Monday, August 24, 2009

The Brothers Karamazov (5).

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:

“One can love one’s neighbors in the abstract, or even at a distance, but at close quarters it’s almost impossible.” p. 215.

“Grown-up people have eaten the apple and know good and evil, and…they go on eating it still.” p. 215.

“People talk sometimes of bestial cruelty, but that’s a great injustice and insult to the beasts; a beast can never be so cruel as a man, so artistically cruel.” p. 216.

“I think if the devil doesn’t exist, but man has created him, he has created him in his own image and likeness.” p. 216.

“…the intoxication of cruelty….” p. 218.

“…I recognize in all humility that I cannot understand why the world is arranged as it is; men are themselves to blame, I suppose; they were given Paradise, they wanted freedom…though they knew they would become unhappy, so there is no need to pity them.” p. 220.

“And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.” p. 222.

“Man was created a rebel; and how can rebels be happy?” p. 227.

“…the unsolved…contradictions of human nature.” p. 228.

“Feed men, and then ask of them virtue.” p. 229.

“For the secret of man’s being is not only to live but to have something to live for.” p. 230.

“…fearful burden of free choice.” p. 231.

“And men rejoiced that they were again led like sheep, and that the terrible gift [freedom] that had brought them such suffering, was, at last, lifted from their hearts.” p. 232.

“Oh, we shall persuade them that they will only become free when they renounce their freedom to us and submit to us.” p. 234.

To be continued.

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