The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dosteovsky
I love Russian lit. But I have a hell of a time slogging through it. The books are almost always massive tomes as if written to be handy to kill a bear or a wolf. It took me three tries to get through Crime and Punishment, even though I thoroughly enjoyed it. You can SparkNotes the shit out of Russian Lit and not miss much. Three page paragraphs about outmoded philosophy. Hell most of the characters go by twenty different names. It’s like reading a schizophrenic fantasy story where all the characters are one person. Mikhailov Petrovich Kurielenko, sometimes Kurielenko, sometimes Mikhailov, sometimes Mikha, also called Pockets. You figure out the pattern after a while, but it takes time.
Well, Karamazov is considered one of the finest books of literature of all time. So I just HAD to read it. And it’s Russian lit. Which means buried under the prose and proselytizing is a pretty damn fine story. While I still like War and Peace the best of all, and still find Anna Karenina the worst, this one is closer to Karenina than W&P. It’s basically kind of It’s Always Snowy in Minskedelphia. You have a shitty father who’s spending all his money on trying to bang broads. Only his dickhole hot tempered son wants the same girl. Of course, dickhole hot temper is engaged to a different woman who’s very nice except she also has a huge temper. And then there’s the youngest son who’s a monk. If he were more like Charlie, I’d love him. Instead he freaks out a lot and cries. Maybe he should be in the Terry Goodkind books.
Religious plays a huge part in this. As well as the class system. Because that was huge at the time. When this was written I bet people were like, Fyodor you fucking PRICKSAUSAGE! But now it’s just like, Oh, yeah, them ol’ Russkies! Whatcha gonna do?
The meat of the story is that papa gets murdered and they blame the son. And the son wants to run away with a strumpet but not with the girl he loved. The girl he loved loves his brother who loves her but he hates her and so she hates him and I seriously couldn’t keep track. It’s got that sort of 19th century comedy of errors motif where societial graces fuck so much with just saying I love you or I don’t love you anymore.
It’s beautifully written, but overlong and so you can kind of skim. I find the 19th century romances infuriating because of the cultural mores. But reading this actually felt like an achievement so I’m glad I did it.