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Psynema
06-04-2009, 01:20 PM
After 9 months on and off (exhausting read).

Thoughts...

1. I think you have to be christian to really like this book - I'm still a proud atheist LOL, never been religious so many of the references went over my head.

2. What do you think happened to Ivan and Mitka? Does the epilogue at the end foreshadow anything? Is alyosha speaking about ivan/Mitka and not Illushka at the funeral? Sad as I don't think either brother has that "happy childhood memory" Alyosha speaks of. Although Illushka dies it brings the children together and sad to say the guilty verdict is the closest the three brothers have been.

3. Does Illushka dying allude to ivan/dimitri dying - Alyosha's speech at times comes off as sappy until you realize he's probably going to go through one or both of their deaths in the immediate future, so part me thinks there's a purposeful mirroring of the boys to the brothers. I guess Kolya is a mini Ivan before Alyosha intervenes. Not so sure on Illyushka.

4. The Peasants stood up and voted Mitka guilty - that seemed to come from nowhere - what is the deal with that? It seemed like a briefly "thrown in" commentary not developed in the book and abandoned afterwards. Not quite sure on the moral of that comment ie "the peasants had their say". Is it greed on their part, envious of Mitka's lifestyle/Fyodor's well-to-do ness. Or maybe commenting on Mitka's greed, forgetting the needy until it is too late? That dream he had of the starving/homeless people also seemed like a random "throw in".

5. The prosecutor's speech - my god my most hated/boring chapters. Though it does help point out a strong moral of the book - sometimes a THOUGHT is just as powerful as A PESTLE. Mitka is guilty not of the murder, but being a base individual, and ditto for Ivan. Raskolnikov actually had to remorse over his murder because he was actually guilty, but Mitka's arch is quite different. I'd think he'd get furious at the injustice and it would cloud his recovery and salvation, but he seems defeated. I guess he accepts the fact he can't blame anyone for thinking he's guilty and recognized his character did him in...but part of me is still suspicious of him.

6. The writing itself (I read the Pevear version) - MY GOD was Dostoevsky paid by the word? I loved his other books, but this seems like a completely different writer. I know it was an innovative book at the time - one of the first novels to do so much character switching and narrator commentary. All Fyodor's other classics were known for being deep individual character studies, so this is quite different. But anyway...

Garnett was criticized for omitting sections - I can honestly see why - I know changing a classic is frowned upon, but I'd love to see this book abridged...way too much supercilious descriptions etc. And a lot of awkward clause placements that could be more efficiently condensed. It's too easy to get confused to which character the pronouns (he / she) are referring to quite often. And a few mistakes, like Kolya's mother being 30, yet Kolya was born when she was 18 and he's now 13 and her husband died 14 years ago...odd math. There are some clunky sentences like "with an errand to her besides"...odd wording. I may not be sold on Pevear. I know it's supposedly close to the Russian as can be...but their word order, clause structure is not the same. I compared Monas' Crime and Punisment to Pevear's and thought Monas upstaged them - Pevear's reads like an android by comparison.

I do plan on rereading this in the future (not the immediate future) but may pick up another version like 5-10 years from now. Many gripe about Garnett, but anyone have experience with MacAndrew or Katzner?

bazarov
06-21-2009, 04:02 AM
After 9 months on and off (exhausting read).

Thoughts...

1. I think you have to be christian to really like this book - I'm still a proud atheist LOL, never been religious so many of the references went over my head.

What does religion have with understanding the plot?


2. What do you think happened to Ivan and Mitka? Does the epilogue at the end foreshadow anything? Is alyosha speaking about ivan/Mitka and not Illushka at the funeral? Sad as I don't think either brother has that "happy childhood memory" Alyosha speaks of. Although Illushka dies it brings the children together and sad to say the guilty verdict is the closest the three brothers have been.

Dostoevsky planed to write another book about Alyosha but he never did. Ivan obviously gone mad, would probably die very soon.



3. Does Illushka dying allude to ivan/dimitri dying - Alyosha's speech at times comes off as sappy until you realize he's probably going to go through one or both of their deaths in the immediate future, so part me thinks there's a purposeful mirroring of the boys to the brothers. I guess Kolya is a mini Ivan before Alyosha intervenes. Not so sure on Illyushka.

Did you get the feeling that Ivan is intellectually afraid of someone like Kolya is of Alyosha?



5. The prosecutor's speech - my god my most hated/boring chapters. Though it does help point out a strong moral of the book - sometimes a THOUGHT is just as powerful as A PESTLE.

Read comments about book (if they are in the book).


6. The writing itself (I read the Pevear version) - MY GOD was Dostoevsky paid by the word? I loved his other books, but this seems like a completely different writer. I know it was an innovative book at the time - one of the first novels to do so much character switching and narrator commentary. All Fyodor's other classics were known for being deep individual character studies, so this is quite different. But anyway...

They were paid per page.
Ivan and Alyosha are not deep enough? Do you see a big difference from Prince, Raskolnikov and Underground man? You can maybe say something against Zosima (which I doubt, he played his role) or Mitya, but this whole idea is...ridiculous!

mea505
06-22-2009, 03:35 PM
Once again, bazarov came through with a very well-written response to someone's input and list of questions! This is what I like about him -- he dives into the material and provides honest answers to people's questions!

Mark
:yawnb::flare:

Mathor
07-10-2009, 02:25 AM
1. I think you have to be christian to really like this book - I'm still a proud atheist LOL, never been religious so many of the references went over my head.



I feel like you must've enjoyed it to some extent or you wouldn't have posted such an extensive review, so I think you enjoyed it although Atheist. I feel like some sort of backround with the church helps in understanding the lives of the characters, though I think any religion can appreciate Dostoevsky.

Gladys
07-10-2009, 06:07 PM
though I think any religion can appreciate Dostoevsky Since Dostoevsky, like Ibsen, does allude to Christian narratives, understanding allegorical overtones in his novels is problematic for many readers. Still, most Christian readers also fail to see these allusions while still enjoying the novels. For me, these scriptural overtones are the real fireworks, and particularly so in the endings.

Rodya
08-02-2009, 11:43 PM
I just finished like yourself, though I read it over a period of 3 weeks. I was at the cottage, and completely engrossed by it, so I never really stopped.

I am an athiest, thought spiritual, and I never had any problems regarding that. As you must have noticed, as I too read the Peaver translation, the references were mostly referenced in the back. They are not thorough, but most of the religious allusions are not imperative to the main theme of the story.

I will agree with you that the prosecutors speech was quite tedious to get through. I read quite fast, and I still found myself losing my train of though. Though, after reading the Defense attorneys closing speech, it tied it all together. I found his insight into Psychology and its "double edged" nature fascinating and accurate, and I enjoyed reading it. If I was reading it over a long time, though, I could see how that speech would be annoying.

I noticed Bazarov did not answer the question about Mitya, and lord knows I can. I was dissapointed, obviously, because I came to love Mitya, but I expected a guilty verdict... It would just be far too miraculous and not at all like Dostoevsky to let him off. What he meant by the peasants speaking up, I am not sure.

Overall, I loved the book. I think it is his best work I have read yet, and am reading The Idiot currently. I loved Raskolnikov, and the venomous Underground man, but I could read about the Karamazovian sensualists for hours on end.

Gladys
08-03-2009, 12:49 AM
I think it is his best work I have read yet, and am reading The Idiot currently. I too adored The Brothers Karamazov read long ago, and remember well my vain anger at Mitya's fate. Tellingly The Idiot, read more recently, does not suffer by comparison.

Gilliatt Gurgle
04-04-2010, 09:26 AM
At last, I can change my user profile! Whom shall I now list as my current favorite author and current favorite book?
“Finally Finished” seems appropriate enough to rekindle and toss a few of my personal reflections upon.

The Brothers Karamazov (TBK) was the culmination of an abbreviated Dostoevsky phase I recently experienced, having first read “Notes From Underground” followed by “The Idiot. Short shrift I admit for such a superlative author.
My exposure and eventual interest in Dostoevsky was piqued purely as a result of Litnet Forums. Thank you.
Prior to joining the Forums, my only experience with Russian authors was limited to Tolstoy (“War and Peace”) and Alexander Solzenitsyn (“The Gulag Archipelago”, “August 1914” and I am just now beginning “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” )
I began my journey using a Constance Garnett translation, but soon switched to the Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky translation, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York; C 1990.
Much has already been written on Dostoevsky and TBK here in Litnet and beyond, so I will employ restraint and offer a few random comments

“Our Hero”:
I see a parallel between Prince Myshkin, the “hero” protagonist from “The Idiot” and Alexei; the “hero” (Dostoevsky’s own reference) in TBK. Both characters share a common characteristic as one who wanders the innocent path of probity whether they are cognizant or of it or not and at times we find them questioning their own faith, but in the end, the moral fiber endures. Questioning the mystery of faith in God and God itself, in fact, is the underlying motif throughout the novel and for Dostoevsky himself.

“…About none other than the universal questions: is there a God, is there immortality? And those who do not believe in God, well, they will talk about socialism and anarchism, about transforming the whole of mankind according to a new order, but it’s the same damned thing, the questions are all the same only from the other end. And many, many of all the most original Russian boys do nothing but talk about the eternal questions, now, in our time. Isn’t it so?...”

To the key characters surrounding Alexei, (Elder Zossima, his father, his brothers, Rakitin, et al) his destiny is understood perhaps more vividly than Alexei realizes himself. Yet ; this unwavering path of Alexei, having been blazed in part by the teachings of Elder Zossima, cuts through the forest of deceit, lust, faith, atheism, family dysfunction and corruption. The other characters appear to wander aimlessly in this forest of corruption and doubt, subconsciously aware of that moral datum that lies in the distance, periodically crossing it to seek consolation, justification and at times, to ridicule.

Humor:

Considering the depth of profound philosophical themes of questioning faith in God and patricide, I was quite surprised by the unexpected humor Dostoevsky interjected throughout the novel. The humorous respites were well considered in their placement so as not to detract from the overall intended sentiment of the novel.

"Marfa Ignatievna cooked dinner, and the soup compared with Smerdyakov's cooking, came out "like swill", while the chicken was so dry that teeth could not chew it. In reply to the bitter, though just, reproaches of her master, Marfa Ignatievna objected that the chicken was a very old one to begin with, and that she had never been to cooking school."

Other lasting impressions from the novel:

- I found it interesting how Dostoevsky begins and ends with “our hero”; the alpha and the omega. The novel’s opening words consist of Alexei’s full name and conclude with Alexei delivering a eulogy for Ilyushechka ending with a declaration of adoration for Alexei by the schoolboys.
- Part I, Book 3; “The Sensualists”
- Part II, Book 5, Chapter 5; “The Grand Inquistor”
- Part II, Book 6 “The Russian Monk” in its entirety
- Part III, Book 7, Chapter 1; “The Odor of Corruption”

"The deceased, your saint here", he (Father Farapont) turned to the crowd, pointing at the coffin with his finger, "denied devils. He gave purgatives against devils. So they bred here like spiders in the corners. and on this day he got himself stunk. In this we see a great sign from God."

- Part IV, Book 11, Chapter 9; “The Devil. Ivan Fyodorovich’s Nightmare”
- Part IV, Book 12, Chapetr 3; “Medical Expertise and One Pound of Nuts”

And lastly Part IV, Epilogue, Chapter 3; Ilyushechka’s Funeral. The Speech at the Stone”

The OP questioned the Ilyushechka’s death and Alexei’s subsequent “speech at the stone” I see at least two messages implied; one being Dostoevsky’s desire to “toss us a bone” of optimism, allowing us to close the book with a glimmer of hope. Secondly, I believe the funeral chapter was written as a tribute in memoriam to Dostoevsky’s own son who had died at the age of three when Dostoevsky was composing TBK. Perhaps Dostoevsky’s soul found solace in the possibilities of the eternal by having them delivered vicariously through Alexei, who was more secure in his faith than Dostoevsky was in his own.

Gilliatt

Theunderground
01-21-2011, 12:04 PM
Finished reading The Brother Karazamov yesterday.
A stupendous portrait of philosophy,ideas,dialogue,religion,human interaction and psychology. Most of all,a slice of real life.
Fyodor seems to have thought of almost every possible argument for and against religion.
From the first page a melon like smile broke over my face (i hadnt read dostoevsky for a while.) ,the differing styles of his narration,the humour,depth of ideas and his sudden bursts of emotional incidents makes the 800+ pages fly by.
Im looking forward to the idiot and finally the possessed to complete the 'big set.'
This book to my mind is vastly superior to crime and punishment,and i will end by repeating Friedrich Nietzsches' asessment of fyodors work:
'The only psychologist i had anything to learn off'.

mouseofcards89
01-23-2011, 05:40 PM
Dostoevsky planed to write another book about Alyosha but he never did. Ivan obviously gone mad, would probably die very soon.

I'm tempted to think otherwise when it comes to considering Ivan's fate. Though I agree with the general consensus that "The Insulted and the Humiliated" was Dostoevsky's single most autobiographical work, I see the character of Ivan Karamazov as an intellectual caricature of Dostoevsky as he was at the time of his own father's death/alleged murder at the hands of his peasants while he himself was studying at the engineering school. Ivan feels ultimately cheated, and has been made to believe that he himself was actually the unwitting agent behind his father's death. Dostoevsky harboured a lot of resentment towards his own father. Had he driven such a character to the madhouse, then he would have been condemning what he surely came to view in time as 'normal' feelings in the wake of a parent's death. Ivan basically came to represent the same European/Naturalist ideas that Dostoevsky himself embraced during the Petrashevsky/Beketov years. The character is his final verdict on his early, pre-Siberian self.