Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Brothers Karamazov (7)

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:

“For no one can judge a criminal, until he recognizes that he is just such a criminal as the man standing before him.” p.291.

Of Father Zossima: “His teaching was false; he taught that life is a great joy and not a vale of tears.” p. 301.

“He began quietly praying, but he soon felt that he was praying almost mechanically.” p. 325.

“ ‘What terrible tragedies real life contrives for people,’ said Mitya in complete despair.” p. 340.

“You see, I understand, gentlemen, that there are terrible facts against me in this business…. I told everyone that I’d kill him, and now, all of a sudden, he’s been killed. So it must have been me.” p. 417.

“When he is sober, he is a fool; when he is drunk, he is a wise man.” p. 422.

“But listen, for the last time, I am not guilty of my father’s blood…. I accept my punishment not because I killed him but because I meant to kill him….” p. 561.

“But many quite irrelevant and inappropriate thoughts sometimes occur even to a prisoner when he is being led out to execution.” p. 462.

Isn’t every one constantly being or seeming ridiculous?” p. 502.

“You wouldn’t believe, Alexey, how I want to live now, what a thirst for existence and consciousness has sprung up in me within these peeling walls…be able to say and to repeat to myself every moment, ‘I exist.’ ” p. 535.

To be continued.

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