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14 January 2010 @ 12:11 am
Crime and Punishment...? A review of 'The Brothers Karamazov'  
OK, not a review. I can't even begin to compose a coherent review of a novel such as the aforementioned.

I was incredibly impressed by the drive and pace behind the plot - for such a colossal novel, it moves along at a fair clip. There are many lengthy speeches and discourses, some immense, involved asides on religion and morality, but these just add marvellous flavour to the narrative core of the novel. And such an effervescent, potent narrative it is as well - a broiling, turbulent plot, in a novel populated by such colourful, immaculately crafted characters.

The twin temptresses, the three brothers, good, bad and ugly, the uncaring father, the lackey, the whole host of middling and minor characters who all greatly enhance the novel in their contributions, the children...

Actually, I don't really understand the children - why? They seem somewhat superfluous to the plot, and I think this a mark of the plans Dostoyevsky had for the novel - no longer on the Karamazovs, but on the children, on Kolya and Smurov and the rest. They play an entirely dispensable role in the novel, but an enjoyable one, mind.

Also, the very way in which the novel ends, that final scene by the stone, Alyosha and the children, also strikes me as a loose end - many loose ends abound, in fact - the brothers, the women, all remain unresolved. Perhaps this is for the best, but still, the novel doesn't seem entirely complete.

As for the psychological power, the moral potency of the work, the intellectual fury of the composition...words can't express, they truly can't. The religious elements are also very interesting and thought provoking, as they are in all excellent novels.

I greatly admired the intertextuality of the work, but still question the meaning of the opening quotation, from John's gospel:

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds."

Any thoughts?

It is very much a thought-provoking, mentally challenging, intellectually invigorating novel. You feel exercised for having read even 10 pages, let alone 893. It stretches the mind, pushes at preconceptions, then explodes with emotion and pathos in equal measure.

The dance between good and evil, truth and falsity, damnation and salvation, the internal strains of guilt, the ravages of attraction, all are explored with depth and great sensitivity in this most accomplished of works.

Further than that, I really have few words worth uttering-as with all great art, it takes a genius to review, let alone to compose them. Let not my fumblings put you off - Karamazov is a stupendous, rewarding novel, whose reputation is very much deserved.

Is this better than 'The Idiot'? Is this the best novel I have ever read?

These days I don't even try to answer such questions, but just plough on into the next tome. But let it be said that Karamazov will leave an indelible mark upon your life and soul, and you will be grateful for having read it. Give it the time and it will repay you with limitless dividends.

I am very much looking forward to C&P, as the title of this blog might suggest. In a way, this novel could well have been given that title, with little alterations needed. I no doubt shall find myself reading about Raskolnikov within 6 months.

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So, Kundera. Never a more appropriate time.

"We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can never compare it to our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come"

Oh yes, Anna Karenina seems to play a role in the novel. Another novel I've yet to conquer.