786001900525 1391 2 9789642201860 2 9789642201874 1391 61 9789642412013 1879 1880. Above all, avoid lies, all lies, especially the lie to yourself Keep watch on your own lie and examine it every hour, every minute And avoid contempt, both of others and of yourself what seems bad to you in yourself is purified by the very fact that you have noticed it in yourself And avoid fear, though fear is simply the consequence of every lie. 57 Family You cannot pick You are either happy to be around them or you are stuck with them You can choose your friends, a pet, you can choose between a blueberry muffin and a chocolate chip one, but you cannot choose your family The combination of genetics and the social environment is simply fascinating For example, take this ordinary Russian family An ambitious, lascivious, ridiculous father who enjoyed alcohol in any form a son who, at first, seemed to be the image of his father a second son, vain and intellectual with even questionable moral reactions the youngest son with the kindness of a saint and the troubled soul of a common man and another weak, disturbing young man who never counted as a son This book contains the story of every family in the world Their struggles, their fears, their doubts, the decisions that reflect the highest and most degrading aspects of human nature There is a force that will endure everything, said Ivan, this time with a cold smirk What force The Karamazov force the force of the Karamazov baseness To drown in depravity, to stifle your soul with corruption, is that it 210 This book contains centuries of human history It is a major treatise on philosophy and religion And yes, there is a lot of religion here, but even me, a person who is struggling with a lack of faith and a deep ocean of doubts and fear, can still be interested and dazzled by all this Unless we are talking about the monk book There were a couple of good things but, in general, it was the only part of the book that made me want to take a really long nap I must admit it, in the spirit of full disclosure And my previous naive defense about how even me could be interested Yes, forget it, I know I am haunted by uncertainty and, therefore, obsessed with knowledge, no matter how limited I can be Can it be that you really hold this conviction about the consequences of the exhaustion of men s faith in the immortality of their souls the elder suddenly asked Ivan Fyodorovich Yes, it was my contention There is no virtue if there is no immortality You are blessed if you believe so, or else most unhappy Maybe you re right But still, I wasn t quite joking either , Ivan Fyodorovich suddenly and strangely confessed by the way, with a quick blush You weren t quite joking, that is true This idea is not yet resolved in your heart and torments it But a martyr, too, sometimes likes to toy with his despair, also from despair, as it were For the time being you, too, are toying, out of despair, with your magazine articles and drawing room discussions, without believing in your own dialectics and smirking at them with your heart aching inside you The question is not resolved in you, and there lies your great grief, for it urgently demands resolution 66 A sharp observation written using such an exquisite language You should become accustomed to that Once you reach Book V, you will found yourself overwhelmed by the author s mesmerizing erudition.If you re expecting an explosive plot with lots of things going on at the same time, weird twists and vampires, fights and dragons, magic and flying dogs, then this book is not for you There is a plot, of course, but the excellence of this book lies on the writing Dostoyevsky s trademark is his gifted ability to describe human nature using the most poignantly elegant prose known to man His insightful points of view on almost every subject that affects all humanity are written with admirable lyricism and precision Reading this particular writer can be rather demanding You have to be prepared You have to become habituated to the idea that your soul might absorb the despairing and sometimes playful beauty of his writing And once that happens, you won t be able to forget him Dostoyevsky has the power to defeat oblivion He personifies an unwelcome light that illuminates every dark nook of our minds He makes us think about what we like to see in ourselves and what we choose to hide.Jealousy Othello is not jealous, he is trustful A truly jealous man is not like that It is impossible to imagine all the shame and moral degradation a jealous man can tolerate without the least remorse And it is not that they are all trite and dirty souls On the contrary, it is possible to have a lofty heart, to love purely, to be full of self sacrifice, and at the same time to hide under tables, to bribe the meanest people, and live with the nastiest filth of spying and eavesdropping And one may ask what is the good of a love that must constantly be spied on, and what is the worth of a love that needs to be guarded so intensely 293 Besides briefly discussing the plot, I can only add I don t have favorite characters They all annoyed me or disgusted me in the same contradictory way But I do understand them, most of the times I loved the dialogues the amazing reflections while they are deciding to act against everything that is good they know what they are about to do is wrong but they can t help it it s in their blood the profound remarks of our narrator and the fact that Dostoyevsky, one time, allowed me to enter inside his characters minds He shares the complexity of all of them And I m enchanted by this man s ability to make everything beautiful, even while describing the darkest aspects of humanity, which leads me to another point.I love reading other people s thoughts on the books I like A certain opinion I read a while ago was about how Dostoyevsky seems to be a vicious misogynist because of the way he wrote about Smerdyakov s mother, Stinking Lizaveta I try not to make out of every word written by the author, a reflection of the person he or she really is Crime writers don t usually murder every human they find Mystery writers don t always think that somebody s butler is up to something In that sense, an author who writes about how a woman is mistreated by a certain part of society doesn t necessarily mean he s a vicious misogynist He was being honest, he was displaying truth Poor women and men were often treated like less than a human that hasn t changed that much Dostoyevsky described it too vividly people speak sometimes about the animal cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to animals, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel 193 In conclusion, as I said before, this book contains the history of the world A deluge of misery and wisdom waiting for the reader The way of representing the Russian soul is the way all souls should be represented it transcends any geographical boundary, any limitation of time We all have many sides of the Karamazovs nature in us We all have demons tormenting our good judgment We all know what we should do and, sometimes, we simply can t do it I can t justify everything but we are humans I want to understand, I need to We are susceptible to failure To negligence To vileness, dishonesty and many other abhorrent things Once mistakes are made, only the most fortunate ones are able to find a path toward redemption In this book, in this Russia which portrays the world of all times, some did And some had to endure the bitter punishments that the choices in their lives have brought upon them I love mankind, he said, but I am amazed at myself the I love mankind in general, the less I love people in particular, that is, individually, as separate persons 56 Too human We all hear the sounds of a ravenous solitude echoing in the dark depths of our beings they often make us act by instinct, forgetting that we have been blessed or doomed with reason Moreover, they make us forget to feel love And that, indeed, is a faithful depiction of what hell must feel like A hell to which we will soon arrive by repeating to ourselveseverything is permitted .May 05, 14 Update June 17, 19 Just another reader s opinion Also on my blog. Hurrah for Karamazov Those are the concluding words of this bombastic brick of a book I am than willing to chime in, to cheer for the brothers Karamazov who finally, finally made me give in to the genius of Dostoevsky fully, without anger, without resentment and fight, after a year of grappling with his earlier novels.This is doubtless his magnum opus, the shining lead star in a brilliant cosmos There are many similarities to his earlier novels, and his characters fight with the same inner demons as the predecessors And yet, there is something milder, soothing in the Brothers Karamazov, there is mature perfection in this novel Yes, Smerdyakov is an underprivileged, hateful sufferer, but he is not lost to compassion and care in the same way as the nihilistic man writing his Notes from Underground And Dimitri is rash and bold and full of contradictions, but he is not as confused as Raskolnikov, he does not impose the dogma of suffering in the sense of Crime and Punishment on his family and community He has a plan for living, not for suffering Ivan is a brooding intellectual, but he is not stone cold like Stavrogin in Devils His conflicted heart and intellect are connected to the world.Alyosha, thank goodness, is a sweet and innocent character, but nothing like the awful Christlike idiot Myshkin from The Idiot He knows how to live and interact, and he is willing to step away from rigid prejudices and principles to comfort the ones he loves What about the women Grushenka is not destroyed by the love of several men like Nastasya, and even Katerina Ivanovna is given a complex, divided soul, not just a shallow platform for men to use at their convenience and throw away when they have made their point She has her own points to make.Why do the Brothers Karamazov work so well I believe Dostoyevsky made the decision to paint a family just like it is, with all the contradictory emotions and actions, and all the mood swings and difficult situations He had already established his religious and political ideas in earlier works, and he could afford to let the characters be what they naturally were, without judging them from the standpoint of history and society Thus he could be the storyteller he naturally was, without any agenda but love for the story he told.The plot is both simple and complex Be careful what you wish for, it might come true As the three or four brothers and the women they love in different ways and fashions face the murder of the old patriarchal buffoon, all of them have to come to terms with the painful reality of loving and hating at the same time A bad parent is still a parent, and a dead parent still has power over the lives of his offspring The Karamazov character , much cited throughout the novel, becomes a synonym for any human being in his or her dealings with that complicated microcosm called family And why Because he was of the broad Karamazov character that s just what I am leading up to capable of combining the most incongruous contradictions, and capable of the greatest heights and of the greatest depths Because Dostoyevsky dares to let go of his mission to prove that Russian nationalism and Christian orthodoxie are at the centre of the meaning of life, he actually makes a case for both in a much convincing way than he ever could with his concept and idea driven earlier works The humour in the unforgettable scenes with the unspeakable conduct of the stinking Father Zossima are so much better than the pseudo Christian rants of Myshkin, and the intellectual understanding of the dangers of community worship in the story of the Grand Inquisitor is as true now as it was back then, showing the way to the core of both religious and political extremism This craving for community of worship is the chief misery of every man individually and of all humanity from the beginning of time For the sake of common worship they ve slain each other with the sword They have set up gods and challenged one another Put away your gods and come and worship ours, or we will kill you and your gods And so it will be to the end of the world, even when gods disappear from the earth they will fall down before idols just the same So what is the redeeming feature of the Karamazovs then Why do I feel like shouting, over and over Hurrah for Karamazov They love each other They really do, in a crooked, angry way, in a distorted, strange way But they do They love each other despite being completely different in their approach to life, and they support each other s right to life, love and happiness In the end, they help each other make the best of a muddle and that is the best any family can do help each other deal with the blows that families tend to inflict on themselves.Exile in a place worse than Siberia Oh, America, what a delightful irony Dimitri s words are is manageable if you make peace with your loved ones And the final pages leave me bowing to the beauty of the insight that man and woman can love each other in so many different ways, and that love is not exclusive, but inclusive.Dostoyevsky You wrote the perfect novel Hurrah I finished reading this book at precisely 0205 hours today The night still lay majestically over the impending dawn, and in its blackened stillness, swayed the echoes of this imperious book The walls of my room, at once, turned into a fortress for Dostoevsky s army of thoughts, and I, right in the middle of it, found myself besieged with its diverse, haphazard but mighty blizzard I am no stranger to this rambling Russian s precocious visions and forbearance and yet, and yet, this work, swells much beyond even his own creator and spills over well, almost, everything A maniacal land owner is murdered and one of his three sons is the prime suspect Thus, ensues a murder trial and in its fold, fall hopelessly and completely, the lives of all the three brothers the brothers Karamazov A life, when spans a trajectory both long and substantial, ends up writing a will that is both personal and universal A notebook of reflections, a source of knowledge, an oasis of love and a mirror of perpetuity And may I dare say that for D, this might well be a biography, which he, in his quintessential mercurial satire, chose to write himself, under the garb of fiction.Dmitri, Ivan and Alyosha present the very tenets on which life gets lived, or even , passed on The impulsive and emotional Dmitri, the calculative and intelligent Ivan and the na ve and spiritual Alyosha represent the microcosm of a society which wagers war on the name of religion, status, power, values and ideals And D takes each of these causes and drills, and drills, and drills even , their various interpretations Religion, and church, take centre stage for a good 350 pages of this work Amid homilies and confessions, monasteries and surrender, is pushed disturbing ideals that can rock one s faithIf you are surrounded by spiteful and callous people who do not want to listen to you, fall down before them and ask for their forgiveness, for the guilt is yours too, that they do not want to listen to you And if you cannot speak with the embittered, serve them silently and in humility, never losing hope And if everyone abandons you and drives you out by force, then, when, you are left alone fall down on the earth and kiss it and water it with your tears, and the earth will bring forth fruit from your tears, even though no one has seen or heard you in your solitude Aye, aye, I hear you, D and while some of it makes so much sense to my theist heart, some of it look outright suicidal But why again, am I tempted to always, measure the righteousness, even lesser, the likeability, of my action from the perspective of my audience Why make an ideal on a bed that doesn t smell of my skin I go to the board and think Philosophising, as he does with such ease and amiability, isn t without unleashing a thundering dose of dichotomies He steals the mirror from my room and turns it towards me Oh, so you believe in the good How nice But, well, then, how come the devil lurks in the dark corners of your room No You don t agree with me Oh where does all the cursing and ill will spring from that you aim, with such precise ferocity, towards the people you don t quite find to your liking From where does all the impiety and malice, that you secretly drink with panache, emerge from leaving you intoxicated for hours, if not days Sheepishly, I dig the chalk a little deeper into the board, and think.And while I grope to find answers to his questions, I cheat and fall back on his treatise for hints, and insightsYou know, Lise, it s terribly difficult for an offended man when everyone suddenly starts looking like his benefactor Why might a fallen man, a beggar, still keep a flame of dignity burning in his heart Why might a harangued father, drive away his heirs from money, while spending his whole life hoarding for them Why might a pauper, throw away his last penny on trifles, despite carrying a clear picture of his imminent doom in his eyes Why might a pure heart, deliberately dirty his soul with pungent secrets, knowing there were no ways to erase them Because deep down, what bind us, irrespective of our backgrounds, are the same threads love, jealousy, ambition, hatred, revenge, repentance In various forms, they dwell in us, and drive us, to give their formless matter, shape in different people, in different ways, at different places and in different times I write a few words on the board and pause to ponder But, make no mistake D turns the mirror on himself too and takes digs on his own character, because, after all, what life have we lived if we didn t learn to laugh at ourselves Laugh, yes ah yes There is plenty of humor ingrained, albeit surreptitiously, in this dense text and works like a lovely whiff of cardamom wafting over a cup of strong teaIvan Fyodorovich, my most respectful son, allow me to order you to follow me There, I made a smiley on the board I dropped the chalk and wondered what created so much debate and furore perhaps when this book was first published in the 19th century And then, I realized even without my knowledge, my fingers had imparted two horns to the smiley s rotund face Yes, now that image surely needs to be questioned But do ask these questions Do take the plunge into this deep sea of psychology and philosophy Do feel the thuds of paradoxes and dualities on your soul Do allow the unknown elements of orthodoxy and modernism to pucker your skin Do allow some blood to trickle Do allow some scars to heal BecauseNo, gentlemen of the jury, they have their Hamlets, but so far we have only Karamazovs That s whatAlso on my blog . If you like your books to move in a linear fashion this book is not for you It hops around and attention must be paid or you will find yourself flipping back a few pages to reestablish the thread of the story I took this on a plane flight, crazy right Not exactly the normal light reading I take on flights It was a stroke of genius I absolutely fell under the thrall of Dostoyevky s prose Thank you to my fellow travelers who didn t feel the need to chat with the guy who obviously is so frilling bored he has resorted to reading a Russian novel I zipped through three hundred pages like it was butter and found myself absolutely captivated by the evolving drama of the Brothers Karamazov, the women that drive them crazy, and the father that brings to mind the words justifiable homicide.I have to give a plug to these Everyman s Library editions A 776 page novel that feels like a 300 page novel Despite the smaller size, the print size is still easily readable I will certainly be picking up of these editions especially the Russian novels that are translated by the magical duo of Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky Translators Volokhonsky and PevearOne of my complaints, when I was in college, and liked to torture myself with the largest most incomprehensible Russian books I could find, was that the nicknames and diminutives of various Russian names increased my frustration level and decreased my ability to comprehend the plots I certainly spent too much time scratching my head and reading feverishly to see if I could figure out from the interactions of the characters if Vanky was actually Ivan or Boris or Uncle Vashy I did not have that issue with this book Despite a plot that skipped around I did not experience the confusion that has marred my memories of other Russian novels This is the story of the Karamazov family The father Fyodor and his four sons There are three legitimate sons Dmitri, Ivan and Alyosha, but I believe that Smerdyakov is also an illegitimate son, though not confirmed by the author given the tendencies of Fyodor to hop on anything in a skirt I would say chances are pretty good that the boy is a Karamazov The recklessness at which Fyodor lived his life is really the basis of the plot The motivations of the other characters all revolve around reactions to the careless and insensitive behavior of the father Dostoyevsky wrote a description of Fyodor that still gives me a shiver every time I read it Fyodor s physiognomy by that time presented something that testified acutely to the characteristics and essence of his whole life Besides the long, fleshy bags under his eternally insolent, suspicious, and leering little eyes, besides the multitude of deep wrinkles on his fat little face, a big Adam s apple, fleshy and oblong like a purse, hung below his sharp chin, giving him a sort of repulsively sensual appearance Add to that a long, carnivorous mouth with plump lips, behind which could be seen the little stumps of black, almost decayed teeth He sprayed saliva whenever he spoke Fyodor is a skirt chaser and since he is rich he can afford to throw these opulent parties that evolve devolve into orgies with the local women Given the description above I can only speculate that gallons and gallons of good vodka must be in play to achieve this end Problems mount as he falls in love lust with a young beauty of dubious morals named Grushenka His oldest son Dmitri is also in love with this young woman and as they both vie for her hand the tension between the Karamazov s ratchets up to dangerous levels Dmitri while pursuing this dangerous siren throws over Katerina, a girl that he owes 3,000 rubles After Fyodor is murdered It was similar to waiting around for someone to kill J.R those same rubles become central to the subsequent trial to convict Dmitri of the murder The murderer is revealed to the reader and as the trial advances the tension increases as we begin to wonder just how the truth will be revealed There are subplots with Father Zosima and his life before becoming a monk Alyosha, the youngest son, was studying to be a monk under Zosima s tutelage, but becomes embroiled in the power struggles of the family and leaves the monastery to seek a life in the real world Alyosha also becomes involved with the care of a dying child named, Ilyusha who is in the book to illustrate the heavy burden that the seemingly inconsequential actions of people can leave on others The book explores that theme extensively It was fascinating to watch the ripple effects of each character s actions as the chapters advance Every time I picked this book up I had to read large chunks because it simply would not let me go The reactions and high drama created by the smallest spark of contention in the characters kept the pages turning and as new information snapped into place I found my pulse quickening as my brain sprang ahead trying to guess where Dostoyevsky was taking me next I worked with a young woman years ago that said that I reminded her of one of the Karamazov brothers Because of the diverse personalities of the brothers, and the fact that I can see a little of myself in each brother I m still left with the grand mystery as to which brother she was referring too It serves me right for waiting so long to read this beautiful book If you wish to see all my most recent book and movie reviews check out I m writing this review as I read Frankly, I m astounded by how good this is and how compelling I m finding it Astounded Why should that be This is a classic, after all True, but it breaks just about every rule of fiction The plot so far is virtually nonexistent three brothers get together with their wastrel father and all sorts of dysfunction, including an odd love triangle involving the father and the eldest son, are revealed The brothers aren t particular close to each other, and really not much happens except that they meet at a monastery, where the youngest son lives, for an audience with a holy man who s dying, and then they go their separate ways, except that they have kind of random meetings with each other and with the woman involved in the love triangle, and there s a vague sense of foreboding that something will happen to the father And the characters Not really the kinds of characters we re used to in contemporary fiction These are characters who struggle with all kinds of philosophical issues and enjoy nothing than debating them at length with each other Sounds boring Well, it s not Not at all By the way, I m reading the Ignet Avsey translation based on Kris s recommendation, and it s wonderful so far One of the things I find so fascinating about this book is how it can be both one of the most dark and cynical works I ve read, and one of the most overtly spiritual and soulful This is a true testament to Dostoyevsky s range, to how effortlessly he contains multitudes in this masterful work Alert Some Spoilers to Follow One of the most cynical passages I ve read so far is about how, following the holy man s death, his fellow monks are all shocked when his corpse begins to smell Because of course if he d been a true holy man, they figured, his corpse wouldn t have smelled at all, so the fact that it started smelling makes them all begin to question whether he d really been what they d imagined Soon several of them begin to remember times when he d been shockingly and suspiciously less than holy, and then the pile on really begins, as the monks begin competing to disavow him the most, with only a couple of his friends holding onto his good memory, but even they are cowed into silence by the general gleeful animosity Oh, this Dostoyevsky really knows how to plumb all that s dark and pathetic about human nature After about page 500, the plot really picks up We have murder, a mad dash to a woman, heavy drinking, protestations of love, and the police moving in After the languid plotting of the opening sections, I m almost breathless The use of the narrator here is so interesting We have a nameless figure who lives in the place where the events take place recounting the story almost as if recounting a legend At the same time, we get the characters most intimate thoughts and long speeches that the narrator could not possibly have known first hand It all adds to the notion that this may be the narrator s own tall tale than any faithful recitation of history which of course is true, because it s a novel, but the way the artificial nature of the story gets highlighted makes me think it s another example of Dostroyevsky s cynicism at work All signs point to Dmitry as the perpetrator, but the way he protests his innocence just makes you want to believe him He s having a hard time of it, though The prosecutor and magistrate conduct a long interview of him, and the evidence is damning.Interestingly, after Dmitry is taken away, the scene shifts radically, revisiting the young boys we d briefly met earlier What is Dostroyevsky doing here In the figure of Kolya, a 13 year old prankster wunderkind, he seems to be pointing out the limits of rationalism, the way it can be abused to wow those with slightly less knowledge and how it can ultimately come off as a big joke Now things have become complicated Who s really guilty of this crime We know who did it because he tells Ivan, but then he blames Ivan himself for his athiesm for influencing him by the notion that nothing we do matters anyway At the beginning of the trial, we see Dostoyevsky s biting and cynical nature reassert itself, as he describes the spectacle that the event has become the people who ve traveled from far away to witness it, drawn by their desire to see the two female rivals for Dmitry and Dmitry himself, who s especially attractive to the ladies because of his reputation as a ladies man The proceedings themselves seem secondary to the spectacle and the sport The trial itself is a fascinating deconstruction of Dmitry s character how that character can be everything the prosecutor says, and yet at the same time, it s everything his defense counsel says too We re given to long speeches about the character that are fascinating psychological studies the lawyers themselves debate about this newfangled science of psychology how plastic it is, how it can be used to justify and explain anything You can see Dostoyevsky working on multiple levels here, showing multiple sides of his character that don t quite cohere, and that s exactly the point, that people are complex and inconsistent and constantly at war with themselves, so what does character mean What does a character mean in a novel And just when it looks like the defense will carry the day The coda is a plan for escape and the funeral of a young boy, and yet it end on a curiously uplifting note, a statement of faith and everlasting remembrance and a change, for the better, in many of the other young boys, united as they are in love of the lost boy, who thus becomes an almost Christian martyr, the one whose death brings love to all his friends And so Dostoyevsky brings to a close his massive masterpiece, and so I end these little scribbles.
, sometimes transliterated Dostoevsky, was a Russian novelist, journalist, and short story writer whose psychological penetration into the human psyche had a profound influence on the 20th century novel.Dostoyevsky was the second son of a former army doctor He was educated at home and at a private school Shortly after the death of his mother in 1837 he was sent to St Petersburg, where he entered the Army Engineering College Dostoyevsky s father died in 1839, most likely of apoplexy, but it was rud that he was murdered by his own serfs Dostoyevsky graduated as a military engineer, but resigned in 1844 to devote himself to writing His first novel,
- 796 pages
- Братья Карамазовы
- Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- 12 June 2019 Fyodor Dostoyevsky