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The Brothers Karamazov (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 27 Feb 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 1056 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Rev Ed edition (27 Feb 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140449248
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140449242
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 4.7 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky was born in Moscow in 1821, the second of a physician's seven children. His mother died in 1837 and his father was murdered a little over two years later. When he left his private boarding school in Moscow he studied from 1838 to 1843 at the Military Engineering College in St Petersburg, graduating with officer's rank. His first story to be published, 'Poor Folk' (1846), was a great success.

In 1849 he was arrested and sentenced to death for participating in the 'Petrashevsky circle'; he was reprieved at the last moment but sentenced to penal servitude, and until 1854 he lived in a convict prison at Omsk, Siberia. In the decade following his return from exile he wrote The Village of Stepanchikovo (1859) and The House of the Dead (1860). Whereas the latter draws heavily on his experiences in prison, the former inhabits a completely different world, shot through with comedy and satire.

In 1861 he began the review Vremya (Time) with his brother; in 1862 and 1863 he went abroad, where he strengthened his anti-European outlook, met Mlle Suslova, who was the model for many of his heroines, and gave way to his passion for gambling. In the following years he fell deeply in debt, but in 1867 he married Anna Grigoryevna Snitkina (his second wife), who helped to rescue him from his financial morass. They lived abroad for four years, then in 1873 he was invited to edit Grazhdanin (The Citizen), to which he contributed his Diary of a Writer. From 1876 the latter was issued separately and had a large circulation. In 1880 he delivered his famous address at the unveiling of Pushkin's memorial in Moscow; he died six months later in 1881. Most of his important works were written after 1864: Notes from Underground (1864), Crime and Punishment (1865-6), The Gambler (1866), The Idiot (1869), The Devils (1871) and The Brothers Karamazov (1880).

Product Description

About the Author

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky was born in Moscow in 1821. Between 1849 & 1854 he lived in a convict prison, and in later years his passion for gambling led him deeply into debt. He died in 1881. He is also the author of Crime & Punishment, The Idiot and The Devils. David McDuff has translated a number of 19th-century Russian prose works for Penguin Classics.

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First Sentence
Aleksey Fyodorovich Karamazov was the third son of a landowner in our district, Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov, so noted in his time (and even now still recollected among us) for his tragic and fishy death, which occurred just thirteen years ago and which I shall report in its proper context. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Robert Govaerts on 22 July 2011
Format: Paperback
I read this large book in regular short periods and despite its numerous long dialogues found myself always eager to find out what was happening on the next page. It is a great classic worth reading.

It was written between 1878-9 and is the last of Dostoyevsky (1821-81). Many events that featured in the author's life are reflected in this book. Dostoyevsky's father was head physician in a hospital and was apparently murdered by some serfs on his estate. In the book, Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov, the father of the brothers, is presented as a landowner with a few servants and is murdered in curious circumstances. Dostoyevsky studied at the Military Engineering College in St Petersburg, was some years later arrested for political offences against the Russian state and sentenced to penal servitude in Siberia; he was widowed of his first wife; in the meantime he became addicted to gambling, and was rescued in his mid forties from his various debts by his twenty-year-old stenographer, who became his second wife. Elements of this, transformed, feature in the characterisation of the eldest brother Mitya Karamazov. Dostoyevsky had four children by this younger wife, two of whom died very young; his son Aleksey died in 1878 at the age of two soon after which this book was begun. This death is reflected at the end of the book by the death of the poor boy Ilyushenchka. Whereas the name Aleksey or Alyosha is given to the youngest of the brothers Karamazov.

Alyosha is the most attractive personality in the work; he is a humble and intelligent young man with the soul of an innocent child; a mystic who goes to reside in the local monastery, where he attaches himself to the elder Zozima, until the latter's death, which occurs shortly before the murder.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By "jsgouveia" on 14 Mar 2005
Format: Paperback
If I remember well, in Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5, there's a character that says that "The Brothers Karamazov" is the only book one has to read, because everything's in it.
This is the mos apropriate comment I've ever read on this book: From the live of the Starets Zossima, to the impressive tale of the Grand Inquisitor, and the incredible dialogue of Ivan and the devil, the book is filled with memorable scenes and reflections that will stick to your memory forever.
The characters are complex (as in any major Dostoyevsky book), deep, and deeply distressed, and every usual theme of Dostoyevsky's works is here, and it's at its best...
The great masterpiece of one of the best writers in the history of universal literature.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By jacr100 VINE VOICE on 11 Jan 2012
Format: Paperback
This is a book that, as one reviewer put it, "has everything" in it. To that someone retorted "so does the Argos book". So is The Brothers Karamazov a sweeping epic that reveals new and telling things about the human psyche and what it means to be Russian? Or is it an overblown, boring book of useless tat that should ultimately be discarded?

It is without doubt the former.

For those who have read the other reviews and are left with a sense of trepidation - please allay those fears. Yes this book is long, yes there are a couple of moments in which Dostoevsky wanders off to satisfy his need for religious philosophy (though only twice did I find the book slow in its pace) but ultimately it is compelling. Written today it would no doubt be whittled down by an over-zealous editor - the fact that we have such an overblown novel, warts and all is actually the whole point - it is a reflection of life - which as we all know - is not smooth sailing or nicely manicured lawns.

The plot itself is fairly simple - we are introduced to the Karamazovs - the landowner father and his three sons - plus their servants. What plays out is essentially a family drama with its crescendo as a murder and trial. Upon this simple(ish) tale Dostoevsky is able to execute a stunning portrayal of human motivations, jealousies and ultimately understanding. Every character is superbly drawn with their own foibles and more importantly inconsistencies, making them realistic and perfect tapestries upon which the author can hang his philosophy and beliefs.

There is little of the usual repetition that can blight Dostoevsky's style, making the near 1000 pages pass quicker than you may initially imagine. Having said that, this is not a book that you can read in a fortnight.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Guardian of the Scales on 2 Jun 2008
Format: Paperback
Dostoeyvsky's last novel is a huge doorstopper of a tome and probably his most ambitious work. The theme of religion looms large with Dostoyevsky confronting the chaos and despair that comes from the absence of God. Ivan Karamazov says: "without God, all is permitted" and this becomes one of the key preoccupations of the book.

Dostoevsky goes into typically tortuous detail on the motivations of his characters, nothing is as simple as it seems, and all actions are subjected to the most intense scrutiny. Dmitry Karamazov in particular is a hugely contradictory character in the classic Dostoyevskian mode, capable of great tenderness and utter selfishness, conscience-ridden but often utterly amoral, passion-crazed and self-destructive. Alyosha Karamazov, on the other hand, is another embodiment of the "holy fool" type character beloved of Dostoyevsky.

Alyosha aside, however, Dostoyevsky goes out of his way to depict the duality of his characters natures, showing their enormous capacity for good alongside a similar disposition towards evil and, while this may serve to illustrate Dostoyevsky's view of human nature, it does lead to much unfathomable erraticism in their behaviour. The mood changes many of the characters undergo are little short of psychotic. "Frenziedly" and "hysterically" are two much overused adverbs in this novel. Dostoyevsky's characters seem always on the edge of hysteria, perhaps reflecting his own character. I found this occasionally trying, especially towards the beginning, but as the novel progresses it gains a momentum of its own and interest centres on the themes of redemption, guilt, suffering, to name but a few.

In general, this novel is of a more optimistic tone than Dostoyevsky's earlier work such as "Crime and Punishment".
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