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The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoyevsky



Posted September 3, 2016 by

The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoyevsky – 1880

Reviewed by: Pete C.            Date: 26 September 2004


A powerful book; A year or so ago I read Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment and was really impressed with that novel. yet, if I had to compare the 2, I’d give THE BROTHERS 5 stars and CRIME 4. The main difference is the depth of the characters portrayed throughout the story. In CRIME, one character is intensely examined and it’s done quite successfully; however, in THE BROTHERS several characters are thoroughly developed and the reader is essentially taken into their heads, hearts, and lives.

It wouldn’t be right to discuss this novel without noting that, in addition to the character studies, the plot and the themes of the book are compelling. It’s hard not to become engrossed in thoughts of morality, love, and human nature as you read this story.

 One of my favorite quotes from THE BROTHERS reminds me of a similar quote from CRIME AND PUNISHMENT: in CRIME, Dostoyevsky writes, “…reason is passion’s slave”; in THE BROTHERS, he writes, “Such things you love not with your mind, not with logic, but with your insides, your guts, you love your first young strength.”

I’d have to say, though, that the following is my favorite quote from THE BROTHERS (perhaps reading it will encourage you to select this book instead of another as your next read):

“I bless the sun’s rising each day and my heart sings to it as before, but now I love its setting even more, its long slanting rays, and with them quiet, mild, tender memories, dear images from the whole of a long and blessed life—and over all is God’s truth, moving, reconciling, all-forgiving!”

Reviewed by: Ekaterina Mamyshev        Date: 22 July 2003


This is a masterpiece that will never die. I do not even know how to begin writing about it – it truly is unfathomable like Russia itself, like the Russian spirit. As the saying goes, “Umom Rossiu ne ponyat’, arshinom ne izmerit’ “, that is, Russia can be neither comprehended with the mind nor measured with a meterstick. I would recommend the book to anyone who is going through a “crisis period” in their life when they are not sure who they are or what their purpose is. When people come to me with questions like that, the first thing I do is send them to this book and tell them they will be able to relate to Ivan Karamazov.

The book, just like any of Dostoevsky’s works, has to be read several times – once for the plot and then another one, two, three or more times for the actual meaning of the book and the themes Dostoevsky explores. An important thing to remember is that Dosteovsky’s main contribution is in philosophy, not writing. Dostoevsky is one of the greatest philosophers that ever lived. If you read carefully between the lines of his works (like The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment and The Devils) you will see his deep prophetic vision of the Russian Revolution and other atrocities of mankind. After all, if everything is allowed and parental murder can be justified, then what stops murder of the tsar from being justified as well? Of course, Dostoevsky’s writing style is choppy, crude and vulgar (probably even more so in translation) and there are pages that, for instance, Tolstoy would never sign his name to. However, Tolstoy does not have such heights of thought and writing to his name as Dostoevsky has in his Great Inquisitor (part of The Brothers Karamazov).

This is definitely a book worth reading. It answers many questions, poses even more and overall brings the reader to a whole new level of life; life that at the very least can be summarized as “I think, therefore I am”.

Reviewed by: Liliana Rodriguez Maynez          Date: 15 April 2003

It has been 7 years since I read this book (1996!) and even when I can’t remember the details of the plot, I do remember what it did to my mind. It is an absolute masterpiece which must be read slowly in order to understand the moral dilemmas that the brothers go through in their relationship with their father and with the world in general.

If you decide to take your time and go for this book, make sure that you have pen and paper handy. You will need it! There are so many thoughts that the brothers have, which need to be savoured after you close the book. (freedom is a major theme in the book and the arguments made for and against are absolutely fantastic; so is religion).

I read the copy in Spanish and I thought it was a great translation. I am not sure how it would be in English, since the language is a bit more dry and needs short sentences. The editorial house I read it from is PORRUA, and it was great because their texts always come in two columns, which makes it easier to go through.

If you want a book which context is not a “fashion” or a “trend”, pick this one.

ReadLit Team


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