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Ken’s review of The Brothers Karamazov
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Jul 06, 2009 11:57AM
Great to see. If you dislike it, you can blame it on me. If you like it, thank yourself for being open minded. See there, that's a no lose situation.
Jul 06, 2009 05:29PM
Read the first 70. Some laugh-out-loud moments with Daddy Fyodor and the kiddies in front of the elder. I mean, what comes out of Daddy K's mouth is anybody's guess -- and the reactions of his audience are terrific.
Of course you get the sometimes annoying Dostoevski habit of leaving the action so the elder can step outside and greet women pilgrims for 3 chapters before returning to the farce-in-progress, but that might as much be a function of the century as it is of the writer...
In any event, I won't blame you no matter what I ultimately feel. July's about the only month I can attack a book this big, so I'm going for it. Plus, I'm reading it as a comedy. The translator put me on to the humorous aspect, so I said, OK, I can do that.
Jul 06, 2009 05:35PM
Awesome! And yes, Fyodor Karamazov is quite the character. So is Dmitri and his love interest Grushenka, both of whom you'll get to know very, very well.
(last edited Jul 06, 2009 05:52PM)
Jul 06, 2009 05:52PM
Considering the page count, I have a feeling I'll know LOTS of Russkies very, very well. Luckily, I'm a Russophile with a lot of Russian Lit already in my otherwise B-Negative blood. Most important to me is the smoothness of the translation. Nothing stiff and false-sounding -- a typical problem with translations. And, judging by the notes (back of the book), Dosty knows his Bible! Jesus, Mary, and Joseph (about the extent of my knowledge) but he's smart!
(last edited Jul 07, 2009 06:24PM)
Jul 07, 2009 06:23PM
I used to read Russian novels in the winter because it better fits the mood. Now, thanks to the agrarian model of education, I tackle them in summer -- but the mood for the Bros. K has been perfect in Maine. Clouds. Rain. Cold. Today it started at 54 degrees, struggled up to 58, then faltered down to 52. For the third day this week, I've had to wear jeans and a sweatshirt and fire up the wood stove. All of this in the first week of July! Perhaps it's the Ghost of Dosty helping me out?
Anyway, by p. 145 the pieces are falling into place and the conflict is beginning to gel nicely. The boys are fleshed out (perfect term for "sensualists"!) and interacting. Still, if a character steps outside and sees a linden tree, Dosty might call time out and take a few chapters to give the history of the linden tree, its little family of leaves, buds, and bark, the root of all its troubles, and the prospects of rain before returning to his main plot. He just can't help himself.
Still waiting to meet Grushenka. She's getting the best build-up a character could ask for, I'll tell you. Can you spell
in Cyrillic? I didn't think so...
Jul 09, 2009 04:04PM
Now on the doorsteop of the "Grand Inquisitor" chapter, which I think is the book's most famous. The one just before it (which I just read) called "Rebellion" is quite the rant against Christianity and God specifically, too. Amazing how similar Tolstoy and Dostoevsky were in their fascinations with religion and big, unanswerable questions: "Is there a God?", "Is there life after death?", and "Why?"
I like subtle things in a book. For instance this, from p. 223. Alexei has just climbed the wattle fence to try to catch is brother Dmitri unawares in the gazebo outside his house. Alexei sits in the gazebo waiting and thinks of dumb stuff like so:
"On the green table a circle was imprinted from yesterday's glass of cognac, which must have spilled over. Empty and profitless thoughts, as always during a tedious time of waiting, crept into his head: for example, why, as he had come in now, had he sat precisely in the very same place as the day before, and not in some other place? Finally he became very sad, sad from anxious uncertainty."
(last edited Jul 09, 2009 07:03PM)
Jul 09, 2009 06:58PM
I also like the term "sensualists" as applied to Fyodor and Dmitri. They have a lot of similar qualities which is part of the reason they hate either other so much, I believe.
I love that whole conversation that you're in the middle of the reading right now: the one where Alyosha is speaking with Ivan in the bar.
I can't remember when they detail the death of Father Zossima (not a spoiler). Have you got to that part yet? Zossima is a remakable character.
Did you know that the character, Alyosha, was named after Dostoevsky's son that died at a young age? Alyosha is a unique hero, but certainly a hero, nonetheless.
I head to vacation tomorrow and won't be online for over a week, but I look forward to reading your thoughts upon my return.
Jul 19, 2009 12:24PM
So... more thoughts?
(last edited Jul 19, 2009 04:36PM)
Jul 19, 2009 04:35PM
It's moving faster now, what with the crime and the mystery of it (now solved, as I read the chapter where you know who admits you know what).
Struck by similarities between the passions of Dmitri and Alexei. Only the passions are directed in different directions. Still, there's a simplicity of heart at the root of both of their characters, unlike with #3 there.
The chapter called "The Devil" makes me wonder if it was the inspiration for
The Master and Margarita
which I've read twice. So similar in tone and style!
A cameo for Tolstoy! Dosty takes his shots at his enemies and supports his friends in this book. The Tolstoy aside was something about a minute detail "such as Leo Tolstoy would notice." Hmn. Telling, that.
The whole section on Ilyushka was like a fairy tale. Very different from the others, though I can sense how he'll be folding it in. Liked it a lot. Some expert psychological observations on the ways boys act and think (having taught for umpteen years, I've seen it at work myself).
I see you're reading the polar opposite of Dosty stylistically (Hemingway). "Senta, Rinaldi, Senta! You and me, we've made a separate peace!"
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