The Brothers Karamazov

Fyodor Dostoevsky
Painting - Portrait of Vsevolod Mikhailovich Garshin by Ilia Repin (1884)
Portrait of Vsevolod Mikhailovich Garshin · Ilia Repin ( 1884)
Oil on canvas · 88 x 69 cm ·Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

“I can see the sun, but even if I cannot see the sun, I know that it exists. And to know that the sun is there - that is living.”

Disguised as a murder mystery, Dostoyevsky’s masterpiece is a monumental, radiant, profoundly philosophical portrayal of the human condition, capturing all facets of life’s many contradictions and conflicts.

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”

The stage of this novel set in rapidly modernizing 19th-century Russia is centered around Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov and his three sons. Firstborn Dmitry, a hedonist and sensualist, is a man of passion and pride. His life revolves around excesses in gambling, alcohol, and women.

The second born, Ivan, a rationalist and atheist, is a man of ideas and intellect. He despairs in light of humanity’s eternal and unjust suffering, denouncing God for creating a world which is ultimately wicked.

The youngest, Alyosha, a spiritualist and novice, is a man of faith and forgiveness. He is deeply religious. Guided by his monastic elder, father Zosima, he recognizes suffering, poverty, and cruelty in an imperfect world, and, driven by his innate love of humankind, is committed to uplift those in need.

“I think the devil doesn’t exist, but man has created him, he has created him in his own image and likeness.”

It is in the clash of these characters and philosophies in which Dostoyevsky reflects, before his readers, the value of a meaningful life, reconciling faith and morality with with free will and reason.

“Besides, nowadays, almost all capable people are terribly afraid of being ridiculous, and are miserable because of it.”

A deeply moving, astonishing literary achievement of existential importance. A tale of redemption – the eternal triumph of faith, hope, and love against doubt, despair, and evil.

“Remember particularly that you cannot be a judge of anyone. For no one can judge a criminal until he recognizes that he is just such a criminal as the man standing before him, and that he perhaps is more than all men to blame for that crime. When he understands that, he will be able to be a judge.”

Small sketch - Book Review - The Brothers Karamazov
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