Igor Stojanov's Reviews > The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
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really liked it

I am amazed by the depth of this book. Dostoyevsky was a mastermind in sharing philosophical insights through his characters.

The majority of the story revolves around 3 brothers (Ivan, Mitya, Alosha) and their 'father'. He was their father because he begot them, but not because he loved them just like a father shall. Even though initially the family is apart, it gets together by the nature of faith and leads to the unfolding of many stories. The stories consist of family love triangles, jealousy, money, bribes to have culminated with the murder of the father.

What I loved most about the dialogues is that the characters are all strong intellectually, and bring about the best arguments from their position. Dostoyevsky doesn't create strawmen and attemt to argue his virtues, but rather creates the strongest opposites and lets them battle. This is most evident in the dialogue between Alosha and Ivan and the final dialogue at the trial.

I was almost brought to tears at several points of the book. The author knew how to touch the depths of one soul.

Some quotes:
-Everyone now knew, enlightened by successive deceptions, that there is no such thing as ultimate reality. ‘Our authentic experience has been revealed as a multiplicity of depths and these depths go on to infinity.’

- Thus he possessed in himself, in his very nature, so to speak, artlessly and directly, the gift of awakening a special love for himself

-Although, unfortunately, these young men do not understand that the sacrifice of life is, perhaps, the easiest of all sacrifices in many cases, while to sacrifice, for example, five or six years of their ebulliently youthful life to hard, difficult studies, to learning, in order to increase tenfold their strength to serve the very truth and the very deed that they loved and set out to accomplish—such sacrifice is quite often almost beyond the strength of many of them

-same, there is on earth, in such and such a place, somewhere, someone holy and exalted; he has the truth; he knows the truth; so the truth does not die on earth, and therefore someday it will come to us and will reign over all the earth, as has been promised

-A man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point where he does not discern any truth either in himself or anywhere around him, and thus falls into disrespect towards himself and others. Not respecting anyone, he ceases to love, and having no love, he gives himself up to passions and coarse pleasures, in order to occupy and amuse himself, and in his vices reaches complete bestiality, and it all comes from lying continually to others and to himself. A man who lies to himself is often the first to take offense.

-the more I love mankind in general, the less I love people in particular, that is, individually, as separate persons.

-It’s that a man falls in love with some beautiful thing, with a woman’s body, or even with just one part of a woman’s body (a sensualist will understand that), and is ready to give his own children for it, to sell his father and mother, Russia and his native land, and though he’s honest, he’ll go and steal; though he’s meek, he’ll kill; though he’s faithful, he’ll betray.

-‘If there is no immortality of the soul, then there is no virtue, and therefore everything is permitted

-Mankind will find strength in itself to live for virtue, even without believing in the immortality of the soul! Find it in the love of liberty, equality, fraternity...”

-that the science of this world, having united itself into a great force, has, especially in the past century, examined everything heavenly that has been bequeathed to us in sacred books, and, after hard analysis, the learned ones of this world have absolutely nothing left of what was once holy. But they have examined parts and missed the whole, and their blindness is even worthy of wonder

-God did not exist, he would have to be invented: S’il n’existait pas Dieu, il faudrait l’inventer.[130] And man has, indeed, invented God. And the strange thing, the wonder would not be that God really exists, the wonder is that such a notion—the notion of the necessity of God—could creep into the head of such a wild and wicked animal as man—so holy, so moving, so wise a notion, which does man such great honor

-: I have a childlike conviction that the sufferings will be healed and smoothed over, that the whole offensive comedy of human contradictions will disappear like a pitiful mirage, a vile concoction of man’s Euclidean mind, feeble and puny as an atom, and that ultimately, at the world’s finale, in the moment of eternal harmony, there will occur and be revealed something so precious that it will suffice for all hearts, to allay all indignation, to redeem all human villainy, all bloodshed; it will suffice not only to make forgiveness possible, but also to justify everything that has happened with men—

-imagine that you yourself are building the edifice of human destiny with the object of making people happy in the finale, of giving them peace and rest at last, but for that you must inevitably and unavoidably torture just one tiny creature, that same child who was beating her chest with her little fist, and raise your edifice on the foundation of her unrequited tears—would you agree to be the architect on such conditions? Tell me the truth.”

-In this you were right. For the mystery of man’s being is not only in living, but in what one lives for. Without a firm idea of what he lives for, man will not consent to live and will sooner destroy himself than remain on earth, even if there is bread all around him. That is so, but what came of it? Instead of taking over men’s freedom, you increased it still more for them!

-My life is coming to an end, I know and sense it, but I feel with every day that is left me how my earthly life is already touching a new, infinite, unknown, but swift-approaching life, anticipating which my soul trembles with rapture, my mind is radiant, and my heart weeps joyfully .

-For all men in our age are separated into units, each seeks seclusion in his own hole, each withdraws from the others, hides himself, and hides what he has, and ends by pushing himself away from people and pushing people away from himself. He accumulates wealth in solitude, thinking: how strong, how secure I am now; and does not see, madman as he is, that the more he accumulates, the more he sinks into suicidal impotence.

-What is hell?” And I answer thus: “The suffering of being no longer able to love.”[21

-It was as if threads from all those innumerable worlds of God all came together in his soul, and it was trembling all over, “touching other worlds.” He wanted to forgive everyone and for everything, and to ask forgiveness, oh, not for himself! but for all and for everything, “as others are asking for me,” rang again in his soul. But witheach moment he felt clearly and almost tangibly something as firm and immovable as this heavenly vault descend into his soul. Some sort of idea, as it were, was coming to reign in his mind—now for the whole of his life and unto ages of ages. He fell to the earth a weak youth and rose up a fighter, steadfast for the rest of his life, and he knew it and felt it suddenly, in that very moment of his ecstasy. Never, never in all his life would Alyosha forget that moment. “Someone visited my soul in that hour,” he would say afterwards, with firm belief in his words . . . Three days later he left the monastery, which was also in accordance with the words of his late elder, who had bidden him to “sojourn in the world.”

-So do not be like everyone else; even if you are the only one left who is not like that, still do not be like that.”

-There was, they say, a certain thinker and philosopher here on your earth, who ‘rejected all—laws, conscience, faith,’[316] and, above all, the future life. He died and thought he’d go straight into darkness and death, but no—there was the future life before him. He was amazed and indignant: ‘This,’ he said, ‘goes against my convictions.’ So for that he was sentenced ... I mean, you see, I beg your pardon, I’m repeating what I heard, it’s just a legend ... you see, he was sentenced to walk in darkness a quadrillion kilometers (we also use kilometers now), and once he finished that quadrillion, the doors of paradise would be opened to him and he would be forgiven everything.”

-The moment the doors of paradise were opened and he went in, before he had even been there two seconds—and that by the watch, the watch (though I should think that on the way his watch would long ago have broken down into its component elements in his pocket)—before he had been there two seconds, he exclaimed that for those two seconds it would be worth walking not just a quadrillion kilometers, but a quadrillion quadrillion, even raised to the quadrillionth power.

-y. Fools, they never asked me! In my opinion, there is no need to destroy anything, one need only destroy the idea of God in mankind, that’s where the business should start! One should begin with that, with that—oh, blind men, of no understanding! Once mankind has renounced God, one and all (and I believe that this period, analogous to the geological periods, will come), then the entire old world view will fall of itself, without anthropophagy, and, above all, the entire former morality, and everything will be new. People will come together in order to take from life all that it can give, but, of course, for happiness and joy in this world only. Man will be exalted with the spirit of divine, titanic pride, and the man-god will appear. Man, his will and his science no longer limited, conquering nature every hour, will thereby every hour experience such lofty delight as will replace for him all his former hopes of heavenly delight. Each will know himself utterly mortal, without resurrection, and will accept death proudly and calmly, like a god. Out of pride he will understand that he should not murmur against the momentariness of life, and he will love his brother then without any reward. Love will satisfy only the moment of life, but the very awareness of its momentariness will increase its fire, inasmuch as previously it was diffused in hopes of an eternal love beyond the grave’ ... well, and so on and so on, in the same vein. Lovely!

-Ah, children, ah, dear friends, do not be afraid of life! How good life is when you do something good and rightful

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Reading Progress

April 8, 2018 – Shelved
April 8, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
August 28, 2018 – Started Reading
September 25, 2018 –
page 300
October 1, 2018 –
page 450
October 8, 2018 –
page 700
October 20, 2018 – Finished Reading

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