Seabury's Reviews > The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
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Mar 03, 2008

it was amazing
Recommended for: Thinkers
Read in June, 2008

** spoiler alert ** After reading this book, I waited a day, and then I had this irristable compulsion to write about it, so I pulled out a notebook and filled out several pages with my thoughts on this book. For the readers of this review, I'll spare you. One thing that can be said for this book is that it does produce thought, regardless of how frustrating of a read it may be at times. No review I write could ever do this book justice, and I recommend it to everyone who likes being provoked into thinking about the great questions. This book feels incomplete, but that must be at least somewhat intentional. The book doesn't provide answers. It provides great arguments against and for god, but does not resolve, there is no winner. The closest thing to a definitive stance the book takes is on love. The protagonist, Alyosha, is essentially the embodiment of blind love, and Dostoyovsky certainly sides with him, portraying him as almost a saint. Even so, Dostoyevsky doesn't portray it without nuance. Blind love did not save Alyosha's brothers or father, nor does it resolve the love triangle at the center of the book. I have 2 gripes with this book. The first one is that Dostoyevsky has an irritating habit of partially sketching out characters and then abandoning them. What of Lise, what of Rakitan, what of Konya? It is torturous how he just leaves off these characters just when the reader is getting interested in them. My other gripe is the strange psychotic self-alalytical dialogue that the characters sometimes get into. It comes off as some sort of psychological/philosophical panic attack, and far from filling in the character, it just manages to confuse. Dostyovsky devoted many pages of Grushenka, but the majority of these were this self-analysis, and so the image the reader gets it that Grushenka might be schizophrenic, or bipolar, and certainly insane. It might be useful to get a glimpse into a character's core being, but if that is all we get, then we know nothing. It doesn't make sense to plunge the depths of something if you don't know what the surface looks like. So, in my idealized version of this book, dostoyevsky would have cut out maybe half the self-psychoanalysis, and then added a few hundred pages before the trial at the end of the book that fleshes out these half-fleshed characters. Nonetheless, this book is fantastic as it stands and earns an enthusiastic 5 stars from me. As a final note, the intro to this version isn't really worth reading. It is mostly a freudian analysis of the book. In other words, it used to be "fashionable" among lit critics, but it is mostly bogus. Modern psychology has mostly discredited freud, rendering the intro mostly nonsense.
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Tempest Seems to be a popular book at the moment.

We should keep one another updated on thoughts/musings.


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