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January 24, 2007

Rohit Reviews: The Brothers Karamazov

Nearly one year after first diving into Fyodor Dostoevsky's last, longest, and perhaps greatest novel—The Brothers Karamazov—I finally finished it today. Though an unquestionably long read that takes quite a lot of motivation to get into (then again, what Russian novel does not?), I would venture that it is simultaneously one of the most prolific that I have had the opportunity to complete.

The Brothers Karamazov is an epic: a sordid tale of seduction and murder set against the backdrop of Russian intellectual skepticism of the late 19th century. Though the cursory story—that of a Fyodor Karamazov and his three (four?) sons—is rich and entertaining in and of itself, I was most impressed by the philosophical and religious subtext of the novel. The entirety of the novel explores existentialism and the nature (and existence) of God much more explicitly than any other novel I have ever read. Ivan Karamazov, the chief rationalist of the novel (and subsequently, the major vehicle for this discourse) often has monologues occupying dozens of pages dedicated singularly to the subject. Needless to say, these philosophical digressions intent on exploring not only faith, but also the concept of truth were the aspects of the novel I found to be most enduring.

Overall, I would highly recommend this novel; it is by no means an easy read nor a quick one, but its influence and philosophical relevance even in modern times is both paramount and unequivocal. Five stars of five.


I liked it a lot too, although Crime and Punishment still remains my favourite. I think Dostoevsky was a lot more generous in The Brothers Karamazov and perhaps less abstract which I guess granted the characters a certain humanity that his other works lacked. (I haven't read notes from the underground though)


I just bought this over Christmas, and I am daunted/excited to read it. You should also read "Demons" (or "Devils" depending ont he translation). It really gets inside the mind of a terrorist.

Demons looks like an awesome book. I'll definitely be adding it to my list. Thanks for the tip!

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