How does one review such a book? The Brothers Karamazov is a personification of Russian culture, expressing so much about its history through fiction. There is the church, small village life, the Russian spirit, even the corruption which never fails to pervade government, the superfluous man – all central themes to Russia in the 19th century. The never-ending struggle of the nobles to find a place for themselves once they are no longer forced to serve reaches a climax in the character of Mitya Karamazov, who must deal with a father who will not give him his inheritance and a life which serves no purpose.
This translation, by Pevear and Volokhonsky, has been praised and awarded for its retention of Dostoevsky’s spirit and language, and for what it’s worth, I would agree. The novel is lively, with an edge of ridiculousness on top of the depression, and a final, somewhat uplifting message. Each brother is different and embodies a specific character, and the three are entangled with various other characters, creating a fascinating, multi-faceted whole. The plot has love triangles, mystery, and excitement enough to keep the reader going through as fast as possible.
It’s long, but worth it. Definitely recommended.