Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Brothers Karamazov (3)

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:

“I always feel when I meet people that I am lower than all, and that they all take me for a buffoon; so I say let me play the buffoon, for you are, every one of you, stupider and lower than I.” p. 81.

“That’s the trouble, for everything in the world is a riddle.” p. 100.

“God and the devil are fighting…and the battlefield is the hearts of man.” p. 101.

“…to hell with all who pry into the human heart.” p. 107.

“…with fearful hatred—that hate which is only a hair’s breadth from love, from the maddest love.” p. 107.

“Brother, let me ask one thing more: has any man a right to look at other men and decide which is worthy to live?” p. 132.

“Connoisseurs of Russian beauty could have foretold with certainty that this fresh, still youthful, beauty would lose its harmony by the age of thirty…that the face would become puffy, and that wrinkles would very soon appear upon her forehead and round the eyes; the complexion would grow coarse and red perhaps—in fact, that it was the beauty of the moment, the fleeting beauty often met with in Russian women.” p. 138.

“…he seemed anxious before the moment of death to say everything he had not said in his life, and not simply for the sake of instructing them, but as though thirsting to share with all men and all creation his joy and ecstasy.” p. 149.

“Because we have come here and shut ourselves within these walls, we are no holier than those that are outside….” p. 149.

“For even those who have renounced Christianity and attack it, in their inmost being still follow the Christian idea, for hitherto neither their subtlety nor the ardor of their hearts has been able to create a higher ideal of men and of virtue than the ideal given by Christ of old.” p. 156.

“For I mean to go on in my sins to the end….” p. 158. “For sin is sweet, all abuse it, but all men live in it, only others do it on the sly, and I openly…and your paradise is not to my taste.” p. 158.

“I believe that I fall asleep and don’t wake up again, and that’s all.” p. 158.

To be continued.

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