The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

8117HB7WbvLYou better believe I’m going to review this for #weekofreviews. I get bragging rights for reading this one. To be honest, this one was not even a chore. I enjoyed it very much, but I took a l-o-n-g time to go through it. Think of this review as a primer for a Russian literary tomb. Let’s get to it, shall we?

The Brothers Karamazov is the story of three brothers and their wretched scoundrel of a father. It’s a family drama, a philosophical exploration and a whodunnit mystery all in one. One of my favorite quotes about TBK is found in Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut:

“Rosewater said an interesting thing to Billy one time about a book that wasn’t science fiction. He said that everything there was to know about life was in The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky.”

And from Madeleine L’Engle, in speaking about flawed art in her nonfiction book, A Circle of Quiet:

“The truly great books are flawed: The Brothers Karamazov is unwieldy in structure; a present-day editor would probably want to cut the Grand Inquisitor scene because it isn’t necessary to the plot. For me, The Brothers Karamazov is one of the greatest novels ever written, and this is perhaps because of, rather than in spite of, its human faults.”

ALL KINDS of things in this book are worthy of contemplation. There are some places that are obviously symbolic. Sometimes I think readers are looking for statements and worldviews in a book that perhaps the author never intended to create. But then, there are other pieces of literature that are heavy laden with thought, beliefs and social commentary. I believe this is one of those.

Here’s what you need to know if you want to read The Brothers Karamazov.

1. Russian names: One thing that can be confusing is the use of nicknames. You have to catch on to these pretty quickly in order to keep up.
Alyosha aka Alexei
Dmitri aka Mitya
Ivan. I think he’s just Ivan. My memory fails me.
Nikolai aka Kolya
You get the gist…

2. It’s long. But the chapters and sections are divided in really doable amounts so that should not be an issue. I get a little fussy about long chapters and this one did not irritate me.

3. This one is heavy on religious philosophy. It’s not the only philosophy presented but it is the main one. Specifically, the existence of God and is Intellectual enlightenment more valuable than Spiritual enlightenment.

4. There is some really beautiful language and thought in this book.

5. There is all kinds of online help if you have trouble keeping up. I read this one probably four or five years ago and I found a couple of professors on youtube lecturing on different parts of the book. This book would make an excellent semester long study for college students. I would take that class. Like now.

So, I didn’t get much into the summary here in all my rambling but in short, Daddy Karamazov, the scoundrel, is despicable and has basically cast off his three sons, now grown, to different people to raise. Aloysha, the youngest, seeks a life in the monastery and serving God, Ivan finds his pleasure and worth in Intellectualism and Dmitri, unfortunately, is a chip off the old block and is a lot like his father in behavior. But not in heart. This is their story and it’s no spoiler to share with you that at some point, someone makes an end of Daddy, and you, the reader, get to follow along to find out who. It’s good ya’ll. Even if there are some confusing moments. And some boring ones as well.

The end was very exciting. It didn’t end the way I thought it would, but you know, that’s life for most of us.

makes it’s appearance in LOST in season 2 when Ben, aka Henry Gale, is locked in the gun closet in the underground hatch. He’s being held there because he’s suspected of shenanigans. Locke brings him something to read to pass the time.

Ben looks at the book. “Dostoevsky…. You don’t have any Stephen King?”


Alright ya’ll, don’t be scared. You need to read this book!!

4 thoughts on “The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

  1. I’m always impressed by someone who reads Russian novels. They are big books with big ideas, and reading them is an accomplishment. (high five!)

    • Thanks a bunch!! I don’t read many things more than once, but this one is worth another go around. It also made me want to read Crime and Punishment from him as well.
      Thanks for dropping by and commenting! I’ve enjoyed your space as well!

  2. I didn’t like this one as much as his Crime & Punishment opus. It felt like a walking philosophy book and less a novel. But then I was probably asleep when I tried it during those college years. I commend your reading of it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s