How to disengage from The Brothers Karamazov? Merely rhetorical, of course. Does adding the question mark make my statement a question? I want to read nothing else right away, fog bound as I am with Dostoyevsky’s novel parked in the centre of my mental runway.
I imagine that there are readers who read this story as a thrilling tale of murder and sexual friction, but that would be to disregard an encounter with massive principles and judgements. It isn’t fashionable to write such novels these days. It is barely recognisable as a novel. There are certainly few concessions to plot or structure.
I’m told that Dostoyevsky dictated his story, without returning to it, served it up just as it flowed from his crazy genius mind. I’ll have to read a decent biography. I last read Dostoyevsky in a grand passion in my late teens, tearing through Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, Notes from Underground, and The Gambler, reading for aesthetics as much as ideas. But I am glad I waited for The Brothers Karamazov — I understood that it would be essential to read it in the right spirit, with sufficient reading behind me to be intrigued and enriched by its echoes of other texts
This is a book to fully inhabit, from within the utterances of the Elder Zosima and the elation and despair of Ivan, those twin poles of Dostoyevsky’s indictment of God and religion through a debate on the ethics of killing. In the 800 odd pages of The Brothers Karamazov it is impossible not to be drawn into this darkest tragedy, to identify in part with the moral, religious, and psychological themes. It isn’t possible to disengage from this book as it concerns itself with issues that most of us take very seriously. The openness of its ending is a judgement in itself that the issues are too complex to warrant any final conclusions. What I shall immediately miss is the vivid dialogue, Dostoyevsky’s razor sharp perception and his extraordinarily complex characters.