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The Brothers Karamazov is Fyodor Dostoyevsky's final, and perhaps most masterful novel. It is a deeply passionate and philosophical novel that delves into the difficult terrain of free will, morality, faith, doubt, and reason, with an ever-modernizing Russia as its setting.

The narrative itself contains different perspectives which are embodied in its main characters: the four brothers Karamazov who are the spoiled materialist Dimitri, the tortured intellectual Ivan, the (illegitimate), cruel and meddling Smerdyakov, and the kindly, spiritual Alyosha, who is the Dostoevsky's hero. Each brother represents a different dimension of the Russian spirit, and in some ways a microcosm of the whole of mankind. Some consider this as much a work of philosophy as a novel, but it is also a murder mystery, a courtroom thriller, an examination of corruption, religious institutions, and a satire of human corruption.

Published: Sheba Blake Publishing an imprint of Vearsa Limited on
ISBN: 9781304827319
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Astonishing work by Dostoevsky, though it does become repetitive. Existential to a fault.more
Well, to me, it seems a bit ridiculous to even attempt a review of this novel. When review has come to represent observations and criticisms or plot re-hashings, there really seems to be little I, or anyone for that matter, could say about The Brothers Karamazov that isn't already known or hasn't already been said by someone wiser and abler. If I were brilliant, I could share a spur-of-the-moment haiku that appropriately captures my feelings for this story. But I'm not. Brilliant, that is. So how about this: it's Russian, it's rich and it's revered. Read it.more
The greatest novel ever written.more
Should be more of a 4 1/2. I think the fact that he concentrates on the funeral of a poor peasant boy vs. what ends up to be a rich and evil man says it all.

very philosophically complex this one..


And...er...I am still not quite sure who committed the major crime of the novel to be honest..and I finished it today. I learned so much about Russia in this time period through Dostoevsky. Maybe I should make this five stars instead. I'll have to think about it.more
 Blimy - that was L O N G!
Not bad, just so very very long. I'm not sure I really understood the necessity for the very long diversions into the meaning of the church and philosophy and so on. I suspect a good editor would have it down to ~ 250 pages, not the 770 I've just ploughed through.
The characters seemed to be in the pantomime mould - not very real - they were all extremes, and not very believable. I wonder if the three brothers were intended as examples of the intellectual (Ivan), the moral man (Alexei) and the pleasure seeker (Dmitri), aspects of character rather than being real characters themselves. In which case this is a morality play of sorts. The pleasure seeker is tried for a crime of passion that he, in fact, did not commit, while the intellectual suffers a nervous breakdown of some regard and end conversing with the devil - having denied the existence of God. (Note, denying God also tends to lead to denying the devil too, just a thought Ivan). Alexei is the only one that comes out with any credit, indicating that is the only true path in life. Can't quite see where the illegitimate son (assuming here) Smerdyakov fits into the morality play, unless it's that the guilty will not prosper.
Just far too long winded for me to really enjoy. I doubt this will be a book I'll come back to.more
A bleak account of the type of world you do not wish to inhabit in underclass Russia of a bunch of brothers, the Karamatsov Brothers. Take this with some cheerful indulgent stuff as well.
All the same a fine novel that deserves the hype it deserves and the whopping 1.5GB on my HDD and 36 hours of 'reading'.more
Audio book. Horrible voice of the narrator put me off it.more
great translators! They've translated everything by Dostoevsky and they are amazing.

I started reading this and took my time -- but then had to read stuff for school! So, i only got half way and it's been 2 years. I'll have to start over, but I won't mind at all.more
One of my favorite books. Dostoevsky shatters modernism and anticipates postmodernism – and manages this in the context of a novel that is archetypically Russian in breadth and scope.more
Okay, so, I am biased. I generally dislike Russian lit; I particularly dislike Dostoevsky. I dislike Dostoevsky more now than I did before reading this. I will concede that the novel, particularly the last 150 pages has serious literary heft and some crazily beautiful philosophy. This does not, however, make The Brothers Karamazov an enjoyable read. I know that I sound decidedly lazy when I say this, but it's just so darned long! This book could easily have been 300 pages shorter with very little sacrificed. Overall, I can't say it's something I would read again.more
The crime: someone murdered Fyodor Karamozov, the wanton, irritable, and sadistic patriarch. The punishments: Smerdyakov, the illegitimate son, committed suicide after killing his father. Dmitri, the eldest son, passionate and immoderate like his father, whom the court found guilty of the murder, was condemned to Siberia. Ivan, the second son, who was “enlightened” and rational, struggled with the guilt of convincing his half-brother Smerdyakov that since God didn’t exist, everything, including patricide, was permitted. But as the dying monk Zosima had revealed and Dmitri soon realized, everyone was complicit in and thus implicated for the crime, since, for Dostoevsky, the web of sin entangled young and old to the extend that even children suffered from their peers’ sadism. Through his dream of the hungry and suffering children, Dmitri realized his guilt in the desire, that mustard seed in his mind, to kill his father and therefore willingly took upon the punishment for the crime he didn’t commit. In doing so, he assumed a Christ-figure, accepting punishment for another’s crime.The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor revealed Ivan’s enlightened rationalism for a humanistic dystopia, the socialist utopia that Dostoevsky condemned. Only when, in a hallucination, the “devil”--Ivan’s dark side-- revealed the parable of the learned atheist and thus rationalism’s arid futility did Ivan realized his guilt in rationalizing patricide and prodding Smerdyakov to commit it.And Smerdyakov, who mirrored Ivan’s unconsciousness and who carried the latter’s reasoning to the logical conclusion, like Judas, would not have the chance to repent or atone for his crime. In the end, Dmitri assumed his punishment. Through the tormented consciousness of Dmitri, Ivan, Smerdyakov and other characters, Dostoevsky grabbled with morality in an enlightened but Godless world, a world that he could not accept.more
This is one of Dostoevsky's finest works. The story remains interesting throughout, despite the large number of pages. All characters, and their personalities, really come to life. Highly recommended.more
2 stars for the first half, 3.5 stars for the second half, compromising with three. The first half was MIND-NUMBINGLY BORING and I could not make myself care about it, but once the crime happened it started getting interesting to me. There was a LOT that could have been edited out even in the more interesting second half, though.more
Several years ago I made a concerted effort to upgrade the quality of my reading material. I wasn’t exactly a comic book aficionado; however I had failed to read most of the classics during my years of formal education. Since that time, I’ve read more than my fair share of Dickens, Steinbeck and Hemingway. I’ve also dabbled in some of the more recently highly acclaimed literature, happily in some cases, in others not so much. Several months ago, I read the author’s highly acclaimed Crime and Punishment, and after a period of acclimation, was not disappointed. With that experience, I came to this novel with relatively high expectations.Now, it should be noted that the purpose of my reading is predominantly for pleasure and entertainment. I enjoy acquiring some historical education if such is a by-product of the experience, but it is not my aim or intention to delve deeply into philosophy or existentialism. As noted, I have read and enjoyed Dickens but will never take on the chore of trying to decipher Sartre, Camus or Nietzsche. That said, I found this novel to be moderately entertaining, with periods of great enjoyment interspersed with sometimes long passages of dense, philosophical meanderings; more so than the author’s Crime and Punishment, which was not without such interludes, but which tended to be shorter and more widely dispersed.The book follows the life of the Karamozov family; the slightly unbalanced, sensual and erratic father and his three vastly different sons, Dmitry, Ivan and Alexyev. As the novel progresses, a notorious turn of events results in a murder trial against one of the brothers. At that point, the action grinds to a halt, as the final 200 pages largely consist of a trial transcript, in which the events of the previous 800 pages are presented by the opposing attorneys. What is the point of rehashing everything the reader already knows? Quite simply not my cup of tea. In the reviews, I read some discussion pertaining to the various translations of this classic. The version I read was the MacAndrews translation. Having read no other, I can’t give a relative comparison, but can say that the edition I read was certainly very readable, and while different in style than I am used to, was likely a result of the author’s prose more so than the translators work.more
Pretty good. Like all of Dostoyevky's other works, you have to take a step back every once in a while and ask yourself "What the hell did I just read?" Takes a bit of hacking through the language, but a good book overall.more
This is a stellar book, and purportedly the one that Dostoevsky himself felt tied up everything he wanted to say about everything. It falls into three main sections: a back-story contrasting the religious zeal of Alyosha and the monastic practices of the time with the evil in the hearts of his family; a who-dunnit laid out marvelously through the perspectives of different characters in the book, so that you the reader are confused even about what they themselves know; and a murder trial that deals with themes of innocence until proven guilty and reasonable doubt that, to me, come off as so American that it is astonishing to see them play out in a nineteenth-century Russian context. Though a second novel continuing the story was supposedly going to follow this one, Dostoevsky ends it in just the right place for its impact to resonate powerfully.I do have to say, however, that this book is long, and takes some time getting around to the main action. Once there, it seems to race ahead faster than you would necessarily like; if you have the patience to savour almost 600 pages leading up to the climax, you're probably more than willing to see the dénouement wind down at a pace just as rewarding of slow and deliberate reading. I would still say that "Crime and Punishment" is my favourite of the author's novels after reading his four most famous over the course of this year, and in a way this book felt like a sort of extended cut of "Star Wars;" it felt like Dostoevsky took the main concepts of "Crime and Punishment" and decided it would have been better if he had said much, much more in that story. If you're not a big fan of the classics, or nineteenth-century language, or the complexities of Russian writing, and you think you have just enough mettle for one Dostoevsky book, "Crime and Punishment" is the one I would recommend. However, if that book and others of the same ilk are the type to bring you infinite joy, then this is definitely a worthy addition to your reading list as well.more
Fabulous. A great detective story for one thing. Encompasses so much: why are we alive? what is community? what is justice? how do we know anything?. Argues for both the primacy of religion and the primacy of having a grip on what is real. There was much that I did not understand.more
I'm not one to read a book more than once, but for this one I've made an exception--a few times--and I will probably make many more exceptions in the future. This novel is a masterpiece of literature and of philosophy. Dostoyevsky offers one of the most fervent apologetics for Orthodox Christianity, one of the most moving descriptions of the content of the Orthodox Faith, one of the most stirring defenses of its necessity, and one of the most cogent--in fact, the most cogent--refutations of modern atheism ever written, and he does all of this while telling an engaging story about a murder mystery. Dostoyevsky masterfully and beautifully combines the spiritual traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church, the theology of St. Isaac of Syria, his personal life experiences, the teachings of the Fathers of the Optina Monastery, and an amazing storytelling ability to make this book what it is--a prophecy of the 20th century, one of the greatest books ever written and my personal favorite book.more
Dostoevsky is becoming one of my favorite authors. I absolutely loved this book and the translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky is wonderful.more
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 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.more
This is the first and only book I've read by the great Dostoevsky. The existentialism of the plot, premise, and stylized prose kept me enthralled and intrigued all the way through. The dialectic of the text was woven very tightly and I would recomend this entrenched family drama to any fan of intelligent and cathartic fiction. Fyodor holds his own to any author. Great Book.more
My favorite book of all time. I've read this three times and each time I discover something new and unique. Dostoyevsky truly had the eye for developing characters and bringing them to life. Rich in nuance and detail.more
Downgraded for being a crappy translation. Read one of the more modern ones like the Pevear / Volokhonsky instead, and make sure to get an edition with footnotes or endnotes. You miss a lot without that.more
Possibly the best book I've ever read. I need to re-read it a few more times, but this is probably my new favorite novel.more
Dostoevsky is probably my favorite author and this is probably my favorite book of hismore
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!more
"The Idiot" is still my fave of his novels. But it was Bros. K that convinced me that I could like Dostoevesky just barely less than I love Tolstoy.more
Last read this about 30 years ago. I was a little afraid to reread it because I'd loved it so much. Nothing to worry about. The religious "Father Zossima" sections get a little tedious, but I'd actually remember Aylosha as being more of a simp than he is. I'm not sure I really get the Grushenka/Katerina Ivanovna battles either, but everything else is wonderful. Ivan and Dmitri are unforgettable, as is old man Karamazov. And for a "crime" novel where we, as readers, know who the criminal is rather early on, the court scenes are nevertheless riveting.more
Read all 80 reviews

Reviews

Astonishing work by Dostoevsky, though it does become repetitive. Existential to a fault.more
Well, to me, it seems a bit ridiculous to even attempt a review of this novel. When review has come to represent observations and criticisms or plot re-hashings, there really seems to be little I, or anyone for that matter, could say about The Brothers Karamazov that isn't already known or hasn't already been said by someone wiser and abler. If I were brilliant, I could share a spur-of-the-moment haiku that appropriately captures my feelings for this story. But I'm not. Brilliant, that is. So how about this: it's Russian, it's rich and it's revered. Read it.more
The greatest novel ever written.more
Should be more of a 4 1/2. I think the fact that he concentrates on the funeral of a poor peasant boy vs. what ends up to be a rich and evil man says it all.

very philosophically complex this one..


And...er...I am still not quite sure who committed the major crime of the novel to be honest..and I finished it today. I learned so much about Russia in this time period through Dostoevsky. Maybe I should make this five stars instead. I'll have to think about it.more
 Blimy - that was L O N G!
Not bad, just so very very long. I'm not sure I really understood the necessity for the very long diversions into the meaning of the church and philosophy and so on. I suspect a good editor would have it down to ~ 250 pages, not the 770 I've just ploughed through.
The characters seemed to be in the pantomime mould - not very real - they were all extremes, and not very believable. I wonder if the three brothers were intended as examples of the intellectual (Ivan), the moral man (Alexei) and the pleasure seeker (Dmitri), aspects of character rather than being real characters themselves. In which case this is a morality play of sorts. The pleasure seeker is tried for a crime of passion that he, in fact, did not commit, while the intellectual suffers a nervous breakdown of some regard and end conversing with the devil - having denied the existence of God. (Note, denying God also tends to lead to denying the devil too, just a thought Ivan). Alexei is the only one that comes out with any credit, indicating that is the only true path in life. Can't quite see where the illegitimate son (assuming here) Smerdyakov fits into the morality play, unless it's that the guilty will not prosper.
Just far too long winded for me to really enjoy. I doubt this will be a book I'll come back to.more
A bleak account of the type of world you do not wish to inhabit in underclass Russia of a bunch of brothers, the Karamatsov Brothers. Take this with some cheerful indulgent stuff as well.
All the same a fine novel that deserves the hype it deserves and the whopping 1.5GB on my HDD and 36 hours of 'reading'.more
Audio book. Horrible voice of the narrator put me off it.more
great translators! They've translated everything by Dostoevsky and they are amazing.

I started reading this and took my time -- but then had to read stuff for school! So, i only got half way and it's been 2 years. I'll have to start over, but I won't mind at all.more
One of my favorite books. Dostoevsky shatters modernism and anticipates postmodernism – and manages this in the context of a novel that is archetypically Russian in breadth and scope.more
Okay, so, I am biased. I generally dislike Russian lit; I particularly dislike Dostoevsky. I dislike Dostoevsky more now than I did before reading this. I will concede that the novel, particularly the last 150 pages has serious literary heft and some crazily beautiful philosophy. This does not, however, make The Brothers Karamazov an enjoyable read. I know that I sound decidedly lazy when I say this, but it's just so darned long! This book could easily have been 300 pages shorter with very little sacrificed. Overall, I can't say it's something I would read again.more
The crime: someone murdered Fyodor Karamozov, the wanton, irritable, and sadistic patriarch. The punishments: Smerdyakov, the illegitimate son, committed suicide after killing his father. Dmitri, the eldest son, passionate and immoderate like his father, whom the court found guilty of the murder, was condemned to Siberia. Ivan, the second son, who was “enlightened” and rational, struggled with the guilt of convincing his half-brother Smerdyakov that since God didn’t exist, everything, including patricide, was permitted. But as the dying monk Zosima had revealed and Dmitri soon realized, everyone was complicit in and thus implicated for the crime, since, for Dostoevsky, the web of sin entangled young and old to the extend that even children suffered from their peers’ sadism. Through his dream of the hungry and suffering children, Dmitri realized his guilt in the desire, that mustard seed in his mind, to kill his father and therefore willingly took upon the punishment for the crime he didn’t commit. In doing so, he assumed a Christ-figure, accepting punishment for another’s crime.The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor revealed Ivan’s enlightened rationalism for a humanistic dystopia, the socialist utopia that Dostoevsky condemned. Only when, in a hallucination, the “devil”--Ivan’s dark side-- revealed the parable of the learned atheist and thus rationalism’s arid futility did Ivan realized his guilt in rationalizing patricide and prodding Smerdyakov to commit it.And Smerdyakov, who mirrored Ivan’s unconsciousness and who carried the latter’s reasoning to the logical conclusion, like Judas, would not have the chance to repent or atone for his crime. In the end, Dmitri assumed his punishment. Through the tormented consciousness of Dmitri, Ivan, Smerdyakov and other characters, Dostoevsky grabbled with morality in an enlightened but Godless world, a world that he could not accept.more
This is one of Dostoevsky's finest works. The story remains interesting throughout, despite the large number of pages. All characters, and their personalities, really come to life. Highly recommended.more
2 stars for the first half, 3.5 stars for the second half, compromising with three. The first half was MIND-NUMBINGLY BORING and I could not make myself care about it, but once the crime happened it started getting interesting to me. There was a LOT that could have been edited out even in the more interesting second half, though.more
Several years ago I made a concerted effort to upgrade the quality of my reading material. I wasn’t exactly a comic book aficionado; however I had failed to read most of the classics during my years of formal education. Since that time, I’ve read more than my fair share of Dickens, Steinbeck and Hemingway. I’ve also dabbled in some of the more recently highly acclaimed literature, happily in some cases, in others not so much. Several months ago, I read the author’s highly acclaimed Crime and Punishment, and after a period of acclimation, was not disappointed. With that experience, I came to this novel with relatively high expectations.Now, it should be noted that the purpose of my reading is predominantly for pleasure and entertainment. I enjoy acquiring some historical education if such is a by-product of the experience, but it is not my aim or intention to delve deeply into philosophy or existentialism. As noted, I have read and enjoyed Dickens but will never take on the chore of trying to decipher Sartre, Camus or Nietzsche. That said, I found this novel to be moderately entertaining, with periods of great enjoyment interspersed with sometimes long passages of dense, philosophical meanderings; more so than the author’s Crime and Punishment, which was not without such interludes, but which tended to be shorter and more widely dispersed.The book follows the life of the Karamozov family; the slightly unbalanced, sensual and erratic father and his three vastly different sons, Dmitry, Ivan and Alexyev. As the novel progresses, a notorious turn of events results in a murder trial against one of the brothers. At that point, the action grinds to a halt, as the final 200 pages largely consist of a trial transcript, in which the events of the previous 800 pages are presented by the opposing attorneys. What is the point of rehashing everything the reader already knows? Quite simply not my cup of tea. In the reviews, I read some discussion pertaining to the various translations of this classic. The version I read was the MacAndrews translation. Having read no other, I can’t give a relative comparison, but can say that the edition I read was certainly very readable, and while different in style than I am used to, was likely a result of the author’s prose more so than the translators work.more
Pretty good. Like all of Dostoyevky's other works, you have to take a step back every once in a while and ask yourself "What the hell did I just read?" Takes a bit of hacking through the language, but a good book overall.more
This is a stellar book, and purportedly the one that Dostoevsky himself felt tied up everything he wanted to say about everything. It falls into three main sections: a back-story contrasting the religious zeal of Alyosha and the monastic practices of the time with the evil in the hearts of his family; a who-dunnit laid out marvelously through the perspectives of different characters in the book, so that you the reader are confused even about what they themselves know; and a murder trial that deals with themes of innocence until proven guilty and reasonable doubt that, to me, come off as so American that it is astonishing to see them play out in a nineteenth-century Russian context. Though a second novel continuing the story was supposedly going to follow this one, Dostoevsky ends it in just the right place for its impact to resonate powerfully.I do have to say, however, that this book is long, and takes some time getting around to the main action. Once there, it seems to race ahead faster than you would necessarily like; if you have the patience to savour almost 600 pages leading up to the climax, you're probably more than willing to see the dénouement wind down at a pace just as rewarding of slow and deliberate reading. I would still say that "Crime and Punishment" is my favourite of the author's novels after reading his four most famous over the course of this year, and in a way this book felt like a sort of extended cut of "Star Wars;" it felt like Dostoevsky took the main concepts of "Crime and Punishment" and decided it would have been better if he had said much, much more in that story. If you're not a big fan of the classics, or nineteenth-century language, or the complexities of Russian writing, and you think you have just enough mettle for one Dostoevsky book, "Crime and Punishment" is the one I would recommend. However, if that book and others of the same ilk are the type to bring you infinite joy, then this is definitely a worthy addition to your reading list as well.more
Fabulous. A great detective story for one thing. Encompasses so much: why are we alive? what is community? what is justice? how do we know anything?. Argues for both the primacy of religion and the primacy of having a grip on what is real. There was much that I did not understand.more
I'm not one to read a book more than once, but for this one I've made an exception--a few times--and I will probably make many more exceptions in the future. This novel is a masterpiece of literature and of philosophy. Dostoyevsky offers one of the most fervent apologetics for Orthodox Christianity, one of the most moving descriptions of the content of the Orthodox Faith, one of the most stirring defenses of its necessity, and one of the most cogent--in fact, the most cogent--refutations of modern atheism ever written, and he does all of this while telling an engaging story about a murder mystery. Dostoyevsky masterfully and beautifully combines the spiritual traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church, the theology of St. Isaac of Syria, his personal life experiences, the teachings of the Fathers of the Optina Monastery, and an amazing storytelling ability to make this book what it is--a prophecy of the 20th century, one of the greatest books ever written and my personal favorite book.more
Dostoevsky is becoming one of my favorite authors. I absolutely loved this book and the translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky is wonderful.more
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 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.more
This is the first and only book I've read by the great Dostoevsky. The existentialism of the plot, premise, and stylized prose kept me enthralled and intrigued all the way through. The dialectic of the text was woven very tightly and I would recomend this entrenched family drama to any fan of intelligent and cathartic fiction. Fyodor holds his own to any author. Great Book.more
My favorite book of all time. I've read this three times and each time I discover something new and unique. Dostoyevsky truly had the eye for developing characters and bringing them to life. Rich in nuance and detail.more
Downgraded for being a crappy translation. Read one of the more modern ones like the Pevear / Volokhonsky instead, and make sure to get an edition with footnotes or endnotes. You miss a lot without that.more
Possibly the best book I've ever read. I need to re-read it a few more times, but this is probably my new favorite novel.more
Dostoevsky is probably my favorite author and this is probably my favorite book of hismore
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!more
"The Idiot" is still my fave of his novels. But it was Bros. K that convinced me that I could like Dostoevesky just barely less than I love Tolstoy.more
Last read this about 30 years ago. I was a little afraid to reread it because I'd loved it so much. Nothing to worry about. The religious "Father Zossima" sections get a little tedious, but I'd actually remember Aylosha as being more of a simp than he is. I'm not sure I really get the Grushenka/Katerina Ivanovna battles either, but everything else is wonderful. Ivan and Dmitri are unforgettable, as is old man Karamazov. And for a "crime" novel where we, as readers, know who the criminal is rather early on, the court scenes are nevertheless riveting.more
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