Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Brothers Karamazov (8)

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:

“And so I want to prove to your face this evening that you are the only real murderer in the whole affair and I am not the real murderer, though I did kill him.” p. 567.

“I’ve tried all the medical faculty: They can diagnose beautifully, they have the whole of your disease at their finger-tips, but they’ve no idea how to cure you.” p. 579.

“There was an enthusiastic little medical student here; ‘You may die,’ said he, ‘but you’ll know perfectly what disease you are dying of.’ ” p. 580.

“Without suffering what would be the pleasure of life…. [It] would be transformed into an endless church service; it would be holy, but tedious.” p. 581.

“A soon as men have all of them denied God—and I believe that period, analogous with geological periods, will come to pass—the old conception of the universe will fall of itself… and what’s more the old morality, and everything will begin anew; men will unite to take from life all it can give, but only for joy and happiness in the present world…from hour to hour extending his conquest of nature infinitely by his will and his science, men will feel such lofty joy from hour to hour in doing it that it will make up for all his old dreams of the joys of heaven; everyone will know that he is mortal and will accept death proudly and serenely like a god.” p. 587.

To be continued.

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