Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Brothers Karamazov

Pevear & Volokhonsky translation of The Brothe...Image via Wikipedia

Yes, it is true that I have just finished my second, yes, that is second reading of The Brothers Karamazov. Admittedly, the first reading must have been 25 years ago and why I decided it was important to read it again, I'm not quite sure. But now that the 956 pages have been devoured, or I should say chewed upon for quite a number of weeks, I have come to a conclusion and that is -

My first reading left me a bit clueless as to the importance of this piece of literature. Reading it the second time, I find that my conclusion - well, my conclusion remains the same!

Now Wikipedia points out that Sigmund Freud called it "The most magnificent novel ever written" and it is generally acknowledged to have had a deep influence on many writers and philosophers that followed it. At the Wikipedia link, you can download a full book report of The Brothers Karamazov. I would suggest you should plan on a long trip to "the reading room" to even get through the wiki words about the K Brothers. I am personally now reading the summary to find out where I've gone wrong in my personal evaluation of the book - or in order to confirm my humble opinion that one can read many other books in order to open one's heart, mind, and psyche, in much less time with a lot more benefits than eyestrain and aggravation!

Closing......in the words of newscaster, Rachel Maddow of MSNBC, maybe some of you readers out there would like to "talk me down" on this point of view......anyone game?
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  1. the brothers K sits on my new bookshelf only recently having been moved from my bedside where it has sat partially read (1/2 way?) for about 7 years now. underneath it are the cliff notes. i kept thinking i might give it another go since i am so much more "enlightened" (ha) than i was when i began it.

    sorry, sis, don't count on me to talk you down. you may have just saved me several hours of confusion and eye strain...although i continue to run across wonderful quotes from fyodor that tempt me...hmmmm...think maybe i'll start with the cliff notes :-)


  2. Hi Kayce, I thought my more "enlightened space/place" might have revealed more to me also in the second reading. But it remained, for me, full of detailed conversation and moral dilemmas - but also full of craaaaazy people doing craaaaazy things. I am really going to pore over the wikipedia notes - I think they're similar probably to the cliff notes - and perhaps I'll find what I was missing.

    I'm sure it was a masterpiece in Russian literature and a culmination of Doestoevsky's career as a writer as turning out 900+ pages would be a feat for any human being and just think, he did it in Russian:) - maybe something or a great deal has been lost in the translation to other languages?

    So funny to know that the book has been a "to read" for you for so long. I just plucked it out of the bookcase one day weeks ago and thought I "should" read this again. That's what I get for "shoulding" something!

  3. Well there ya go SS.
    If the book were really important, he woulda written it in God's language, just like the bible, it wulda been done in Merikun!

    Always watch those "shoulds", the spirit seldom speaks in them.

  4. Bruno,

    I knew you'd have some light to shed on the great American, whoops, I mean Russian novel!

  5. I haven't read it, but I think it's easy for us to miss how a book speaks to people in different times and places. It's like living in a culture and trying to explain to people the strange little quirks that go on with you all, the subtleties and nuances, the "in" jokes etc etc.

  6. Hi Sue, I couldn't agree more. I believe at the time it was written and in consideration of the culture, worldwide, not just Russia or America that indeed it was a masterpiece. We are inundated in our day with such rich fiction that it was hard for me to fall in love with The Brothers. I'm not unhappy that I gave it a second try! Thanks for your comments.

  7. I did enjoy reading Crime and Punishment (twice, as I recall). I never quite made it to the Brothers K or War and Peace or the other great Russian novels. Life's too short to read books out of guilt -- at least that is my excuse.

  8. Oh, absolutely it's too short!

    Sometimes, I snap a book shut before I've finished it because time is too short.

    But oh, there is great psychic pain when I do it though :)

  9. Barbara -

    about the guilt.....I haven't read any other of Doestoevsky's work and with no guilt at all (I think) Brothers K is going to be IT for me. You and Sue and I are in agreement. Reading w/o pleasure is a waste of our precious time:)

  10. I am just astounded at your ability to read at all, Riley. It's no small accomplishment that you can't read BK being a dawg.

    Maybe you should start smaller. If you like cynicism, you could try this: