I Have Read The Brothers Karamazov

After about a dozen failed attempts over about ten years, I have finally managed to read The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. It took me just over a month to read it but it was worth it. It’s a great book.

I read the translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, which was more approachable than the version by Constance Garnett. The language is more relatable to a contemporary audience. The included footnotes were helpful at times, too.

The story is not linear. It jumps around. At times, it was difficult for me to remember where in the story I was. Cleverly, the narrator reminded the reader of the relevant details from earlier in the book. The narrator feels frank and honest. The voice is somewhat refreshing after the excitement the characters go through.

And, there is drama. A lot of it. Each of the characters is expressive and hyperbolic. The characters are not tame or calculated, except for maybe the hero. From each, however, there is the opportunity to learn. In each, I could see an aspect of myself.

Dostoevsky has a fantastic way of describing what the characters are thinking and feeling, and how they are moving through different social spaces. Dostoevsky’s ability to pace the reader is phenomenal, taking you quickly through some scenes and drawing out long journeys. He can create a scene that stands alone but is entirely necessary to understand the dynamism of his characters.

The book is rich.

After reading the book, I started thinking that this is an extension of Crime and Punishment, another great by Dostoevsky. Is Raskolnikov a Karamazov?


Project Gutenberg offers an ebook of The Brothers Karamazov translated by Constance Garnett.

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