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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High school girlie sounds off....
Well I'm a high school sophomore and for our first reading assignment this year in AP English (our work begins in summer), we were told to choose a book and write an essay on it about the significance of the connection between a parental figure and the children, and how it contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole. OMG!!! This is an excellent, fascinating book!! I...
Published on July 6 2004 by As the Bird Flies

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars great ideas; sluggish otherwise
I've read three of Dostoyevsky's novels, and each time I've approached one of his major works I did so for the ideas, rather than for the characters and plot. If you're of a philosophical bent, this is a good book for you; Dostoyevsky possessed deep insight into the human condition; he foresaw (as did Nietzche) the onslaught of nihilism that would overthrow almost all...
Published on July 6 2000


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High school girlie sounds off...., July 6 2004
This review is from: Brothers Karamazov (Paperback)
Well I'm a high school sophomore and for our first reading assignment this year in AP English (our work begins in summer), we were told to choose a book and write an essay on it about the significance of the connection between a parental figure and the children, and how it contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole. OMG!!! This is an excellent, fascinating book!! I just chose it randomly and it has become my favorite book of all time. The depth at which Dostoevsky explores his characters' emotions, his sincerity and self-deprecation, all those paragraphs on humanity (hehe)....If any one book defines quality literature, it is this one alone. I am disappointed that the author died before creating the sequel, but I doubt that he could have topped himself after writing this book. There are multitudes of great essays you could write about the themes in this story, on a million different subjects. Wow. Well, I don't know how much the humble opinion of a high schooler matters to y'all, but in my short years I have read a great amount of classic literature and nothing comes close to The Brothers Karamazov.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A reminder of the great genius of man., April 22 2003
By 
Russell Fanelli (Longmeadow, MA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Brothers Karamazov (Hardcover)
The Brothers Karamazov is one of the greatest novels ever written. It is a book not simply to be read, but to be studied, discussed, and loved. I am reviewing the hard cover edition and recommend that anyone who buys this book purchase the highest quality edition possible. One reading will not suffice and the second reading will repay the reader who now knows the story and searches for the lessons to be learned from patient study.
The brothers could not be more unlike. Dmitry, the hothead who acts first and then learns to repent later for all his misdeeds, is everyman and is the most easy to identify with, at least for me. He is filled with anger and resentment and hurts deeply the people he loves most. He is the prodigal son who repents too late to be forgiven by a father he dispises.
Ivan, the intellectual, lives in a world of ideas, but the action which springs from those ideas is repellant to him. He needs most to repent, but his proud spirit prevents him from learning that humility is needed to live a full and rewarding life. He is Lucifer who falls from grace. Like Lucifer, Ivan's hubris prevents him from seeking redemption.
Alyosha is the person we would all be if we had the strength to correspond to God's grace, freely given, but dependant on self-denial and a willingness to serve others. Like Prince Myshkin in The Idiot, another great novel by Dostoyevsky, he is an example of a good man, a modern day St. Francis of Assisi, who imitates Christ and appears, for that reason, childlike and unable to confront the evil of this world. He does not love his life in this world and is not afraid of losing it.
This brief review does not even scratch the surface. Those readers who want to know more about this great book will find many fine critiques to help deepen their understanding of Dostoyevsky's intent with this novel.
Yet it is not necessary to be a scholar to enjoy The Brothers Karamazov. The reader who patiently bides his time as we are introduced to the main themes of the novel -- the duty we have to honor our parents, even when,like Old Karamazov, they are almost impossible to love, the courage to live by faith when faith seems to be an absurdity, the willingness to live according to the truth when the crowd makes such a stand seemingly impossible -- will be rewarded with a story that involves us completely in the lives of a cast of characters which represent all aspects of the human condition.
The hardcover edition will take its place proudly beside the best novels in any person's library and will be taken down from time to time from the shelf, if not to be completely reread, at least to be reminded of the great genius of man.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dostoevsky digs deep..., June 11 2003
By 
Wesley L. Janssen (San Diego, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Brothers Karamazov (Hardcover)
The finest fiction ever written? Some would say so. There is a great deal of philosophical argument and psychological investigation in these great, rambling discourses. There is mystery, murder, intrigue, obsession, romantic entanglement, and courtroom drama. But first, of the drudgery...
Ya ne govoryu po russki... Alexei is Alyosha is Lyoshechka. Ivan is Vanechka. Dmitri is Mitya is Mitka is Mitenka. Agrafena Alexandrovna is Grushenka is Grusha. The elder Zosima is rather a saint. Not only because of his patience, humility, gentleness, and refusal to judge others, but because we must know him only by this one name! Perhaps it's not all that bad, by the time you are, say, 400 pages into our story (about half way through), you will have made your peace with such nuances. Some readers will be troubled by the length of sentences and of paragraphs, typically sentences may contain 6 to 12 commas, they're huge. The exclamatory devices in many dialogues seem [to this reader] to be 'over the top', so to speak, as if Dostoevsky, in his mind's eye, was seeing his story played-out on stage. Perhaps this is just my ignorant perspective.
Enough detraction. The Brothers Karamazov is said to be a master's masterpiece. I will not argue, in this regard, with those who know such things far better than I. Dostoevsky digs deep into the psyche of his central characters, and sometimes the peripheral characters as well. Perhaps more so than any other great novelist. Each of these characters becomes startlingly complex (in many cases we might even say schizophrenic). For example, we meet a monk known for his resolute silence, who suddenly just won't shut-up. Of the Karamazov's, Fyodor and Dmitri are pathological slaves to their self-focused passions, although in Dmitri we come to find a surprising glimmer of possibility. (If you are close to someone terribly like Fyodor, you have my sympathy). The restrained and calculating Ivan is hardheaded and hard-hearted, and to his own demise, his calculating is rather blinded by his over confidence and sense of his own intelligence. The spiritual pilgrim, Alexei -- gentle, humble, careful, encouraging, and in a sense fearless -- is the author's hero, is everyone's rock in the storm, seems burdened only by other's burdens.
Apart from the author's ability to plumb the depths of the human soul, this reader was surprised at the sophistication and integrity of the Russian legal and judicial processes in the 1870's. I won't disclose the story any further except to note that Dostoevsky intended to further examine his characters in subsequent volumes, but died somewhat suddenly preparing this work for publication.
In its philosophic and psychological aspects, this book remains insightful and relevant. Dostoevsky modestly considered himself a dabbler in philosophy. But who isn't? Philosophy is, after all, the love of thought, not the perfect mastery of it, and Dostoevsky emerges as a thinker of greater stature than he conceived himself. He is often included in the 'short list' of great moral philosophers (with Plato and Kierkegaard, for example), and of the great existentialists (with Kierkegaard and Nietzsche).
The central existentialist question, that is of the existence of God, is examined not only in the conversations between Ivan (a professing atheist) and his brother Alexei, but is an enigma for Ivan even in his private moments, perhaps especially in his moments of delirium. In his "The Grand Inquisitor," Ivan argues a case against God from the existence of evil and injustice. This is the classic Enlightenment argument that there is no God because God 'wouldn't do it that way.' One problem with an argument citing evil and injustice is that it must posit a cognition of goodness and of justice. How do we explain such a cognition if there is no God? If there is no God there is nothing 'higher' to which our passions must answer, excepting perhaps the passions of others. In other words, "all is permitted." Yet we sense that this simply isn't the case. It seems that having weighed the argument from the existence of pain and suffering, Dostoevsky holds it to be the troubled rantings of finite man shaking his fist at the Infinite. But we can only surmise this, as Dostoevsky's masterpiece simply stops...
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Translation Makes Such a Difference, July 19 2007
By 
E. Haensel (Toronto) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Brothers Karamazov (Hardcover)
Two the previous reviewers discussed other translators than the two that according to the above description translated this book. I have a soft cover copy of Pevear and Volokhonsky's translation (as well as a copy of a translation of this book by Constance Garnett and David Magarshack)

This is the third translation that I have read of Dostoevsky's Brother's Karamazov. I must say that this translation is stunning in its improvement over the previous two. (As a side note I have read nine other Dostoevsky books in countless translations and due find the ones by these two translators to be far superior to the rest, though Hugh Aplin's translation of Poor People would come second.)

The joy that I experienced reading this translation of Dostoevsky's incomparable masterpiece is hard to explain...really it is just a book.

But what an amazing book. This translation captures the incredible mirth that underlies and levitates this seemingly dark and haunting murder mystery/philosophic treatise. It will make you laugh, cry, furrow your brows in consternation and think deeply about the nature of existence.

This translation won the Pen/Book of the month Club translation prize, it is clear why, it has taken the fax quality rendition of the novel we had under previous translation and rendered it in vivid color and texture, reading this version is like seeing a Van Gogh or Dali painting in real life, like being at a concert instead of listening to a recording.

Oh, by the introduction and accompanying explanatory notes (on everything from religious mis-quotations, to russian-ized polish expressions) is itself worth the new edition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could be no less than five stars., July 9 2004
By 
Daniel C. Wilcock "journal-ist" (Washington, D.C.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Brothers Karamazov (Paperback)
I cannot compare this translation to the others. Like most mortals, I rarely read 800 page books more than once. However, I can attest that The Brothers Karamazov, as translated here, combines the moving human drama we expect from Dostoevsky with liberal dose of wry humor. The text seems modern and fresh, the circumstances and petty humor surrounding the characters so central to the human predicament that the story is timeless.
And what a story: It is (among many things) a satire of human corruption, a meditation on faith and religious institutions in an age of skepticism, a murder mystery involving love triangles, a courtroom thriller and in the end a testament to the goodness and bravery humans are capable of.
The story follows the lives of old man Karamazov, a filthy penny-pinching lech and his three sons. Each son represents a different side to the Russian character: Dimitri the spoiled lout (or the prodigal son), Ivan the tortured intellect, and Alyosha the spiritual searcher.
Alyosha, Dostoevsy says, is our hero. And he does represent a certain Christian ideal. He, in the end, stands for brotherhood and meekness in the face of temptation. These qualities, no doubt, are what Dostoevsky suggests will preserve and redeem the Russian nation. All around Alyosha is the carnage caused by people who are not awake to this truth -- and they wallow in suffering.
This book, the last Dostoevsky wrote, also presents an intricate political/religious landscape. We see Russia on the brink of socialist forment, and the church is not spared in the skepitism of characters like Ivan, who, in the 'Grand Inquisitor' chapter, presents the most spine tingling critique of organized religion I've ever read.
But, after 800 pages Brothers Karamazov is a book that burns so brightly and is so capable of moving a reader that the book's cost will seem paltry and the reader who comes through will find his or her knowledge of the human soul expanded. A+.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece of Literature, March 19 2004
By 
Bradley J. Keusch (MI) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Brothers Karamazov (Paperback)
This book, by one of the greatest novelists in history, Dostoevsky, is easily the best book I have ever read in my life (albiet, at just barely 18 this is little time, but this work stands so far above the rest I have perused that it merits stating this). It is colossal, it is magnificent, it is one of the few works that have truly moved me, spoken to me at a deep level. I read this book about a year and a half ago, and it was the catalyst that allowed me to begin to contemplate the deeper things in life; it allowed me to realize the joy I find in thinking about deep questions, about human interaction. The first thing that must be talked about, and indeed what truly drives the novel, is its characters. Doestoevsky has crafted not merely one but THREE powerful, unique, and above all REAL characters that can be seen as representing three different ways of living. When I read this book I was battling with depression, and as such I found myself relating strongly to Dimitri Karamazov. What utter beauty. What utter tragedy. Dimitri himself seems to find beauty in tragedy, as is found in some of those who are depressed. He, even in the baseness of many of his actions, has this noble air about him, and that of high tragedy. His quote,
"But I'm sure that life will follow its proper course in the end: the worthy man will occupy his rightful place and the unworthy one will vanish in some dark alley and never be heard of again. And there, in that dark and filthy alley, which is so dear to him, where he feels so much at home, amidst the stench and the dirt, he'll perish happily, because that's what he really wants..."
shows perfectly the beautiful tragedy of this character; that line was burned into my mind the second I read it and it has refused to ever leave. Ivan, the most intellectual of the three, creates what for me at least was the central conflict of the book: not the parricide, but rather the tension and conflict between faith (especially in God) and reason. The conversation between Ivan and his brother Alexei (a devout Christian monk) is perhaps the most compelling scene in the whole novel, with the chapters "Rebellion" and "The Grand Inquistior" being absolutely brilliant. The idea behind Ivan's rebellion, behind his inability to accept God, is very compelling, and part of what makes the book so compelling as a whole. Indeed, what sets it apart from many other novels is that it (for the most part) it doesn't come out and tell you that this way, or this other way is the correct way to live; it simply presents life to you, as whole, through its characters and the interaction between them, and allows you to decide (and it does so beautifully). In my personal opinion, it seemed that the author declared Christianity, faith, to be the winner; Ivan's eventual decline, and (in one of the most powerful images I have ever read in any book ever) Alyosha falling to his knees and kissing the ground after seeing the vision of Zosima in Heaven seem to show that the author favors Christianity over atheism, faith over a need for absolute knowledge and fact. Indeed, I think part of what makes the characters so completely fleshed out and compelling is that the author, as it states in his bio, has moved through all these extremes in his life. He had a tough life, and was an atheist, before becoming a devout Christian, and he is able to write about these confilcting viewpoints with utter sincerity and clarity.
I realize that I am not staying very focused in my discussion, but this is because the book is so imcredibly deep that there feels like there is an almost infinite amount that can be discussed. Ultimately, you need to read this book- it is as simple as that. But I would also add that this book is not for everyone (though honestly, I feel like everyone SHOULD read it at least once). if you do not like to, or are incapable of truly THINKING about what you are reading, then you will get little out of it, and its 900 pages will pass slowly for you. But for any who truly enjoy ideas, and the contemplation of them, you will find utter joy in reading this book. It is a masterpiece, and a true work of art. It is a crowing achievement for any man, and I truly believe that my life has become better and more fulfiling as a result of reading it. I give 5 stars to the rarest of books, only the absolute best, and "5 stars" here seems like the most ridiculously inadequate description. I can think of no higher compliment to give. Very Highly Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dostoevsky digs deep..., June 11 2003
By 
Wesley L. Janssen (San Diego, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Brothers Karamazov (Hardcover)
The finest fiction ever written? Some would say so. There is a great deal of philosophical argument and psychological investigation in these great, rambling discourses. There is mystery, murder, intrigue, obsession, romantic entanglement, and courtroom drama. But first, of the drudgery...
Ya ne govoryu po russki... Alexei is Alyosha is Lyoshechka. Ivan is Vanechka. Dmitri is Mitya is Mitka is Mitenka. Agrafena Alexandrovna is Grushenka is Grusha. The elder Zosima is rather a saint. Not only because of his patience, humility, gentleness, and refusal to judge others, but because we must know him only by this one name! Perhaps it's not all that bad, by the time you are, say, 400 pages into our story (about half way through), you will have made your peace with such nuances. Some readers will be troubled by the length of sentences and of paragraphs, typically sentences may contain 6 to 12 commas, they're huge. The exclamatory devices in many dialogues seem [to this reader] to be 'over the top', so to speak, as if Dostoevsky, in his mind's eye, was seeing his story played-out on stage. Perhaps this is just my ignorant perspective.
Enough detraction. The Brothers Karamazov is said to be a master's masterpiece. I will not argue, in this regard, with those who know such things far better than I. Dostoevsky digs deep into the psyche of his central characters, and sometimes the peripheral characters as well. Perhaps more so than any other great novelist. Each of these characters becomes startlingly complex (in many cases we might even say schizophrenic). For example, we meet a monk known for his resolute silence, who suddenly just won't shut-up. Of the Karamazov's, Fyodor and Dmitri are pathological slaves to their self-focused passions, although in Dmitri we come to find a surprising glimmer of possibility. (If you are close to someone terribly like Fyodor, you have my sympathy). The restrained and calculating Ivan is hardheaded and hard-hearted, and to his own demise, his calculating is rather blinded by his over confidence and sense of his own intelligence. The spiritual pilgrim, Alexei -- gentle, humble, careful, encouraging, and in a sense fearless -- is the author's hero, is everyone's rock in the storm, seems burdened only by other's burdens.
Apart from the author's ability to plumb the depths of the human soul, this reader was surprised at the sophistication and integrity of the Russian legal and judicial processes in the 1870's. I won't disclose the story any further except to note that Dostoevsky intended to further examine his characters in subsequent volumes, but died somewhat suddenly preparing this work for publication.
In its philosophic and psychological aspects, this book remains insightful and relevant. Dostoevsky modestly considered himself a dabbler in philosophy. But who isn't? Philosophy is, after all, the love of thought, not the perfect mastery of it, and Dostoevsky emerges as a thinker of greater stature than he conceived himself. He is often included in the 'short list' of great moral philosophers (with Plato and Kierkegaard, for example), and of the great existentialists (with Kierkegaard and Nietzsche).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Transcendent., March 2 2003
By 
Gavin Farrell (Cleveland, Ohio) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Brothers Karamazov (Hardcover)
These Russians really know how to tackle the big issues in literature. I started with Solzenitsyn's Day in the Life, then did War and Peace, then Crime and Punishment, and most recently, The Brothers Karamazov, and I have to say that I am much the better for reading these books.
Phew, I thought War and Peace was good (and it was), but the Brothers Karamazov locks horns with the problems we face as human beings, wrestles them to the ground, exposes us for the weak, sinful things that we are, then gives us hope.
Principally (to me, anyhow), the novel was about the problem of overthrown authority. God and the church were starting to be questioned as the ultimate authority, and the air in Russia at the time was begining to move towards reform, begining to become modern. Its themes are just as relevant today as they were for Dostoyevsky's time, and there are several passages in "The Russian Monk" chapter that were profoundly prophetic of the problems of modern society- if you replace some words with modern equivelents you have a very good picture of the USA today. Isolation of the individual, invented needs, the problem of freedom- these are some of the things Dostoyevsky tries to tackle.
Several chapters are masterpieces enclosed within the work itself, 'Pro and Contra,' 'A Little Demon,' 'The Russian Monk' the chapter where Mrs Kholaklova (spelling) professes her lack of faith to the Elder Zosima, the chapter that focuses on the relationship between Snegiyrov and Illyushin, his son, showing how children lose their innocence and become indoctrinated into this harsh adult world- with bad consequences when violence is present. And of course, there is the 'Grand Inquisitor' chapter. Wow. WOW. Had to read that three times before I think I got everything in it, but I think if every human being on Earth read 'The Grand Inquisitor' 'The Russian Monk' and then 'The Speech at the Stone' we would all be very much the better for it. eh, just read the whole thing while you're at it.
Dostoyevsky's conclusion seems to be that faith will be the ultimate healing salve for all humanity- once everybody realizes the stupidity of everything other then selfless, active love, we shall all move forward and life shall be paradise. We've had 120 years or so more progress towards it since Dostoyevsky wrote it, but it looks like we're still not doing very well (thank you very much Ms Ayn Rand). Dostoyevsky provides enough sustenence for people with less ardent faith to continue on- one of the characters, Rakitin, says 'Man kind will find the strength to live for virtue wether or not he believes in the immortality of the soul.' The Devil, in the chapter where he has a conversational duel with Ivan, mocks this idea as 'most charming.'
Each of the primary characters- Alyosha, Ivan, Dmitry, and Fyodor Pavlovich, is a guide to a certain way of living. Alyosha the christ-man, Ivan the intellectual skeptic (Raskolnikov mk II), Dmitry the noble savage, and Fyodor Pavlovich as the great sinner. Each character has his own climax in the book, and everybody should be able to identify with at least one of the characters, or find that they may be 10% Dmitry, 50% Ivan, and 40% Alyosha.
This should be an exceptional book for any young person trying to figure out what the heck life is all about. There's some good stuff between those covers- Dostoyevsky has a very deep understanding of human nature.
So in closing, whatever your beliefs are, don't eat the pineapple compote, and don't take the earthly loaves.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Book, Jan. 8 2003
By 
P. Smith "PedroMiguel" (Fresno, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Brothers Karamazov (Hardcover)
Reading this book may seem like a monumental task at first, but it is not a difficult read at all. In fact it is quite a pleasurable one. In my opinion there is hardly a wasted paragraph. There are around 800 pages to cover, but events are basic enough to understand the plot completely. Almost every character is fascinating in their own way. Also, it is difficult to think of a theme more relevant, especially for our time: the purpose of spirituality in our lives.
A very interesting book to read and compare to Brothers Karamazov is The Trial by Kafka. These two books almost seem like opposite sides of the same coin. But I'd side with Dostoevsky's optimism.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brothers Karamazov, June 15 2004
By 
Peter McGivney (Wappingers Falls, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brothers Karamazov (Paperback)
I will skip over the greatness of the Brothers Karamazov as a work of art; all the other reviewers point it out and a work that has survived a century obviously does not need me to sing its praises; and talk about Richard Pevear's and Larissa Volokhonsky's translation. I have tried to read the novel in several translations, starting with Constance Garnett's, and until now never managed to get through the novel. The translations were invariably too stiff, as though the translator was embarrassed by all the Russian carrying on and tried to make Dostoevsky read like an English novelist, toning the histrionics down, or too clunky and literal, chaining Dostoevsky to the Russian language and not allowing his meaning to be clear in English. The Pevear and Volokhonsky translation avoids both problems and is, to my mind, the best translation of the book available and one of the best translations of any book I have ever read. The translation catches the movement of Dostoevsky's prose in clear and very readable English; it even catches the humor in the book, something that most translations miss entirely. If you decide to read The Brothers Karamazov I would strongly recommend that you choose and read this translation.
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Brothers Karamazov
Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (Paperback - May 1 2002)
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