Die Brüder Karamasow

by Fëdor Michajlovič Dostoevskij

Other authorsHans Ruoff (Translator), Richard Hoffmann (Translator)
Paperback, 1987



Call number

KI 3524 B889



München: Dt. Taschenbuch-Verl.


Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML: What is free will? Is redemption possible? Can logic help us answer moral questions? Renowned Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky tackles all of these topics and many more in this remarkable novel, widely regarded as one of the classic masterpieces of literature. Follow the Karamazov family through the travails that transpire after the murder of their father, and expand your intellectual horizons with a work that celebrated thinkers such as Einstein, Freud, and Pope Benedict XVI cite as one of their favorites..

User reviews

LibraryThing member Arctic-Stranger
This is THE novel. Someone said all philosophy is a footnote to Plato. Well, all modern novels are sequel to the Brothers K. First thing I want to say is, if you have not read this novel, READ IT. It is well worth your time.

Ok, it is long and Russian. The names are hard to pronounce. The
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characters are "broad." (That is how we refer to it in the mental health field.) The plot takes time to unfold. It will take more than a day at the beach to read it.

But READ IT!!!

Three brothers and one very bad father. The father is killed, and we have to find out which brother did it. Ivan is the rationalist. Aloysha in the spiritual one, and Dimitry is the sensualist. All are consumed with some kind of love; Ivan for argument, Aloysha for humanity, and Dmitry for wine, women and song. The Father, Fyodor, is the fallen one, and must die, but who will kill him?

This long story is OUR story. There is a bit of each Karamozov in all of us, and the worst of us wrestle with all four of them (Five if you count the bastard) in equal amounts. But no matter how senseless the wrestling match may seem at times, we can all affirm the closing sentence; "Hurrah for Karamozov!" Especially when we understand that Karamozov is US.
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LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
On the surface this novel could be read as a psychological thriller, family drama, and murder mystery--with enough of a twist to satisfy an Agatha Christie fan. It's rather beside the point though, and the reveal is hardly the climax of the book. This is after all one of the most celebrated works
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of not just Russian, but world literature, one of the candidates for greatest novel ever written. My introduction to Dostoyevsky was an excerpt from this novel, the chapter "The Grand Inquisitor." And not in a literature course, but a philosophy course, where it was used to raise issues about the nature of God and the problem of evil. It's the speech of (and a story by) the atheist Ivan Karamazov he tells to his devout brother Aloysha. And to give Dostoyevsky his due, he props up no straw man--it's a powerful indictment of God.

Not that I always appreciated the religious-themed passages. My Dostoyesky could go on and on... Those of you who complained about the speechifying in the novels by Russian-born Ayn Rand? The similarities in style are no accident--she was a fan of Dostoyevsky--certainly not of his philosophy, to which she was diametrically opposed, but of the way he wove such themes into plot and character. Sometimes I felt preached at in this novel--I particularly found the chapter on the sainted Zossima's teachings an unbearable slog, and by midpoint I decided to skip the rest of that chapter. Maybe some day I'll go back, but I rather doubt it. But believe me, that was the only part I skipped or wanted to skip. The eldest brother Mitya sometimes came across as too-stupid-to-live and the youngest Aloysha too goodie-goodie. And every female character was a drama queen--not that the men fare much better. But as long as the focus was on the brothers and their relationships with each other and their odious father, I was riveted. And certainly each of them were more engaging to follow through hundreds of pages than Raskolnikov, the monomaniacal and repulsive center of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. Certainly I'd be much more likely to read more of Doestoyevsky than Tolstoy, whose War and Peace bored me to tears (although I did rather relish Anna Karinina.) I do absolutely think The Brothers Karamazov lives up to its reputation as one of those great works everyone would learn a lot from being acquainted with--and an engrossing story as well.
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LibraryThing member gbill
A classic and written by Dostoevsky at the height of his powers. Ahead of its time but also brilliantly captures the 19th century Russian struggle with God's existence as scientific and political changes in thought were rapidly taking place. The characters represent facets of Dostoevsky and Russia:
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the wicked father, the cad and martyr Dmitri, the atheist, socialist "devil" Ivan, and the angelic, pure Alexei, who has faith in both God and man.

Probably a "must read", and lots of great quotes.

On Brotherhood:
“I love mankind,” he said, “but I am amazed at myself: the more I love mankind in general, the less I love people in particular, that is, individually, as separate persons. In my dreams,” he said, “I often went so far as to think passionately of serving mankind, and, it may be, would really have gone to the cross for people if it were somehow suddenly necessary, and yet I am incapable of living in the same room with anyone for even two days, this I know from experience. As soon as someone is there, close to me, his personality oppresses my self-esteem and restricts my freedom. In twenty-four hours I can begin to hate even the best of men…on the other hand, it has always happened that the more I hate people individually, the more ardent becomes my love for humanity as a whole.”

"In order to make the world over anew, people must turn onto a different path psychically. Until one has indeed become brother of all, there will be no brotherhood. No science or self-interest will ever enable people to share their property and their rights among themselves without offense. Each will always think his share too small, and they will keep murmuring, they will envy and destroy one another. ..for everyone now strives most of all to separate his person, wishing to experience the fullness of life within himself, and yet what comes of all his efforts is not the fullness of life but full suicide, for instead of the fullness of self-definition, they fall into complete isolation."

"Filled with rapture, his soul yearned for freedom, space, vastness. Over him the heavenly dome, full of quiet, shining stars, hung boundlessly. From the zenith to the horizon the still-dim Milky Way stretched its double strand. Night, fresh and quiet, almost unstirring, enveloped the earth. The white towers and golden domes of the church gleamed in the sapphire sky. The luxuriant autumn flowers in the flowerbeds near the house had fallen asleep until morning. The silence of the earth seemed to merge with the silence of the heavens, the mystery of earth touched the mystery of the stars…"

On the good and evil in man:
"It is usually so in life that when there are two opposites one must look for truth in the middle; in the present case it is literally not so. Most likely in the first instance he was sincerely noble, and in the second just as sincerely base. Why? Precisely because we are of a broad, Karamazovian nature – and this is what I’m 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 degradation."

On Love:
"I am sorry that I cannot say anything more comforting, for active love is a harsh and fearful thing compared with love in dreams. Love in dreams thirsts for immediate action, quickly performed, and with everyone watching. Indeed, it will go as far as the giving even of one’s life, provided it does not take long but is soon over, as on stage, and everyone is looking on and praising. Whereas active love is labor and perseverance, and for some people, perhaps, a whole science."

"“Love is gone, Mitya!” Katya began again, “but what is gone is painfully dear to me. Know that, for all eternity. But now, for one minute, let it be as it might have been,” she prattled with a twisted smile, again looking joyfully in his eyes. “You now love another, I love another, but still I shall love you eternally, and you me, did you know that? Love me, do you hear, love me all your life!” she exclaimed with some sort of almost threatening tremor in her voice."

On Man's Inhumanity:
"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…I think that if the devil does not exist, and man has therefore created him, he has created him in his own image and likeness."

I love this little story...
"Once upon a time there was a woman, and she was as wicked as wicked could be, and she died. And not one good deed was left behind her. The devils took her and threw her into a lake of fire. And her guardian angel stood thinking: what good deed of hers can I remember to God? Then he remembered and said to God: once she pulled up an onion and gave it to a beggar woman. And God answered: now take that same onion, hold it out to her in the lake, let her take hold of it, and pull, and if you pull her out of the lake, she can go to paradise, but if the onion breaks, she can stay where she is. The angel ran to the woman and held out the onion to her: here woman, he said, take hold of it and I’ll pull. And he began pulling carefully, and had almost pulled her all the way out, when other sinners in the lake saw her being pulled out and all began holding on to her so as to be pulled out with her. But the woman was wicked as wicked could be, and she began to kick them with her feet: ‘It’s me who’s getting pulled out, not you; it’s my onion, not yours.’ No sooner did she say it than the onion broke. And the woman fell back into the lake and is burning there to this day. And the angel wept and went away."

On Religion:
"“Listen: if everyone must suffer, in order to buy eternal harmony with their suffering, pray tell me what have children got to do with it? It’s quite incomprehensible why they should have to suffer….answer me: imagine you yourself are building the edifice of human destiny with the object of making people happy in the finale, of giving them peace and rest at last, but for that you must inevitably and unavoidably torture just one tiny creature, that same child who was beating her chest with her little fist, and raise your edifice on the foundation of her unrequited tears – would you agree to be the architect on such conditions? Tell me the truth.”
“No, I would not agree,” Alyosha said softly."

"And this need for communality of worship is the chief torment of each man individually, and of mankind as a whole, from the beginning of the ages. In the cause of universal worship, they have destroyed each other with the sword. They have made gods and called upon each other: ‘Abandon your gods and come and worship ours, otherwise, death to you and your gods!’ And so it will be until the end of the world, even when all gods have disappeared from the earth: they will still fall down before idols."

On remembering:
"And so, first of all, let us remember him, gentlemen, all our lives. And even though we may be involved with the most important affairs, achieve distinction or fall into some great misfortune – all the same, let us never forget how good we once felt here, all together, united by such good and kind feelings as made us, too, for the time that we loved the poor boy, perhaps better than we actually are…And even if only one good memory remains with us in our hearts, that alone may serve some day for our salvation."

On "Superman":
"“…Once mankind has renounced God, one and all (and I believe that this period, analogous to the geological periods, will come), then the entire old world view will fall of itself, without anthropophagy, and, above all, the entire former morality, and everything will be new. People will come together in order to take from life all that it can give, but, of course, for happiness and joy in this world only. Man will be exalted with the spirit of the divine, titanic pride, and then man-god will appear. Man, his will and his science no longer limited, conquering nature every hour, will thereby every hour experience such lofty delight as will replace for him all his former hopes of heavenly delight. Each will know himself utterly mortal, without resurrection, and will accept death proudly and calmly, like a god. Out of pride he will understand that he should not murmur against the momentariness of life, and he will love his brother then without any reward…”"

On valuing life:
"If I did not believe in life, if I were to lose faith in the woman I love, if I were to lose faith in the order of things, even if I were to become convinced, on the contrary, that everything is a disorderly, damned, and perhaps devilish chaos, if I were struck even by all the horrors of human disillusionment – still I would want to live, and as long as I have bent to this cup, I will not tear myself from it until I’ve drunk it all! "

As an aside, the 1958 movie version with Yul Brynner as Dmitri and (ack) William Shatner as Alexei was entertaining. The scenes with Brynner and Maria Schell as Grushenka were in particular good.
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LibraryThing member datrappert
Kurt Vonnegut (or one of his characters) said, "Everything there is to know about life is in the Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, but even that isn't enough any more." Or something to that effect, and after that rattling around in my head for years, I finally got around to reading the book.
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I encourage others to do the same. It is not what you are expecting. I won't go into the permutations of the plot, except to say that it is labyrinthine and very Russian. You won't understand why the characters do half of what they do. But you'll be pulled along by the ironic and often very funny (yes, funny) narrative. That was the part that surprised me. Along this is a very long book, it is not at all dry, and although it may take you a while to read it, it never seems like a chore.
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LibraryThing member MeditationesMartini
Shit. Fuck. Oh, wow. Maybe it was just finishing it on the 9/11, but this book disturbed me so much it gave me the night sweats, not to mention the no sleep fits and starts and later the "dreaming you're having tea with Smerdyakov and he's still got the noose on and he's telling you how he did it
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for the lulz"es.

Sorry, Princess Alexandra Kropotkin. You were great for Tolstoy with his slow-moving muddy-river certainty about all that doesn't really matter. Not that that's Tolstoy's tragedy or anything - it's his strength: the more you believe in the mundane human cultural secular awesome world, the less you have to come down to the Fear - but when it comes, it's worse, and it drove Leo kinda batty from what I hear.

Dostoyevsky is ALL FEAR. I mean, okay, that's untrue, but it was such a shock after the smooth certainties of the princess, who no doubt grew up parling the francais, to switch versions to Constance Garnett's. Yikes! Questionable editing choices in the Kropotkin aside, even, this is chalk and cheese. People think what's scary is the a dog with eight legs or Yog-Sothoth in your closet, but that's crap - dark fantasy just means anything can happen, whereas no fantasy means no magic egress on the back of a hippogriff but still the Holocaust.

And (if I may briefly wax philosophical, thereby showing I've learned nothing from the esteemed Prosecutor) maybe that's Fyodor's hangup? Maybe when you're staring death down and the magic egress that will never come but still might comes and is revealed as so whimsical, arbitrary, the "little father" playing with your life to teach you a lesson, WELL . . . does something break inside you? No wonder he was determined to beat through the horror of the real.

No wonder Ivan, "the most like his father,"" is also the most like his author.

No wonder Alyosha is so real, like no holy man ever has been in literature. I bet he becomes a socialist, breaking his creator's sad tired heart as well as perhaps his own. Viva Karamazov!

No wonder we get no egress, no closure. I think that's why I had the sleep troubles. I don't even know what I want for Dmitri. It's easy to cling to "justice," transcendent rather than earthly, because it gives you a pretext for making up your mind, saying "oh yeah, Smerdy totally did it, Mitya must go free!"

But will he just split some other drunk's head in the bar? Will he strangle Grushenka in a fit of jealousy? Will he just drink himself to death at fifty like yer bog-standard Russian male? Will any of those things detract from his human worth?

That's three I dunnos and a Never!, for those of you keeping score. But just as this book, for all its open-endedness, inexorably forces you to renounce all the options but love and grace, so it cruelly forces you to accept the uncertainty and fear and pain that go along with accepting love and grace - no ill-defined divine panacea here. And maybe it would have turned out that way if the planned trilogy had been written - Dostoyevsky has a lot in common with Sartre, it occurs, and this book with The Age of Reason - but it would still have been a prayer, (it may be too much to say) for his dead son. It would have wrapped us up in arbitrarily "ultimate" safety, whereas this book on its own is more akin to a night of recrimination and stock-taking, tears for all the hurt we deal our dear and hated ones, and then stumbling out of bed, getting ready for the struggle, smoking a cigarette and tightening up our gut.
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LibraryThing member Miss-Owl
I once dated a guy whose only literary opinion was that one should read "Heart of Darkness" every ten years to see how one had changed. (Since this was his one and only literary opinion, I doubt it was really his to begin with.) Well, this is definitely a novel I would consider returning to, in a
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decade's time. By turns a hysterical family soap opera (everyone speaks in run-on sentences and cumulative clauses, and there is an awful lot of crying), a philosophical-cum-religious tract, and a puzzling murder mystery, this novel reminded me a bit of Russia itself (or at least the way I perceive it, anyway): vast and seemingly insurmountable, with pockets of pathos and lashings of tragedy, swathes of sentimentality and sobering meditations on suffering all culminating in an irresistibly vivid portrait of humanity.

Really, it's about a family, the Karamazovs, who, in their physical, emotional and spiritual appetites, might be called to stand in for Russia, but they also stand in, I think, for all of us. There aren't many of us, probably, who could look as deeply into our souls as the three eponymous brothers do, and not come to somewhat of the same conclusion about the state of them as they do. What really do love, guilt, justice and punishment look like in the fallen world we live in?

I'm sad that this novel has been taken off the 2008 edition of the 1001 list of books. It's a worthy contender & despite its demotion, I'll look forward to returning to it next decade!
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LibraryThing member stillatim
I came into this pretty optimistically. I didn't get much out of 'The Idiot,' which seemed a bit, well, pubescent; even less out of 'Memoirs from the House of the Dead,' which was about 200 pages too long. Let's not even bring up 'Netochka Nezvanova.' But I'm determined to keep trying, since he has
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his high points (none in 'The Idiot,' though) and I feel a moral compulsion to read him.

Also, the other books I read for various classes, and thought that might have been the problem. It wasn't. The problem is that nobody with as much talent as Dostoevsky has ever written flabbier, more repetitive books. I know that this is intentional, and part of his 'democratic' genius and so on, all the characters get a say and so on and so on. That only works is all the characters deserve a hearing, and doesn't excuse them getting their say twelve or thirteen times per novel. If Dmitri K had had one more soliloquy I might have attacked him with a pestle. Novels of ideas are only good when the ideas are good.

The good news is that the famous Grand Inquisitor chapters really are amazing, as are the fables and little stories spread throughout the novel, and Ivan K generally had more interesting things to say than anyone else. The 'optimism' of the sub-plot focusing on the young boys is, well, a little flimsy (almost 800 pages of murder, despair and stupidity, ending with 'let's just all get along'??), but the children themselves are actually far more interesting than the adults.

Anyway. I can't really recommend it to anyone who's not interested in 'The Russian Soul,' and/or filled with adolescent existentialist angst. I am clearly an anti-democratic tyrant who likes hierarchical fascism in my novels. So be it.
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LibraryThing member bjanecarp
I finally completed Brothers Karamazov, and I needed to share my thoughts. I will try not to insult anybody's intelligence by outlining this book--Cliff Notes and the like abound, so if somebody wants a full explanation of Dostoevsky's plot, they can simply pick up one of these. What I want to say
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is much more difficult to define--whether or not I would recommend it to others, and why.

More than many other works, Brothers Karamazov was an experience for me--not the plot, nor the themes, nor even the characters: any number of writers can create believable characters and scenarios and, with them, play out lofty themes. But I speak here only of the simple process of reading this tome. It weighs in at 700 pages and it took me a year to read. In fact, I began the first 100 pages at least four different times before I finally plodded forward to the end. I used two different translations and an audio book version. Why did I do this to myself? Why did I start the thing three times? For any lesser book, I probably would have given up and tossed aside.

There. That said, I also refuse to extinguish the fire with the spittoon (you did want to read this book, right?), so I should tell my readers that the book is excellent. In fact, let's call the book superior.

I realized that my problems with Dostoevsky's writing were stylistic concerns, and these I should be able to conquer, because the author was saying something _important_. The importance of his work could be felt in each page. And despite many long and admittedly tedious passages, he was unassumingly polite to the reader. He was not confusing his verbosity with his intelligence, although the author was undoubtedly brilliant and possessed a very large vocabulary. Somewhere in the novel, you realize, without really knowing when it happened, that you care deeply about his characters and their struggles. It became obvious to me that, for Dostoevsky, the object of his work was far more important than his ability to tell the tale. So I attacked the work many times, hoping to capture the articulation of the author's vision.

So a bit about my difficulties--In the style of many writers of his era, Dostoevsky tends to explain the back story, rather than to depict it. One wonders that, if the author's popularity was not at its height at the time of this work's publication, his editor would not have removed perhaps half the novel's current bulk. The largesse of the novel comes across as rather unpalatable for readers in this era of television, where it is expected that we be told a story, rather than _shown_ a story. One only need think of the extremely common use of flashback as a storytelling device in television and film to understand this point.

Dostoevsky weaves his narrative with expertise and intelligence yet there are moments when the book moves toward a heavy-handed didactic style. His work frequently reads like an essay, in my opinion; especially during the first half of the novel. Despite this, one leaves with the feeling that Dostoevsky was a man of many strongly-held opinions, and that he processed his thoughts rigorously before he reached them. These tendencies may frame this work as too reflective for twenty-first century readers, but it is not without purpose that the author does this--his themes are far too expansive to be treated lightly, wants the reader to realize that the questions posed by his work are not solved by simple, grunting yeas and nays.

So, you may wonder if I even liked the book. My answer to this is an adamant yes, but it was a challenge. Once, in my early readings of the first few hundred pages, I described this book to a friend: it seemed like a very long list for a shopper at a religious bookstore. This was only partially in jest--it seems like this at times. Yet Dostoevsky is not without its merits. He develops his characters with acuity of a person who has spent years watching others, and not judging their actions, but discovering why they acted in certain ways. Dostoevsky is a forerunner of the Multiple Intelligences movement in vogue today. One comes away from the novel sympathizing deeply for each of the characters and their struggles. His narrative segments are, if nothing else, thought-provoking, and all the more meaningful to those who struggle with religious faith.

I recommend the book with the following proviso: the reader should be ready to be challenged. The narrative style is not for the faint-hearted, and Dostoevsky develops the plot at a snail's pace. If you are looking for excitement, or a quick thrill, or romance, this will not be the book for you. Something more contemporary would probably be more to your appeal. But if you are looking for a beautiful and meticulously-constructed work that has maintained its appeal for 120 years, you should give The Brothers Karamazov a try.

Finally, I should mention something about translations. Constance Garnett's classic translation is widely available. However, this translation is steeped in language that is, well, a century old, and may seem too stodgy for readers of today. A far more readable translation is the more recent Pevear and Volokhonsky, which transforms many of the more archaic terms and metaphors. I enjoyed the Audio Book version, by the way. One can fade in and out, still catching the gist of the novel and its main characters. It also allows you the luxury of reflecting on the work as it is being listened to, rather than become irritated by all the Russian names and their variations. If you enjoy the kind of loftiness I described, and are not afraid to think about what you are reading, then read this book, by any means. You may even find yourself, as I did, falling in love with a new author.
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LibraryThing member littlegeek
Reread in 2010. Not as good as Crime & Punishment to my mind. Alyosha is too perfect. Yet he does practically nothing to help Dmitri when he could have, like, maybe gone to Smerdyakov to try to get him to confess, for instance. And Ivan is punished way too much. Most atheists really aren't that
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tortured. Still, it's hard to find a modern novel that even attempts to address so many deep and important subjects. Well worth a read. And a reread.
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LibraryThing member messpots
[Spoiler in this review!]

I've scouted around the internet (outside this site) looking for good criticism of this novel; it's very hard to find. A lot of things are written about the novel which I don't see at all, though I've given it two careful readings. I think some modern readers are having
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trouble with D.'s christian message. We were somehow taught in school that a great novel could not be a christian one. But D's novels are all overtly christian! Remember? According to Isaiah Berlin he's a hedgehog!

Anyway, I'm more ambivalent about this novel on the second reading. The contrast between Ivan and Dmitri is tight and clear: a European rationalist as against a true home-grown Russian who, bad as he is, is really not too bad: a sensualist with a strong conscience. The brilliance of the plot is in showing how Dmitri, scoundrel though he is, is not as bad as Ivan. Ivan, by a simple, apparently innocent act, is responsible for his father's death. That's your European secular rationalism at work. Dmitri is a true Russian, not a European, and it's his Russian character that makes him virtuous.

Dmitri is only superficially like his awful father. They have similar tastes and habits, but his father has no conscience whatsoever. Dost. has some fun in making us think Dmitri is like his father, but then revealing that Ivan is the closer match: to both, the creed is 'everything is permitted', though only Ivan has the European education to express it that way.

All of this part of the book is tight and terrific. So what's Alexei for? This is the weaker part of the novel. Alexei is almost a prop, standing in for 'discernment'. Most people don't have the discernment to distinguish the Dmitri types from the Ivan types. They condemn the Dmitri types outright: they drink and whore and raise hell. The Ivan-types write thoughtful theological tracts. Alexei has the intellectual equipment (he's a believer, remember) to spot the difference between the two types. He knows from the beginning -- without evidence -- that Dmitri is innocent. The community as a whole is largely blind; they are overwhelmed by the evidence against Dmitri, while Alexei sees the proper verdict through all the superficial details.

Alexei does not have perfect discernment; he gets things wrong. This is why, I think, readers have trouble making sense of him.

How christian is he? Maybe not so much: Dost. is obviously not perfectly happy with conventional teaching, since he has Alexei leave monastic life, and Zosima tells Alexei that his real vocation lies outside in the world.

The novel is much like The Idiot: a community that is basically well intentioned but is blind to true human values.
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LibraryThing member libraryhermit
There is no doubt in my mind that this is one of my top 5 favourite books ever.
I read it about 30 years ago, two times.
My dream is to read it someday in the original language, but so far I have only made it up to lesson 5 of the Russian learning textbook that I bought. But I am still hoping.
When I
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read this book, I only had an inkling of the biographical details about the author, and I still think that it is not too important to know them, either. I like to definitely concentrate on the novel itself.
Having studied recently some of the history of 19th Century Russia, it is starting to make a bit more sense. If we think it is rough going to be a young man with no land now, just imagine what it was like about 150 years ago, and in a country like Russia. Student, acolyte, labourer, soldier, or good-for-nothing layabout, among others; there were quite a few choices for a young man, but maybe not nearly as many as there are now in the 21st Century. So at least part of the story, but not the main part, is how all the brothers try to find their places in life. It happens in some shape or form in every family where the father helps to various degrees to either promote the career of his sons, or to thwart it, as the case may be. This of course is a fascinating study of this issue in all of the examples of the sons of the old man. Of course when you add into it the idea of the father pursuing the same woman as the younger generation, things can get very complicated.
Ever since I read this book, I have been consistently recommending this book to people whenever it is possible or appropriate, sometimes even both at the same time. I do not know if very many people have taken me up on the suggestion, at least none of them have said that they have. I believe that when you are ready for a certain book, there is a kind of radar that even non-habitual readers can use to scan for the book that touches on the theme that really is relevant to them at that moment. If I can have put this one in their path, maybe they will remember it 5 or 10 or 20 years later. Hopefully.
Definitely I am due to read this again. I have been missing Dostoyevsky from lack of attention for at least 20 or 25 years.
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LibraryThing member Soultalk
I am a huge Russian literature fan. In my opinion Nabokov, Chekhov, Bulgakov, Pasternak, Tolstoy, and even Solzenitzyn need to bow before the great meloncholic Dostoevsky. This is certainly in my top five novels ever written, and it is so well written and condensed in content that every time i
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revisit it, it feels as if I am reading a new book. Just a hint, as with a lot of Russian lit the key is to keep track of characters by way of a cheat sheet, that way you can follow character lines and arguments, as well as the copious number of Russian titles, names, and surnames used for each character.
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LibraryThing member jmchshannon
Please forgive me a few minutes of gloating over my success at having finished this book. It's been like a millstone around my neck for years now, as I've picked up and put down this book three times now before I finally made it through to the end of the book. It was the only book I have ever put
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down unfinished because I found it too difficult to continue. So, I type this feeling very proud that I finally, finally finished the book.

I must say that this book is nothing like I initially thought it was based on the first 300 pages (my stopping point). What first appears as a religious tome in which the characters intone religious doctrine after doctrine, it turns into quite the murder mystery. Rather than theological in nature, the book fosters a debate on the idea of nature versus nurture in forming personalities. Like Crime and Punishment (one of my favorite books), he also explores the idea of sacrifice.

To be sure, one of the most difficult issues to overcome as a reader is the incessant dramatics and theatrics each character uses. The dialogue is unrealistic, as are some of the characters. Several of my fellow book club members felt that each character represented a caricature rather than actual humans because "no one they know would ever talk this way". I personally think this is characteristic of Russian literature in general, so it's not as off-putting as it may be for others.

Once I got past the philosophical diatribe, I really enjoyed this book. It was slow reading but worth every page. After each chapter, I was left with more food for thought, so much so that I could not put away the book after I put it down. Even as I write this, more questions come to mind about the fate of the characters.

This book has been touted as Dostoyevsky's crowning achievement. While I didn't enjoy it as much as Crime and Punishment, Dostoyevsky gives his audience much to think about. In fact, I suspect that someone, if it hasn't already been done, could write a dissertation on the psychology of this book. While someone in present-day U.S. might not be able to relate to the Russian peasant, at the heart of the book is human interactions, greed, love, and family relationships. These are themes which never grow old and are key to the longevity of the book. Like a good relationship, this book is challenging but worth the struggle in the end. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes Russian literature or enjoys stories that discuss the psychology of relationships.
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LibraryThing member rdm666
This is the greatest book I have ever read, and I've read it about 3 times. Dostoyevsky is the only writer I've seen who can bind very original [as far as I know] philosophical statements to characters successfully, and still have the novel move into unimaginable complexities. This is a murder
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'mystery', a comedy, a tragedy, a novel of living and archetypal relating. I first read it as an assignment in high school, and got through it but could not understand it as a whole or as part of the fabric of literature. Later [grad school?] I reread it out of curiosity and was blown away. I like the Constance Garnett translation fine, though I know more generally respected ones exist [I've read one other one, name forgotten]. This book's greatness comes through.
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LibraryThing member figre
Let me explain the lesson I learned with this book. Do not even think about approaching Dostoyevsky with the idea that you can skim through, have a quick read, knock it off in an afternoon, get the point without too much work. In other words, devote the time and energy to reading Dostoyevsky that
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he put into the writing.

I say this because, contrary to the way I approached The Idiot (and who does that make idiot?), I approached this book with the idea that I would take some time with it. I made sure I knew the characters. I made sure I knew the locations. I made sure I knew the circumstances. And, because of that, I had one of the best reading experiences I have ever, well...experienced.

You can read synopses anywhere. I will simply say that this is story of four brothers and their father – the way they interact, the way their lives move forward. There are people you will like, there are people you will dislike, and there are people you will change your mind about whether you like or dislike. In other words, lives that match the way people really are.

It seems ludicrous, a recommendation from someone like me for you to read a classic. But there are a lot of "bad" classics out there, and we should all be steered away from them.

Do not steer away from this one. Set aside the time; set aside the brainpower. And delve into a fascinating world. (And now, maybe, I better go back and take another look at that book of Dostoyevsky's I gave short shrift.)
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LibraryThing member alexnisnevich
A character in Slaughterhouse-Five says, "Everything there was to know about life was in The Brothers Karamazov," and I wholeheartedly agree. This is a beautiful, and inspiring novel whose sheer depth is astounding.

I know that many readers are put off by its length, but I believe everyone must read
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The Brothers Karamazov at some point in their lives. There is simply nothing else like it.

As for me, I must go and find myself more Dostoevsky to read now :)
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LibraryThing member atomheart
This novel is epic - it's dense, complex, and unbelievably rewarding once you finish it. So incredible to read a story that intertwines all the complexities of human character into one family - while reading the book, I saw parts of myself in all the characters... the rationalist, the
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tender-hearted philosopher, and of course, the sensualist. Oh how fun it is to watch the fervent nature of Mitka... And all the while, the backdrop of 19th Century Russian society is a fascinating time period to get absorbed in. I will truly miss these characters.

This is on the short list of books that have really connected me personally to the story, and left me affected with life lessons to be taught, i.e. The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, Catcher in the Rye amongst a few more...
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LibraryThing member MaowangVater
Two of the grown sons of Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov gather in the cell of Father Zosima, an Elder of a Russian monastery in hope of reconciling their father and their older half-brother Demitri. One of the younger brothers, Alyosha is disciple of Father Zosima and a monk at the monastery, while his
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brother Ivan is an ardent atheist. But when Fyodor Pavlovich himself arrives he immediately begins to play the buffoon, much to the embarrassment of his family, and when Demitri arrives, he flies into a rage. All hope of reconciliation is gone.

Intense family fights over money and romantic rivalry lead to murder and robbery. But which brother or brothers are guilty of the deed? The author’s final work is a passionate saga of crime, family dysfunction, the struggles between good and evil and faith and disbelief, and his hopes for the future of Russia. Brilliant dialog moves this carefully constructed novel right along. It’s filled with psychological insight, suspense, pathos, and his thoughts on religion, politics and the human condition.
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LibraryThing member jddunn
This, friends, is nothing less than the holy grail of human literary striving. It is the book of life. Good, evil, pleasure, suffering, self-destruction, poetry, pulp, redemption, God, atheism, saints, sinners, hope, fear, freedom, identity, choice, despair… but above all, humanity, in all their
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flawed, pitiful, glorious forms of existence are embodied in the epic (inner and outer) struggles of the Karamazov family. The questions that would define the twentieth century… that have defined all of human existence for that matter, it’s all right there. Can you tell this is my favorite novel?
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LibraryThing member JimmyChanga
the perfect novel, sprawling, complex, filled with great characters, philosophical, humane, powerful, and gripping. there are so many things in this book that i want to talk over with someone, but maybe i shouldn't write them all out in this review. ask me and we can talk!
LibraryThing member neurodrew
Everyone has of course heard that this is a great book, and a classic. I was not aware that it was a crime and judicial procedural novel as well. Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov had three sons, the eldest, Dmitry (also Mitya) by his first wife, and Ivan and Alexey by his second. Fyodor is described as
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muddle-headed, but cunning. Dmitry, hot-headed and impulsive, thrown out by his father at a young age and raised as an army officer, returns to claim his inheritance, which has been spent, and thus sets the plot going. Ivan is the second oldest, and in the course of the book seems to have less of a role, although he is the author of the "Grand Inquisitor" story, a famous speculation on what the inquisition would have done if Christ himself had appeared in their jurisdiction. Ivan is a free thinker, but refuses to do his father's bidding on a commercial matter, and returns in the course of Dmitry's trial. Alexey is the saintly one, initially a novice at a monastery in the region, and throughout the novel a kind soul, achieving a redemption among poor children at the end. The father, Fyodor, is murdered, suspicion immediately rests on Dmitry, and he is convicted, although we learn that a puffed up servant was the killer. Each of the brothers, their lovers, the servants and monks, the lawyers at the trial, and the townspeople are exquisitely described, and I felt like I was living in the village with the Karamazov family. Dostoyesvsky is also a philosopher, and keen to comment on politics, so there are extensive asides, but the story of the murder and the trial are always driving the plot. I enjoyed about 2 weeks of steady reading, taking advantage of long airplane flights, to finish the book.
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LibraryThing member Stormrose

I thought I'd read the longest book I could after Anna Karenina. And then after War and Peace. And then finally after The Magic Mountain. But I was wrong, oh so wrong, for it was the Brothers Karamazov that nearly took me down. Any time a book weighs more than your computer, you know you have
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a problem!
For all of that, it's surprisingly quick as a read. It's a wonderful portrait of a family, and of individual characters, of a particular time in Russian history, and it works marvelously as a sort of open-ended mystery - who killed the father, really? Who is responsible? Who loves whom? Why? Why do characters do what they do? You feel like you know, but you can't explain why, and that's Dostoyevsky's genius: You know, because these are real people, but you can't explain, because that's what we all are, ultimately: inexplicable. And then the mystery plays into the ultimate mystery : the mystery of faith, and god.
There are some brilliant, transcendent moments, as when Ivan (my favorite character, all intellectually tormented) hallucinates (or does he) that the devil is in his bedchamber. The devil, a rather dapper gentlemen, comments that people told him " You must go on living, for without you there would be nothing. If everything on earth was reasonable, nothing would ever happen. Without you there would be no evens, and it is necessary that there should be events." Well, so I drudge on with an unwilling heart."
I enjoyed this book quite a bit, although it wasn't my favorite - it was hard to get wrapped up in the plot. The characters and the philosophy were easy to identify with, the plot... for some reason, it didn't quite move me.
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LibraryThing member BookMarkMe
This is my first taste of Dostoevsky though not of Russian Classics. I explored with an open mind the lives of the three brothers set against the backdrop of the parricide of their father.

The father and his spurned offspring, the saint, the intellectual and the rake all contributing to the fathers
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own violent demise gripped me unlike any other. I appreciated the length of the novel that allowed Dostoevsky to fully explore the psyche of all the characters, and in a 19th century tradition, give vent to views of religion, europeanism and intellectualism.

I actually felt the end cut short and that was the only reason for a ½ star deduction. Perhaps another reading will allow me a greater appreciation of what the author was trying to achieve at this point.

I’ve have never read a book that caused me to spent so much time reflecting inwardly at my own psyche. I saw pieces of myself in all the brothers, not always a pleasant experience, Dostoevsky’s examination of them was masterful.

I have never read a better psychological character study. A novel that won’t leave you once the last page is turned.
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LibraryThing member Myhi
Best of the best, a synthesis of all previous Dostoevsky's books. Deep, scientific and fulfilling...

- Alyosha Karamazov, a character that gave birth to an entire literature...
- Kolea Kraskotin, the remarkable kid
- father Zosima, talking on Christianity in few chapters - the theory is used in the
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philosophy manuals ever since (12th grade)
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LibraryThing member kambrogi
In this classic Russian novel, Dostoevsky develops intricate character studies of three brothers. One is spiritual (a monk), another intellectual (an academic) and the third is a hedonist, easily overwhelmed by his passions (ex-military). Each shares some of the qualities of the father, a man who
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neglects and misuses them. After a brutal murder and robbery, suspicion falls on the oldest, most volatile, brother. Through the course of their hardships and finally a lengthy courtroom trial, the brothers are brought together, and come to understand themselves and each other. In many ways an astonishingly modern work, this book is a fascinating read, combining complex philosophical questions with an engaging plot. However it lacks the focus of contemporary novels, often saying in twenty-five pages what might be said more effectively in five, especially in passages of dialogue. Surprisingly, even at 800 pages, it feels unfinished. It was written in installments in a periodical, then published in one volume, but many believe that Dostoevsky intended to continue the tale in a second collection. Alas, he died shortly after it was finished. In any case, this is a fine story to while away a winter’s day (or ten), and is well worth the time spent on it.
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