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The Brothers Karamazov Audible – Unabridged

4.3 out of 5 stars 319 customer reviews

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Format: Hardcover
"I would die happy if I could finish this final novel, for I would have then expressed myself completely."
This statement from Fyodor Dostoyevsky helps elucidate both the theme and purpose of the The Brothers Karamazov, one of the greatest masterpieces of world literature. Superficially, the novel deals with a patricide and how each of the book's characters contributed directly or indirectly to that murder.
Yet, The Brothers Karamazov, at its heart, is so much more. Its underlying theme deals with the drive for self-redemption in the eyes of both God and man and the role suffering plays in facilitating that redemption.
Fyodor Karamazov has fathered four sons, Dmitri, Ivan and Alyosha, by two wives, and one, Smerdyakov, with a peasant woman known as stinking Lizaveta.
Fyodor Karamazov, a vulgar and ill-tempered man represents, for Dostoyevsky, the Russian government of his times. Like the government, Fyodor shuns his children, preferring instead the materialistic, but joyless, life of wealth and possessions. His union with Lizaveta, who comes to represent all the peasants of Dostoyevsky's Russia, produces Smerdyakov, a bastard child who, in his own turn, will be raped and pillaged by the government and will go on to give birth, metaphorically, to bastard children of his own.
Karamazov's eldest son, Dmitri, an impulsive sensualist, finds respect as an overbearing soldier but one whose inability to pay his debts eventually turns him into a poor and irrational man.
Ivan, Fyodor's second son, is a cold intellectual who finds his fulfillment in his literary and creative abilities. He becomes famous through his writings, especially those concerning the Russian Church.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Anyone interested in the central question facing mankind will find `The Brothers Karamazov' an essential guide. That question--on man's capacity for responsibility and the proper role of the state and religion--is posed throughout the story in dialogue and events, and is framed neatly in a 20-page section where Ivan presents a poem titled `The Grand Inquisitor' to his brother Alyosha. The chapter that bears that title (Book V, Chapter V) is a masterpiece in itself and should be studied for its narrative technique alone. But the ideas it presents are so immense, so mind-blowing and inspirational, that literary criticism is not sufficient.

Indeed, `The Brothers Karamazov' should not be classed merely as a novel--it is a book of philosophy, theology, and sociology as well that ranks with the greatest documents in those disciplines. There is a fictitious plot, of course, and the characters in the story are some of the most interesting in all of literature, so it is rightly praised as a novel. But the modern reader looking for a plot of twists and romantic intrigues is bound to disappointment. Dostoevsky does not stir up drama through the placement of unexpected developments or improbable character traits. Instead, he relies on the inherent needs and wants of all men to make vivid his story.

The amount of dialogue may be shocking (tedious) to one accustomed to the modern show-don't-tell policy in storytelling. Today, novelists and screenwriters let a character's actions speak for them--it is quicker and provides a much more convincing impression. It also limits the kind of ideas that are posed in the story to simple, prosaic ones like `she likes him' or `he wants to defeat him.
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7 Comments 61 of 64 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
In his most comprehensive (and not coincidentally, his final) masterpiece, Dostoyevsky addresses and discusses a number of the most fundamental and universal issues which face man. His multiple perspectives are embodied in seperate characters -- taken together, these characters form the whole of the Karamazov family, and these perspectives constitute the whole of Dostoyevsky's view.
Each of the brothers represents a distinct school of thought or values -- the impulsive Dmitri portrays the instinctive and carnal desires of man; the nihilist, Ivan, displays the cold and unforgiving intellectual, governed by the rules of logic alone; the religious Alyosha, student to the Great Elder Zossima, depicts the humble and devout spiritualist. While the murder of their father, Fyodor Karamazov, is the catalyst to the real action of the book, it is certainly not the central focus -- a fact that might be surmised in light of the fact that the murder is not carried out until more than halfway through the text.
Instead, the work is a discussion and analysis of man's values and beliefs, and an affirmation of Dostoyevsky's fundamental conviction: that the presence of the human spirit cannot be denied without disastrous results, and that despite the assertions of the nihilists, God is a necessary element in the world of man.
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By A Customer on March 8, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I recently read a book so amazing, so well-written, and so memorable that I simply must tell you about it. It's The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. After reading another of Dostoyevsky's novels, Crime and Punishment, a while ago, and thoroughly loving it, I had to get this one, for I had heard it was his best work. And I can't disagree. To sum up the premise quickly, the novel takes place in Russia circa 1890, and tells the story of four brothers who become involved in the murder of their own father. That is the most basic summary of the plot I can give; but it doesn't even begin to give you an idea of the territory covered in this massive, sprawling novel. (Over 700 pages of great literature.) There are other things going on besides this murder, and eventually the novel is about so much more than this.
This novel has possibly some of the best characterization I've ever seen for any book, period. This is not an exaggeration. First, the four brothers are each given their own distinct personality and background (even though they are brothers they come from different pasts) and become some of the most developed, recognizable, and memorable characters I've ever encountered. In addition, the father is one of the most pathetic, funny, and evil characters in literature. But even then, Dostoyevsky does not stop. There are probably ten or fifteen secondary characters that appear a lot, and even more third-tier figures that don't have much time in the book but are still memorable. This is because whenever a new character is introduced, the author devotes at least a couple of full, developed passages telling the reader about the person, and reveals even more through the many conversations and speeches people have. Remarkably, there are never any repetetive characters.
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