Kristin's Reviews > The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
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Jul 18, 11

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How can a person really write a review of this book? It is wholly amazing; it is the undisputed and eternal king of my favorite books, my most favorite of all books I've ever read. And that's a lot. I guess what I love most about it, despite the sprawling nature of that love, can ultimately be described in two ways: first, the writing (whatever translation you're talking about, it doesn't matter) is so ahead of its time. The humor is literally laugh-out-loud-and-grin funny in modern America, though it was written in 1800s Russia. That is just insane. Similarly, the emotions and dilemmas of the characters, expressed as they are by The Master, Dostoevsky, are the same emotions and dilemmas of young people TODAY. The reader is constantly engaged and moved to think such contemporary things as, "Oh, snap!" and "What a bitch!" I can think of no other work from the 1800s that can be so really and truly, intimately related to in present times. Because of this, each sentence is fascinating and personal. To me, it's "unputdownable." Secondly, the whole giant story hinges on one sentence. Just one tiny, simple fact. The garden gate-- whether or not it was open or closed when Dmitri arrived at the fateful moment is the key to everything. How incredible that such a huge tale could revolve like a solar system around one fact like a star. And so those are the two main contributing factors, but there's a third, more general and debatable one, which is that Dostoevsky's women are light years ahead of their time. When you look at works from the 1800s in England, for example, the woman is a shackled person yearning to be free and sitting in dreadful drawing rooms in uncomfortable dresses, watching her tongue and ensuring proper manners. In Dostoevsky's works, the Russian woman is a badass mofo who does what she wants. She may OR may not be a femme fatale, may OR may not be a hysterical witch, but she is never a whimsical or delicate thing. She's a thinking person with a unique personality, ambitions, goals, motivations, who engages in intelligent and unapologetic speech with men as an equal, AND NOT as a deliberate act of feminism but rather just naturally--always. I've heard some people say that they don't like how Dostoevsky writes women. I have a theory-- that these are the same people who like Hemingway. I don't know if that's true, it's just a theory, but maybe there will be some people who know what I mean. So I guess that's my review. My heart is lined with newspaper-print pages from The Brothers K. And please, I beg anyone wanting to read this book: don't for a minute think that any bit of it is extraneous, even as it seems to wander. Character development is never a waste with Dostoevsky, instead a sublime work of art. And here's a general tip for the names that daunt so many casual readers: If you see a name ending with "sha" or "ya" or "ka," that's how you know it's a nickname. How do you know whose nickname then? The part in front of these endings will match either the beginning or the emphasized syllable of someone's long name. Mitya= DMITri. AlYOSHA= ALexei. KATYA= KATerina Ivanovna. Okay; Grushenka/Grusha's a tough one. But that's Agrafena Alexandrovna. You can figure it out. Really!
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