The Brothers Karamazov
Author: Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Length: 2,239 minutes / 37.32 hours
As is usually the case with Russian literature, The Brothers Karamazov is a daunting read. These thick tomes are usually on lists of books you should read, but picking up such a large volume and consuming its contents can be quite intimidating. Even the audiobook version (which I used for this review) clocks in at almost a full work-week of listening to get through it all. Still, those who manage to take on this herculean task are likely to be rewarded with an engaging story that covers a wide variety of topics to include (but not limited to) religion, marriage, communism, fatherhood, and (of course) brotherhood.
Having already read Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, I found The Brothers Karamazov to be more along the lines of Law & Order. His former book was a tight and well-paced examination of guilt, even in the face of necessity and wealth distribution. The Brothers Karamazov, however, took a while to set everything up in order to provide an engaging examination of a murder. The first third of this book seemed to be a little bloated with details that never really panned out, but once the real action sets in, get ready for an exciting philosophical ride.
Of course, The Brothers Karamazov is mostly a vehicle for Dostoyevsky to explore some fundamental ideas. These ideas permeate the human condition so thoroughly that he can ask the hard questions in a natural and realistic context. Through conversations with the Devil, as well as arguments in court, Dostoyevsky invites the reader to consider what true fatherhood really is. Furthermore, especially in the context of communism and religion, we are posed with the timeless question: are we our brothers’ keepers? Even today, these questions elicit some challenging answers from society.
An excellent follow-up to Crime and Punishment, I give The Brothers Karamazov 4.0 stars out of 5.