Saturday, June 10, 2023

Review of The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

This book review was written by Eugene Kernes   

Book can be found in: 
Genre = Novel
Book Club Event = Book List (09/02/2023)

Watch Short Review


“Would it not be rather strange to expect to find clear-cut characters in times like ours?  One thing, though, is beyond doubt: he is a strange person, we might even say an eccentric.  And peculiarity and eccentricity are more likely to create prejudice against a man than make people listen to him, especially nowadays when everyone tries to lump all the special cases together and to read some general meaning into the general meaninglessness.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky, Author’s Preface, Page 19

“No, I didn’t really mean that.  The important thing is to stop lying to yourself.  A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies, becomes unable to recognize truth, either in himself or in anyone else, and he ends up losing respect for himself as well as for others.  When he has no respect for anyone, he can no longer love and, in order to divert himself, having no love in him, he yields to his impulses, indulges in the lowest forms of pleasure, and behaves in the end like an animal, in satisfying his vices.  And it all comes from lying – lying to others and to yourself.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky, Book II: Chapter 2: The Old Buffoon, Page 76

“”Although I don’t know you and this is the first time I have set eyes on you,” Alyosha went on in the same quiet voice, “I must have done something somehow to make you feel this way – otherwise you wouldn’t have hurt me like this for no reason.  So tell me, what have I done to you? How have I wronged you?”  |  Instead of answering, the boy burst into loud sobs and suddenly started to run away.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky, Book IV: Chapter 3: Alyosha Gets Involved with Schoolboys, Page 266


Is This An Overview?

Moral philosophy in a novel.  Questioning the role of the state, the influence of faith, the operations of the law, and love.  A novel that is seeking to understand the complexity of the human condition.  Trying to understand what role humans are meant to have.  Expressing the diverse behavioral responses.  The contradictions in character.  What is sought for and what is deserved. 

The story revolves around the Karamazov brothers.  The logical Ivan.  The emotional Dmitry.  The spiritual Alyosha.  Along with their father Fyodor.  Tensions among the relatives escalate, for various reasons.  Tensions made clear at the trial, for Fyodor’s murder. 



A very difficult book to read.  Readers should seek to understand the cultural references of the book, before reading the book.  

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?  Why do people read this book?
•What are some limitations of the book?
•To whom would you suggest this book?
•How did Alyosha handle the schoolboy?
•How to judge the guilty? 
•How would you describe Katerina?
•How would you describe Ivan?
•How would you describe Alyosha?
•How would you describe Smerdyakov?
•How would you describe Fyodor?
•What role should the state have?
•How does faith influence people?
•How does the law operate?
•Can love be simple? 
•How should people behave? 

Book Details
Essay Author:       Konstantin Mochulsky
Translator:            Andrew R. MacAndrew
Edition:                 Bantam Classic
Publisher:             Bantam Dell [Random House]
Edition ISBN:      9780307755254
Pages to read:       1047
Publication:          2011
1st Edition:           1880
Format:                 eBook 

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    1
Content          2
Overall          1