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January 2017: Foreign Literature > The Brothers Karamazov 4.5 stars

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message 1: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments 4.5 stars
This was a really challenging and slow going book but one which I appreciated immensely. As a psychologist, I enjoy Dostoyevsky's novels because they are often like reading long psychological case studies.

I alternated between audio and text and unfortunately both were different translated versions. I did not love the audio and found the narrator to be very dry and monotone. I believe the audio was the classic Garnett translation. Honestly, I find her translation style to have been fairly dry and academic. In contrast the text was the updated Pevear and Volokhonsky version which was much more readable and enjoyable.

Anyway, The Brothers Karamazov is a philosophical/psychological novel that deals with notions of family, morality, religion, and more. It's almost 800 pages and in those pages theological and philosophical questions are raised in the context of what is plot-wise a crime story. I'm assuming that most people know the primary plot but just in case I won't say much more about it.

This book was a very slow read. The questions raised are interesting ones but there are many LONG theological monologues that go on for chapters and chapters. I struggled with those section and wished I had read them within a classroom setting to get the most out of them. Dostoyevsky muses about free will, human nature, and the meaning of family -- the attorney for the defense goes on a long monologue about what makes a man a father (is it biological relationship or nurturing that child).

The three brothers are interesting characters and wholly different from one another. They are all driven by passions (as is the Karamazov nature) but these passions express themselves in different ways.

Great classic that requires a lot of slow wadding through of the many interesting philosophical musings.


message 2: by Book Concierge (last edited Jan 19, 2017 01:25PM) (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6407 comments I applaud you for finishing. I couldn't. I gave up after about 600 pages. And I really wanted to read it, because Crime and Punishment is one of my all-time favorite books.

Still I did give it 3 stars ....


message 3: by Kimber (new)

Kimber (kimberwolf) | 841 comments I'm reading Brothers Karamazov for my book discussion group - the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation. We've given ourselves two months to read it before discussing - hopefully it's enough time as most of this month is gone, and I haven't made it past the first chapter yet. I tend to read more than one book at a time and I keep hopping back and forth. Based on your review comments, I think I better buckle down and focus on this one book in order to finish on time.


message 4: by Marina (new)

Marina (sonnenbarke) Great review, Jen. I have this on my TBR, but for some reason keep putting it off. I've read many books by Dostoyevsky and loved them all, so I guess I will like this one, too.


message 5: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments Kimber wrote: "I'm reading Brothers Karamazov for my book discussion group - the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation. We've given ourselves two months to read it before discussing - hopefully it's enough time as m..."

I generally read more than one book at a time but I found myself only reading this one because it required lots of concentration and I had to power through certain sections


message 6: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments Marina wrote: "Great review, Jen. I have this on my TBR, but for some reason keep putting it off. I've read many books by Dostoyevsky and loved them all, so I guess I will like this one, too."

Thanks. If you have liked the others, you will probably like this one too.


message 7: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments Book Concierge wrote: "I applaud you for finishing. I couldn't. I gave up after about 600 pages. And I really wanted to read it, because Crime and Punishment is one of my all-time favorite books.

Still I did..."


I can't deny that there were moments when I wanted to give up


message 8: by Denizen (new)

Denizen (den13) | 1138 comments I loved this book.

I discovered my senior year in college that I could take literature courses in the foreign language department and read them in English (but doing so did not meet foreign language requirements) so I took a class in Russian literature. I read a translation by Andrew McAndrew (I still have my battered paperback copy.) It was a class of 5 people and we met in the prof's office. The prof was always very interested in the words used in my translation. He was always asking me what word was used in a particular passage and would then either approve or fine tune the word choice and meaning, "No, it's more like this." It added an interesting element to the reading. He was a native Russian.


message 9: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments Denizen wrote: "I loved this book.

I discovered my senior year in college that I could take literature courses in the foreign language department and read them in English (but doing so did not meet foreign langu..."


What a perfect way to read it. I do think I would have loved to read this book with a class to discuss


message 10: by Regina Lindsey (new)

Regina Lindsey | 1005 comments Jen wrote: "4.5 stars
This was a really challenging and slow going book but one which I appreciated immensely. As a psychologist, I enjoy Dostoyevsky's novels because they are often like reading long psycholog..."


I agree. He does a great job developing the psychological aspects of a character.


message 11: by Denizen (new)

Denizen (den13) | 1138 comments Jen wrote: "Denizen wrote: "I loved this book.

I discovered my senior year in college that I could take literature courses in the foreign language department and read them in English (but doing so did not me..."

What a perfect way to read it. I do think I would have loved to read this book with a class to discuss


I was the only one reading it in English. It was a great class because everyone wanted to be there and was interested in the readings.


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