Dostoevsky spent nearly two years writing The Brothers Karamazov , which was published as a serial in The Russian Messenger from January to November Dostoevsky died less than four months after its publication.
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The Brothers Karamazov is a passionate philosophical novel set in 19th-century Russia, that enters deeply into the ethical debates of God , free will , and morality. It is a spiritual, theological drama of moral struggles concerning faith, doubt, judgment, and reason , set against a modernizing Russia, with a plot which revolves around the subject of patricide. Dostoevsky composed much of the novel in Staraya Russa , which inspired the main setting.
Although Dostoevsky began his first notes for The Brothers Karamazov in April , he had written several unfinished works years earlier. He would incorporate some elements into his future work, particularly from the planned epos The Life of a Great Sinner , which he began work on in the summer of It eventually remained unfinished after Dostoevsky was interested in the Nechayev affair, which involved a group of radicals murdering one of their former members.
He picked up that story and started with Demons. Dated 13 September , it tells of a fictional murder in Staraya Russa committed by a praporshchik named Dmitry Ilynskov based on a real soldier from Omsk , who is thought to have murdered his father. It goes on noting that his body was suddenly discovered in a pit under a house. In the October A Writer's Diary article "To the Reader", Dostoevsky mentioned a "literary work that has imperceptibly and involuntarily been taking shape within me over these two years of publishing the Diary ".
His Diary , a collection of numerous articles, had included similar themes The Brothers Karamazov would later borrow from.
These include patricide, law and order and social problems. In May , Dostoevsky's three-year-old son Alyosha died of epilepsy ,  a condition inherited from his father.
The novelist's grief is apparent throughout the book; Dostoevsky named the hero Alyosha, as well as imbuing him with qualities which he sought and most admired. His loss is also reflected in the story of Captain Snegiryov and his young son Ilyusha. Henry Hitchings. The death of his son brought Dostoevsky to the Optina Monastery later that year.
There, he found inspiration for several aspects of The Brothers Karamazov , though at the time he intended to write a novel about childhood instead. Parts of the biographical section of Zosima's life are based on "The Life of the Elder Leonid", a text he found at Optina and copied "almost word for word".
Although written in the 19th century, The Brothers Karamazov displays a number of modern elements.
Dostoevsky composed the book with a variety of literary techniques. Though privy to many of the thoughts and feelings of the protagonists , the narrator is a self-proclaimed writer; he discusses his own mannerisms and personal perceptions so often in the novel that he becomes a character.
Through his descriptions, the narrator's voice merges imperceptibly into the tone of the people he is describing, often extending into the characters' most personal thoughts. There is no voice of authority in the story see Mikhail Bakhtin 's Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics for more on the relationship between Dostoevsky and his characters. In addition to the principal narrator there are several sections narrated by other characters entirely, such as the story of the Grand Inquisitor and Zosima's confessions.
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This technique enhances the theme of truth, making many aspects of the tale completely subjective. Dostoevsky uses individual styles of speech to express the inner personality of each person. For example, the attorney Fetyukovich based on Vladimir Spasovich is characterized by malapropisms [ citation needed ] e.
Several plot digressions provide insight into other apparently minor characters. For example, the narrative in Book Six is almost entirely devoted to Zosima's biography, which contains a confession from a man whom he met many years before.
Dostoevsky does not rely on a single source or a group of major characters to convey the themes of this book, but uses a variety of viewpoints, narratives and characters throughout. Although The Brothers Karamazov has been translated from the original Russian into a number of languages, the novel's diverse array of distinct voices and literary techniques makes its translation difficult. Constance Garnett performed the first English translation, which was released in It is true, as critics such as Nikoliukin have demonstrated, that she shortens and simplifies, muting Dostoevsky's jarring contrasts, sacrificing his insistent rhythms and repetitions, toning down the Russian colouring, explaining and normalizing in all kinds of ways Garnett shortens some of Dostoevsky's idiosyncrasy in order to produce an acceptable English text, but her versions were in many cases pioneering versions; decorous they may be, but they allowed this strange new voice to invade English literature and thus made it possible for later translators to go further in the search for more authentic voice.
On David Magarshack's Dostoevsky translations France says: "it is not certain that Magarshack has worn as well as Garnett. He certainly corrects some of her errors; he also aims for a more up-to-date style which flows more easily in English Being even more thoroughly englished than Garnett's, Magarshack's translations lack some of the excitement of the foreign.
On MacAndrew's American version, he comments: "He translates fairly freely, altering details, rearranging, shortening and explaining the Russian to produce texts which lack a distinctive voice.
In his Brothers Karamazov the odd, fussy tone of the narrator is well rendered in the preface At times, indeed, the convoluted style might make the reader unfamiliar with Dostoevsky's Russian question the translator's command of English.
More seriously, this literalism means that the dialogue is sometimes impossibly odd—and as a result rather dead Such 'foreignizing' fidelity makes for difficult reading. On the Pevear and Volokhonsky's translation, France writes: "Pevear and Volokhonsky, while they too stress the need to exhume the real, rough-edged Dostoevsky from the normalization practised by earlier translators, generally offers a rather more satisfactory compromise between the literal and the readable.
In particular, their rendering of dialogue is often livelier and more colloquial than McDuff's Elsewhere, it has to be said, the desire to replicate the vocabulary or syntax of the Russian results in unnecessary awkwardness and obscurity. In commenting on Ignat Avsey's translation, he writes: "His not entirely unprecedented choice of a more natural-sounding English formulation is symptomatic of his general desire to make his text English His is an enjoyable version in the domesticating tradition.
Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov is the father, a year-old "sponger" and buffoon who sires three sons during his two marriages. He is rumored to have fathered an illegitimate son, Pavel Fyodorovich Smerdyakov, whom he employs as his servant. Fyodor takes no interest in any of his sons, who are, as a result, raised apart from each other and their father.
The relationship between Fyodor and his adult sons drives much of the plot in the novel. Dmitri Fyodorovich Karamazov a. Dmitri is considered to be a sensualist , much like his father, spending large amounts of money on nights filled with champagne, women, and whatever entertainment and stimulation money can buy. Dmitri is brought into contact with his family when he finds himself in need of his inheritance, which he believes is being withheld by his father.
He was engaged to be married to Katerina Ivanovna, but breaks that off after falling in love with Grushenka. Dmitri's relationship with his father is the most volatile of the brothers, escalating to violence as he and his father begin fighting over the same woman, Grushenka.
The Brothers Karamazov
While he maintains a good relationship with Ivan, he is closest to his younger brother Alyosha, referring to him as his " cherub ". Ivan Fyodorovich Karamazov a. Vanya, Vanka, Vanechka is the year-old middle son and first from Fyodor's second marriage to Sofia Ivanovna. He is disturbed especially by the apparently senseless suffering in the world. He says to Alyosha in the chapter "Rebellion" Bk. His father tells Alyosha that he fears Ivan more than Dmitri.
Some of the most memorable and acclaimed passages of the novel involve Ivan, including the chapter "Rebellion", his "poem" " The Grand Inquisitor " immediately following, and his nightmare of the devil Bk.
Ivan's relationship with his father and brothers is rather superficial in the beginning.
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He is almost repulsed by his father, and had no positive affection towards Dmitri. While he doesn't dislike Alexei, he didn't have any deep affection for him either. But towards the end of the novel, his relationship with his siblings gets more complicated.
Ivan falls in love with Katerina Ivanovna, who was Dmitri's betrothed. But she doesn't start to return his feelings until the end. Alexei Fyodorovich Karamazov a.
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Alyosha, Alyoshka, Alyoshenka, Alyoshechka, Alexeichik, Lyosha, Lyoshenka at age 20 is the youngest of the Karamazov brothers, the youngest child by Karamazov's second wife and thus Ivan's full brother.
The narrator identifies him as the hero of the novel in the opening chapter, as does the author in the preface. He is described as immensely likable. At the outset of the events, Alyosha is a novice in the local Russian Orthodox monastery.
His faith is in contrast to his brother Ivan's atheism. His Elder, Father Zosima, sends him into the world, where he becomes involved in the sordid details of his family.
In a secondary plotline, Alyosha befriends a group of school boys, whose fate adds a hopeful message to the conclusion of the novel.
Pavel Fyodorovich Smerdyakov , widely rumored to be the illegitimate son of Fyodor Karamazov, is the son of "Reeking Lizaveta", a mute woman of the street who died in childbirth. His name, Smerdyakov, means "son of the 'reeking one'". Smerdyakov grows up in the Karamazov house as a servant, working as Fyodor's lackey and cook.
He is morose and sullen, and, like Dostoevsky, suffers from epilepsy. The narrator notes that as a child, Smerdyakov collected stray cats to hang and bury them.
Generally aloof, Smerdyakov admires Ivan and shares his atheism. Agrafena Alexandrovna Svetlova a. Grushenka, Grusha, Grushka , a beautiful year-old, is the local Jezebel and has an uncanny charm for men. In her youth she was jilted by a Polish officer and subsequently came under the protection of a tyrannical miser.
The episode leaves Grushenka with an urge for independence and control of her life. Grushenka inspires complete admiration and lust in both Fyodor and Dmitri Karamazov. Their rivalry for her affection is one of the most damaging factors in their relationship.
Grushenka seeks to torment and then deride both Dmitri and Fyodor as a wicked amusement, a way to inflict upon others the pain she has felt at the hands of her "former and indisputable one". However, after she begins a friendship with Alyosha, and as the book progresses, she begins to tread a path of spiritual redemption through which emerges hidden qualities of gentleness and generosity, though her fiery temper and pride are ever present.
Katerina Ivanovna Verkhovtseva a. Her engagement to Dmitri is chiefly a matter of pride on both their parts, Dmitri having bailed her father out of a debt.
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Katerina is extremely proud and seeks to act as a noble martyr, suffering as a stark reminder of everyone's guilt. Because of this, she cannot bring herself to act on her love for Ivan, and constantly creates moral barriers between him and herself.
By the end of the novel, she too, begins a real and sincere spiritual redemption, as seen in the epilogue, when she asks Mitya and Grushenka to forgive her.