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The Brothers Karamazov

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The Brothers Karamazov is a murder mystery, a courtroom drama, and an exploration of erotic rivalry in a series of triangular love affairs involving the “wicked and sentimental” Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov and his three sons―the impulsive and sensual Dmitri; the coldly rational Ivan; and the healthy, red-cheeked young novice Alyosha. Through the gripping events of their story, Dostoevsky portrays the whole of Russian life, is social and spiritual striving, in what was both the golden age and a tragic turning point in Russian culture.

This award-winning translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky remains true to the verbal
inventiveness of Dostoevsky’s prose, preserving the multiple voices, the humor, and the surprising modernity of the original. It is an achievement worthy of Dostoevsky’s last and greatest novel.

796 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1880

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About the author

Fyodor Dostoevsky

3,364 books50.1k followers
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky was a Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, and journalist. His literary works explore human psychology in the troubled political, social, and spiritual atmospheres of 19th-century Russia, and engage with a variety of philosophical and religious themes. His most acclaimed novels include Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1869), Demons (1872), and The Brothers Karamazov (1880).

Many literary critics rate him as one of the greatest novelists in all of world literature, as multiple of his works are considered highly influential masterpieces. His 1864 novella Notes from Underground is considered to be one of the first works of existentialist literature. As such, he is also looked upon as a philosopher and theologian as well.

(Russian: Фёдор Михайлович Достоевский) (see also Fiodor Dostoïevski)

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Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
August 10, 2019
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If you like your books to move in a linear fashion this book is not for you. It hops around and attention must be paid or you will find yourself flipping back a few pages to reestablish the thread of the story. I took this on a plane flight, crazy right? Not exactly the normal "light" reading I take on flights. It was a stroke of genius. I absolutely fell under the thrall of Dostoyevky's prose. (Thank you to my fellow travelers who didn't feel the need to chat with the guy who obviously is so frilling bored he has resorted to reading a Russian novel.) I zipped through three hundred pages like it was butter and found myself absolutely captivated by the evolving drama of the Brothers Karamazov, the women that drive them crazy, and the father that brings to mind the words justifiable homicide.

I have to give a plug to these Everyman's Library editions. A 776 page novel that feels like a 300 page novel. Despite the smaller size, the print size is still easily readable. I will certainly be picking up more of these editions especially the Russian novels that are translated by the magical duo of Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.

Translators Volokhonsky and Pevear

One of my complaints, when I was in college, and liked to torture myself with the largest most incomprehensible Russian books I could find, was that the nicknames and diminutives of various Russian names increased my frustration level and decreased my ability to comprehend the plots. I certainly spent too much time scratching my head and reading feverishly to see if I could figure out from the interactions of the characters if Vanky was actually Ivan or Boris or Uncle Vashy. I did not have that issue with this book. Despite a plot that skipped around I did not experience the confusion that has marred my memories of other Russian novels.

This is the story of the Karamazov family. The father Fyodor and his four sons. There are three legitimate sons Dmitri, Ivan and Alyosha, but I believe that Smerdyakov is also an illegitimate son, though not confirmed by the author given the tendencies of Fyodor to hop on anything in a skirt I would say chances are pretty good that the boy is a Karamazov.

The recklessness at which Fyodor lived his life is really the basis of the plot. The motivations of the other characters all revolve around reactions to the careless and insensitive behavior of the father. Dostoyevsky wrote a description of Fyodor that still gives me a shiver every time I read it.

"Fyodor's physiognomy by that time presented something that testified acutely to the characteristics and essence of his whole life. Besides the long, fleshy bags under his eternally insolent, suspicious, and leering little eyes, besides the multitude of deep wrinkles on his fat little face, a big Adam's apple, fleshy and oblong like a purse, hung below his sharp chin, giving him a sort of repulsively sensual appearance. Add to that a long, carnivorous mouth with plump lips, behind which could be seen the little stumps of black, almost decayed teeth. He sprayed saliva whenever he spoke."


Fyodor is a skirt chaser and since he is rich he can afford to throw these opulent parties that evolve/devolve into orgies with the local women. Given the description above I can only speculate that gallons and gallons of good vodka must be in play to achieve this end. Problems mount as he falls in love/lust with a young beauty of dubious morals named Grushenka.


His oldest son Dmitri is also in love with this young woman and as they both vie for her hand the tension between the Karamazov's ratchets up to dangerous levels. Dmitri while pursuing this dangerous siren throws over Katerina, a girl that he owes 3,000 rubles. After Fyodor is murdered (It was similar to waiting around for someone to kill J.R.)those same rubles become central to the subsequent trial to convict Dmitri of the murder. The murderer is revealed to the reader and as the trial advances the tension increases as we begin to wonder just how the truth will be revealed.

There are subplots with Father Zosima and his life before becoming a monk. Alyosha, the youngest son, was studying to be a monk under Zosima's tutelage, but becomes embroiled in the power struggles of the family and leaves the monastery to seek a life in the real world. Alyosha also becomes involved with the care of a dying child named, Ilyusha who is in the book to illustrate the heavy burden that the seemingly inconsequential actions of people can leave on others. The book explores that theme extensively.

It was fascinating to watch the ripple effects of each character's actions as the chapters advance. Every time I picked this book up I had to read large chunks because it simply would not let me go. The reactions and high drama created by the smallest spark of contention in the characters kept the pages turning and as new information snapped into place I found my pulse quickening as my brain sprang ahead trying to guess where Dostoyevsky was taking me next.

I worked with a young woman years ago that said that I reminded her of one of the Karamazov brothers. Because of the diverse personalities of the brothers, and the fact that I can see a little of myself in each brother I'm still left with the grand mystery as to which brother she was referring too. It serves me right for waiting so long to read this beautiful book.

If you wish to see all my most recent book and movie reviews check out http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
Profile Image for Rawley.
17 reviews241 followers
September 7, 2008
If there was still any doubt, let me confirm that this actually is the greatest book ever written. But be warned that you need to set aside a solid month to get through it. And it's not light reading--this is a dense work of philosophy disguised as a simple murder mystery. But it's well worth the effort. It tackles the fundamental question of human existence--how best to live one's life--in a truly engaging way. Dostoevsky created 3 brothers (Ivan, Alexei, and Dmitri) with opposite answers to this fundamental question, and set them loose in the world to see what would happen. A testament to Dostoevsky's genius is he didn't know how the book would evolve when he started writing. As a consequence, the book really isn't about the plot at all, but about how these brothers evolve and deal with their struggles based on their differing world views.

Dostoevsky articulates, better than anyone, how human beings really are what I would call "walking contradictions". Perhaps all of our struggles in life boil down to the reality that we desire contradictory things, simultaneously. If you like your novels with good character development, this is the masterwork. Dostoevsky's characters are more real, more human, than any other. At different points along the way, you will identify with them, sympathize with them, curse them, agonize over them, celebrate them. You will be moved.

Reading this book was a deeply personal experience for me, because I saw myself in one of the characters, and I didn't like what I saw. My worldview, in fact my entire direction in life, shifted as a result of this experience. I can't guarantee the same results for you, but you owe it to yourself to set aside the time, someday, for the Brothers Karamazov.

Be sure to read the Pevear Volokhonsky translation.
Profile Image for Michael.
Author 2 books1,356 followers
December 23, 2018
I'm writing this review as I read. Frankly, I'm astounded by how good this is and how compelling I'm finding it. Astounded? Why should that be? This is a classic, after all. True, but it breaks just about every "rule" of fiction. The plot so far is virtually nonexistent: three brothers get together with their wastrel father and all sorts of dysfunction, including an odd love triangle involving the father and the eldest son, are revealed. The brothers aren't particular close to each other, and really not much happens except that they meet at a monastery, where the youngest son lives, for an audience with a holy man who's dying, and then they go their separate ways, except that they have kind of random meetings with each other and with the woman involved in the love triangle, and there's a vague sense of foreboding that something will happen to the father. And the characters? Not really the kinds of characters we're used to in contemporary fiction. These are characters who struggle with all kinds of philosophical issues and enjoy nothing more than debating them at length with each other. Sounds boring? Well, it's not. Not at all.

By the way, I'm reading the Ignet Avsey translation based on Kris's recommendation, and it's wonderful so far!


One of the things I find so fascinating about this book is how it can be both one of the most dark and cynical works I've read, and one of the most overtly spiritual and soulful. This is a true testament to Dostoyevsky's range, to how effortlessly he "contains multitudes" in this masterful work.


[Alert: Some Spoilers to Follow]

One of the most cynical passages I've read so far is about how, following the holy man's death, his fellow monks are all shocked when his corpse begins to smell. Because of course if he'd been a true holy man, they figured, his corpse wouldn't have smelled at all, so the fact that it started smelling makes them all begin to question whether he'd really been what they'd imagined. Soon several of them begin to remember times when he'd been shockingly and suspiciously less-than-holy, and then the pile-on really begins, as the monks begin competing to disavow him the most, with only a couple of his friends holding onto his good memory, but even they are cowed into silence by the general gleeful animosity. Oh, this Dostoyevsky really knows how to plumb all that's dark and pathetic about human nature.


After about page 500, the plot really picks up. We have murder, a mad dash to a woman, heavy drinking, protestations of love, and the police moving in. After the languid plotting of the opening sections, I'm almost breathless!


The use of the narrator here is so interesting. We have a nameless figure who lives in the place where the events take place recounting the story almost as if recounting a legend. At the same time, we get the characters' most intimate thoughts and long speeches that the narrator could not possibly have known first-hand. It all adds to the notion that this may be more the narrator's own tall tale than any faithful recitation of history--which of course is true, because it's a novel, but the way the artificial nature of the story gets highlighted makes me think it's another example of Dostroyevsky's cynicism at work.


All signs point to Dmitry as the perpetrator, but the way he protests his innocence just makes you want to believe him! He's having a hard time of it, though. The prosecutor and magistrate conduct a long interview of him, and the evidence is damning.

Interestingly, after Dmitry is taken away, the scene shifts radically, revisiting the young boys we'd briefly met earlier. What is Dostroyevsky doing here? In the figure of Kolya, a 13 year-old prankster wunderkind, he seems to be pointing out the limits of rationalism, the way it can be abused to wow those with slightly less knowledge and how it can ultimately come off as a big joke.


Now things have become complicated. Who's really guilty of this crime? We know who "did it" because he tells Ivan, but then he blames Ivan himself for his athiesm--for influencing him by the notion that nothing we do matters anyway.


At the beginning of the trial, we see Dostoyevsky's biting and cynical nature reassert itself, as he describes the spectacle that the event has become--the people who've traveled from far away to witness it, drawn by their desire to see the two female rivals for Dmitry and Dmitry himself, who's especially attractive to the ladies because of his reputation as a "ladies' man." The proceedings themselves seem secondary to the spectacle and the sport.


The trial itself is a fascinating deconstruction of Dmitry's character--how that character can be everything the prosecutor says, and yet at the same time, it's everything his defense counsel says too. We're given to long speeches about the character that are fascinating psychological studies (the lawyers themselves debate about this newfangled science of psychology--how plastic it is, how it can be used to justify and explain anything). You can see Dostoyevsky working on multiple levels here, showing multiple sides of his character that don't quite cohere, and that's exactly the point, that people are complex and inconsistent and constantly at war with themselves, so what does "character" mean? What does "a" character mean in a novel?

And just when it looks like the defense will carry the day....


The coda is a plan for escape and the funeral of a young boy, and yet it end on a curiously uplifting note, a statement of faith and everlasting remembrance--and a change, for the better, in many of the other young boys, united as they are in love of the lost boy, who thus becomes an almost Christian martyr, the one whose death brings love to all his friends.

And so Dostoyevsky brings to a close his massive masterpiece, and so I end these little scribbles.
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,466 reviews3,624 followers
August 19, 2020
The Brothers Karamazov is the greatest novel… The Brothers Karamazov is the greatest grotesque novel. And I��m afraid my interpretations of it will hardly be very popular.
What is God? What is man? And what are their relationships?
“You see, I close my eyes and think: if everyone has faith, where does it come from? And then they say that it all came originally from fear of the awesome phenomena of nature, and that there is nothing to it at all. What? I think, all my life I’ve believed, then I die, and suddenly there’s nothing, and only ‘burdock will grow on my grave,’ as I read in one writer? It’s terrible! What, what will give me back my faith?”

In his deepest novel Fyodor Dostoyevsky created the whole gallery of human types – both male and female – that later T.S. Eliot will define as ‘The Hollow Men’
“Vanity! Ivan does not have God. He has his idea. Not on my scale. But he’s silent. I think he’s a freemason. I asked him – he’s silent. I hoped to drink from the waters of his source – he’s silent. Only once did he say something.”
“What did he say?” Alyosha picked up hastily.
“I said to him: ‘Then everything is permitted, in that case?’ He frowned: ‘Fyodor Pavlovich, our papa, was a little pig,’ he said, ‘but his thinking was right.’ That’s what he came back with.”

Fyodor Karamazov, the father was a swine, a hungry greedy hog that would devour everything and everybody on its way and nothing, bar death, would stop him.
“Oh, we love to live among people and to inform these people at once of everything, even our most infernal and dangerous ideas; we like sharing with people, and, who knows why, we demand immediately, on the spot, that these people respond to us at once with the fullest sympathy, enter into all our cares and concerns, nod in agreement with us, and never cross our humor.”

Dmitri Karamazov is a parrot, a popinjay – the poseur who admires nothing but his own reflection.
“But Ivan loves nobody, Ivan is not one of us; people like Ivan are not our people, my friend, they’re a puff of dust… The wind blows, and the dust is gone…”

Ivan Karamazov is a peacock proud of his iridescent tail – he cares about nothing but his empty and fruitless ideas.
His heart trembled as he entered the elder’s cell: Why, why had he left? Why had the elder sent him “into the world”? Here was quiet, here was holiness, and there – confusion, and a darkness in which one immediately got lost and went astray…

Alyosha Karamazov is a frightened calf, a cat’s paw – an infantile whipping boy created to serve the others and to be used.
…while the sun, moon, and stars might be an interesting subject, for Smerdyakov it was of completely third-rate importance, and that he was after something quite different. Be it one way or the other, in any event a boundless vanity began to appear and betray itself, an injured vanity besides.

Smerdyakov is a rat – he hides in darkness but he hates the entire world and he is capable of any meanness.

Man is one’s own enemy… By living one unavoidably destroys oneself and the others.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews33 followers
July 30, 2021
(Book 837 From 1001 Books) - Братья Карамазовы = Bratia Karamazovy = The Karamazov brothers‬, Fyodor Dostoevsky

Abstract: The Brothers Karamazov is a passionate philosophical novel set in 19th century of Russia that enters deeply into the ethical debates of God, free will, and morality. It is a spiritual drama of moral struggles concerning faith, doubt, and reason, set against a modernizing Russia.

Characters: Dmitri Fyodorovich Karamazov, Ivan Fyodorovich Karamazov, Alexei Fyodorovich Karamazov, Pavel Smerdyakov, Agrafena Alexandrovna Svetlova, Katerina Ivanovna Verkhovtseva, Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov, Father Zosima, the Elder, Ilyusha, Nikolai Krassotkin.

برادران کارامازوف - فئودور داستایوسکی؛ انتشاراتیها (صفی علیشاه، امیر کبیر، ناهید، نگارستان کتاب، سمیر، همشهری) ادبیات روسیه، تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و پنجم ماه سپتامبر سال 2002میلادی

عنوان یک: برادران کارامازوف، مترجم: مشفق‌همدانی، نشر تهران، صفی علیشاه، امیرکبیر، 1335، در دو جلد، تعداد صفحات: 970ص؛

عنوان دو: برادران کارامازوف، مترجم صالح حسینی، نشر تهران، نیلوفر، 1367؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، ناهید، چاپ هشتم 1376، در دو جلد جلد، تعداد صفحات 1108ص، شابک دوره 96462050701، 9646205062؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان روسیه - سده 19م

عنوان سه: برادران کارامازوف، مترجم رامین مستقیم، نشر تهران، نگارستان کتاب، چاپ نخست 1390، در دو جلد، تعداد صفحات 854ص، شابک دوره 9786001900532، جلدیک 9786001900518، جلددو: 9786001900525

عنوان چهار: برادران کارامازوف، ترجمه: اسماعیل قهرمانی­پور(شمس خوی)، نشر تهران، سمیر، چاپ نخست 1391، در دو جلد، تعداد صفحات 1543ص، شابک: جلدیک 9789642201860، جلددو 9789642201874

عنوان پنج: برادران کارامازوف، مترجم: پرویز شهدی؛ نشر تهران، مجید، چاپ نخست 1391، در دو جلد، تعداد صفحات 1090ص، چاپ هفتم 1398؛شابک 9789644531040؛

عنوان شش: برادران کارامازوف، مترجم: احمد علیقلیان؛ نشر تهران، مرکز، چاپ نهم 1398، در 854ص، شابک 9789642132423؛

عنوان هفت: برادران کارامازوف، مترجم: لادن مدیر؛ نشر تهران، آسو، در 1112ص

عنوان هشت: برادران کارامازوف، مترجم: هانیه چوپانی؛ نشر تهران، فراروی؛ در 920ص؛

عنوان نه: برادران کارامازوف کوتاه شده، ترجمه: حسن زمانی، نشر تهران، همشهری، چاپ نهم 1391، تعداد صفحات: 61ص، شابک 9789642412013

این داستان مشهورترین اثر «داستایوسکی» است، که برای نخستین بار، بصورت پاورقی، در سال‌های 1879میلادی تا سال 1880میلادی، در نشریه ی «پیام‌ آور روسی» منتشر شد؛ گویا قرار بوده، یک مجموعه سه گانه باشد، اما چهار ماه پس از چاپ کتاب، نویسنده از در این سرای زمین، به آسمانها رفتند، و به آن سرای دیگر شتافتند؛ «فئودور کارامازوف»؛ پیرمردی فاسد، و پولدار است، با سه پسر خویش؛ به نامهای «میتیا»، «ایوان» و «آلیوشا»، و پسر نامشروع اش به نام «اسمردیاکوف»؛ کتاب هماره شگفتی اندیشمندان، و بزرگواران را برانگیخته، و آنها را به کف زدن، و آفرین گویی واداشته است؛ نویسنده خود نیز، یکی از شخصیتهای همین داستان است، و گاه نقش راوی داستان را، میپذیرند؛ هر چهار پسر، از پدر خویش بیزار هستند؛ «میتیا» افسر است و زودرنج؛ «ایوان» تحصیلکرده و بدبین و سرد مزاج، و «آلیوشا» قهرمان داستان است و در صومعه، زیر نظر «پدر زوسیما»، با باورهای «اورتودکس» پرورش یافته، و شخصیتی دوستداشتنی دارد؛ و «اسمردیاکوف»، نوکر خانه، و فاسد و بدقلب است؛ ماجرای همزیستی این چهار برادر با هم است.؛ ...؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 26/05/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 07/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Lisa.
991 reviews3,320 followers
October 15, 2018
“Hurrah for Karamazov!”

Those are the concluding words of this bombastic brick of a book. I am more than willing to chime in, to cheer for the brothers Karamazov who finally, finally made me give in to the genius of Dostoevsky fully, without anger, without resentment and fight, after a year of grappling with his earlier novels.

This is doubtless his magnum opus, the shining lead star in a brilliant cosmos. There are many similarities to his earlier novels, and his characters fight with the same inner demons as the predecessors. And yet, there is something milder, more soothing in the Brothers Karamazov, there is mature perfection in this novel.

Yes, Smerdyakov is an underprivileged, hateful sufferer, but he is not lost to compassion and care in the same way as the nihilistic man writing his Notes from Underground.

And Dimitri is rash and bold and full of contradictions, but he is not as confused as Raskolnikov, he does not impose the dogma of suffering in the sense of Crime and Punishment on his family and community. He has a plan for living, not for suffering.

Ivan is a brooding intellectual, but he is not stone-cold like Stavrogin in Devils. His conflicted heart and intellect are connected to the world.

Alyosha, thank goodness, is a sweet and innocent character, but nothing like the awful Christlike idiot Myshkin from The Idiot. He knows how to live and interact, and he is willing to step away from rigid prejudices and principles to comfort the ones he loves.

What about the women? Grushenka is not destroyed by the love of several men like Nastasya, and even Katerina Ivanovna is given a complex, divided soul, not just a shallow platform for men to use at their convenience and throw away when they have made their point. She has her own points to make.

Why do the Brothers Karamazov work so well?

I believe Dostoyevsky made the decision to paint a family just like it is, with all the contradictory emotions and actions, and all the mood swings and difficult situations. He had already established his religious and political ideas in earlier works, and he could afford to let the characters be what they naturally were, without judging them from the standpoint of history and society. Thus he could be the storyteller he naturally was, without any agenda but love for the story he told.

The plot is both simple and complex: Be careful what you wish for, it might come true!

As the three (or four) brothers and the women they love in different ways and fashions face the murder of the old patriarchal buffoon, all of them have to come to terms with the painful reality of loving and hating at the same time.

A bad parent is still a parent, and a dead parent still has power over the lives of his offspring. The “Karamazov character”, much cited throughout the novel, becomes a synonym for any human being in his or her dealings with that complicated microcosm called family:

“And why? Because he was of the broad Karamazov character - that’s just what I am leading up to - capable of combining the most incongruous contradictions, and capable of the greatest heights and of the greatest depths.”

Because Dostoyevsky dares to let go of his mission to prove that Russian nationalism and Christian orthodoxie are at the centre of the meaning of life, he actually makes a case for both in a much more convincing way than he ever could with his more concept- and idea-driven earlier works. The humour in the unforgettable scenes with the “unspeakable conduct” of the stinking Father Zossima are so much better than the pseudo-Christian rants of Myshkin, and the intellectual understanding of the dangers of community worship in the story of the Grand Inquisitor is as true now as it was back then, showing the way to the core of both religious and political extremism:

“This craving for community of worship is the chief misery of every man individually and of all humanity from the beginning of time. For the sake of common worship they’ve slain each other with the sword. They have set up gods and challenged one another: Put away your gods and come and worship ours, or we will kill you and your gods.” And so it will be to the end of the world, even when gods disappear from the earth; they will fall down before idols just the same.”

So what is the redeeming feature of the Karamazovs then? Why do I feel like shouting, over and over:

“Hurrah for Karamazov!”

They love each other. They really do, in a crooked, angry way, in a distorted, strange way. But they do. They love each other despite being completely different in their approach to life, and they support each other’s right to life, love and happiness. In the end, they help each other make the best of a muddle (and that is the best any family can do: help each other deal with the blows that families tend to inflict on themselves!).

Exile in a place worse than Siberia (Oh, America, what a delightful irony Dimitri’s words are!) is manageable if you make peace with your loved ones. And the final pages leave me bowing to the beauty of the insight that man and woman can love each other in so many different ways, and that love is not exclusive, but inclusive.

Dostoyevsky! You wrote the perfect novel. Hurrah!
Profile Image for Kevin Ansbro.
Author 5 books1,475 followers
December 27, 2022
"Reading Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov is comparable to pushing a beautiful grand piano up a very steep hill."
Kevin Ansbro

Why, oh why, in a world filled with endless opportunities to enjoy oneself, did I think it was a good idea to embark on a 19th-century book that's almost the size of an electric toaster?
I have friends, I have a wife, I have a life. Heck, I even have one of those home television sets that you so often hear about…

The Brothers Karamazov is by no means a galloping read. It is a whale of a novel that requires the reader to drop anchor and bob about on Fyodor's ocean of esteemed eloquence for as long as it takes. It was a slog at times and I'm ashamed to say that I almost jumped ship on many occasions.

Dostoevsky threw everything but the kitchen sink at this, his magnum opus. He plucks random details from the alcoves of his mind and scatters them like confetti, and there are more characters here than you could wave a stick at. His imagery is vivid without being overdone, the writing is tight and beautifully paced.

The story focuses on Fyodor Karamazov, a boorish and wicked father, and his three dissimilar sons. Collectively, the eponymous brothers are perhaps designed to represent all of us. Philosophical and theological discussions abound; the existence of God, morality and freedom of choice are the author's themes of choice.

I certainly have no complaints about the writing, which is rich and expressive. Any quibbles I have say more about me as an easily-distracted reader than they do about Dostoevsky's incontestable skill as a writer. I dare say the novel would be a godsend to a bookworm who has chosen to live off-grid for a month. I don't know how long it took Dostoevsky to complete this, but his writing hand must surely have resembled a sloth's claw by the time he'd finished it!

Does The Brothers Karamazov harbour a captivating story to rival the likes of Great Expectations or Les Misérables?
I think not.

Is this venerated novel worthy of the widespread admiration it receives?
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,217 reviews9,902 followers
August 19, 2020
In 1929 Freud wrote that The Brothers Karamazov was “the most magnificent novel ever written”. Well, it’s possible he had not got round to reading Ulysses yet (copies were hard to get until 1934) and of course he never did get the opportunity to read the work of Dan Brown or J K Rowling, but even so, this gives you the idea of this novel’s impact on the brains of its readers.


The major themes are

Borrowing money


For chapters at a time this novel is about children. For most of the last half this novel is like a Richard Price police procedural (Clockers, Freedomland, Lush Life) and also like a great courtroom drama with verbatim closing speeches. Elsewhere it’s a detailed debate about monastic life and the intricacies of the Christian message. The rest of the time it’s an intense psychodrama between seven or eight major characters. In one chapter (“An Ailing Little Foot”) Dosto prefigures Molly Bloom’s stream of conscious. Got to say, this guy Dosto was not a one trick pony, not by a country mile.


Only peasants and servants work, leaving the rest of the people time to talk a lot

People are really ill quite often. This might be connected to the high alcohol consumption or the poor medical facilities

It is clear that the concept of interrupting someone had not yet been introduced into Russia at this point. So everyone is able to spout forth about anything they like, rambling on with multiple digressions for ten pages, and none of the other people in the room will say “oy, shut it, sunshine, we’ve heard enough from you, let somebody else have a go”. No one will say this. Eventually the speaker collapses to the floor from lack of oxygen and the next character will launch into their ten page rant.


He is a bumbling old fart who lives in the little town where all this happens. He says he has gone round talking to people to get all this story straight. He continually says things like
The details I do not know – I have heard only that…

I myself have not read the will

This arrival [of Ivan] which was so fateful and which was to serve as the origin of so many consequences for me long afterwards, the rest of my life, almost…

And on P 573 he says

Today’s item in the newspaper Rumours was entitled “From Skotoprigonyevsk” (alas, that is the name of our town, I have been concealing it all this time).


You probably thought Dosto was a bit gloomy but this is often a comic novel, yes really. For instance Dmitri says

Who doesn’t wish for his father’s death ? …Everyone wants his father dead

And the narrator himself comes out with

The two were some sort of enemies in love with each other

And Ivan says stuff like

When I think of what I would do to the man who first invented God! Stringing him up on the bitter asp would be too good for him.


There is an amount of 3000 roubles that Dmitri borrows from his current squeeze, and readers had better get used to the phrase 3000 roubles popping up about three times on every other page of this 900 page novel. Because you see, totally co-incidentally, the dead father was robbed of this exact sum also. It can get slightly tiresome, I admit that. We never hear the last of it.


The blurb on the back of my Penguin copy says

The murder of brutal landowner Fyodor Karamazov changes the lives of his sons blah blah blah

This is likely to get readers all het up and their anticipation of a juicy whodunnit may turn to irritation because the murder doesn’t happen until page 508. This is not Dosto’s fault.


4. Alexei
a.k.a. Alyosha, Alyoshka, Alyoshenka, Alyoshechka, Alexeichik, Lyosha, Lyoshenka

This is the holy joe, novice monk, all round too good to be true guy, but he doesn’t seem to have much vim, zip, pazzaz or get up and go about him. You wouldn’t want to be stuck in a lift with him. Not good boyfriend material.

3. Dmitri (a.k.a. Mitya, Mitka, Mitenka, Mitri)

This is the roister-doistering swaggering loudmouth uber-romantic aggravating jerk who because of his ability to drink ox-stunning amounts of hard liquor and then do the Argentinian tango or the Viennese waltz at the drop of a samovar is a wow with the ladies but you better be expecting to pay for his exhausting company because he never has a bean. Except that on the two occasions he does have a bean (3000 beans!) you will have the best time ever! Definitely not good boyfriend material.

2. Pavel Fyodorovich Smerdyakov (aka the lackey)

The unacknowledged bastard of Big Daddy Fyodor who is kept around as a skivvy and although he has brains because he’s epileptic and an unacknowledged bastard is never given any education and therefore becomes an autodidact with a full tank of bloodcurdling homicidal suppressed rage. He’s completely boring until he starts talking then whooahhhhh. Really not good boyfriend material.

1. Ivan (a.k.a. Vanya, Vanka, Vanechka)

Obvious star of the show, the full-on atheist and progressive thinker – he’s given two entire chapters of brilliant ranting against religion – Rebellion and The Grand Inquisitor and every time he slams into the room and starts sneering the quality of the conversation is going to increase. Also probably not good boyfriend material.


Dmitri gets to make a good joke :

Eh gentlemen, why pick on such little things : how, when and why, and precisely this much money and not that much, and all that claptrap… if you keep on, it’ll take you three volumes and an epilogue to cram it all in.

Profile Image for Conrad.
200 reviews312 followers
April 29, 2008
Contrary to widespread rumor, this is a far from bleak book. While every character has his or her own misery, and it all takes place in a place called something like "cattle-roundup-ville", the moments of religious ecstasy and moral clarity are heartbreaking in their frequency - it's hard not to wish that one had such bizarre events going on around one in order to prompt such lofty oratory.

The story involves Ivan, Dmitri, Alyosha, and Smerdyakov, four brothers with a rich but notoriously lecherous father, Fyodor. All four brothers were raised by others, Fyodor having essentially ignored them until others removed them from his care. In the beginning of the book, Alyosha is in the monastery, studying under a famous elder name Father Zosima; Dmitri has just left the army and stolen a large sum of money from a government official's daughter, who he has also apparently seduced, all while pursuing a lawsuit against Fyodor for his inheritance and canoodling with his own father's intended, the local seductress Grushenka; Ivan, the intellectual in the family, has just returned from (I think) Petersburg. Dmitri is violent and impulsive, referring to himself as an "insect," and gets into fistfights with Fyodor several times. Smerdyakov works for Fyodor as a lackey, having gone to France to learn to cook at some point in the past. It's unimaginably more complicated and digressive than all this, and just trying to follow this crucial sum of three thousand rubles through the story is almost impossible. But anyway, Fyodor is killed and much of the book hinges on which brother killed him and why.

When I first read this book in high school, my teacher (who was a devout Catholic, a red-faced drunk who wore sunglasses to class, and the most enthusiastic reader of Russian literature imaginable) asked everyone who their favorite brother was. Was it Ivan, the tortured skeptic? Dmitri, the "scoundrel" who tortures himself for every wrong he commits but can't help committing more? Or Alyosha, the saintly one who always knows the right thing to say? (Certainly Smerdyakov is no one's favorite.) At the time I went with Ivan - I was in high school, after all, and his atheism and pessimism were revolutionary to me.

But now Ivan seems rather selfish and callow, and I can't help siding with Dmitri, the one Dostoevsky uses almost as a case history of conscience. Like Shakespeare, Dostoevsky gives his characters all the space to talk like gods, clearing pages upon pages for their reasoning and dialog. Dmitri fumbles with Voltaire and is clearly not overly literate, but in some ways that's apropos, because his main problem is the constant internal conflict between his desires and his ethics which is only partly resolved when he chooses to become responsible for not only what he does, but also what he wants.

The most famous passage in the book, Ivan's tale of the Grand Inquisitor, is, to me, far less interesting than Zosima's meditations on the conflict between justice and the collective good. The elder Zosima is a kind of Christian socialist who grapples with the typical mid-19th century Russian issues of how to build a equitable society without the extremes of coercion that the Tsar used to turn to, while also ensuring public morality and avoiding the kind of massacres that characterized the French Revolution (an event that seems to have been even more traumatizing for Russians than it was to the French due to the enormous cultural influence France had there at the time.) Zosima's answer is unworkable and in some ways naiive, but the discussion is well worth it, moreso than Ivan's somewhat simplistic dualism of Christ vs. the Inquisitor. Dostoevsky was a cultural conservative in the sense that he was constantly renewing his commitment to the obligations imposed on Russians by the Orthodox Church. At the same time, he was committed to the pursuit of joy through kindness and community and a kind of interpersonal fair dealing in a way that transcends his political concerns and is inspiring to see articulated in the lives of people who are as confused as the rest of us.

It's a huge, messy book, but so worth the effort. It took me about three months to read carefully, though my reading has been flagging lately, as well. I read this while listening to Hubert Dreyfus's accompanying lectures at Stanford on existentialism and this book which are available on iTunes U, and even when I felt his readings overreached, it was a good way to reread a tough and subtle work like this.
Profile Image for Violet wells.
433 reviews3,220 followers
February 18, 2021
It's not hard to understand Nabokov's objections to Dostoevsky. It's his scruffiness as a novelist Nabokov with his literary sartorial elegance would have objected to. For example, his gun-ho attitude towards unnecessary repetition. And also his occasional lapses at organising his material for maximum dramatic effect, most evident in the construction of the trial. Nabokov was much more of a literary dandy than Dostoevsky, much more self-conscious, much more vigilant in his attention to detail, more subtle and ingenious in his artistry. But Dostoevsky was more courageous and pioneering psychologically. More intimate with the dark and unearthed side of the human condition. Nabokov was always looking for the laugh; Dostoevsky was more drawn to the accelerated heartbeat, the rush of blood to the head.

Dostoevsky's closest ally as a novelist is probably Emily Bronte. I thought while reading this that it's literature's greatest tragedy that Emily never got to write another novel. It's almost a complete mystery what she might have come up with. Like Emily, he dramatizes in the outer world the illicit promptings of the shadow self. Like Emily, he knows only a thin layer of cerebral paint shields us all from violence and horror. Like Emily, he's not the least interested in life's civilised arrangements, the house and garden existence. And they both mirror Shakespeare in this regard. Characters nakedly put the entirety of their being into every dramatic moment. Character is always fate.

The brothers are simplistically split into single imperatives of the human psyche: Alyosha is spirit/innocence, Mitya is sensuality and Ivan is intellect. Each of the brothers allow D to enter a different milieu of society. Aloysha surrounds himself with children and monks; Mitya with loose women and dissolute men; Ivan with progressive thinkers. You might say the three brothers combined are presented as an everyman. As always with D, his women, though relegated to background roles (historically accurate you'd have to say for the most part), are fascinating creations. This was especially evident to me as I was reading Michael Chabon at the same time whose women as a rule tend to be kind of perfunctory and less than vivid or nuanced or compelling as dramatic presences, often having no independent life outside their relationships with their men. D's women on the other hand blaze with frustrated independent aspiration.

I marvelled at the idiosyncrasies of my memory while reading this. Though I've read it twice my memory withheld all the central plot coordinates, yet I could recall various scenes as vividly as if they were a part of my own life. Made me think of Proust whose narrator seems to remember what we consider incidental details of his life rather than the big picture landmarks. There's clearly a lot of truth in this perspective.

I read a professional review of this which put forward the idea that Aloysha didn't interest Dostoevsky. I'd say this is utter baloney. For starters, the novel always benefits from his presence. He provides warmth and empathy. And then his narratives are often the most compelling - his flirtatious relationship with Lize or with the dying boy or with Zosima the elder for example.
Profile Image for Florencia.
649 reviews1,940 followers
June 17, 2019
Above all, avoid lies, all lies, especially the lie to yourself. Keep watch on your own lie and examine it every hour, every minute. And avoid contempt, both of others and of yourself: what seems bad to you in yourself is purified by the very fact that you have noticed it in yourself. And avoid fear, though fear is simply the consequence of every lie. (57)

Family. You cannot pick. You are either happy to be around them or you are stuck with them. You can choose your friends, a pet, you can choose between a blueberry muffin and a chocolate chip one, but you cannot choose your family. The combination of genetics and the social environment is simply fascinating. For example, take this ordinary Russian family. An ambitious, lascivious, ridiculous father who enjoyed alcohol in any form; a son who, at first, seemed to be the image of his father; a second son, vain and intellectual with even more questionable moral reactions; the youngest son with the kindness of a saint and the troubled soul of a common man and another weak, disturbing young man who never counted as a son. This book contains the story of every family in the world. Their struggles, their fears, their doubts, the decisions that reflect the highest and most degrading aspects of human nature.
“There is a force that will endure everything,” said Ivan, this time with a cold smirk.
“What force?”
“The Karamazov force ... the force of the Karamazov baseness.”
“To drown in depravity, to stifle your soul with corruption, is that it?”

This book contains centuries of human history. It is a major treatise on philosophy and religion. And yes, there is a lot of religion here, but even me, a person who is struggling with a lack of faith and a deep ocean of doubts and fear, can still be interested and dazzled by all this. (Unless we are talking about the "monk book". There were a couple of good things but, in general, it was the only part of the book that made me want to take a really long nap. I must admit it, in the spirit of full disclosure. And my previous naive defense about how “even” me could be interested? Yes, forget it, I know I am haunted by uncertainty and, therefore, obsessed with knowledge, no matter how limited I can be.)

“Can it be that you really hold this conviction about the consequences of the exhaustion of men’s faith in the immortality of their souls?” the elder suddenly asked Ivan Fyodorovich.
“Yes, it was my contention. There is no virtue if there is no immortality.”
“You are blessed if you believe so, or else most unhappy!”
“Maybe you’re right... ! But still, I wasn't quite joking either ... ,” Ivan Fyodorovich suddenly and strangely confessed—by the way, with a quick blush.
“You weren't quite joking, that is true. This idea is not yet resolved in your heart and torments it. But a martyr, too, sometimes likes to toy with his despair, also from despair, as it were. For the time being you, too, are toying, out of despair, with your magazine articles and drawing-room discussions, without believing in your own dialectics and smirking at them with your heart aching inside you ... The question is not resolved in you, and there lies your great grief, for it urgently demands resolution...”

A sharp observation written using such an exquisite language. You should become accustomed to that. Once you reach Book V, you will found yourself overwhelmed by the author's mesmerizing erudition.

If you're expecting an explosive plot with lots of things going on at the same time, weird twists and vampires, fights and dragons, magic and flying dogs, then this book is not for you. There is a plot, of course, but the excellence of this book lies on the writing. Dostoyevsky's trademark is his gifted ability to describe human nature using the most poignantly elegant prose known to man. His insightful points of view on almost every subject that affects all humanity are written with admirable lyricism and precision. Reading this particular writer can be rather demanding. You have to be prepared. You have to become habituated to the idea that your soul might absorb the despairing and sometimes playful beauty of his writing. And once that happens, you won't be able to forget him. Dostoyevsky has the power to defeat oblivion. He personifies an unwelcome light that illuminates every dark nook of our minds. He makes us think about what we like to see in ourselves and what we choose to hide.
Jealousy! “Othello is not jealous, he is trustful”... A truly jealous man is not like that. It is impossible to imagine all the shame and moral degradation a jealous man can tolerate without the least remorse. And it is not that they are all trite and dirty souls. On the contrary, it is possible to have a lofty heart, to love purely, to be full of self-sacrifice, and at the same time to hide under tables, to bribe the meanest people, and live with the nastiest filth of spying and eavesdropping... And one may ask what is the good of a love that must constantly be spied on, and what is the worth of a love that needs to be guarded so intensely? (293)

Besides briefly discussing the plot, I can only add I don't have favorite characters. They all annoyed me or disgusted me in the same contradictory way. But I do understand them, most of the times. I loved the dialogues—the amazing reflections while they are deciding to act against everything that is good; they know what they are about to do is wrong but they can't help it; it's in their blood—the profound remarks of our narrator and the fact that Dostoyevsky, one more time, allowed me to enter inside his characters' minds. He shares the complexity of all of them. And I'm enchanted by this man's ability to make everything beautiful, even while describing the darkest aspects of humanity, which leads me to another point.
I love reading other people's thoughts on the books I like. A certain opinion I read a while ago was about how Dostoyevsky seems to be a vicious misogynist because of the way he wrote about Smerdyakov's mother, “Stinking Lizaveta.” I try not to make out of every word written by the author, a reflection of the person he or she really is. Crime writers don't usually murder every human they find. Mystery writers don't always think that somebody's butler is up to something. In that sense, an author who writes about how a woman is mistreated by a certain part of society doesn't necessarily mean he's a vicious misogynist. He was being honest, he was displaying truth. Poor women and men were often treated like less than a human - that hasn't changed that much. Dostoyevsky described it too vividly.*
...people speak sometimes about the ‘animal’ cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to animals, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel. (193)

In conclusion, as I said before, this book contains the history of the world. A deluge of misery and wisdom waiting for the reader. The way of representing the Russian soul is the way all souls should be represented; it transcends any geographical boundary, any limitation of time. We all have many sides of the Karamazovs' nature in us. We all have demons tormenting our good judgment. We all know what we should do and, sometimes, we simply can't do it. I can't justify everything but we are humans. I want to understand, I need to. We are susceptible to failure. To negligence. To vileness, dishonesty and many other abhorrent things. Once mistakes are made, only the most fortunate ones are able to find a path toward redemption. In this book, in this Russia which portrays the world of all times, some did. And some had to endure the bitter punishments that the choices in their lives have brought upon them.
‘I love mankind,’ he said, ‘but I am amazed at myself: the more I love mankind in general, the less I love people in particular, that is, individually, as separate persons... (56)

Too human. We all hear the sounds of a ravenous solitude echoing in the dark depths of our beings; they often make us act by instinct, forgetting that we have been blessed—or doomed—with reason. Moreover, they make us forget to feel love. And that, indeed, is a faithful depiction of what hell must feel like. A hell to which we will soon arrive by repeating to ourselves: everything is permitted .

May 05, 14-Update June 17, 19
*Just another reader's opinion.
** Also on my blog.
Profile Image for Michelle.
147 reviews239 followers
November 12, 2018
“The Brothers Karamazov” has intrigued me for years. I have always been aware of the fact that it is one of the greatest novels ever written so I know I have to read it eventually. Finally, after reading it, I think I get why this is considered great literature-- and though I can't exactly say that I loved it, I admit that I don’t regret reading it.

The plot revolves around the murder of perhaps one of the most despicable characters ever created, Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov, the father of the Karamazov brothers. This detail about the book only skims the surface because this only serves as the basic architecture for Dostoevsky's philosophy. This novel isn't so much a story as: a lengthy dissertation on human nature; the issues of Dostoyevsky's day; detailed personality profiles; and digressions on every subject the author wanted to pursue, including free will, the existence of God, moral responsibility, and truth.

It's a high-minded novel full of weighty intellectual themes and Dostoevsky’s skill is unquestionable. “The Grand Inquisitor” is a supremely strange chapter , and one of the most unique things I’ve read in literature. The courtroom drama at the end of the novel, would be very hard to match in modern fiction.
And of the family—what a family! Each figure in this household (?) embodies conflicting phases of the author’s great ideas: Fyodor Karamazov, the father, is a sensualist of the lowest type imaginable; Dmitri inherits his father’s passions but is tempered by periods of misgiving; Ivan is a materialist and a cynic. He changes his mind after a severe illness, and his materialistic belief is replaced by intense spiritual curiosity; Alyosha is an idealist, lovable and loving. Dostoevsky’s discordant elements are effectively conveyed in his human characterizations.

That said, “The Brothers Karamazov” still didn’t impress me as much as I expected it to. The story started out painfully slow. In my opinion, a great novel shouldn't require readers to force themselves to stay awake for more than 1/4 of the book in order to become acquainted with initially uninteresting characters. As with the rest of the book, there were many points where Dostoevsky seemed to descend into meaningless details that, to me, did nothing to advance the plot, atmosphere, or characterization.
I feel that the author is disconnected from his audience, and he doesn't seem to care. This comes to a point where I think Dostoevsky frequently loses himself in the meshes of his own word spinning. The book goes off too many tangents and is densely verbose.
I found pages of extraordinary depth and poignancy but they are few and far in between. I find it hard to connect with any of the characters since their personalities are diluted by the manic and morbidly intense verbal flow. Half the book was one of the Karamazovs talking on and on, uninterrupted to an audience as silent and passive as the reader. I frequently spaced out and have to backtrack. I eventually found myself reading this book in a grim desire to finish it and be done, rather than out of a sense of enjoyment.
I admired author's insights into human nature, but all too often, he seemed to make grand proclamations arbitrarily that have little evidence behind them. As if by declaring them with confidence he somehow made them true beyond question. And for whatever unaccountable reason, his preoccupations landed like a relic in my own life. My feelings can be aptly described by Rosewater’s words in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five”:

“There is one other book, that can teach you everything you need to know about life... it's The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, but that's not enough anymore.”

I still think it’s worth the read, and there is always something to be earned from reading the books of great authors who influenced other great authors. And besides, no matter what my opinion is, Ol’ Dusty is still going strong!
Profile Image for Seemita.
180 reviews1,614 followers
May 25, 2017
I finished reading this book at precisely 0205 hours today. The night still lay majestically over the impending dawn, and in its blackened stillness, swayed the echoes of this imperious book. The walls of my room, at once, turned into a fortress for Dostoevsky’s army of thoughts, and I, right in the middle of it, found myself besieged with its diverse, haphazard but mighty blizzard.

I am no stranger to this rambling Russian’s precocious visions and forbearance and yet, and yet, this work, swells much beyond even his own creator and spills over…. well, almost, everything.

A maniacal land-owner is murdered and one of his three sons is the prime suspect. Thus, ensues a murder trial and in its fold, fall hopelessly and completely, the lives of all the three brothers – the brothers Karamazov.

A life, when spans a trajectory both long and substantial, ends up writing a will that is both personal and universal. A notebook of reflections, a source of knowledge, an oasis of love and a mirror of perpetuity. And may I dare say that for D, this might well be a biography, which he, in his quintessential mercurial satire, chose to write himself, under the garb of fiction.

Dmitri, Ivan and Alyosha present the very tenets on which life gets lived, or even more, passed on. The impulsive and emotional Dmitri, the calculative and intelligent Ivan and the naïve and spiritual Alyosha represent the microcosm of a society which wagers war on the name of religion, status, power, values and ideals. And D takes each of these causes and drills, and drills, and drills even more, their various interpretations.

Religion, and church, take centre stage for a good 350 pages of this work. Amid homilies and confessions, monasteries and surrender, is pushed disturbing ideals that can rock one’s faith.
If you are surrounded by spiteful and callous people who do not want to listen to you, fall down before them and ask for their forgiveness, for the guilt is yours too, that they do not want to listen to you. And if you cannot speak with the embittered, serve them silently and in humility, never losing hope. And if everyone abandons you and drives you out by force, then, when, you are left alone fall down on the earth and kiss it and water it with your tears, and the earth will bring forth fruit from your tears, even though no one has seen or heard you in your solitude.
Aye, aye, I hear you, D and while some of it makes so much sense to my theist heart, some of it look outright suicidal. But why again, am I tempted to always, measure the righteousness, even lesser, the likeability, of my action from the perspective of my audience? Why make an ideal on a bed that doesn’t smell of my skin? I go to the board and think.

Philosophising, as he does with such ease and amiability, isn’t without unleashing a thundering dose of dichotomies. He steals the mirror from my room and turns it towards me: 'Oh, so you believe in the good? How nice! But, well, then, how come the devil lurks in the dark corners of your room? No? You don’t agree with me? Oh where does all the cursing and ill-will spring from that you aim, with such precise ferocity, towards the people you don’t quite find to your liking? From where does all the impiety and malice, that you secretly drink with panache, emerge from leaving you intoxicated for hours, if not days?' Sheepishly, I dig the chalk a little deeper into the board, and think.

And while I grope to find answers to his questions, I cheat and fall back on his treatise for hints, and insights.
You know, Lise, it’s terribly difficult for an offended man when everyone suddenly starts looking like his benefactor.
Why might a fallen man, a beggar, still keep a flame of dignity burning in his heart? Why might a harangued father, drive away his heirs from money, while spending his whole life hoarding for them? Why might a pauper, throw away his last penny on trifles, despite carrying a clear picture of his imminent doom in his eyes? Why might a pure heart, deliberately dirty his soul with pungent secrets, knowing there were no ways to erase them? Because deep down, what bind us, irrespective of our backgrounds, are the same threads: love, jealousy, ambition, hatred, revenge, repentance. In various forms, they dwell in us, and drive us, to give their formless matter, shape in different people, in different ways, at different places and in different times. I write a few words on the board and pause to ponder.

But, make no mistake; D turns the mirror on himself too and takes digs on his own character, because, after all, what life have we lived if we didn’t learn to laugh at ourselves? Laugh, yes; ah yes! There is plenty of humor ingrained, albeit surreptitiously, in this dense text and works like a lovely whiff of cardamom wafting over a cup of strong tea.
Ivan Fyodorovich, my most respectful son, allow me to order you to follow me!
There, I made a smiley on the board. I dropped the chalk and wondered: what created so much debate (and furore perhaps) when this book was first published in the 19th century? And then, I realized – even without my knowledge, my fingers had imparted two horns to the smiley’s rotund face. Yes, now that image surely needs to be questioned.

But do ask these questions. Do take the plunge into this deep sea of psychology and philosophy. Do feel the thuds of paradoxes and dualities on your soul. Do allow the unknown elements of orthodoxy and modernism to pucker your skin. Do allow some blood to trickle. Do allow some scars to heal. Because
No, gentlemen of the jury, they have their Hamlets, but so far we have only Karamazovs!”
That’s what!


Also on my blog.
Profile Image for Kenny.
507 reviews937 followers
December 18, 2021
“Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
Fyodor Dostoevsky ~~ The Brothers Karamazov

This was my introduction to Russian Literature at the age of 14. I remember buying this at a flea market one weekend for $0.50, & feeling very adult since I would be reading a "Russian Novel." Dostoyevsky started a love affair with Russian literature that exists to this day. Oh, and as for the novel, it's one of the best I’ve ever read.

Profile Image for Warwick.
844 reviews14.6k followers
Want to read
December 15, 2018
Sometimes I feel like modern covers have gone too far.
Profile Image for Fernando.
684 reviews1,127 followers
September 29, 2016
"La cuestión principal que se tratará en todas las partes de este libro es la misma que me ha hecho sufrir consciente o inconscientemente: la existencia de Dios."

Esta frase resume toda la epopeya karamazoviana que Fiódor Dostoievski encarara a final de su vida en esta obra literaria monumental y que le llevara tres años de apretada y sufrida elaboración. Dostoievski, que había tenido una vida plena de emociones iba a culminar su propia carrera con un libro perfecto, más allá de que tenía pensado elaborar una segunda parte del mismo que se iba a llamar “Los niños”, aunque la muerte lo alcanzaría a los 59 años y para posicionarlo merecidamente en el sitio de uno de los más grandes escritores de toda la literatura universal.

“Los Hermanos Karamazov” comenzó a ser publicado por capítulos en “El Mensajero Ruso” y editado definitivamente como libro en noviembre 1880, un año antes de su deceso, cerrando con lazos de oro su brillante carrera literaria.
No hay forma alguna de abstraerse de semejante tour-de-force literario que implica leer Los Hermanos Karamazov y es evidente que Dostoievski puso absolutamente todos sus conocimientos, vivencias, alegrías, tristezas, creencias, miedos y esperanzas en esta obra descomunal. Usualmente, al rememorar los más grandes libros que nos dio la literatura rusa nos vienen primero a la cabeza “La Guerra y la Paz” y “Anna Karenina", ambos de Lev Tolstói y es precisamente a este último al que Dostoievski calificaba “una obra de arte perfecta.” Personalmente, me es indispensable agregar a estos dos libros antes citados, éste libro que estoy reseñando junto con “Crimen y Castigo” y además sumaría a esa lista otros clásicos como “Almas Muertas” de Nikólai Gógol o “Eugenio Oneguin” de Alexandr Pushkin, esa especie de semidiós que representaba el padre de las letras rusas para Dostoievski.

Es imposible despegar a Los Hermanos Karamazov de la resonancia que tuvo en la sociedad rusa de la época, tan convulsionada ya a esas alturas de la dinastía zarista que iba en declive a partir de 1870. Gran parte del pensamiento ruso comenzaba a cambiar, incluso habían aparecido sendos grupos revolucionarios nihilistas que estallaban contra el sistema sus ideas de rebeldía y caos. Esto es algo que Dostoievski anticipara en su libro “Los Demonios” de 1872 a través de personajes como Piotr Verjovenski, Nikólai Stravroguin o Alexéi Kirilov. El nihilismo, mezclado con altas dosis de ateísmo fervoroso y convulsión social entre los jóvenes de la época tarde o temprano iría a desembocar en una verdadera revolución que explotaría literalmente en 1917 con la caída del imperio zarista para dar luz (u oscuridad) a otro período que Rusia conocería a partir del siglo XX.

Considero que en general, la idea que mantuvo presente Dostoievski en “Los Hermanos Karamazov” fue la de incluir absolutamente todos los aspectos de los que se componía la sociedad rusa, aquella que había defendido Pushkin y que habían infectado los “occidentalistas” con Turguéniev a la cabeza, intentando europeizar las raíces de un pueblo que nunca pudo congeniar con las ideas de Europa. Esto hizo que la literatura y los intelectuales de la época giraran a aspectos e ideales que nunca habían pasado por la mente y los corazones de los rusos. A mi entender, fue muy importante la acérrima defensa que autores como Dostoievski o Tolstoi hicieron de la cultura rusa ante el avance de ideas que chocaban contra la realidad que atravesaba Rusia y que este país en cierta manera no aceptaba.

Dostoievski sabía que podía incluir todos los elementos posibles en la elaboración del nudo argumental en su libro y que además, podía contar con todos los estratos sociales de su amada Rusia. Es asombroso descubrir que en este libro nos encontraremos con cinco (no tres) personalidades distintas, a saber, la del padre Fiódor Pávlovich Karamazov, sus hijos Alexéi “Aliósha” Fiodoróvich, Iván Fiodoróvich, Dmitri “Mitia” Fiodoróvich y la de Pavel “Smerdiakov”, el lacayo e hijo no reconocido de Fiódor Karamazov. A su vez, aparecerán otros personajes claves para la historia como lo son Katerina Ivanovna, Agrafievna “Grushenka” Aleksándrovna, el Stárets Zósima, Lisaveta Smerdiáshaia, Ippolit Kirilovich, el pequeño Illiusha, “Kolia” Krasotkin, Rakitin y tantos otros.

No voy a hacer un estudio de perfil psicológico de los tres hermanos, puesto que de eso se encarga magistralmente el autor durante toda su obra, pero sí puedo dar unas leves pinceladas de cada uno de ellos y de otros personajes que son los más importantes durante la lectura de este libro.

En el caso del padre, Fiódor Pávlovich Karamazov, podemos encontrarnos rápidamente con un ser frío, déspota, desamorado, que nunca quiso hacerse cargo de sus hijos (“cuanto más lejos, mejor, que los cuide el criado Grígori). Sumamente borracho y déspota y con una avaricia devoradora que haría poner colorado al personaje de Molière y al padre de Eugènie Grandet. Se cree que este personaje tiene una conexión directa con el propio padre de Dostoievski, quien fuera supuestamente asesinado por sus siervos debido a su crueldad sin medida, algo que Dostoievski siempre recordaba de su infancia. Probablemente todo esto haya influido en la creación de este personaje tan importante en la novela.
“En el cielo Dios, en la patria el Zar, en la casa el Padre”, reza un tratado espiritual de la época del zar Iván "el terrible” y pone en el candelero el tema de lo que la figura de padre representa para nosotros a través de la historia por la cuestión del parricidio que luego se transformará durante el juicio en el eje de las exposiciones del fiscal Ippolit Kirilóvich y del célebre abogado defensor Fetiukóvich.

Iván Fiodoróvich Karamazov es compasivo al principio del libro, mantiene firme sus ideales y su particular visión acerca de la duda sobre la existencia o no de Dios: ”Si Dios no existe, todo está permitido”, posee un profundo existencialismo y una alta filosofía. Pero este hombre comenzará a tener un desmoronamiento mental que desdibujará lo que al principio del libro vemos de él.
Hay dos capítulos esenciales en el libro que involucran a Iván y que hasta se pueden leer como libros separados y son “El Gran Inquisidor” y “El Diablo. La pesadilla de Iván Karamazov”. Sobre el primero pueden leer mi reseña aquí en goodreads y no voy a explayarme porque habla por sí misma. Es aquí donde toma fuerza la frase de Dostoievski sobre la existencia o no de Dios. Y vaya que tenía forma de plantearla…
Para ello, Dostoievski nos prepara en el capítulo previo al Inquisidor, llamado “Rebelión”, ese en donde expone el planteo moral y religioso y sobre lo destructivo de la injusticia y crueldad de los hombres, es acaloradamente expuesto en esa charla con Aliósha.
La pesadilla de Iván y el Diablo es sencillamente de antología. Dostoievski, en este encuentro casi real que sufre Iván nos recuerda al desdoblamiento que sufriera otro atormentado héroe dostoievskiano, el señor Goliadkin de su segunda novela, “El Doble”. Esa declaración de principios que realiza el Diablo solamente puede salir de una pluma tan genial como la de este escritor y no tiene nada que envidiarle ni a Dante, ni al Mefistófeles del Fausto de Goethe ni al Lucifer de Milton y es imposible que Mijaíl Bulgákov no se haya maravillado con este capítulo. Me arriesgaría a decir que lo leyó como inspiración para su Voland en “El Maestro y Margarita”.

Aliósha Karamazov es junto con su hermano Dmitri quien domina gran parte del espacio del libro y ambos los más importantes, en primer lugar por su relación directa con su protector espiritual, el Stárets Zósima, pero además porque es el propio Dostoievski quien comienza a contar la historia ”Al comenzar la historia de mi héroe, Alexéi Fiodoróvich Karamazov…” y aquí nuevamente una implicancia autobiográfica del autor, puesto que en Aliósha Dostoievski le rinde homenaje a su hijo fallecido, que también se llamaba Alexéi. Dostoievski lo llama "mi héroe".
Hay señales de que Dostoievski buscó delinear en él la figura de Cristo que no tuvo la solidez que pretendía para el Príncipe Mishkin. Sus carácter reflexivo, su humildad y el "poner constantemente la otra mejilla", su intento de ayudar al prójimo, su férrea creencia en Dios y en las actitudes cristianas más solidarias son sus cualidades más sobresalientes. Su amor incondicional con sus hermanos (especialmente con Dmitri) lo posicionarán en el ser más espiritual de esta familia tan particular.
Hay episodios en el libro en el que aprendemos sobre lo maravilloso que es “ser humano”, puesto que las experiencias que atraviesa Aliósha son edificantes: todo lo que tiene que ver con el Stárets Zósima lo marcarán a fuego, su anécdota con Snieguiriov, el padre de Iliusha, la especial y fraternal relación con este niño enfermo, los diálogos con sus hermanos, interceder con Katia Ivanovna y Grushenka para llegar a soluciones dentro del caos que se desata a mitad del libro, son algunos de los ejemplos de la importancia que este personaje posee.

En tercer lugar, nos encontramos con Dmitri Karamazov, de una vida disoluta, es pendenciero, impulsivo y desenfrenado y vive siempre con grandes deudas de dinero producto de su hedonismo desmesurado. Un ser sin control que despilfarra dinero mientras reniega de la herencia que su padre no le concede. Su violenta enemistad con Fiódor Karamazov lo llevará a vivir las escenas más difíciles y desgarradoras del libro. Su personalidad no lo ayuda, su impulsividad de caballo desbocado lo hará caer en lo más bajo y degradante que le hará auto proclamarse “infame”. El mundo se le volverá en contra y conocerá el sufrimiento, la desesperación y el pecado. Deambulará entre Grushenka y Katerina Ivanovna, a quien el propio Dostoievski definía como "Una criatura que no vive, sino que se pasa la vida cavilando". Tendrá las ideas más radicales, esas que se le atravesaran alguna vez a Rodion Raskólnikov y fermentarán la idea de matar en su cabeza. Porque no queda otra solución a su problema que matar. Algunas de las mejores frases del libro le pertenecen a él. Son contundentes, maravillosas y ejemplificadoras, aunque procedan del personaje más polémico del libro: "Yo creo que si el Diablo no existe y es entonces el hombre el que lo creó, lo creó a su imagen y semejanza.”

El caso de Smérdiakov es clave para el desarrollo de la historia. Su participación en el crimen es vital, demasiado crucial e importante. Es un ser con cierto rencor en su corazón por su condición de lacayo cuando sostiene que podría haber sido un Karamazov. Sabemos que el hijo bastardo de Fiódor Pávlovich es totalmente taimado y sumiso a su padrastro. Sus cruces con Mitia o Iván serán tremendos y en ellos se desentrañará el nudo de la intriga que nos ofrece el autor.

Por último, nos encontramos con el más importante de todos: Fiódor Mijáilovich Dostoievski.
Se preguntarán por qué sostengo esto: yo siempre he estado de acuerdo con el teórico Mijaíl Bajtín acerca de que Dostoievski es el inventor de la novela polifónica, que se hace un costado, casi desaparece como autor y deja a sus personajes la exposición de sus ideas como estandarte para que todas ellas armen como engranajes el motor de la historia principal.
En este libro he podido descubrir otro Dostoievski. Un autor que decidió meterse de lleno en la ficción desde lo real a partir de lo experimentado en su vida y transformado en enseñanza para todos nosotros. Este autor maravilloso, único e irrepetible que agradezco a Dios haber conocido me enseñó sobre la vida como si fuera mi propio padre.
Dostoievski es el Stárets Zósima, por sus lecciones espirituales en oposición al ateísmo reinante en esa época y que se extienden hasta nuestros días siguiendo el camino de Cristo como única fuente de fe: ”Sólo es necesaria una semilla diminuta: arrójala al alma simple del hombre y no morirá, va a vivir en su alma toda la vida, va a ocultarse en él en medio de las tinieblas, en medio del hedor de sus pecados, como un punto luminoso, como una gran advertencia”.

Dostoievski puede transformarse en un férreo fiscal acusador devenido en Ippolit Kirilóvich, quien me hará reflexionar acerca del crimen y de todo el castigo que ello me puede causar. La exposición que hace durante el juicio es contundente, pero también se pone las investiduras Fetiukóvich, el abogado defensor de la injusticia. Él defenderá a capa y espada la inocencia de su cliente y nos reconfortará el hecho de saber que nos custodiará hasta el final, hasta que llegue la verdad.

Y Dostoievski también puede personificar al Diablo con una versatilidad inusitada para dar su propia versión de los hechos ante un alucinado Iván: ”“Pero Dios mío, yo ni siquiera pretendo compararme contigo en inteligencia. Mefistófeles, al aparecérsele a Fausto, testimonió sobre sí mismo que él quiere el mal pero sólo hace el bien. Bueno, como a él le parezca. Yo, al contrario, quizás sea la única persona en toda la naturaleza que ama la verdad y desea sinceramente el bien.”
Hay también en el libro otra frase que define con exactitud a los hermanos Karamazov y la dice el fiscal Kirilóvich:
”Dos abismos, señores, ¡recuerden la naturaleza karamazoviana de mezclar todos los puestos posibles y contemplar a la vez ambos abismos, el abismo sobre nosotros, el abismo de los ideales superiores y el abismo debajo de nosotros, el abismo de la más baja y fétida caída!”

Su último libro, su obra cumbre es a la vez el último libro que me faltaba leer de él. Puedo levantar la cabeza, mirar hacia atrás y decir orgulloso que he leído toda su obra, que he aprendido y que soy otro a partir de él. Este no es un libro sobre la vida de tres hermanos y un padre.
Es un libro sobre la vida misma.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,633 followers
April 21, 2021
I have read this book three or four times in both English and French translations. In English, grab the Volonhovsky one. I cannot even begin to describe how awesome this book is. If for no other reason than Ivan's two chapters and especially for the Grand Inquisitor, this book is clearly in the upper reaches of the greatest literature ever written in any language. The range of personalities, emotions, and reactions of the various characters - all so fully developed and realistic in that specific Dostoyevsky way - makes the plot move along so very quickly. One's sympathies shift as we vilify Fyodor and idolise Aliosha at first but then we start to feel a bit sorry for Fyodor and resent Aliosha's naïveté as we learn about Misha and Ivan...

There is just so much in this novel to love. This is one of those desert-island books without which the human race would be poorer.

Also highly recommended is Joseph Frank's excellent biography of Dostoyevski if you wish to understand why this book was his last and his greatest.

Ivan's chapters about unbaptized children and The Grand Inquisitor are among the greatest chapters I have ever read, absolutely spell-binding and critical for today's world of "alternative facts" and disdain of objectivity.

Just finished this again, but in audio format. Always so exhilarating!
Profile Image for Ilenia Zodiaco.
267 reviews14k followers
November 24, 2015
Con qualche licenza poetica, da piccolo demone quale io sono, rigorosamente in disordine (“amate il disordine?”).

Un personaggio ha un minimo di sei nomi.
Tutti odiano Fedor Pavlovic. Hanno ragione.
Tremila rubli.
Pasticcio di pesce (quasi sempre freddo).
Il sangue dei Karamazov porta sfiga.
“Anche in te che sei un angelo vive questo insetto e suscita nel tuo sangue delle tempeste”.
L’eredità va sudata.
Caccia i tremila rubli o succede un bordello.
Gente ubriaca.
Dio esiste. Forse.
Dio non esiste.
E Gesù?
E allora i bambini?
“Tutto è permesso”. Con la coscienza degli altri.
Questo è figlio di quale delle trentotto madri?
"Una belva non può esser mai crudele come un uomo, così raffinatamente, così artisticamente crudele". Vero.
Lo starec fa miracoli.
Lo starec dice cose sulla sua vita (leggermente peso ma ok).
Lo starec fa puzza, Alesa è turbato.
Il classico momento: “mo’ chi è questo?” (problema manifestatosi già da pagina 30).
Il calvario di un’anima. Tribolazione prima (e poi a seguire).
Smerdjakov suona le serenate (secondo me, è innamorato di Ivan).
Il grande inquisitore. Resistete.
Ivan è intelligente e laconico. Non ha preso dal padre.
Grusenka urla (Grusenka è diminuitivo di Agrafena, per qualche motivo…).
La febbre nervosa.
“è libero un uomo simile?”. Non è una domanda.
I tremila rubli.
La febbre cerebrale.
I cinquemila rubli.
La crisi isterica.
Malattie varie (tra cui alcune paralisi).
I lavori in miniera.
Grusenka, sei tu? O è il vento?
I segnali alla porta. Fedor, c’hai un’età, sei ridicolo. Mi pari Berlusconi, mi pari.
Maniaci, ossessionati, indemoniati. Insomma, la gente non si sente tanto bene.
Non ha cacciato i tremila rubli e succede il bordello.
Tutti si credono Sherlok Holmes.
Katja o Grusa? Ambarabaciccicoccò.
L’attacco epilettico di tre giorni. L’alibi di topo gigio.
Bambini si tirano sassi. Anche loro con problemi comportamentali.
Tutti a casa della signora Chochlakova, festa a sbarco.
In provincia le porte degli appartamenti sempre aperte, open bar, tutta notte.
L’unica porta chiusa è quella che vede Grigorij (mortaccitua).
“Detestava le tenerezze vitelline”. In compenso amava molto i binari.
“Vile, vile, vile!”.
Dimitrij, che cazzo fai, buon’anima? (buono sempre).
Dannata coscienza.
I due abissi. Sopra e sotto. Senza scampo.
"I rettili si divorano a vicenda".
Dio esiste. Oppure no.
Gesù c’entra, comunque.
M’ama o non m’ama?
“Ho scoperto il mio caro Alesa in flagrante gesuitismo”.
Ve l’avevo detto che Gesù c’entrava.
“Non sei tu che l’hai ucciso”.
Dire a cani e porci di volersi macchiare di parricidio.
“Non sono colpevole del sangue di mio padre” (mo’ è tardi).
“Credi che io l’abbia ucciso?” (eri tu quello che gridava “al lupo, al lupo”).
Scrivere lettere ad ex amanti incazzate confessando di voler uccidere il proprio padre (bravo).
“Non sei tu che l’hai ucciso”.
Ho stato io.
Un uomo nuovo.
"Disperazione e pentimento sono due cose completamente diverse". Vero.
Rakitin è un po’ Alfonso Signorini.
Lise, lo Xanax l’hai provato?
Il processo. (Sarà doloroso).
I tremila rubli.
I millecinquecento rubli.
Testimoni esagitati.
Testimoni ubriachi.
Bordello in aula.
In fondo tutti vogliamo uccidere il papà, non c’è bisogno di prendersela tanto.
Perry Mason.
“Avete la testa a posto?”. “Certo che ce l’ho a posto…ed è una testa ignobile”.
I lavori in Siberia (immancabili).
Ancora rubli.
“Che tu mi perdoni o no, resterai per tutta la vita nella mia anima come una piaga”. E questo è certo, Katja.
L’America (ma che c’annamo a fà in ameriga? poi che famo? siamo russi fino al midollo)
Si è trovato il cane mangiachiodi?
Ammaestrare il cane.
Umiliati, offesi e trascinati per la barba.
Funerali e grossi lacrimoni.
I bambini sono innocenti.
"C'è Dio, sì o no?".

Ho voluto fare caciara. La verità è che questo romanzo è tutto. Fede, Libertà, coscienza, invidia, disgusto, desiderio, fratellanza, vizio, amore, Mistero, Bene, Male, Assoluto, Altro.
October 26, 2020
Αδελφοί Καραμάζοφ: η τέλεια τραγωδία.
Ένα έργο ευσυνείδητης μεγαλοφυΐας, αποκορύφωση, διακριτή ως επίτευγμα στην υπαρξιακή παράδοση της ανθρωπότητας και στα παγκόσμια λογοτεχνικά πρόσωπα.

Η πατρίδα όλων των ανθρώπων βρίσκεται σίγουρα στην καρδιά αυτών των μεγάλων τραγωδιών.

Τρομάζει το μεγαλείο που κρύβεται μέσα σ’αυτό το βιβλίο. Μια φανταστική ύφανση πολυπλοκότητας κατακλύζει πλήρως τον αναγνώστη κατά τη διάρκεια της εξέλιξης.
Η αλληλεπίδραση είναι τόσο απλή και φυσική σαν να συμμετέχεις στην πλοκή της ιστορίας παρέα με τους υπέροχα δημιουργημένους χαρακτήρες φθάνοντας απο κάποιο σημείο και μετά να θεωρείται αυτονόητο πως είσαι μέρος της ζωής τους.
Αυτό βέβαια δεν είναι τόσο εύκολο όσο ακούγεται. Ο Ντόστο σε πετάει σε απροσμέτρητα βάθη με τη γραφή του, όσο προσπαθείς να αποστασιοποιηθείς ως αντικειμενικός αναγνώστης, τόσο περισσότερο σέλιδα τη σελίδα σε κατακαίει μια αχνιστή λογοτεχνική τελειότητα που σε αφήνει άφωνο και κατάπληκτο.
Πως μπόρεσε αυτός ο μύστης να γράψει με τέτοιο βάθος για την ανθρώπινη ψυχική άβυσσο, πως δημιούργησε μια τέτοια ομορφιά γεμάτη καρδιακές θραύσεις και οδυνηρές ιδέες.
Γαντζώνεσαι απο μια δυστυχισμένη γοητεία και γίνεσαι έρμαιο των περιστάσεων ως την τελευταία σελίδα.

Άπειρες φορές ένιωσα πως θέλω άμεσα να επέμβω στα γεγονότα. Να βοηθήσω, να παρηγορήσω, να φιλήσω παιδικά δακρυσμένα μάγουλα, να εμπόδισω το θάνατο και το σπαραγμό, να φωνάξω οργισμένη την αλήθεια, να πετάξω μέσα στο κενό τους τις εγωιστικά ηλίθιες, χαμένες αριστοκρατικές φιγούρες που προκαλούσαν πόνο, να ζεστάνω ψυχές, να χαμογελάσω διώχνοντας τη θλίψη, να προειδοποιήσω, να συμφωνήσω, να αγκαλιάσω την απόγνωση και να διώξω την απελπισία. Άπειρες φορές.
Τόσο πολύ που κουράστηκα, και ως ανήμπορη μπροστά στα τεκταινόμενα απλώς έκλαιγα ή γελούσα, με το μαύρο ζοφερό χιουμορ, εκ περιτροπής.

Ο μεγαλύτερος συγγραφέας ψυχών όλων των εποχών ο Ντόστο, δημιουργεί ένα έργο πολιτικής, ψυχολογικής, κοιν��νιολογικής, φιλοσοφικής και θεϊκής σκέψης, το οποίο ταυτίζεται ως αληθές σε χώρες και λαούς παγκόσμιας κλίμακας.

Οι αδελφοί Καραμάζοφ είναι ο πυρήνας πολλών ιστοριών. Ουσιαστικά είναι ένα επιβλητικό έπος που σαρώνει αλήθειες και ψέμματα της ζωής και της ανθρώπινης μοίρας. Αποκαλύπτει, εξηγεί, μετριάζει, περιπλανιέται μέσα στη ζοφερή πραγματικότητα που αντανακλάει τα αιώνια αναπάντητα ερωτήματα της ζωής.
Η πίστη κυριαρχεί και άρχει μέσα στην ιστορία, ποτέ όμως ως δόγμα πάντα ως απαντοχή στην δυστυχία της δημιουργίας του κόσμου.
Ενός κόσμου που δεν ειναι τέλειος. Δεν θα γίνει ποτέ. Ενός κόσμου που χωρις θεό δεν έχει όρια και φραγμούς δεν μπορεί να συνεχίσει να υπάρχει επομένως ο θεός δημιουργείται απο τον άνθρωπο όπως και ο διάβολος.

Έτσι πρέπει. Έτσι θα κρατηθούν οι συμπαντικές ισορροπίες. Όταν κλείνεις την πόρτα στη φυσική νομοτέλεια του καλού και του κακού ως αμάγαλμα σύνθεσης της ζωής αυτή σίγουρα θα μπει απο το παράθυρο με περισσότερη ορμή και οργή.

Αριστουργηματική η στιχομυθία του σατανά με έναν απο τους αδελφούς, όπως επίσης και η ιστορία του μέγα ιεροεξεταστή που καίει στην πυρά τον Χριστό για να σώσει την ανθρωπότητα απο το βάρος της απόλυτης ελευθερίας.

Η ιστορία που κυριαρχεί είναι απλοϊκή.
Ένας άξεστος, αδίστακτος, χαμένος μέσα στα πάθη του γαιοκτήμονας εκπροσωπεί την πατρική φιγούρα Καραμάζοφ.
Οι τρεις γιοί του απο δυο διαφορετικούς γάμους και οι υπηρέτες τους αποτελούν τον κορμό του οικογενειακού δράματος.
Κλοπή. Φόνος. Δική.
Εξελίσσεται αργά και βασανιστικά η εξιστόρηση πολλών γεγονότων που απεικονίζουν όλη τη χαμέρπεια και την μεγαλοψυχία των ανθρωπίνων συναισθημάτων και κινήτρων.
Πολλοί δευτερεύοντες χαρακτήρες που κρίνονται απαραίτητοι για να μας δωθούν σε ισάριθμες δόσεις η ζήλεια, η αγάπη, ο πόνος, η απανθρωπιά, η φτώχεια, οι αρρώστειες,ο θάνατος,το ερωτικό πάθος που κινεί τα νήματα και η ευλογία της βαθύτερης κατανόησης του συνανθρώπου.
Το βιβλίο αυτό είναι μια παγκόσμια κοινωνία, είναι ο ίδιος ο Ντοστογιέφσκι, είναι αυτός, σε ένα βιβλίο. Γύρω του οργισμένες φιγούρες ουρλιάζουν, κλοτσούν, σκέφτονται και προσεύχονται.

Ο συγγραφέας πραγματοποιεί έναν προσωπικό άθλο. Αν είναι μάταιος ή επιτυχημένος δεν κρίθηκε ακόμη. Δεν νομίζω πως θα αξιολογηθ��ί ποτέ. Δεν υπάρχουν κριτήρια.

Ανεβαίνει -γράφοντας- την πλαγιά ενός πανύψηλου απόκρημνου βουνού. Απο κάτω η γήινη άβυσσος, πάνω, στα δυσθεώρητα ύψη, η ουράνια άβυσσος, εκεί που αναπνέει ο Θεός. Προσπαθεί να αναρριχηθεί για να φτάσει στην κορυφή, να δει τον ορίζοντα και να γράψει πάνω σε αυτόν τα όνειρα του για μια πιο δίκαιη και στοχαστική κοινωνία.
Ξαφνικά γλιστράει σε μια τρελή πτώση με τον διάβολο και βυθίζεται στην γήινη άβυσσο. Δεν απελπίζεται. Γεμάτος σκοτεινή ενέργεια και αναρχία αρχίζει πάλι
-γράφοντας-την αναρρίχηση προς τον ορίζοντα, θέλει να τα πει όλα, θέλει να πιστέψει, θέλει να ακούσει την αναπνοή του θεού.
Κάθε φορά που πέφτει μυείται σε έναν μυστικισμό και ψάχνει να βρει απαντήσεις στον πόνο του ανθρώπου. Συνεχίζει να γράφει, να μας παίρνει μαζί του σε αυτή τη σισύφεια προσπάθεια. Παγιδεύεται σε όλα τα πάθη και τα λάθη κατά την ανάβαση και μαζί του και μεις, που ίσως κάπου χάνουμε την ελπίδα, έρχεται η απογοήτευση.
Ο αναγνώστης κουράζεται, ο συγγραφέας γεμάτος ενέργεια οδηγείται στην αποδιοργάνωση, μα δεν σταματάει να γράφει και αυτό ακριβώς κάνει το βιβλίο τούτο αξεχαστο.
Όντας αποδιοργανωμένος δεν παύει να χτίζει με την πένα του υπόβαθρα και μία τεράστια μεταφυσική, υπαρξιακή, ψυχολογική υπό-δομή για να μπορέσει να σταθεί ο αναγνώστης.
Όσο για τον ίδιο, συνεχίζει την ανάβαση ,θέλει πάση θυσία να κρεμάσει στον υπερβατικό ορίζοντα τα κάδρα της φιλοσοφίας και των πεποιθήσεων του. Ακυρώνει την πίστη όταν η σωτηρία της ψυχής δέχεται την ακραία και άδικη ταλαιπωρία των παιδιών και των αδύναμων, όμως δεν επικροτεί την αθεΐα.
Σε όλο το έργο του Ντοστογιέφσκι επικρατεί εξαιρετική τήρηση αναλογιών.
Η πίστη, η δουλεία, η αθεΐα, η αδιαφορία, η πραότητα, τα αρνητικά ένστικτα και οι παρορμήσεις συγκρούονται.

Η παραπλάνηση ανοίγει την πόρτα στους εφιάλτες και χάνεται η λογική και το νόημα. Όλα τα πλάσματα εκτός απο τα ανθρώπινα όντα γνωρίζουν το μονοπάτι που πρέπει να ακολουθήσουν.

Στο τέλους του βιβλίου υπερισχύει η δήλωση πίστης, η υπόσχεση αγάπης και μεγαλοπρέπειας.
Επικρατεί μια όμορφη εκστατική ατμόσφαιρα ελπίδας, όμως κατά τη γνώμη μου δεν εξαλείφεται η αμφιβολία, η τραγωδία, η ειρωνεία και η αμφιθυμία που χαρακτηρίζουν αυτό το ορόσημο της παγκόσμιας λογοτεχνίας.

Καλή ανάγνωση
Πολλούς ασπασμούς.

*Είτε διαβάσατε όσα έγραψα,είτε όχι, λίγη σημασία έχει.

Profile Image for BookHunter محمد.
1,431 reviews3,348 followers
October 16, 2022
أَفَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ وَأَضَلَّهُ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ عِلْمٍ وَخَتَمَ عَلَىٰ سَمْعِهِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَجَعَلَ عَلَىٰ بَصَرِهِ غِشَاوَةً فَمَن يَهْدِيهِ مِن بَعْدِ اللَّهِ ۚ أَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ (23) وَقَالُوا مَا هِيَ إِلَّا حَيَاتُنَا الدُّنْيَا نَمُوتُ وَنَحْيَا وَمَا يُهْلِكُنَا إِلَّا الدَّهْرُ ۚ وَمَا لَهُم بِذَٰلِكَ مِنْ عِلْمٍ ۖ إِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَظُنُّونَ (24)
سورة الجاثية

الأب المؤمن بالمادية الذي ليس له حظا من الأبوة إلا أن الله رزقه بالولد و ليس له حظ من الإنسانية إلا شهوات دنسته و دنست من يخالطهم أما الأبناء فقد انقسموا إلى ثلاثة نماذج مختلفة من الخارج متطابقة من الداخل و لا عجب في ذلك فقد كان ديستيوفسكي يصور لنا الإنسان بكل تناقضاته
“الانسان متى جحد المعجزة أسرع يجحد الرب. لأن ظمأه هو إلى العجائب لا إلى الرب. وإنه لكونه لا يستطيع أن يحيا بغير معجزات سيخلق هو بنفسه معجزات أقوى . فهوى . ولو كان متمردا كافرا ملحدا . إلى خرافات سخيفة . تنطلي عليه أباطيل السحرة وخزعبلاتهم.
انك لم تنزل عن الصليب حين دعاك الجمهورإلى ذلك صائحا "انزل عن الصليب فنصدق أنك أنت" . انك لم تنزل لأنك لم تشأ أن تستعبد البشر بالمعجزة. وانما أردت أن يجيؤوا إليك بدافع الايمان . لا بدافع العجائب. كنت تريد أن يهبوا إليك محبتهم أحرارا لا أن ينصاعوا إليك عبيدا أذهلتهم قوتك.”
هل آفة البشر الغباء أم أنه الفضيلة بعينها؟
“ما أكثر الشرفاء عن غباوة..”
لقد طال شرح هذا الموضوع في عدة مجلدات تجاوزت الآلاف منذ بدء الخليقة و لا زالت الكلمة تجري و ستجري أبد الدهر و هذا هو الغباء بعينه أن نسمع و لا نعي و أن نعيا بما نسمع.
“لأن المرء يكون أقرب إلى الحقيقة حين يكون غبيَّاً. إن الغباء يمضي نحو الهدف رأساً. الغباء بساطة وإيجاز. أما الذكاء فمكر ومخاتلة. إن الفكر الذكي فاجرٌ فاسد. أما الغباء فمستقيم شريف. لقد شرحت لك يأسي. وعلى قدر ما يكون الشرح غبياً يكون الأمر أفضل في نظري.”
و منذ أن يصطدم وعينا بالخلق الأول فلا نجد إجابة يقتنع بها عقلنا الصغير لا نجد حينئذ إلا حلا من اثنين لا ثالث لهما .. إما التسليم التام و وضع غلالة على العقل تمنعه من طرق هذا الباب مرة أخرى و إما بذرة التمرد و الشك التي ستنموا إلى أن تبتلعك أو تذبل حتى تذروها الرياح
إن الرب قد خلق الضياء في اليوم الأول. وفي اليوم الرابع خلق الشمس والقمر والنجوم. فمن أين جاء الضياء إذن في اليوم الأول .”
و لأن المؤلف العبقري لم يبخس أي شخصية حقها في هذا العمل الفلسفي الدرامي المبهر فقد كان لكل نصيب من الكفر و الإيمان في كل مرحلة من مراحل الرواية
" إنني لا أقبلُ العالم َعلى نحوِ ما خلقهُ الله. ولا أستطيع الموافقة على قبولهِ رغمَ علمي بوجوده. لستُ أرفض الله. . . افهمني جيدًا. . . وإنما أنا أرفضُ العالمَ الذي خلقهُ ولا أستطيعُ الموافقةَ على قَبوله".
ألا فاعلم أن السخافات لازمة لوجود هذا العالم. ان الكون يقوم على سخافات بدونها قد لا يوجد شيء و قد لا يحدث شيء.
نحن نعلم ما نعلم.
لست أفهم شيئا و لقد أصبحت الأن لا أريد أن أفهم شيئا. أريد أن أكتفي بالوقائع و أن أقتصر عليها. لقد قررت منذ زمن طويل ألا أحاول تأويلها. فلو حاولت أن أفهم إذا لشوهت الوقائع فورا. و أنا أحرص على أن أبقى في الواقع لا أخرج منه.
الإبن الأصغر بطل القصة و محورها يتردد مليا بين الشك و الإيمان و لكنه لا يعرف إلا الحب الذي يقوده في النهاية لمعرفة الرب
إننى لا أعرف الحل لمشكلة الشر. و لكننى أعرف الحب
أما الأوسط فقد استهوته الشياطين في الأرض حتى هوت به من السماء السابعة و ليس بعد السقوط من صلاح
“ان ما من شئ في هذا العالم يمكن ان يجبر البشر على ان يحبوا أقرانهم. و انه ما من قانون طبيعي يفرض على الانسان ان يحب الانسانية. فاذا كان قد وجد و ما يزال يوجد على هذة الارض شئ من الحب فليس مرد ذلك الى قانون طبيعي بل الى سبب واحد هو اعتقاد البشر انهم خالدون. ان هذا الاعتقاد هو في الاساس الوحيد لكل قانون اخلاقي طبيعي. فاذا فقدت الانسانية هذا الاعتقاد بالخلود فسرعان ما ستغيض كل ينابيع الحب بل و سرعان ما سيفقد البشر كل قدرة على مواصلة حياتهم في هذا العالم. اكثر من ذلك انه لن يبقى هنالك شئ يعد منافيا للاخلاق و سيكون كل شئ مباحا. حتى اكل لحوم البشر.”
الإبن الأكبر كان مثالا للشهوة المجسدة كأبيه و لكنه مع ذلك صقلته الألام و اكتوى بنار الحب
“يا رب! اقبلني رغم حطتي. ولكن لا تحكم عليّ. اللهم اسمح لي أن أجيء إليك دون أن أمثل أمام محكمتك... لا تحكم ع��يّ. ما دمت قد حكمت على نفسي بنفسي.... لا تحكم عليّ. لأنني أحبك يا رب! اللهم إنني خبيث دنيء. ولكني أحبك. وحتى في الجحيم. إذا أنت أرسلتني إلى الجحيم. سأظل أحبك. وسأظل أهتف لك بحبي إلى الأبد. ولكن دع لي أن أحب حبي الأرضي حتى النهاية.. إسمح لي أن اظل أحب. في هذه الحياة الدنيا. خمس ساعات أخرى. إلى أن تطلع شمسك الدافئة.. إنني أحب ملكة قلبي. ولا أملك أن أمتنع عن حبها. اللهم إنك تراني كلي في هذه اللحظة. سوف أهرع إليها. فأرتمي عند قدميها. وأقول لها: لقد كنت على حق حين نبذتيني. وداعا.. إنسي ضحيتك. ولا تدعي لذكراي أن تعذبك يوما”
أما الأب فهو الشيطان نفسه و لا شك
أعتقد أنه اذا لم يكن الشيطان موجوداً . و اذا كان الانسان قد خلقه. فلا شك في ان الانسان قد خلقه على صورته هو.
“يجب أن نعلن بغير تردد أنه ليس يكفي المرء أن ينسل نسلا حتى يكون أبا ‘ وإنما ينبغي له أن يستحق شرف هذا الاسم . أنا أعلم أن هناك رأيا مختلفا عن هذا الرأي . أن هناك فهما آخر لمعنى كلمة الأب . هو أن أبي يظل أبي ولو كان شيطانا رجيما ومجرما عاتيا في حق أولاده وذلك يا سادتي لمجرد أنه أوجدني
يصهر ديستيوفسكي كل تلك الشخصيات التي تمثل المجتمع الروسي في قمة تناقضاته في منتصف و نهاية القرن التاسع عشر محاولا البحث عن طوق النجاة في الآلام التي ستتولد عنها اللذة و الغفران يوما ما
الإيمان هنا في الرواية يولد من الآلام و ليس من العقل و هو يتأرجح دائما كبندول الساعة و ان لم يكن بنفس الانتظام
“الآلام أنواع : فهناك آلام تخفض قيمتنا أو تنقص قدرنا . كالجوع مثلا . فالناس تحب أن تصدقنا في ما يتعلق بهذا النوع من الآلام . ليجعلوا من أنفسهم محسنين إلينا بعد ذلك. أما إذا كان الألم أرفع من هذا درجة أو درجتين . إذا كان ألما نحتمله في النضال من اجل فكرة مثلا . فإن الناس يرفضون أن يصدقوه. باستثناء قلة قليلة. وهم لا يصدقونه لأنهم حين نظروا إلى صاحبه رأوا أن رأسه ليس ذلك الرأس الذي لابد أن يكون في نظرهم رأس من يتألم في سبيل قضية رفيعة تلك الرفعة كلها. وهم عندئذ يأبون أن يتعاطفوا معه أي تعاطف. دون أن يكون في موقفهم هذا شيء من روح الشر على كل حال”
البشر يحبون الجريمة. جميع البشر يحبون الجريمة. يحبونها دائما لا في بعض الساعات فحسب. و كأن هناك اتفاقا عاما بين الناس على الكذب في هذا الأمر. ما من أحد يحب أن يكون صادقا مخلصا في هذا الأمر. هم جميعا يؤكدون أنهم يكرهون الشر. مع أنهم يحبونه في قرارة أنفسهم.
“ولكن كيف يكون هذا الإنسان فاضلاً بدون الله ؟. إلى من سيندفع..”
في النهاية تأتي وصية إليوشا للأطفال في وداعهم الأخير و كأنها كانت وصية المسيح للحواريين في موعظة الجبل و كأن ديستيوفسكي يقول أن كل منا بداخله مسيح و شيطان يتصارعان. نعم مسيح و شيطان و ليس ملاك و شيطان فالمسيح هنا تجسيد لكل ما في الملاك و الإله و الإنسان من معان و ايحاءات. كما تأتي توبة ميتيا في النهاية و كأنها الأمل في الخروج من النفق التي علقت فيه ر��سيا آمادا طويلة
كيف يمكنني أن أعيش تحت الأرض بدون الله؟ و حين سيطرد البشر الله من على سطح الأرض سنهتدي نحن إليه في جوف الأرض و نرتد إليه. ان السجين المحكوم بالأشغال الشاقة لا يستطيع أن يحيا بدون الله. و هو أعجز عن ذلك من الإنسان الحر الطليق. فمن غياهب الليل سنغني نحن اللذين نعيش تحت الأرض. سنغني نشيدا حزينا يمجد الخالق ينبوع السعادة و الضياء. تبارك الرب. و تبارك فرحه. إنني أحب الله.
Profile Image for Valeriu Gherghel.
Author 6 books1,443 followers
September 1, 2023
Cartea pe care a luat-o cu sine Lev Nikolaevici Tolstoi cînd a fugit de-acasă, în 28 octombrie 1910 după stilul vechi. Cartea despre care autorul spunea că e numai o introducere în biografia lui Alexei / Alioșa Karamazov și că va avea negreșit o continuare. Din păcate, Dostoievski n-a apucat să-și ducă gîndul la capăt. A murit peste cîteva luni. Pentru nota de față, am ales un singur episod, din finalul cărții.

Vă mai amintiți? După ce l-au petrecut pe Iliușa la groapă, copiii se opresc în jurul lui Alioșa Karamazov și-l întreabă dacă există cu adevărat Învierea. Iar Aleoșa răspunde că există negreșit și adaugă, „cu însuflețire, deși zîmbind”, că atunci vor avea prilejul să-și povestească „veseli și fericiți” tot ce au făcut în viața de acum. Unul dintre copii (Kolea Krasotkin) exclamă: „Vai, ce frumos va fi!”.

Tensiunea romanului se risipește tocmai prin acest sfîrșit senin, iar cititorul poate exclama la rîndu-i, cînd închide romanul lui Dostoievski: „Cu siguranță, va fi foarte frumos!”.

P. S. Mă întreb și vă întreb: unde afirmă Ivan Karamazov ilustra frază, citată de teologii cei mai isteți, „Dacă Dumnezeu nu există, totul este permis”? Eu unul n-am găsit-o sub forma asta în carte...
Profile Image for Riku Sayuj.
656 reviews7,104 followers
February 16, 2014

On Romancing The Devil

Warning: This review might contain spoilers even outside the hidden 'spoiler alert' regions. I honestly am not capable of discriminating.

The book is not about the murder or about who did it, those things were very apparent before half the book was completed - the narrator taking special pains to spoil all suspense for his readers at the very beginning (harkening back to the days of greek drama and Euripides - according to whom, the effect of a story, even a whodunnit, was not in epic suspense about what was going to happen next, but in those great scenes of lyrical rhetorics in which the passion and dialectic of the protagonists reached heights of eloquence. Everything was to portend pathos, not action, which was always there only as a container for the pathos, to give it form).

This was probably done so that the typical clue-seeking aspects of a mystery does not detract his reader from addressing the real, the painful questions littered all across his treatise, almost with indecent abandon.

No, this story is not about the murder, or about the murderer, or about his motivations, or around the suspense surrounding his final fate. The story is about the reaction - it was all about the jury.

Many theories abound about how the Karamazov family represents Russia/humanity/all characters but the reality is that they represent individualities; while it is that terrible faceless jury, always addressed to and never addressed by, that represents humanity. The job of the country, the society, of the whole human race is to judge, to determine the fate of individuals based on the stories that they construct, literally out of thin air, out of the small pieces of a life that they can only ever observe. The best character sketches, fictional or otherwise can only ever be the minutest portion of a real character - but from that tiniest of slivers we build this ambiguous thing called ‘character’, as if such a thing can possibly exist for a creature as fickle-minded and forgetful of himself as man.

Character of a man is the greatest myth, propagated best by novelists, as no story can proceed without a ‘constant’ man who behave with some level of predictability or with predictable unpredictability, but real life is the result of adding a minimum of three more ‘unpredictable’ as adjectives to that earlier description, to come close to describing even the simplest and most boring idiot alive. But yet we construct stories, to understand, to predict, to know how to behave, we even make up stories about ourselves so that we may have an illusion of control over who we are - so that we do not melt into the amorphous protean mass that is the rest of humanity - my story separates me from all of them.

I construct, therefore I am.

These are the romances that Dostoevsky wields his best work against and the trial is a trial of reason, of reality pitted against the overwhelming circumstantial evidence in favor of romance, of the myth of character, of individuality, of cause and effect, of there being anything predictable when such a wild variable as a human mind is part of the equation, how can such an equation be anything but ‘indeterminate’ (to borrow Dostoevsky’s own expression)?

That was the grand trial, the inquisition of reason.

But how can the defense stand up in favor of reality without explaining to the jury (to humanity) why they see things not as they are, that they have made up a story that is perfect but is never real as no story can ever be - as no cause can really cause a definite effect when human beings are involved? You have to tell a story to convince the jury. You have to tell a story to defend the fact that stories do not exist. A story now, about stories. Or multiple stories to show how all stories are false if only one can be allowed to be true. The only other option is that all are true, simultaneously. By proving which you include your own story in that ‘self-consuming’ super-set and doom your own argument. There is the irresolvable conflict of the trial, of the story, of the novel, of life.

You cannot discredit the myth of the story without the help of a story as the jury that judges cannot understand, cannot comprehend any reality outside of a story, human beings cannot think outside their romances. They will continue to exist as prisoners to their own stories. That is why it is a comedy and not a tragedy, as no one died and no one killed and it remains akin to a sphinx setting us a riddle which he cannot solve himself. But, judgment had to be passed as the story was told.

One story among many.


An expanded review might follow and will try to address some of the big themes of the book, enumerated below:

1) On Fatherhood - The second big theme of the book. Possibly the real theme, the above only being my own story...

2) On Crime & the Efficacy of Punishment - On how men will always rise to be worthy of their punishment/mercy; On suffering and salvation and on how no judgement can be stronger, more effective or more damning/redemptive than moral self-judgement; On how Ivan’s ecclesiastical courts eventually would have behaved - would they have behaved as predicted by him in his prose poem and let christ go, unlike the real court? So, in the end his alternate vision of Satan’s court is what was really shown by the current judicial apparitions? But in the fable who was it that really forgave the inquisitor or the inquisitee? And in the overall story too, who forgives whom in the end? Christ or Humanity, Satan or Church, Dimitri or Russia?

3) On Collateral Damage - inflicted by the main story on side stories, on how the small side stories are over shadowed, no murdered by the main one and without any risk of conviction.

4) On the Institution of Religion- On morality and the question of the necessity of religion; On the basis for faith; On the implications of faith/lack of faith to the story one tells about oneself; On how Philip Pullman took the easy way out by expanding Dostoevsky’s story for his widely acclaimed novel; On the enormous burden of free will; On the dependence of men on the security of miracles that is the source of all hell and of all action.

5) On the Characters - On how Dostoevsky took the cream of his best-conceived characters from the universe of his creation, from across all his best works to populate his magnum opus, his story about stories, to trace out their path with the ultimate illusion of realism, with the ultimate ambition and to show/realize how it should always, always fall apart; On how he reflected the whole universe in a small lake and created a novel about all novels, disproving and affirming them simultaneously, murdering its own parents in its own fulfillment; On how they might have their Hamlets, but we have our Karamazov's.

6) On Hope & Redemption - On how ultimately Zosima's world view trumps the cynical aspects that dominated the book; On how Zosima predicted it all at the very beginning and apologized to Dimitri on behalf of all mankind - ‘taking everyone’s sin upon himself”, thus creating an inverted reflection of the christ figure, its image playing on both Dimitri and on Zosima for that split second and then passing on to Alyosha until finally projected back to Dimitri, in the ultimate paradox, where he becomes at last a christ figure and a buddha figure, exemplifying self-knowledge and enlightenment through true suffering; On how even the Karamazov name can be inspiring and be cause for cheers even though it represents the worst (best?) of humanity; On The Sermon at the Stone.

7) On Nihilism - On the absurdity of life and trying to explain it. But oh wait, this is what I talked of in paragraph length already.



PS. By the way, when you read this, keep your ears tuned towards the end - for somewhere in the distance you might hear the laugh of the Grand Inquisitor echoing faintly.
Profile Image for Steven Medina.
204 reviews937 followers
March 8, 2022
Una obra maestra, digna de su fama, pero...

En realidad 4,2

Este libro me hace enfrentar una lucha feroz y salvaje en mi interior. Una lucha entre ser despiadado, o ser comprensivo; entre ser destructivo, o ser amable; entre ser un Karamazov, o simplemente no serlo. Empiezo esta reseña con estas palabras porque sinceramente no ha sido fácil decidir el tipo de crítica que realizaría para esta ocasión. En un lado del ring, se encuentra el Steven despiadado y juzgador, que está esperando la oportunidad de pulverizar con sus palabras cualquier obra que lo haya dejado insatisfecho, o que no haya disfrutado plenamente; pero, en el otro lado del ring, se encuentra el Steven prudente y positivo, que con mucha calma sabe destacar lo bueno de cada obra y logra minimizar los detalles negativos de cada historia. Generalmente esos combates se resuelven fácilmente con un knockout, y descifrar el resultado es solo cuestión de minutos; pero, para esta ocasión el combate ha estado bastante reñido y mucho más difícil ha sido tomar una decisión.

Comencé a leer esta obra, no solo por la popularidad del autor, sino también porque varias obras de su autoría realmente me interesan, y quiero leerlas en el futuro. Mi primer, y único acercamiento a Dostoievski, había sido la lectura de un pequeño cuento llamado El sueño de un hombre ridículo —el cual recomiendo bastante—, en el cual finalicé completamente satisfecho por la manera como el autor ruso logró transmitir en menos de treinta páginas tantas observaciones y críticas sobre la vida en general. Con esta experiencia, entonces mi cerebro, basándose en su lógica tomó apresuradamente la siguiente conclusión: Si en un cuento de treinta páginas has quedado tan satisfecho, ¿te imaginas, Steven, la experiencia tan increíble que vivirás en ese libro de mil páginas? Entonces me decidí, busqué un espacio, comencé a leer y efectivamente me gustó mucho el libro. Fue una lectura con una prosa bastante destacada, que se me asemejó a la combinación entre Victor Hugo, por la forma como estructura su historia, y Gabriel García Márquez, por la duración que pueden llegar a tener algunos párrafos y la cantidad de temas diversos que se encuentran allí. Es una prosa —irónicamente— fácil de leer, pero que en mi opinión personal, ralentiza en exceso la velocidad a la que transcurren los hechos descritos en el libro. Para ser completamente honesto sentí que en las más de mil páginas no sucedieron tantas situaciones como esperaba, y también percibí que desde el inicio se reveló demasiado pronto el verdadero clímax del argumento. Desde los primeros capítulos es fácil detectar el problema principal que vivirán los protagonistas, con la única diferencia de que desconocemos la ruta que vivirán para llegar hasta allí, por lo que eso me decepcionó un poco. No me malinterpreten, no me ha parecido aburrido el argumento, solo que no creí que esa dinámica del principio fuera a perdurar para todas las páginas, quizás esperaba un secreto que más adelante me sorprendiera, quizás esperaba algo así, pero no sucedió. Hay ocasiones en las que un libro está bien escrito, el argumento principal también es interesante, pero en el que la velocidad y duración excesiva de algunas partes puede llegar a hacerte sentir que estás teniendo una lectura interminable. Los libros largos me encantan, tengo muy buenas experiencias con muchos de ellos, pero con estos mastodontes de papel me gusta sentir que cada página ha valido la pena, y con este libro no viví eso. Hubo partes muy interesantes, pero no todo el tiempo.

Ahora bien, eso no significa que el libro no valga la pena. El libro tiene todos los componentes de aquel libro clásico que te invita a reflexionar sobre cientos de detalles de la vida. ¿Qué está mal? ¿Qué está bien? ¿En qué debemos mejorar como sociedad? Dostoievski en esta obra te deja con la sensación de que, a pesar de que han pasado varios siglos y tenemos tanta diversidad de cultura con respecto a nuestros antepasados, seguimos enfrentando durísimas batallas donde la protagonista es la conciencia. La conciencia te puede ayudar a sentir paz, pero también te puede condenar de por vida, eso en caso de que nunca lleguemos a perdonarnos por nuestras malas acciones que no deseábamos hacer. El tema más importante de esta novela, en mi opinión, es la conciencia, y con cada uno de los personajes de este libro, podremos notar cómo batallan todos los días de su vida con ese silencioso «enemigo». ¿Realmente quiero hacer el bien, o simplemente quiero evitar hacer el mal? Igualmente encontramos mensajes importantes sobre la familia, respetar a los padres, el dinero, la avaricia, la capacidad de tomar decisiones, etc. Personalmente no todas sus palabras lograron sensibilizarme sobre los temas presentados, pero sí hubo varias que me tocaron el alma, me dejaron emotivo, y asimismo perturbado por lo presentado.

Una aclaración importante es que uno de sus protagonistas está cerca de la vida religiosa, por lo que en varias partes del libro el tema principal se centra en Dios, y en la religión. Para aquellos que no creen en Dios puede parecer algo molesto leer tantas páginas sobre el tema, y más porque se cuenta la historia de cómo un monje se volvió predicador, pero no es una situación que perduré tanto tiempo porque el tema principal del libro no es la religión, solo que el autor decide enfatizar demasiado en las creencias, cultura, pensamientos, etc., de cada uno de los personajes del libro –tanto principales, como secundarios- por lo que esta parte es necesaria para comprender al personaje cuasi principal de esta historia. Digo cuasi principal porque Dostoievski en sus primeras páginas afirma que lo es, pero en mi opinión los protagonistas son los tres hermanos Karamazov, no solo el menor, Aliosha, sino los tres. Asimismo, hay otra conversación sobre la religión entre un ateo y un religioso que también debemos leer con cuidado. Pienso que son partes que requieren leerse con comprensión, sin juzgar, y teniendo muy en cuenta que el objetivo del autor es exponer la mentalidad de cada personaje, y no cambiar nuestras creencias.

Sin lugar a dudas la mejor parte ha sido el final. Es la sección donde comprendes que cada historia de cada personaje sí valía la pena para algo, y que sin la debida exposición de estas mini-escenas seguramente este acto final no sería tan llamativo e interesante como lo es en verdad. Por un momento creí que no valdría la pena llegar hasta el final del libro, pero por esa sección sí valió resistir tantas y tantas horas de lectura que realicé por más de dos meses. Les juro que si esa parte hubiera sido mala, la batalla del ring que mencioné al comienzo de esta reseña habría quedado definida en menos de cinco segundos. Afortunadamente ha valido la pena llegar hasta el final, aunque si me preguntaran no volvería a leer este libro jamás. Hay miles de historias que me están esperando. Solo repetiría aquellas que me tocan el alma en la mayor parte de sus páginas, como es el caso de mi querido libro, La Historia Interminable.

Como ya se sobreentenderá por los párrafos pasados, los personajes han estado excelentemente desarrollados. No me ha parecido tan sencillo comprender a los rusos del siglo XIX, pero entre más fui avanzando más fui comprendiendo el modo karamazoviano como vivían los seres de aquella época. Principal, y naturalmente, los tres hermanos Karamazov fueron los de mejor desarrollo, aunque no por ello me inclino a elegir un personaje favorito de la obra. Todos tienen sus tonalidades de bondad y maldad, por lo que comprendo a los personajes, y comprendo sus acciones, pero no lograron inmortalizarse en mi memoria. Eso sí, si tuviera que elegir forzosamente un personaje a destacar, entonces no elegiría a ningún Karamazov, sino al abogado Fetiukóvich, que me sorprendió gratamente por su gran capacidad para presentar diferentes perspectivas de una misma situación; perspectivas que no habíamos ni remotamente tenido en cuenta.

Ya casi para terminar, debo también reconocer que he sufrido bastante con los nombres de los personajes. Siempre he creído que los nombres más difíciles de diferenciar son los que se encuentran en novelas asiáticas —especialmente chinas—, pero la verdad es que sufrí bastante con los nombres rusos. Todos los nombres se me parecían, no lograba ni siquiera memorizarlos y mucho menos pronunciarlos. Lo digo con todo el respeto posible, pero esos nombres para mí fueron como trabalenguas nivel imposible. Vuelvo y reitero, lo digo con todo el respeto posible. Sé que para aquellas personas nuestros nombres también son extraños. Si ofendo a alguien, no es mi intención hacerlo, en serio que lo siento mucho, solo expreso mi opinión.

Podría seguir escribiendo muchos detalles más, pero no quiero desvelar mucho de la trama, ni tampoco quiero realizar ningún tipo de spoiler. Como ya lo he mencionado en varias reseñas, los spoilers no deberían existir, matan la trama y te la friegan.

En resumen, Los hermanos Karamazov es una obra madura, que con la exposición de una familia tan peculiar, te intenta dar muchas lecciones sobre la vida en general; lecciones que pueden tocarte el alma, o bien, pueden no hacerlo, todo dependiendo de la conexión que sientas con la forma de pensar del autor. Por ejemplo, pueden parecerte las reflexiones sobre la sociedad, vanas y repetitivas, pero puedes conmoverte cuando te hablan sobre la familia, sobre la maldad del hombre en el pasado, etc. No es un libro que considere apto para todas las personas, ya que depende mucho del ritmo de lectura al cual tú estés acostumbrado, pero también debemos entender como lectores del siglo XXI, que la forma de escribir del siglo XIX y de nuestra actualidad es bastante diferente, y que no podemos esperar de un libro clásico de más de doscientos años la intensidad que encontramos en obras actuales que han sido diseñadas específicamente para ello. No es un clásico sencillo, lo reconozco, pero tampoco es imposible de leerlo. Solo es cuestión de tener paciencia, no tener expectativas, intentar conectarnos con la prosa de Dostoievski, y arriesgarnos a experimentarlo por nosotros mismos. Mi calificación de cuatro estrellas expresa claramente que este libro me ha parecido muy interesante, me atrevería a decir incluso que es una obra maestra, pero que honestamente no me conmocionó con la magnitud que esperaba, no con la magnitud como sí lo hizo un pequeño cuento de treinta páginas. En esta ocasión, la batalla del ring ha finalizado en empate.
Profile Image for Piyangie.
530 reviews488 followers
June 8, 2022
This book is one of the most challenging ones to review. And if I consider myself capable of such a venture, it will still take pages to write a proper review that would do justice to the book. So my attempt here is only to share my perspective as best as I can. :)

I've heard that The Karamazov Brothers is the best work of Dostoyevsky. It may be premature for me to comment on such a conclusion, I can well understand why it is so praised. It is a book complete in every aspect: in writing, in storytelling, in character development, and the plotline. Being a book with over 1000 pages, I was a little apprehensive at the beginning. But his undemanding writing put me at ease from the very first chapter.

The book is a crime story as well as a philosophical and religious debate. All parts were brilliantly done and extremely interesting. But what connected me with this extraordinary work is its character development. Almost all the major characters of the book are taken through a rough journey that tests their strengths and weaknesses and helps them to come to understand themselves, their faith, and their beliefs.

Alyosha is the supposed hero, chosen by Dostoevsky himself. But I found an equal hero in Ivan. I loved them both. They are the two major contrasting characters in the story: one a believer and the other a non-believer (atheist). Their contrasting views added depth to the story.

All the characters had their virtues and faults which made them real and believable. Throughout the read, I felt like a part of their community. Dostoyevsky's beautiful and heartfelt writing utterly captivated me and I was completely immersed in the world of the Karamazovs.

The Karamazov Brothers is the sort of the book that will become a part of yourself, and which will live and age with you. That is the true quality of a masterpiece. It is a true blessing to come across such a beautiful work of literature. I feel so privileged.
Profile Image for فؤاد.
1,066 reviews1,759 followers
May 5, 2017
تولستوی و داستایوسکی
تفاوت تولستوى با داستايوسكى، مثل تفاوت سعدى و حافظه.
شعرهاى سعدى، سهل و ممتنعه: يعنى از بس ساده و روان هستن، آدم فكر مى كنه سرودن همچين شعرى كارى نداره. ولى وقتى مى خواد مثلش رو بگه، مى بينه امكان نداره. تولستوى هم همين طوره.
شعرهاى حافظ، ولى يه جوريه كه آدم وقتى مى خونه، نه تنها فكرِ تحدّی هم به مخیّله ش خطور نمى كنه، بلكه حيران مى مونه كه يه انسان چطور تونسته همچين شعرى بگه؛ از بس الفاظ و معانى و مضامين عجيب و غريبى داره و پر از شيدايى و جنونه. داستايوسكى اين طوريه.

این کتاب
بهترین اثر داستایوسکی نیست به نظر من (به رغم عده ی زیادی). بهترین اثرش، جنایت و مکافاته و بعد، ابله. اما در رده ی سوم، این رمان مستطاب قرار میگیره و سومین اثر داستایوسکی بودن، یعنی بهترین اثر ادبیات بودن.

آلکسی قدّیس
هر کدوم از سه برادر، دنیایی شگرف و زیبا و گاهی وحشتناک دارن. اما اون کسی که من عمیقاً و از عمق جانم باهاش همذات پنداری کردم، آلیوشا، برادر کوچک تر بود.

مشابه این شخصیت سالک رو، در هیچ رمان دیگه ای ندیدم و بعید میدونم ببینم. چرا، امثال "خرمگس" یا "سرگشته ی راه حق" هم شخصیت هایی مذهبی آفریدن، ولی در مقابل سلوک عظیم آلیوشا، اونا فقط بچه بازی هستن.
Profile Image for Samra Yusuf.
60 reviews401 followers
June 5, 2019
Russian novels always get better of me, I am left battered both body and mind. But the exhaustion is like the exhaustion of sex (can’t find more fitting analogy) breathless and full of life at the same. Like the traveler who was long gone on a journey and on his return, bathes for a long good hour, taking good care of every little pore of body, soaping himself as he sinks in tub very slowly, and as water pours over him he shuts his eyes and with numbing senses recalls everything in an episodic manner, the tiniest details of his journey, and that’s the magic of Dostoyevsky, his reader is exasperated by the far off tours but at the end, is exalted nonetheless!
The hell we create through our thoughts for ourselves, is never been better visited by any other but D.the endless war we are in with ourselves, the fluctuations of our mind, the contradictions of our ideas and creation of ideals, the conflict of God or no God, the choice of being sinner or saint, is all in us, within us, and Dostoyevsky leaves nothing unsaid in telling the tale of who we are, and what we choose to hide, the characteristic quality of his prose is directness, he sometimes, undoubtedly descends to the elegant, but his element is great. He occasionally invests himself to an extent, but his natural port is human psychology.
“Je pense, donc je suis, I know that for a fact, all the rest, all these worlds, God and even Satan—all that is not proved, to my mind. Does all that exist of itself, or is it only an emanation of myself, a logical development of my ego which alone has existed forever?” (p. 781)
Brother Karamazov is not the tale to be taken as a chronicle of one family and parricide only, the murder is not a mystery here, neither is the murderer, it’s all known at the instant murder takes place, or even before, the plethora of themes and thoughts runs deep in the waters of this gigantic ocean that the volume is! We have in detail, the characters donned into garbs of confused expressions about other characters and on the brink of self-assessment and self-denial. And as the novel proceeds, there are peculiar ideas, echoing into the minds of characters, ideas get doubled or split into multiple strings as the tale follows, Dostoyevsky makes his characters suffer by their own doomed states, their own beings are their torture cells, no one escapes this suffering, no one!
The question of individual identity mounts many a time in the story, as the devil visits Ivan or so he fancies; the boundaries of one soul and the influence of wishes thought to be unvoiced are questioned throughout the novel, the suppressed/unidentified wishes of one character are accomplished by the other, For instance, the relationship between Ivan and Smerdyakov, with Ivan apparently the stronger and more intelligent, and Smerdyakov the instrument of his will. Ivan’s unconscious wishes for his father’s death direct Smerdyakov, who communicates with the unconscious directly; Smerdyakov is, then, the master, the controller of fate simply because he is able to penetrate the barrier of consciousness that must conventionally deny evil impulses.
We are quite restrained to admit the bastard smerdykov shrewder than Iven, he is cleverer and is more strategic with his nihilistic views, and the self-centered epileptic is astonishingly strongest of the characters, he proves through actions that “all the things are lawful”
Ah! How cold he is to lay us stark naked before us, we’ve long known his brother Karamazov, we are them, if not wholly, but in parts, the impulsive, goodhearted Dimitri is recognizable to us like a closed kin,we know Ivan, the skeptic genius and we’ve been him too in our hearts, haunted by uncertainty, tormented by conscience....
“Do you understand why this infamy must be and is permitted? Without it, I am told, man could not have existed on earth, for he could not have known good and evil. Why should he know that diabolical good and evil when it costs so much? Why, the whole world of knowledge is not worth that child’s prayer to ‘dear, kind God’!” (p. 287)
Profile Image for Amira Mahmoud.
618 reviews8,295 followers
August 9, 2015

ها وقد انتهت ح��اية آل كارمازوف
لماذا انتهت؟ لماذا لا يوجد لها جزء رابع وخامس.. وخمسين؟
كيف تعيش مع أشخاص أكثر من 1500 صفحة، ثم تنتهي هكذا بغتة
أنت لم تعش معهم، فكثير من الناس تعاشرهم ويعاشرونك دون أن تفهمهم أو يفهموك
ماذا عن كل فرد في تلك القصة
أنت تغوص في أعماق أعماقهم، تفهم دوافعهم النفسية، تصرفاتهم الخرقاء وربما الدنيئة، حتى أنك تتطلع على أحاديثهم مع أنفسهم
وتصبح متعلقًا بهم وبمصيرهم، ثم وها تنته�� الصفحات فجأة!
تقول رندة بطلة أعراس آمنة: واحد مثل غسّان، يجب أن يسمحوا له أن يكتب رواية واحدة على الأقل بعد الموت
ودوستويفسكي أيضًا عزيزتي
يجب أن يسمحوا له بكت��بة رواية أخرى على الأقل، مجلد آخر، جزء آخر من حياة هؤلاء الكارامازوف!

الجزء الثالث والأخير من الرواية هو الجزء الأكثر إنسانية من بين الأجزاء كلها
هنا وبمنتهي الذكاء يقوم دوستويفسكي بتحليل سيكولوجي عبقري لكل تصرف، ولأقل حركة، ولأدني هفوة صدرت عن أبطاله في الجزئين السابقين
هنا في هذا الجزء طرح فرضيات لما يمكن أن يكون عليه تفسير سلوك الأبطال من وجهات نظر مختلفة
الأولى تتمثل في وجهة نظر وكيل النيابة، والأخرى وجهة نظر المحامي والدفاع

حقًا النفس البشرية هي من أعقد المخلوقات وأكثرها تشعبًا
هناك تصرفات تنبع من الفرد دون أن ينتبه لها أو يقصد شيئًا ما من وراءها
تصرفات حمقاء سخيفة لا تشكل أي قيمة
لكن حين تكون بحظ عاثر مثل دمتري كارامازوف فإن هذه التصرفاات التافهة ستجتمع معًا لتطيح بحياتك ومستقبلك!
العلم النفسي والسلوك من أصعب العلوم، أنت لا تستطيع فهمها وبناء منهج خاص بها
فكلها قائمة على التخمينات
فكيف لك أن تضع لها منهج محدد لدراستها وتدريسها
هي حقًا كما قال دوستويفسكي:
السيكولوجيا سلاح ذو حدين
وبرهن على أنه سلوك واحد من شخص ما، يمكن أن يحلله الشخص-وبدلائل مقنعة- على أساس معين ويستنتج منه نتائج محددة تتوافق ووجهة نظره الخاصة بالطبع
ويقوم آخر يحمل وجهة نظر مخالفة تمامًا لوجهة النظر الأولي، فيحلل السلوك ويستخلص منه نتائج تتوافق مع وجهة نظره أيضًا
بل وبدلائل منطقية مقنعة أخرى!!
حقًا إنها سلاح ذو حدين
لا تحتاج علماء ولا دارسين لوضع نظريات أغلبها مبنيّ على التخمين والتجارب والظواهر
هي فقط تحتاج لشخص كشخص دوستويفسكي
اجتمع الحزن والألم والمعاناة معًا، ليعطوه قلب حساس يشعر بمعاناة الأخرين ويغوص في داخلهم
والأذكي، تلك القدرة في التعبير عنهم بعطف رغم كل ما قد يقترفوه من أفعال بشعة
أنت مع الشخوص التي يخلقها دوستويفسكي، لا تستطيع أن تدين أيًا منهم

أعتقد أنه حينما قال هذه الجملة، إنما كان يصف نفسه
إلى لقاء آخر أيها العزيز دوستويفسكي
عزائي الوحيد أن هنا الكثير من المجلدات التي خلقت بها المزيد من الحيوات لشخوص أعتقد أن معاناتها لن تقل عن معاناة آل كارامازوف

لا تخافوا الحياة، ما أجمل الحياة حين يحقق المرء في هذا العالم شيئًا من خير وعدل

Profile Image for Sara.
Author 1 book563 followers
July 6, 2016
I will generally finish a novel no matter what...but I could not push through this one. I have tried twice, so I suppose this is going to be a novel that doesn't ever make it to my "read" list.

UPDATE: It took me three starts and an unusual amount of determination to finish this novel. I was inches away from abandoning it for good and all. I am glad I didn’t, but believe me when I say I hope I never encounter a book this hard to endure again in my reading lifetime.

The themes Dostoevsky tackles along the way are significant and weighty. Just when he begins to move the story forward, he always seems to stop and write a few chapters of political or religious philosophy, and the reader is required to stop with him, digest what the arguments mean, and weigh in personally on which side of the debate truth lies. The book inspires soul searching, but requires almost inhuman concentration.

The brothers themselves are atypical characters, volatile and impassioned, unpredictable and complicated. Nothing they do seems to be logical. Even Alyosha, who is easily understood to be the “good” brother, behaves sometimes in a way that is puzzling to my non-Russian mind. The father is a buffoon, and so crude and cruel that he garners no sympathy from me at all.

Over half way in, I feel that I do not care what happens to a single character here and that at least 90% of what has occurred makes no real sense. Then, things begin to gel, the story begins to move, I find myself caring about what happens to these men, particularly Dmitri (Mitya) and to the two women with whom he is involved. I know I will make it through this time.

I understand why this is considered an important work and a classic piece of literature. It addresses many important issues that have universal implications. What happens if you remove God from the equation? What purpose does faith serve in life? Does suffering lead to self-awareness and can it change a man for the better? To what extent are we morally responsible for others? If you wish a murder, if you fail to stop one, are you equally guilty with the man who commits the deed?

I suspect I will be pondering The Brothers Karamazov for a long while. I did not enjoy this read, but it will mean something to me. Perhaps, like Mitya, I needed to suffer to attain appreciation. At the very least, I have come away with a sense of accomplishment. Now for something very, very, very light.

Profile Image for Abby.
13 reviews21 followers
June 29, 2023
“You wanted to regenerate another man within yourself by means of suffering; in my opinion, if only you will remember that other man all your life and wherever you may flee to- that will be enough for you.”

Dostoyevsky successfully captivates a narrative of futility and resentment, while exploring the notion with beauty.

To say a book with such gritty topics is bizarrely beautiful feels ironic, but the craft of this novel really generates a sense of emotion that I did not anticipate. From the depiction of religious and societal questioning, to the changeability of romantic and familial relationships- The Brothers Karamazov is a Journey, a long journey, but filled with the type of moral profundity that almost makes you forget that pages are passing by.

Each character serves a purpose, each brother is a personality worth exploring, every chapter presents new questions, new answers. The ending, a minefield of conflicting emotion.

This book is a long read, but entirely worth it.
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