Book 64 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from April 18 - August 14
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Summary (via Goodreads)
Dostoevsky's towering reputation as one of the handful of thinkers who forged the modern sensibility has sometimes obscured the purely novelistic virtues - brilliant characterizations, flair for suspense and melodrama, instinctive theatricality - that made his work so immensely popular in nineteenth-century Russia. The Brothers Karamazov, his last and greatest novel, published just before his death in 1881, chronicles the bitter love-hate struggle between the outsized Fyodor Karamazov and his three very different sons. It is above all the story of a murder, told with hair-raising intellectual clarity and a feeling for the human condition unsurpassed in world literature.
This award-winning translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky - the definitive version in English - magnificently captures the rich and subtle energies of Dostoevsky's masterpiece.
It started off boring but picked up even though I didn't have a clear idea of who was who. There are a lot of characters and some of them go by multiple names which made it challenging.
The interactions between everyone were interesting. I was only catching things at face value and am sure I didn't get everything about the book. I had no idea what was going on at times but what I did get, I enjoyed.
I like how it's not written in first person but we follow Alyosha so we only know what he sees or is told, plus we get his interpretations as well. It adds to the confusion that makes it feel like real life and gave genuine surprises (such as when the two women were together). He's a good listener, as some characters spoke in multi-page monologues.
I could picture this man immediately based on this great description: "He looked like a man who had been submissive for a long time and suffered much, but had suddenly jumped up and tried to assert himself. Or, better still, like a man who wants terribly to hit you, but is terribly afraid that you are going to hit him."
I was riveted by the captain and his family. I was also so frustrated at his stupid pride that prevented him from taking the money/help to better his life and family.
Partly because I read it over so much time and partly because I didn't catch everything that happened, I couldn't remember what was true or not true as people told their stories in the investigation.
A Few Quotes from the Book
"Above all, do not lie to yourself. A man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point where he does not discern any truth either in himself or anywhere around him, and thus falls into disrespect towards himself and others."
""Brother, let me ask you one more thing: can it be that any man has the right to decide about the rest of mankind, who is worthy to live and who is more unworthy?""
"There is nothing more seductive for man than the freedom of his conscience, but there is nothing more tormenting either."