2007: 127. The Brothers Karamazov

“Alexy Fyodorovitch Karamazov was the third son of Fyodor Pavlovitch Karamazov, a landowner well known in our district in his own day, and still remembered among us owing to his gloomy and tragic death, which happened thirteen years ago, and which I shall describe in its proper place.”

The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I have literally been reading this book since April, one chapter at a time a night, so to suggest that I loved it would be an exaggeration - I frankly found it to be a bit of a slog.*  That having been said, I understand why its a classic - there is so much going on here, it is exactly the kind of book that English majors go gaga over.  Which is an unfair statement, because it makes it sound like I don’t think the book is worth analysis, and that is far from what I actually think.  Let me see, just off the top of my head, we have the whole Christ figure issue with the “wisp of tow” and the question of whether there is a God at all (my goodness, by the end I had forgotten than Alyosha was a monk in the beginning and the whole thing with Father Zossima), and of course there is the murder - who did it, after all? What is the point of it? Of life? Is there a God or are we just tools of fate?  Man, this is the ultimate Russian novel, no?  But its not perfect - the narrator fades in and out, sometimes seeming omniscient and sometimes seeming like a character, and plot points (beyond the SPOILER ultimately unsolved murder, which is pretty surely purposeful) disappear and go nowhere (like, what was the deal with Alyosha and Lise?).  

Still, I need to read it again someday, to really understand it all.  Perhaps in a more modern translation, as well.  I know Garnett is classic, but it seems awfully dated and foreign - I wonder if that is more her than Fyodor...

Recommended for: Those who have never read it, and what to see what the fuss with this classic is all about; people who like very Russian novels with patronyms and serfs and declarations of love and vodka.  And murder.

* And, to be fair, my copy is 940 pages long.  Those Russians sure love to write!

Date/Place Completed: 8/12/07; D.C.

Categories:  Fiction; Modern Library

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017