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The Brothers Karamazov: A Novel in Four Parts and an Epilogue (Penguin Classics) Paperback – April 29, 2003

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Language Notes

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

About the Author

Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821–1881), one of nineteenth-century Russia’s greatest novelists, spent four years in a convict prison in Siberia, after which he was obliged to enlist in the army. In later years his penchant for gambling sent him deeply into debt. Most of his important works were written after 1864, including Notes from Underground, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, and The Brothers Karamazov, all available from Penguin Classics.

David McDuff was educated at the University of Edinburgh and has translated a number of works for Penguin Classics, including Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.


David McDuff was educated at the University of Edinburgh and has translated a number of works for Penguin Classics, including Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 960 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (April 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140449248
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140449242
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 73 people found the following review helpful By H. Huggins on May 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is over 900 pages long, and it took me only 2 weeks to read it, while working full time, which is a true testament to its compelling plot and masterful prose. That being said, this is not an easy read, but demands much of the reader. Besides being the recounting of a fictional parricide and the ensuing courtroom drama, this is also Dostoevsky's greatest rumination on the meaning of life, the difference between good and evil, the phenomenon of human guilt, and the existence of God and the Devil. Phew.
The novel begins with introduction of the three Karamazov brothers (there is one other bastard son, but he is largely in the background), Alexei, Dmitry, and Ivan. All are unique and represent different parts of the human psyche. Alexei is benevolent and good, Dmitry is passionate and generous, Ivan is serious and intellectual. They all have their inner battles with God, which Dostoevsky brilliantly brings into the plot without losing the believability of the characters. About halfway through the book, their father, Fyodor Karamazov is murdered. Much like Dostoevsky's victim in "Crime and Punishment", Fyodor is an unsympathetic character who treated his sons horribly. Dmitry is the immediate suspect and a trial follows. Even though Dmitry is blamed for the murder, this novel circles around collective guilt in the eyes of God (if he exists, which is a question that clearly torments Dostoevsky). Who is responsible for the maltreatment of the Karamazov children? Who is responsible for tolerance of Dmitry's excesses? A rich cast of characters brings every possible aspect of personality into this debate, making this novel one of the most complete and well-rounded I have ever read. The theme of this book is the human condition...
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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Paul on March 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
I have read The Brothers Karamazov 12 times in three different versions - those by Garnett, Pevear-Volokhonsky, and McDuff. This one is by far my favourite of those three. While the other versions would take me at least a month to read, this one only took two weeks. Not only is the translation easier to read and more compelling, but there is a helpful introduction that explains some of the themes.

I'd also recommend these two introductions:
The Brothers Karamazov: Worlds of the Novel
Dostoyevsky: The Brothers Karamazov (Landmarks of World Literature)
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Aaishik Kar on August 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
There are certain accomplishments of human genius which arouse in mankind awe and reverence for the greatness which men are capable of. "The Brothers Karamazov" is one such gem of human thought and achievement.
What IS "The Brothers..." all about?
I do not feel competent enough to define precisely the central theme of the greatest, most profound & sophisticated, not to say difficult & complex novel of the 19th century.
All I can say is that it is a book rich with ideas - all pertaining to belief and disbelief. - man's faith in God, & what happens when man rejects faith, God & immortality of the soul.
In terms of the broader abstractions, the theme of TBK is: The "fall of man" & his spiritual re-birth & regeneration.
The "fall of man" comes about as a result of his loss of faith in God & immortality - his spiritual corruption begins from there, & leads to nothing but bloodshed, pain, disorder & destruction.
In the depth of this degradation, steeped in suffering, man learns the truth - the highest truth - God.
Thence begins the growth of faith & virtue in man, which assumes the form of man's taking upon himself guilt towards one & all, & active love towards mankind.
D's characterization in TBK is unsurpassed. Each character is the representative of an idea logically connected to the themes & ideas of the novel.
A few words on the three principal characters:
1. Ivan Karamazov - the most complex & intriguing character, Ivan is an atheist who rejects God for he cannot accept "God's order" and logically, becomes a "man-god". To such a man, no moral principles apply - "everything is permitted".
But Ivan is has a deep conscience.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Whitney R. on February 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
The Brothers Karamazov is a dramatic and insightful Russian novel written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. In this novel, Dostoyevsky intricately weaves the actions and emotions of his characters to create a masterpiece that describes the flaws and complications of society. As well as drawing out an intricate plot of a patricide, Dostoyevsky also confronts discrepancies in religion, the contrast between social classes, the power of money and love, and the complexity of the human nature.
Although many people are discouraged by its length, I strongly recommend this novel because of Dostoyevsky's ingenious writing style. He depicts the culture of Russian society through the case of a disputed murder as well as debating the line between good and evil. He also challenges the morals and lifestyles of that time, revealing his inner struggles to the reader. Dostoyevsky uses a wide variety of people in society as his characters: from wealthy individuals to impoverished families, from atheists to religious elders, from bastards to legitimate children, and from buffoons to moral figures. Between the characters, he draws parallels and contrasts in order to emphasize hope in the midst of a severe and cruel society.
What I love most about this novel is the character development. In the very beginning of the book, Dostoyevsky introduces his main characters by describing each of their backgrounds and their development to the point of the central plot. Thus, the reader feels as if he has grown up with these characters and understands each of their personalities. Each character is viewed realistically: they have imperfections and strengths, as well as unpredictable and unique qualities that could be found in people today.
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The Brothers Karamazov: A Novel in Four Parts and an Epilogue (Penguin Classics)
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