The Readers Review: Literature from 1714 to 1910 discussion

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2010/11 Group Reads - Archives > The Brothers Karamazov - Part III, Book Seven

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Aloysha's book. One of the places where the epigraph echoes loudly:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (John 12:24)


message 2: by John (new)

John David (nicholasofautrecourt) It looks like the book discussion has dwindled to a mere trickle. Whatever happened?


message 3: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments I think everyone is out Xmas shopping!


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Kathy hasn't read this far, Madge tossed the book across the room, I don't have time, John's busy explaining Kierkegaard, Adelle and Patrice were our backbone but are probably out doing Xmas related things, and so poor Dostoevsky sits in his cold snowy room in St. Petersburg and waits for us.


message 5: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments LOL. Serve him right, Russian Scrooge that he was!


message 6: by John (new)

John David (nicholasofautrecourt) No, I'm not busy explaining Kierkegaard. Or ... I am, but have plenty of time to do this, too. I'm just two books behind schedule (I just started book VI).

Madge stopped reading? Seriously?

I don't know how the book selection goes, but I know that I haven't been here as long as many other people, but I sort of saw this coming from the very beginning. It might be best to stick to shorter books in the future - and maybe not just around the holidays, too.


message 7: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments It wasn't the length of the book John, it was the density of it I think, a lot of deep, often gloomy, thoughts to get our heads around in between the storylines. We have made a plea for lighter books to be nominated next time, perhaps a humourous one.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

John wrote: "No, I'm not busy explaining Kierkegaard. Or ... I am, but have plenty of time to do this, too. I'm just two books behind schedule (I just started book VI).

Madge stopped reading? Seriously? ..."


That's up to Chris. This was nominated by the members and clearly the winner by votes, but it's an ambitious book to tackle without a dedicated moderator to keep the discussion focused. Actually, it's an ambitious project even with a knowledgeable moderator. I don't think we've done that badly. Christmas is a killer and a small group like this isn't going to have lots of participants/book.


message 9: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments I don't think we've done that badly. Christmas is a killer and a small group like this isn't going to have lots of participants/book.

I agree Kate, and although you have done a jolly good job as Moderator, I think we could have done with Chris' input too if only to lighten your load.


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

MadgeUK wrote: "I don't think we've done that badly. Christmas is a killer and a small group like this isn't going to have lots of participants/book.

I agree Kate, and although you have done a jolly good job as M..."


Thanks Madge! But this has really been catch as catch can on my part. I can't wait for Chris to get back here and take over!!!


message 11: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Yes, he is sadly missed:(:(.


message 12: by John (new)

John David (nicholasofautrecourt) MadgeUK wrote: "It wasn't the length of the book John, it was the density of it I think, a lot of deep, often gloomy, thoughts to get our heads around in between the storylines. We have made a plea for lighter b..."

Had you never read Dostoevsky before this, Madge? Did you expect him to be light and full of pep when you started reading?


toria (vikz writes) (victoriavikzwrites) Kate Mc. wrote: "John wrote: "No, I'm not busy explaining Kierkegaard. Or ... I am, but have plenty of time to do this, too. I'm just two books behind schedule (I just started book VI).

Madge stopped reading? ..."


I must admit that I've been quiet. But, that's simply because I haven't had much to say. I've been lurking though. I found this tough going but that's what I expected. I'm really glad that I've made the effort. Keep going guys. You'll find your hard work will pay off in the end.


message 14: by John (new)

John David (nicholasofautrecourt) Vikz, it can be tough-going, but we'd really appreciate all the voices here we can get, yours included. It's been a bit sparse lately, and your comments are certainly welcome.


message 15: by toria (vikz writes) (last edited Dec 16, 2010 03:15AM) (new)

toria (vikz writes) (victoriavikzwrites) MadgeUK wrote: "I think everyone is out Xmas shopping!"

I Must admit I have finished this book. But, that's not due to any virtue on my part. It was due to being kept indoors due to the snow. It was really wonderful reading this book with snow on the ground. I could really imagine that I was in Russia.


message 16: by John (last edited Dec 16, 2010 03:19AM) (new)

John David (nicholasofautrecourt) All the more reason to contribute then! I'd like to claim the same excuse, but we haven't had more than half an inch of snow in - not kidding - 24 years!


toria (vikz writes) (victoriavikzwrites) I think that this section was one of my favourite parts of the book. I found it both funny and touching. I loved the rantings of the old mystic and the polite efforts of the priest to keep the service going. I kept on thinking of The Name of the Rose. They seem to share many of the same themes. And at least of of Umberto Eco character's mirrors the characters within this book.


message 18: by John (last edited Dec 16, 2010 03:31AM) (new)

John David (nicholasofautrecourt) I'm at the part now where Zosima has just died, and they're surprised at the "odor of corruption." I thought the idea that a saint's bones would remain white was a piece of medieval lore. But apparently it survived well into the nineteenth century! It's sort of eerie to read about...


toria (vikz writes) (victoriavikzwrites) John wrote: "All the more reason to contribute then! I'd like to claim the same excuse, but we haven't had more than half an inch of snow in - not kidding - 24 years!"

My excuse ;)- We do not have a wireless connection. This is intentional. It means that, if I really need to work, I can go into a another room and work on another computer without the constant temptation to check my e-mail. This means that I can only use the internet within my study. I have no heating in this room and so the thought of working in it over the last few weeks has been off putting to say the least. I'm here now though and will watch this discussion with interest. As I said, if you've given up on this book, try again. It's well worth the effort.


message 20: by John (new)

John David (nicholasofautrecourt) Not even close to giving up. Dostoevsky's long been one of my favorite authors.


toria (vikz writes) (victoriavikzwrites) John wrote: "I'm at the part now where Zosima has just died, and they're surprised at the "odor of corruption." I thought the idea that a saint's bones would remain white was a piece of medieval lore. But app..."

I agree that it was very eerie. I too thought this belief was confined to the medieval period of history. Can any of out resident theologian's/historians put this in some context please? How widespread was this belief?


message 22: by John (last edited Dec 16, 2010 03:54AM) (new)

John David (nicholasofautrecourt) I'm pretty familiar with Catholic theology, but not so much Russian Orthodoxy. I know that it was common in Catholicism in the middle ages, so I guess it's not that surprising. Dogmatically speaking, Orthodox Christianity is about as close to Catholicism as close as chimps are to humans. That is, very close. Maybe it's just a function of how conservative (read: uninfluenced by culture) the monks were.


toria (vikz writes) (victoriavikzwrites) John wrote: "Not even close to giving up. Dostoevsky's long been one of my favorite authors."

Here's some questions for all you Fyodor Dostoyevsky lovers. What appeals to you about this author? and what should I read next if I were to better understand this author?

Here's one for those who gave up. What put you off this book? Just for my own curiosity, Do you like Tolstoy? It seems to me that if you like the one you may find the other difficult. Or at least, this hypotheses has proven true amongst my friends.


message 24: by John (new)

John David (nicholasofautrecourt) I'm drawn to the idea of his conversion - from a name of science and secularism to a man of Orthodox faith. I like the idea that, while he has endless faith, he never stops doubting (one of the central paradoxes of the book, I think). And that all of the characters defy easy classification or stereotype. It's not the case that Ivan is a total heartless atheist, it's not the case that Alexei is a mindless, slavish believer. They're all so beautifully drawn and nuanced.

For biographical information, I would read his heavily autobiographical (though still considered a novel) "House of the Dead," which he wrote after a long stint in Siberian prison. I'd also heavily recommend all five volumes of Joseph Frank's biography. And, for fiction of course, "Crime and Punishment" is his other great novel, though "The Double," "The Gambler," "Notes from the Underground," "The Idiot," and a few of the short stories are also very worthy of note.


toria (vikz writes) (victoriavikzwrites) John wrote: "I'm pretty familiar with Catholic theology, but not so much Russian Orthodoxy. I know that it was common in Catholicism in the middle ages, so I guess it's not that surprising. Dogmatically speak..."

Or perhaps, the elders enemies were just trying find an excuse to dishonour the elder's memory? They wanted to make sure that they put that 'final nail in his coffin' and kill off his influence as well as his physical presence.


message 26: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments John wrote: For biographical information, I would read his heavily autobiographical (though still considered a novel) "House of the Dead," which he wrote after a long stint in Siberian prison. I'd also heavily recommend all five volumes of Joseph Frank's biography. And, for fiction of course, "Crime and Punishment" is his other great novel, though "The Double," "The Gambler," "Notes from the Underground," "The Idiot," and a few of the short stories are also very worthy of note.
.."


You are reinventing the wheel here John - these are all recommended and referred to in the Resources thread where it was agreed we should put background information. His Diaries are a more reliable source of information than House of the Dead.

I'm pretty familiar with Catholic theology, but not so much Russian Orthodoxy.

TBK deals with Eastern Orthodoxy and again you will find information about this in the Resources thread. Dostoevsky was anti catholic and he saw a great deal of difference between the two dogmas. He was also anti-semitic.


message 27: by John (new)

John David (nicholasofautrecourt) Well, as he notes over and over again in the novel, there's nothing more we like to see than a saint who is accused of being human.


message 28: by John (last edited Dec 16, 2010 04:26AM) (new)

John David (nicholasofautrecourt) What he construed as a "great deal of difference" was actually quite minor. If you read the theology, they are virtually the same. The birth of the (Eastern) Orthodox birth occurred in Byzantium, which wasn't unknown for its enjoyment of bickering over theological minutiae.


message 29: by MadgeUK (last edited Dec 16, 2010 04:31AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments John wrote: "Had you never read Dostoevsky before this, Madge? Did you expect him to be light and full of pep when you started reading?
..."


John, I am not an infant in arms! I also have an academic background in politics and comparative religion, where Dostoevsky was required reading.

Please bear in mind that there has already been very deep discussion on this novel in these threads and that some folks here have a great deal of knowledge about the topics raised in TBK and about Dostoevsky and this period. They did not expect a light read either and the novel has not been discussed lightly. Perhaps you should read some of what people here have already posted over the past two months since you have only just come to this group read.


message 30: by John (last edited Dec 16, 2010 04:29AM) (new)

John David (nicholasofautrecourt) Then why did you "throw it against the wall," as Kate said?

By the way, do you really use the word "folks" in England? If I ever visit, not hearing it would be one of the perks.


message 31: by MadgeUK (last edited Dec 16, 2010 04:36AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Partly because this discussion was flagging, partly because for me a lot of it was old ground and partly because, like Tolstoy, I find Dostoevsky's views as retrograde and annoying as I did at university. I knew this would be so but because I am fond of the folks here, I wanted to participate.

Yes the word is used a lot in England. Best not to visit then.


message 32: by John (new)

John David (nicholasofautrecourt) What degrees do you have, Madge?


message 33: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments John wrote: "What he construed as a "great deal of difference" was actually quite minor. If you read the theology, they are virtually the same. The birth of the (Eastern) Orthodox birth occurred in Byzantium,..."

According to my reading of theology, these differences have been a source of great conflict for centuries, as minor differences in theology often are, as they are in Islam today and amongst various Christian sects. They are minor between the CofE and Catholicism too but that did not stop a bloody conflict in Ireland and on the English mainland for most of my lifetime!


message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

I posted a link on the resource page which outlines the differences in Orthodox and Roman Catholic theology. It appears to be written by an Orthodox priest, and one who is fairly critical of Catholicism but he points up something that is crucial. The Catholic church has a centuries long history of intellectual debate and its doctrines change and develop as a result. It is a church of ideas. Orthodoxy, on the other hand, appears to be a church focused on the mystery of God and a much more immutable doctrine of received wisdom. The basic framework of belief and their liturgies aren't very far apart but their views on the role of the Church itself seems to have a chasm running between them.


message 35: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Thanks Kate - good post and there does indeed seem to be a chasm, especially where Dosteovsky was concerned. It is like the difference in communion between the CofE and the Catholic churches - transubstantiation is not at all acceptable to Anglicans, yet it seems a small thing to an outsider.


message 36: by John (new)

John David (nicholasofautrecourt) Wouldn't any Church claim to be a "Church of ideas"?


message 37: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 16, 2010 02:26PM) (new)

No. Many are profoundly anti-intellectual and are closed to incorporating new thoughts or ideas.


message 38: by John (new)

John David (nicholasofautrecourt) Then what do you mean, "Church of ideas"? As opposed to what? "The mystery of God and immutable received wisdom?" The Catholic Church is just as big on mystery as any other Church.


message 39: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 16, 2010 02:34PM) (new)

Did you read the article? Because if you did you should understand what I was saying. Feel free to disagree with me or the author, but I am not going to parse it further.


message 40: by John (new)

John David (nicholasofautrecourt) Yep.


message 41: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments John wrote: "What degrees do you have, Madge?"

Answered elsewhere. And you?


message 42: by John (new)

John David (nicholasofautrecourt) Oh, so you finally decided to answer. How grateful of you.

Give me the link.


message 43: by Adelle (new)

Adelle John wrote: "It looks like the book discussion has dwindled to a mere trickle. Whatever happened?"

Yes, I left town and left my computer and now depend of the kindness of hotel Uniguest systems.

But even prior to that, I stopped discussing online with the group, because the book had become personally important to me and the characters had become too heartbreakly real to discuss.


message 44: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments That's a pity Adelle because I really enjoyed your contributions and I am sure others did too. I hope you have a very happy Holiday Season and look forward to discussing our next book here in the New Year.


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The Readers Review: Literature from 1714 to 1910

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Books mentioned in this topic

The Name of the Rose (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Umberto Eco (other topics)
Fyodor Dostoevsky (other topics)