The Brothers Karamazov
Translated by Constance Garnett (1861-1946) in 1912.
The last of Dostoevsky's finest works, telling the story of the four Karamazov brothers--each with his own distinct personality and desires. Exploring the secret depths of humanity's struggles and sins, Dostoevsky unfolds a grand epic which attempts to venture into mankind's darkest heart, and grasp the true meaning of existence.
This novel explores the big questions of life through the story of a highly dysfunctional "family": three sons basically neglected and abandoned by their father Fyodor. The oldest, Dmitry, is engaged to the beautiful Katerina Invanova yet irresistibly drawn to Grushenka, the same woman his wealthy lecherous buffoon of a father is lusting after. To make matters worse, Dmitry has given up rights to a future inheritance to finance his extravagances and now feels his father is cheating him. Perhaps the half brothers he is just getting to know can help resolve these problems. Ivan is a highly educated man who rejects the ideas of a creator God and an immortal soul. Alexey, the youngest, is a gentle spiritual man, apprenticed to the local monastery. How will these three very different brothers affect Smerdyakov, Fyodor's cook, who is also rumoured to be his illegitimate son? Will these family problems be resolved or go on to affect the whole community and the whole society? Read Fyodor Dostoevsky's last and possibly greatest novel to find out!--Submitted by Aloe
Each brother in this novel is a vivid, individual personality. Yet, as a group, they represent the classically recognized spectrum of human traits:
Ivan Karamazov, one of the famous characters in modern literature, is the tortured intellectual who questions the justice of both man and God, the forerunner of modern philosophical nihilists who see no evidence of moral purpose in the world.
Dmitri, the man of passion, actually threatened to kill his father, for they both vie for the favors of the young courtesan Grushenka. If intent of the heart establishes guilt, then Dmitri must be guilty and is, in fact, arrested for the crime.
Young Alexey, called Alyosha, represents spirituality and purity, a contrast to the violence and sensuality of Dmitri and the rationality of Ivan. Yet he secretly recognizes his own tendency toward sensuality and his resentment of their irresponsible father. His mentor is Father Zossima, whose teaching on behalf of spiritual brotherhood provides a counterweight to the ambivalent, passionate nature of the Karamazovs.
The fourth son, Smerdyakov, is a servant in the household and does not bear the family name. He was born to an idiot woman raped by Fyodor Pavlovitch. He is understandably vulnerable to Ivan's skepticism about human and divine justice.
Although this complex family tragedy promotes the vision of Christian redemption, its exploration of intellectual doubt and metaphysical rebellion seems, to some readers, more convincing. Ivan's famous "Legend of the Grand Inquisitor" often appears in anthologies dealing with existentialist literature.--Submitted by Anonymous.
I have attempted again to read this book. It was assigned to me in a college class to be read in one week (along with other courses work!) and I never finished it and only remembered the part about the stinking monk, but I did remember the flowing style of the author. What has engaged me now is the wonderful detective/mystery story revolving around Dmitri's confession. I am at page 580 and find the story suddenly as compelling as my wife's favorite detective show on tv : the Closer. The heavy almost deadly discussions regarding god and morality and what kind of god would allow this and that were nauseating. But they helped in providing a picture of daily Russian life and showing the role of the church. The simple village sketch was enchanting in a way almost evoking Robert Frost in some strange way. Of course to me the references to the bible and Shakespeare and Russian playwrights made me identify with this Russian work and made me think of it more as an American or European work. I marveled at how this world was swept with the godless Russian revolution, the horrible horrible world wars, the Stalin terror and the gulag with neighbors accusing neighbors like the Salem Witch trial world. I hope those visiting Russia either in person or via the media during the 2014 Winter Olympics will read this book (be patient) and sense the deep underlying bonds that should unite Europe and America and Russia in a cultural bond.--Submitted by Anonymous.
HE really was late. They had waited for him and had already decided to bear the pretty flower-decked little coffin to the church without him. It was the coffin of poor little Ilusha. He had died two days after Mitya was sentenced. At the gate of the house Alyosha was met by the shouts of the boys, Ilusha's schoolfellows. They had all been impati……
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