The Brothers Karamazov
By Fyodor Dostoevsky
First Published: 1880
Translated by: Constance Garnett
1990 Translation: Richard Pevear &
& Larissa Volokhonsky
Review © 2009 by Stephen Roof
Genre: Classic, Crime Fiction
The Brothers Karamazov is one of the most well regarded “classics” of modern literature and it’s generally thought of as one of the two best novels of Fyodor Dostoevsky. I read Crime and Punishment first which blew me away and vaulted right up near the top of my favorite books ever. After that experience, this book disappointed me.
Serious themes abound in this massive work which explores philosophy, psychology, religion, and many facets of society in Russia circa 1870. Dostoevsky also exposes the worst sides of people and society. However, this work is not nearly as engaging as Crime and Punishment.
The Brothers Karamazov has the elements of a good plot with an intriguing murder, love triangles, and a sensationalized trial. But the pace is generally too slow. It seemed like most of the novel was more of a chore to read than it was enjoyable. This was a new translation from 1990 which was touted to be a noticeable improvement over older translations. However, I have to wonder if the older translations would be better since the old translation I read of Crime and Punishment was great.
You should read The Brothers Karamazov for the historical view of Russia and for deep insights into the nature of mankind but I wouldn’t recommend this book for lively reading pleasure. Instead read Crime and Punishment, which is not only one of the best books ever written; it also provides one of the best ever reading experiences.