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Showing 1-10 of 676 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 1,231 reviews
on January 28, 2012
Before you dedicate many hours to reading this masterpiece, you must be sure you select the appropriate translation for your reading style. The Pevear translation - although highly acclaimed - may make it difficult for most readers to grasp the essence of this beautiful story, and therefore I would almost always recommend the McDuff version ahead of the Pevear.

The Brothers Karamazov presents the same challenge for every English translator; namely, Dostoevsky took pride in creating distinct voices and syntax for each of his characters, and most translations have sacrificed the syntax and voicing to make it more readable - in the process losing much of the tone of each character. Pevear's translation is known for being the truest to the original, as it replicates the syntax with an almost academic precision. However, in being so true to the syntax and voicing, Pevear leaves sentence structures that are so unfamiliar-sounding to the native English speaker as to be disruptive. Many times as I read this translation I found myself jolted out of the flow of reading because the phrasing felt so awkward. As an example of a difficult sentence:

Pevear: "These occasions were almost morbid: most depraved, and, in his sensuality, often as cruel as a wicked insect, Fyodor Pavlovich at times suddenly felt in himself, in his drunken moments, a spiritual fear, a moral shock, that almost, so to speak, resounded physically in his soul." Compare that to

McDuff "These were instances that almost seemed to involve some morbid condition: most depraved, and in his voluptuous lust often brutal, like an evil insect, Fyodor Pavlovich would on occasion suddenly experience within himself, in his drunken moments, a sense of spiritual terror and moral concussion that echoed almost physically, as it were, within his soul".

This is a good example of the tradeoffs each translator makes. Generally: Pevear's is tight, precise, uses simple language and is truest to the original and punchy sentence structure. It requires a high tolerance for odd syntax. McDuff's uses a broader vocabulary (e.g. "moral concussion"), but his flow/ear is much more natural to most English speakers. The sacrifice is that McDuff uses probably 5%-10% more words, but I personally believe these additions make it far more readable. It is still generally true to the sentence structure, but by taking a quarter step away from the purist version, he sheds much more light on the underlying text than Pevear.

Based on research, other reviewers and my own experience: if you are familiar with Russian, Pevear is for you. If you value precision, read for words instead of flow, or are better able to tolerate difficult phrasing than difficult vocabulary, then Pevear is for you. If you are more comfortable with a wider repertoire of words, and typically read with a background sense of the "flow" of each sentence, I believe McDuff will be far more readable while maintaining all the essence of the original work.
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on December 3, 2014
I lost the old Modern Library edition of THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV I bought in DaNang in 1969, and so replaced it with this excellent and very nicely priced edition. THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV is perhaps THE novel, and the labor in reading it will repay you spiritually and intellectually (for your first visit to Dostoyevsky's Russia, take along a SparkNotes or Cliff's Notes). I have read it several times, and it is always better and better.
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on July 15, 2016
The Brothers Karamazov is one of the greatest novels ever written. Creating unique, believable characters, Dostoevsky explores three major world views: Ivan, the intellectual atheist; Dimetri, the sensualist, and Alyosha, the Christian believer. Yet, each of these "types" exhibit moments of the other world views. The author portrays these world views in the matrix of Mother Russia. A murder mystery is the framework for revealing and solidifying the natures of each of these characters, but there are many other unforgettable characters in the Russia of the latter 19th century, as depicted here. Who could have birthed "the Grand Inquisitor" argument better, as the atheist's credo? A marvelous, devastating exposure of human nature!
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on July 17, 2016
Dostoevsky is a master of character, and interested in political and religious theory, so this book reads more like a text than a murder story. It has the structure of a psychological mystery, including a murder and a dramatic trial. One feels like they are living in Russia of the late 1800s, and that you are friends with the Karamazov family. Keeping track of the various names, nicknames, and characters can be challenging.
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on June 1, 2016
If you are a human you should read this book. It will change your life. It reads as a novel, but there are so many deep themes involved that you'll want to set aside time to just think about each chapter. If you aren't a human, I'd still suggest you read this

If I remember correctly, Dostoyevsky died before he was able to finish this book, but it still leaves as satisfactory of an ending to 800 pages as if he did finish it
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on February 10, 2011
First things first. I love the Everyman's Library. The light yellow pages. The cloth cover. The sewn binding (no glue). The silk bookmark. The smell. Yes, the smell of the paper is the most important part. The first thing I always do with an Everyman edition when I've opened up the box is stick my nose deep into an open page and inhale. Then I chase my wife around, telling her she has to breath this in, this fantastic aroma; she looks at me like I'm crazy. No other publisher makes books that smell like the Everyman's Library. I could never read this book on a Kindle or on paperback. It just wouldn't feel true. Beautiful thoughts deserve a beautiful home.

When my college mentor held up a worn copy of The Brothers Karamozov by Dostoevsky, he promised me that this book would either transform me into a deeply religious individual or turn me into an atheist. I was intrigued. In my first reading I sensed something happening to me; I was drawn along a funny, strange fantasy which washed over me without my wholly understanding what was going on. The characters spoke in long speeches, almost Shakespearean.

Alyosha, the novice monk and hero, races from scene to scene, saving his brothers and his father from catastrophe, but he's never quite fast enough. What begins in the humorously absurd turns dark and even grotesque as the father is discovered beaten to death and the eldest son, Dimitri, is immediately suspected as the culprit. Both father and son were in pursuit of the same women, and their rivalry had escalated into violence before.

The most important part of the book for me, though, is the interchange between Ivan, the atheist intellectual and Alyosha, the faithful Christian. Ivan rebels against God and the senseless suffering in the world, especially the chapter entitled "The Grand Inquisitor," and Alyosha listens in horror, unable to defend his point of view. Jesus failed mankind, Ivan says, because the common man is incapable of faith. He needs to be compelled to salvation, but Jesus wouldn't compel us, so salvation is only available to a few. When the Grand Inquisitor, the man responsible for burning the thousands of heretics in Spain, confronts Jesus with his failings, Jesus only looks on him with silent compassion. It's a powerful scene, and I read the rest of the novel as Alyosha's attempt to grapple with the vision of his brother.

This is not the faint hearted; it's mammoth length, difficult language, and unfamiliar Slavic names demand careful attention. But the honest, diligent reader will feel the ground shift under him, and nothing will be the same. This book changed me. I am now on my fifth reading and have lost my innocent faith in God's love, and developed a deeper, more nuanced and profound relationship with the Divine.
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on February 4, 2017
The Brothers Karamazov is a must read! Make sure you have a pen and 3x5 card so you can write the numerous names down, making your reading more enjoyable! I love this book and the app has been hassle free.
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on February 25, 2017
After reading all of Dostoyevsky's works I'd say this is truly the pinnacle of his craft and arguably one of the greatest compositions of literature ever produced. This work profoundly weaves religion, politics, sociology and psychology into a timeless treatise on the state of humanity. Every true lover of books, every educator, theologian and frankly everybody should know this work of art.
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on March 23, 2014
Many reviews call The Brothers Karamazov Dostoevsky's best, as well as his last, novel. I am very inclined to agree with them. The characters are so well developed; sometimes it is like you feel for them. The plot is masterfully told and takes some unexpected turns at times.

This book is one of my, if not my most favorite books I have ever read; however, it is not for everyone. If you do not enjoy Dostoevsky, do not get this. If you like him, dive right in, but if you are unsure, I would take the chance, as long as you do not mind some scholarly writing, expert story telling, and an incredible reading experience (I would say).
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on January 31, 2017
Must-reading for any serious student of literature. That said, not an easy read. You need time to digest it, because Dostoevsky pretty much inserted all his beliefs, questions and philosophies into this one novel. There are heavy-duty philosophical questions and he, um, doesn't spare any words, either: in this day and age, this book would have been heavily edited. But the characters of each of the Karamazovs are complicated and worthy of a lot of discussion and reflection. The Grand Inquisitor section alone will give you a taste of what you're in for. It's a book where you simultaneously highlight many passages, and throw up your hands at how long those passages are. But it doesn't get much more deep than this, when it comes to serious literature.
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