The Brothers Karamazov (1880) by Fyodor Dostoevsky – book review

All those hours spent reading this and checking off the Cliff Notes along the way to be sure I had not lost the plot.

Have no-one to blame but myself, for ’twas I who stuck my neck out and said it would be good for us to read a classic before the Christmas holidays last year. This lengthy exercise ending up feeling like Punishment for a Crime I had clearly committed, and the style was such that I felt a bit of an Idiot reading it. I was full of the best intentions, and even riveted at the beginning and for perhaps the first 400 pages. But from there on in it became less an act of grace and more a period of time in purgatory, and the words danced hellishly over the page as though to taunt me.

Not helped by everyone having several different nomenclatures, I just found this too much hard work, to my deep dismay – and I question how this melodramatic novel has managed to stand the test of time. How can this book be held high as anyone’s favourite read of all time? Which I see it is, not infrequently.

One of the quotes on the fantastic Good Reads website from this book is: “What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.” Would I be tied to the stake for offering a different ending to this citation?

Read in December 2014.

Rating : a much misunderstood 5/10

Image taken from here.
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12 Responses to The Brothers Karamazov (1880) by Fyodor Dostoevsky – book review

  1. Pingback: “Doctor Zhivago” by Boris Pasternak (1957) – book review | Literary ramblings etc

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  3. FictionFan says:

    Haha! You’ve reminded me of how I felt on finishing War and Peace! Personally, I think often with the Russians it’s just the sheer relief of finishing them that makes people think they’ve enjoyed them… 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh no, “War and Peace” next on my Russian hit list….!! Even the family tree pages are off-putting! Think will leave “Crime and Punishment” for very wet weather days. Nx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Erika says:

    I haven’t read this book but I had the similar feeling after reading two Russian lit books- Anna Karenina and Crime and Punishment.

    The only one that I enjoyed so far was Lolita, though I know some people are hesitant on reading or tend to be put off in regards to this book due to the controversial theme in the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Erika – did actually love “Anna Karenina”, but am sure that had a lot to do with the human interest side to the story and am hoping will find some of that too in “War & Peace”, trying not to be put off by the size! – it’s on my Wish List! Nicola

      Liked by 1 person

      • Erika says:

        Oh my goodness War and Peace?! The length of that book has always intimidated me thus I avoid reading it. My other concern was I may get bored. :/ But it’s awesome that you’re giving it a go! Happy reading. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. The Russians are tough to read that’s for sure. I would like to read more Dostoevsky novels, but they do intimidate me so I can relate to what you’re saying in this review. Good luck reading War and Peace, I read over a few months on and off. I enjoyed it, but like Anna Karenina it was was soooo long!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The gauntlet laid down to get on with another Russian novel in the not too distant now! Have to crack it!! Nicola x


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  9. Please read ‘War and Peace’, it’s really really good (as a Russian lit enthusiast) and Tolstoy is much hotter on story-telling-over-hysterical-angst than Dostoyevsky …

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi, thanks for the encouragement – W&P is (I think) my mum’s favourite book of all time, and I was enraptured by Anna Karenina, so once have got “Middlemarch” under my belt am hoping to hoik the heavy tome off the shelves and turn to page one with a deep breath and the family tree photocopied by my side. It’s one of the rare times I feel tempted to watch the DVD beforehand to take the edge off it, but that does seem like cheating… Nx


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