Brothers Karamazov an all-time great

Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov is an authentic classic.

It took me four times, but was unquestionably worth the effort to complete Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.

I am saying right now that it will be on my Top 10 list for 2010 and, quite likely, my lifetime list.

This incredibly rich book has so many aspects to recommend it: epically passionate and flawed characters; romantic drama to rival the most outrageous televnovela; mindbending religious and ethical discussions; a Rashomon-like evocation of the murder of one of the main characters; compelling prosecutorial and defense lawyer speeches; liberal dollops of humor; three brothers that both speak for themselves and are emblematic of larger philosophical and religious positions; incisive social commentary; two sections-the parable of the Grand Inquisitor and Ivan’s conversation with the Devil-that by themselves merit intensive scrutiny, discussion and analysis; meditations about the nature of fatherhood; and, in the end, a resounding affirmation of the importance of the memories of clean, undiluted childhood connections.

It feels a bit strange to be blogging about this book, as I feel like I should be preparing to write a term paper.  I do know that I am looking forward to reading the book about Dostoevsky by Gary Adelman, my mother’s cousin and a longtime English professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Gary’s one of the most well read, thoughtful and passionate readers I know, so I’m excited to call him and hear his reflections on the book.

I know some find the work excessively dense and feel that the characters are simply vehicles for Dostoevsky’s ruminations.  I understand the criticism and disagree.

For the past five years I’ve paid a lot of attention to the number, but not always the quality, of books that I’ve read. One of my resolutions this year was to devote more time to reading some of the world’s greatest literature.

This book belongs in that category.

Next up: Cervantes’ Don Quixote or Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

I’ll keep you posted.

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5 responses to “Brothers Karamazov an all-time great

  1. Hurray for Karamazov. So worth the effort to read this book.

  2. Pingback: Classics on the El: Brothers K gives way to War and Peace. « Jeff Kelly Lowenstein’s Blog

  3. Hey!!! I am starting on this book too!! after which i will start on War and Peace! 😀 Glad to hear that it is good stuff

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