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Dostoevsky, Brothers Karamazov > Brothers Karamazov, Book 10

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message 1: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Still plenty of discussion going on about the earlier books, which is great; there's enough meat in BK to discuss for months if we want to. So no need to feel pressured to pass along from earlier books if you're not done with them yet. But for those ready to move onward, and so that we keep on schedule to get to Chekhov on time, here's the thread for Book 10.

I was startled by the first chapters abandoning, for the moment, poor Dmitri to his jail cell, and indeed all the Karamazov brothers, and starting to talk about what seemed like random children -- what, I wondered, was this about? But eventually we came to Alyosha and see him interacting with them boys.

This, I thought, is what Zosima sent Alyosha out into the world for. As Zoisima was mentor to Alyosha, teaching him the way to show love for all people, so Alyosha now, it seems to me, is passing on the lessons to the next generation. These are boys who have had some pattern of cruelty and unkindness; can Alyosha, by teaching and example, help them learn the lessons of love and caring?

The other aspect of this book which interested me is the philosophical passages with Kolya. He seems surprisingly thoughtful for a 13 year old; not necessarily mature thoughts yet, but thinking the right sort of thoughts. We have all, probably, watched the habits of dogs, but have all of us thought that while it might seem funny to us, there's nothing funny in nature, and much of what we do would look funny to dogs if they could think that way? The things we find funny in nature (have you ever seen a river otter walking on land? It's hilarious) are quite serious to the animals involved.

And his definition of Socialist was amusing. No laws, eh?

But I was just remarking to my wife the other day that as the weather gets chillier, I seem to feel the cold much more significantly than I will later in the winter when it's become the norm. And here a 13 year old schoolboy has the exact same thought.

And in the later chapters where he's talking with Alyosha, I really like how Alyosha is willing to take him seriously and talk to him as though they were intellectual equals. I venture to suggest that Kolya has never run across a schoolmaster who will take him that seriously.

Oh -- one final little thought. We had been discussing some books back how large or small the village was. Here it seems larger than I had thought it was -- the boys walk "a considerable distance" to get to Ilyusha's house. Maybe the village isn't as small or compact as I had been imagining.


message 2: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 856 comments Koyla seems more like an 17-18 year old - perhaps an immature an 18 year old. He is obviously trying to appear older, as young people do, but he seems to know a lot too.

Alyosha's interpersonal skills, his way with people, really comes out in this book. He has a natural talent for bringing out the best in people (maybe not Lise) especially kids.

Must agree with both of you about the cold weather. I always thought it had to do with the dampness of fall as opposed to the otherwise dry cold air of winter. In recent years we have had a number of warm spells in mid winter but they didn't feel at all as cold as temperatures around 0 Celsius feels now. I like to keep my home temperature quite cool (14-15 c) during the coldest part of winter because the shock of going outside into the cold air is lessened. We should do the same with hot environments needing air conditioning - let the body adjust to the seasons and let us get used to being a little warm indoors in summer.

I am sure that ravens have a sense of humor. I can't prove it, but I've watched them trying to get food by dancing, or trying to lead on some poor barking dog by dive bombing it, as if to mock it.
If not a sense of humour, I do honestly believe that wildlife loves to play when it has a chance. Humans aren't the only ones who enjoy play.


message 3: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Theresa wrote: "Alyosha's interpersonal skills, his way with people, really comes out in this book. He has a natural talent for bringing out the best in people (maybe not Lise) especially kids.."

Good point, though I'm not sure I agree about Lise. I wonder whether we'll see her again and know how his interactions with her turned out. I still have hope for them.


message 4: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 856 comments Everyman wrote: "I was startled by the first chapters abandoning, for the moment, poor Dmitri to his jail cell, and indeed all the Karamazov brothers, and starting to talk about what seemed like random children -- what, I wondered, was this about? But eventually we came to Alyosha and see him interacting with them boys. ..."

yes, I recall checking my kindle to see if I had opened the right book. Quite a stark change of subject from all that had just happened in the previous book. Could we be having this reaction because of the way the book was serialized? If some weeks or months had passed since his readers had read book 9, I doubt they would have felt confused by the way this book starts out.


message 5: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 856 comments The story of the dog and the pin is interesting.


message 6: by Marieke (last edited Oct 07, 2016 04:07AM) (new)

Marieke | 98 comments Theresa wrote: "Everyman wrote: "I was startled by the first chapters abandoning, for the moment, poor Dmitri to his jail cell, and indeed all the Karamazov brothers, and starting to talk about what seemed like ra..."

This might have somethingto do with that this is part of a new 'part' of the book, suggesting it is publilshed later. It reminds me somehow of tv-series: not every episode starts at the same point as where it left of the previous episode.

Having said that, it was kind of an abrupt change of subject. It made me ponder the question further in how those books, that got published in different parts were read and written. Was the book written as a whole and just cut up and published? Or did the writer publish a part and only then started to write the next part. And if so, did he take note of suggestions or reader questions in that period?

I didn't see the oppurtunity to investigate these questions any further, but I'd like to find out the answers. In short it's a whole different system of publishing a book than I'm used to, as goes for a lot of people nowadays I guess


message 7: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 856 comments I noticed while reading Dickens' Bleak House that it was better to read in accordance with the serialization schedule and to give yourself a break of a few days before reading ahead. If I recall, we did mostly stick to that schedule when the group read that book. In this case I was eager to keep going after finishing book 9 but maybe I should have waited for awhile.


message 8: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 856 comments I have been looking for the publication schedule but can't seem to find anything other than that there were monthly installments published over two years.


message 9: by David (new)

David | 2681 comments Is this our first concrete example of Zossima's solution of being responsible for each other (and what can happen if pride is put asside)?
He had taken the two hundred roubles from Katerina Ivanovna just as Alyosha had predicted he would. And afterwards Katerina Ivanovna, learning more about their circumstances and Ilusha's illness, visited them herself, made the acquaintance of the family. . .and the captain. . .forgot his pride and humbly accepted her assistance.

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. The Brothers Karamazov (p. 381). BookMasters. Kindle Edition.



message 10: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 856 comments David wrote: "Is this our first concrete example of Zossima's solution of being responsible for each other (and what can happen if pride is put asside)?He had taken the two hundred roubles from Katerina Ivanovna..."
He was willing to take the money before, so long as it wasn't attached to Dmitri. Did he really forget his pride? This gift seems to be based more on a real connection between Katerina and the family.


message 11: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 856 comments I do think it is an example of Katerina doing the right thing for the right reason.


message 12: by Borum (new)

Borum | 493 comments Everyman wrote: "Still plenty of discussion going on about the earlier books, which is great; there's enough meat in BK to discuss for months if we want to. So no need to feel pressured to pass along from earlier b..."

Not only river otters, but all the animals (like penguins) that seem so smooth and fast underwater appear hilarious on land to us landlubbers. Imagine how awkward we look in water or in air to the natural-born swimmers and flyers!

Kolya's passing comment on the power of habit sent chills down my back for some reason. It reminded me of how people can get used to anything and for some reason, it brought me back the memory of what Ivan said before: that everything is permitted. If people can get accustomed to even the most shocking things if introduced gradually, wouldn't it lead to a state where everything is permitted? Kolya and the new generation's immature yet precocious susceptibility to new modern intellectual and ideological books and theories (and most likely propaganda) remind me how society gradually change to accept some things as most natural that seemed impossible or unimaginable before.
It's most alarming as Alyosha said that even children (with the age threshold decreasing more and more rapidly) are influenced and these children are going to shape the future.


message 13: by Acontecimal (new)

Acontecimal | 111 comments Theresa wrote: "I do think it is an example of Katerina doing the right thing for the right reason."

Me too


message 14: by Acontecimal (new)

Acontecimal | 111 comments Everyman wrote: "And in the later chapters where he's talking with Alyosha, I really like how Alyosha is willing to take him seriously and talk to him as though they were intellectual equals. I venture to suggest that Kolya has never run across a schoolmaster who will take him that seriously.."

Yes, he desperately needs to be taken serious like a grown up, that´s why he hates so much when people mention his age. He probably misses someone with whom he can discuss his serious ideas; too smart for kids with his age, and too young for adults.


message 15: by Hilary (new)

Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 229 comments What a bittersweet story of the ailing Ilusha. That whole episode with Kolya and the dog, Zhutchka is strange but poignant. I know that Kolya is still only a child and a precocious one it's true, but his wonderful gift of the 'resurrected' dog is somewhat sullied by the fact that Kolya kept him for two weeks in order to teach him tricks. Surely this was self-indulgence on Kolya's part! What did Ilusha care whether or not his beloved dog could be a circus performer or not. He had an unnecessary two weeks of anguish as a consequence of Kolya's pride. Poor Ilusha's delight is quickly tainted by the realisation that his distress had been needlessly prolonged.

Then we have Kolya and the goose. His vivid description of the goose and its disposal is rather shocking. He just tosses in this event very nonchalantly without any sense of the grimness of the tale.

So Kolya meets Alyosha who has become a bit of a hero in his eyes. Of course Kolya wants to impress him. I think that this is why he overreaches himself in an effort to impress. Kolya's immaturity is obvious, but, I suppose, that I ought to view him sympathetically rather than judging him. That having been said I would not like to spend even five minutes in his presence!


message 16: by Hilary (new)

Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 229 comments Oh, how obnoxious is that doctor. Pride in a doctor is probably one of the most difficult things to stomach. For me anyhow. Of all the professions where the patient is vulnerable and needs to be treated with respect, the doctor is the one who fits the bill. I was actually cheering Kolya on when he called the doc 'apothecary'. I also felt for Kolya when he cried and his true feelings were displayed in front of Alyosha. I guess he's not a bad boy after all!


message 17: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 856 comments Hilary wrote: " I guess he's not a bad boy after all! .."

He's got potential!


message 18: by Acontecimal (new)

Acontecimal | 111 comments Hilary wrote: "Oh, how obnoxious is that doctor. Pride in a doctor is probably one of the most difficult things to stomach. For me anyhow. Of all the professions where the patient is vulnerable and needs to be tr..."

Agreed. Dostoyevsky seems to criticize doctors, like Proust. Kolya sure hates them haha


message 19: by Hilary (new)

Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 229 comments That's interesting, Luiz. I didn't know that this was a recurring theme for Dostoyevsky. Nor do I know Proust, at all. That I shall have to remedy!


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