Once you have seen it, you can’t unsee it!
Before we begin, let me put it clear, that it is a huge book, say about 800 pages. If you are new to Dostoyevsky, I would like to alert you to start with his short stories, then ‘The Notes From The Underground’ and finally his novels. This is to understand the style of his writings and set the mood before you get into his magnanimous works. It’s a reality, to get acquainted with Dostoyevsky; you got to make gradual moves with a solid plan.
Even the ‘Crime and Punishment’, which I considered to be his best, is a tree, where the ‘woods’ being ‘The Brothers Karamazov. Keep a notepad to track the names of the characters; Russian names still remains a puzzle for me. Some of the character gets multiple names, even pet names, and the more variety in the name, and then we are informed that the more important the character is.
This was the last novel written by Dostoyevsky. This book surely got influenced by his age, the proof – the obvious leanings towards spiritual and religious avenues. There is this character, who reminds us about Dostoyevsky’s son, who died very young because of epilepsy. In a way, the rebellion and posing questions against religion and god was his (Dostoyevsky’s) way of venting out his anger and frustrations.
The books name suggests that it is about a family, I guess a dysfunctional family will be more apt, consisting only males. This is where I adore Dostoyevsky, for the cleverness, he excluded a daughter among Karamazov because women bring healing into the household and put it into a more civilized place.
Let me walk you through the book and what my understanding or what was communicated by Dostoyevsky to me, the reader. For me it was all about human sufferings. Who are we? Why do we do things? What it means to be a human being? In a balanced way this book criticizes religion. Religion doesn’t hold the answer for all our questions and sufferings.
There is a scene where the two brothers IVAN (Atheist) and ALYOSHA (Religious) gets into a debate. Here IVAN asks why children are put into suffering. If god is a good person, why would he wish to see them suffer? They have just started their lives, might not have even committed a sin. For this question ALYOSHA don’t have any answer.
The book is also about picking up the evils that had been sawed across the society, a society that fights for materialistic needs. Reading along you will be convinced that ignorance is bliss and knowing too much will put you trouble. It is not the sinner who gets punished; sometimes innocent one’s get punished for some other person’s wrong doings (Dimitri’s character reveals a lot in this perspective). Guilt only comes into picture if you knowingly do something. No one is saint or pure evil, one has to constantly battle to keep the balance.
The Book assures that it is okay to be less smart and be good than being smart, successful and bad. Dostoyevsky attempts to take his countrymen to the good old days of their childhood. We must preserve childhood’s innocence that we lose while growing up. I guess reading helps, to preserve that childlike innocence, to an extent.
My Favorite (Disturbing) chapter from the book is, ‘The Devil, Ivan’s Nightmare.
Karamazov Brothers also deals with child’s suffering, voices against bullying and the impact the insulting words could have on the tender minds. The main characters, we can divide them into four philosophies. I am pretty sure; this book will demand your Re-readings, each time from the angle of each character/philosophy they profess. To understand life and human being better, and to be more compassionate and empathetic, This is the sole reason why one must read ‘THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV’.
Once you have seen it, you can’t unsee it! I envy those who are going to read it for the very first time, to experience the narrative and get enlightened by the school of thoughts taught by the one and only Fyodor Dostoyevsky!