The Brothers Karamasov is a murder mystery, a courtroom drama, and an exploration of erotic rivalry in a series of triangular love affairs involving the “wicked and sentimental” Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov and his three sons―the impulsive and sensual Dmitri; the coldly rational Ivan; and the healthy, red-cheeked young novice Alyosha. Through the gripping events of their story, Dostoevsky portrays the whole of Russian life, is social and spiritual striving, in what was both the golden age and a tragic turning point in Russian culture.
This award-winning translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky remains true to the verbal
inventiveness of Dostoevsky’s prose, preserving the multiple voices, the humor, and the surprising modernity of the original. It is an achievement worthy of Dostoevsky’s last and greatest novel
Table of Contents
Book Review by Daniel & Kara Jordan
No Novel Will Ever Change You As Profoundly for the Better
I do not know what my review can add to the Brothers Karamazov, but I will put in a few of my words. I have now read this book six times through and every time I am simply amazed at the complexity of vision that Dostoevsky brought to the page. My copy of the book is littered with page numbers written in the margins that connect the dots between all of the recurring scenes, ideas, images, phrases, and philosophies. It has taken years of sustained thought to be able to draw all of these connections, which makes it somewhat unbelievable that Dostoevsky was able to write it in the time frame that he did. Because of this, though, I have found this translation to be the only reasonable choice for the serious student. Many earlier translations ironed out potentially awkward phrasings, and thereby destroyed the parallelism that was being masterfully established.
I have shed so many tears on the pages of my copy of this book that I am surprised it is still holding up as well as it is. There is a sensitivity and beauty to this text that I have never been able to find anywhere else, even in other works by Dostoevsky. It is, quite simply, the most masterful examination of agape (active love), faith, and justice, and redemption that I have ever encountered in my life, in philosophy, history, literature, film, or otherwise. There are no words to offer that can capture how profoundly this book has changed me for the better.
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“[Dostoevsky is] at once the most literary and compulsively readable of novelists we continue to regard as great . . . The Brothers Karamazov stands as the culmination of his art–his last, longest, richest and most capacious book. [This] scrupulous rendition can only be welcomed. It returns to us a work we thought we knew, subtly altered and so made new again.” ―Donald Fanger, Washington Post Book World
“It may well be that Dostoevsky’s [world], with all its resourceful energies of life and language, is only now–and through the medium of this translation–beginning to come home to the English-speaking reader.” ―John Bayley, The New York Review of Books
“Heartily recommended to any reader who wishes to come as close to Dostoevsky’s Russian as it is possible.” ―Joseph Frank, Princeton University
“Far and away the best translation of Dostoevsky into English that I have seen . . . faithful . . . extremely readable . . . gripping.” ―Sidney Monas, University of Texas
Originally published: November 1880
Original title: Братья Карамазовы (Brat’ya Karamazovy)
Page count: 824
Genres: Novel, Suspense, Philosophical fiction