Sunday, January 30, 2011

Brothers Karamazov - Review

I love Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, but this was one of the most difficult books I've read in a long, long time. 
First of all, it's really long - 940 pages!  That alone is pretty intimidating.
Second, in Russian style, each character has about 4-5 versions of their names.  I had a hard time keeping track of who was who until about 1/3 of the way into the book.
Third, it covers so many characters and so many themes that it's hard to follow (or even to identify) the main theme.

However, with those difficulties noted, I'm glad I read The Brothers Karamazov.  There are some absolutely beautiful scenes - notably Ivan's parable about the Inquisition. 
Also, after about half-way through the book, the action and pace increased quite a bit.  It took me about 6 months (and several stops and starts) to read the first half, but it only took a few weeks to read the second half.
In the end, I guess the theme of the book is that selfishness really screws up your life one way or another.  The only character who comes out happy is the one who is always trying to help others.

I'm reluctant to rate a classic this low.  However, because of the difficulty I experienced in the reading process and the lack of clarity for the over all theme, I'll give this only: JJJ.  But, I still recommend it.  It's hard, but it's worth the effort.
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