Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Brothers Karamazov (2)

Fyodor Dostoyevsky. 1879/1880. New York: Airmont Publishing Co. 1966.

Why read it? First, it’s a mystery. Who killed Fyodor Karamazov? He deserved it. He was a tyrant. Plot: “An old profligate, Fyodor Karamazov, is murdered and his eldest son is tried and convicted for the crime; all the sons of the Karamazov family, however, each In his own way, feel complicity and the need to atone for their part in the death of the old man.” p. 7.

“The ‘punishment’ that comes to each of the brothers involved in the crime against their father is self-realization.” p, 9. [Introduction. O. H. Rudzik.]

The family? A group of people who work to help and support each other? Or a disjointed group of individuals with distinctly different personalities and motives? “…emergence into light of the hurtful hostility felt by all sons to all fathers, by all men to all imposed authority.” p. 10. [Introduction. O. H. Rudzik.]

A study of character—symbolic of the essential traits of the Russian people? All the brothers’ personalities combine to compose a single complex human being?

Sample Quotes and Ideas:

Fyodor: “But I have been lying…my whole life long, every day and hour of it…. I am a lie, and the father of lies.” p. 44.

To Fyodor: “You defile everything you touch.” p. 45.

“Lamentations comfort only by lacerating the heart still more…. Such grief does not desire consolation…feeds on the sense of its hopelessness…. Lamentations spring only from the constant craving to re-open the wound.” p. 47.

“Man cannot commit a sin so great as to exhaust the infinite love of God.” p. 50.

“For men are made for happiness, and anyone who is completely happy has a right to say to himself, ‘I am doing God’s will on Earth.’ ” p. 53.

“And if the patient whose wounds you are washing did not greet you with gratitude, but worried you with his whims, without valuing or remarking your charitable services, began abusing you and rudely commanding you, and complaining to the superior authorities of you (which often happens when people are in great suffering)…would you persevere in your love…?” p. 55.

“The more I love humanity in general, the less I love man in particular.” p. 55.

“In my dreams…I have often come to making enthusiastic schemes for the service of humanity….and yet I am incapable of living in the same room with any one for two days together…. As soon as anyone is near me, his personality disturbs my self-complacency and restricts my freedom…. I become hostile to people the moment they come close to me.” p. 55.

“…it has always happened that the more I detest men individually, the more ardent becomes my love for humanity.” p. 55.

“If you have been talking to me so sincerely, simply to gain approbation for your frankness….” p. 55.

“The…criminal, they say, rarely repents, for the very doctrines of today confirm him in the idea that his crime is not a crime, but only a reaction against an unjustly oppressive force.” p. 62.

“There is no virtue if there is no immortality.” p. 67.

“With old liars who have been acting all their lives there are moments when they enter so completely into their part that they tremble or shed tears of emotion in earnest, although at that very moment…they are able to whisper to themselves, ‘You know you are lying.. You’re acting now….’ ” p. 70.

“He is one of those who don’t want millions, but an answer to their questions.” p. 77.

Comment: Dostoevsky, the novelist of the complex personality. RayS.

To be continued.

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