Friday, August 21, 2009

The Brothers Karamazov (4).

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:

“Never trust a woman’s tears.” p. 177.

“Schoolboys are a merciless race, individually they are angels, but together, especially in schools, they are often merciless.” p. 186.

“And when he had poured out his heart, he felt ashamed at having shown me his inmost soul like that…began to hate me at once.” p. 195.

“The great thing now is to persuade him that he is on an equal footing with us, in spite of taking money from us.” p. 196.

“My brothers are destroying themselves…my father, too…and are destroying others with them…the primitive force of the Karamazovs.” p. 200.

“Can a Russian peasant be said to feel, in comparison with an educated man?” p. 203.

“…if I were struck by every horror of man’s disillusionment—still I should want to live and, having once tasted of the cup, I would not turn away from it till I had drained it.” p. 208.

“It’s a feature of the Karamazovs it’s true, that thirst for life regardless of everything….” p. 208.

“…and I go on living in spite of logic.” p. 208.

“Precious are the dead that lie there, every stone over them speaks of such burning life in the past, of such passionate faith in their work, their truth, their struggle and their science….” p. 209.

“…the marvel is that such an idea, the idea of the necessity of God, could enter the head of such a savage, vicious beast as man.” p. 212.

“As for me, I’ve long resolved not to think whether man created God or God man.” p. 212.

“I believe in the underlying order and the meaning of life; I believe in the eternal harmony in which they say we shall one day be blended.” p. 213.

“It’s not that I don’t accept God, you must understand, it’s the world created by Him I don’t and cannot accept.” p. 213.

“…humiliating absurdity of human contradictions….” p. 213.

“…in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood they’ve shed, that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened with men.” p. 213.

“The stupider one is, the clearer one is.” p. 214.

“To my thinking, Christ-like love for men is a miracle impossible on earth; He was God…we are not gods.” p. 214.

To be continued.

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