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The Karamazov Brothers (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – August 20, 1998

4.6 out of 5 stars 163 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"A fine translation."--Sr. Anna M. Conklin, Spalding University

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Russian --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 1054 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (August 20, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192835092
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192835093
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 2 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,257,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
In Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, Rosewater tells Billy Pilgrim that "everything there [is] to know about life [is] in The Brothers Karamazov, by Feodor Dostoevsky."
And so, I took Rosewater to heart, and after finishing Slaughterhouse over my winter break, I went to the library and took out the intimidatingly old and terribly thick translation of The Brothers Karamazov. I sat down on my bed at home and opened it, and thought to myself, "Let's read the first page, and see if I can make sense of it."
The first page, is in fact, a message from the author and it addresses the same question (more or less) that I was asking myself as I began to read:
"Starting out on the biography of my hero, Alexi Fyodorovich Karamazov, I find myself in some perplexity. Namely, that while I do call Alexi Fyodorovich my hero, still, I myself know that he is by no means a great man, so that I can foresee the inevitable questions, such as: What is notable about your Alexei Fyodorovich that you should choose him for your hero? What has he really done? To whom is he known, and for what? Why should I, the reader, spend my time studying the facts of his life?"
It is that last question-why anyone should want to spend time studying the facts of his life (and, on a side note, I recently read a Dave Barry column where he asks, "Has anyone actually finished The Brothers Karamazov?") that I am here to sell you on.
I can say now, even though I literally just finished it, with some degree of certainty, that The Brothers Karamazov is the most important book that I have ever read. It has very much changed me-and my perception of the world. I will go back to it, throughout my life, and reread many of its passages.
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Format: Paperback
After being thoroughly spoiled ROTTEN by Ignat Avsey's beautifully flowing translation of this work, I'm having trouble digging into the first few chapters of "Crime and Punishment", translated by Constance Garnett. It is incredible the stylistic difference between the two translators. Ignat claims to stay truer to the style and spirit of Dostoevsky rather than remain grammatical and structurally confined to perfectionistic "direct" translation, which seems to create clumsy and confusing sentences and phrases, often requiring constant rereading and scrutiny of awkward sentences which I'm sure flow wonderfully in Russian, yet translated "exactingly" into the English language create stumbling blocks to enjoyable comprehension of Dostoevsky's vision. I find Ignat's craft infinitely more engaging and clear, and having now begun a Garnett translation I am immeadiately struck by how stiff and in my opinion, unnecessarily confusing the phrasing and grammar is. I came online hoping Ignat may have translated other Dostoevsky novels, but alas, I can't find any.
At the bookstore, intrigued by the rewording of the title, I read about 3 pages of his version, and then a few of Garnett's. I knew right away which one to buy. I can't recommend his version enough, the novel is astounding and well worth the trouble of taking on, and is sure to be especially delightful if you're reading the Ignat Avsey version.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Brothers Karamazov" is an ethical compendium and certainly one of the greatest novels ever written. Other reviewers have done a better job than I could of summarizing the complexly layered plot and symbolic nature of the characters. I might depart from them a bit by suggesting that each of the brothers is confined to a specific role and might be viewed as a prisoner of sorts.
The radical, revolutionary brother Ivan is a prisoner of his intellect. His essay on "The Grand Inquisitor" is the second of his two-part assault on his brother Aleosha's belief in Christ. Dimity, the lover of women and eruptive speaker is a prisoner of his passion. Aleosha, who worships his spiritual mentor, Father Zosima is a prisoner of his faith, while Smerdyakov, the ill begotten son of Fyodor Karamazov and a street woman is a prisoner of his circumstances. Each brother is a unique and integral component of the human condition.
But a novel cannot work through symbolism and personification alone. Like Tolstoi's `War and Peace" this book is also a series of essays. The chapter in which Father Zosima discovers his faith on the evening before his is supposed fight a duel is an essay of courage and integrity that far outstrips any thing written by "macho" authors such as Hemingway and Camus. In this chapter, Zosima is a carousing young military officer who discovers his faith in God on the evening before he is to fight a duel. This puts Zosima in a quandary since his faith now prevents him from killing another human being but he still does not want to appear a coward. Zosima solves this problem by offering his opponent the first shot. When his opponent misses, Zosima declines to take his shot. Instead he throws away his pistol and asks "am I worth it?
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this book in a bit of a hurry about three years ago, and regret doing it that way. This is because it did not end up being the profound read that many of my friends said it was. In fact, I would go so far as to venture that Dostoevsky is not completely, or at least easily, accessible to people without a background in literature. It's not an impossible task though, and during the past three years I have found myself appreciating this masterwork more and more.
In fact, some parts of the book are breathtaking. Some basic, blunt, questions about life are asked and then answered. You may or may not like Dostoevsky's worldview, but you have to admit that he does make you think. For example, how many Christians have ever asked: "What if I die, and find out, after a lifetime of believing, that there's nothing, nothing, after death?" This question is asked and answered in the book, as are so many others that so many of us are afraid to ask.
Even if you don't have the patience to slog through the 700+ pages of the novel, at least borrow a copy from someone and read the chapter entitled 'The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor.' You cannot call yourself truly read until you have gone through these 20 or so pages that are possibly the greatest ever written in literature.
A last word of warning. If you do get the Bantam Classic version of this novel (i.e. the one with the purple cover), do NOT read the critique beforehand! Like many critiques, the writer feels obligated to give away the plot ahead of time. In this case, it is the name of the character who commits the murder. Since the book is really more about philosophy than plot, this ruined what little plot there was for me.
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