The Brothers Karamazov (1879-1880) is about... a lot of things. It involves four main protagonists namely, Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov and his three sons Dmitri, Ivan, and Alyosha. It has heavy themes on morality and theology, but the main topic is patricide. It was also published as a serial in The Russian Messenger, consisting of twelve books in total, plus the Epilogue.
I picked up this book simply because I once fell in love with the idea of me being able to brag on social media that I have read The Brothers Karamazov. I saw a secondhand copy for sale, bought it, left it on my shelf for almost two years, and finally picked it up for my "Top 12 big books to read in 2020" challenge.
I've never been happier and more confused about my views on religion ever since I finished reading it. The ending was so passionate and a memory I'll look back on time and time again for the rest of my life. I'm even planning on re-reading it every few years or so. I feel like I'm going to understand a lot more and see things I overlooked the first time I finished the book which will make me appreciate the whole story a lot more.
Going into this book, I didn't have any expectations. For the writing style, I have read a few books from Dostoevsky, so I'm quite familiar with his writing style, which I think has some similarities with how I read Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (another great book, by the way). As for the story itself, I didn't realize it was going to be a "whodunit" mystery because I thought the story will be laid out like this: reveal the murdered (one of the three sons, perhaps), followed by a slow burn on how the murder came to be. The actual execution was still superb.
The Brothers Karamazov main genres are categorized as philosophy and religion. Philosophy is something I've always wanted to dip my toes in and didn't realize the first book I'll encounter on the subject is this one. I was thinking of reading the Greeks first or some of the more well-known in the field of philosophy, but I think this is also a great start for the topic. I think the ideas were clearly explained and can be accessible to any reader, although be prepared to tackle seemingly endless dialogue with no breaks.
Religion is one I don't prefer to read as much as possible because I don't believe in the existence of an "all-knowing entity" a.k.a. god/s. The parts in this book where the topic is about God put me off at times, but it also interested me to see the clashing of beliefs and how they interact with each other (Ivan vs. Alyosha, for example). I learned a lot by understanding both their sides, why they have faith, and why not.
If there's one particular thing I liked in The Brothers Karamazov, more than anything else about the book, is the part about Alyosha and the schoolboys. That side-story (not sure if it's considered a side-story) is one I highly enjoyed reading about. I liked seeing Alyosha not so stressed as he was dealing with the rest of the characters (I call him an errand boy in my head sometimes).
Second to that would be Alyosha's interactions with Lise. Lise has such a unique personality, I feel like we'd be close friends, bullying other people.
An interesting fact I learned about The Brothers Karamazov is that it's the last book Dostoevsky wrote. He died months later after it was published.
Hope you enjoyed the review and happy reading! Got any book recommendations? 😊