Enjoying Brothers Karamazov

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about self-deception in Brothers Karamazov, Proverbs, and Avett lyrics, and that post was in part a testimony to how much I’m enjoying reading Brothers. I want to make a few other simple observations here.

One thing I love about Brothers Karamazov is how short the chapters are. In ten or fifteen minutes, I can easily read one chapter a day and feel like I am not neglecting other reading, while at the same time I feel that I’m taking in a sufficiently substantial bite of the story.

The tone is enjoyable as well. It is like Dostoevsky and I are sitting by a fireplace, and he is telling me a story by heart as we drink coffee together. Here is an example from the end of 1.3.2:

I ought to say a little more about [Smerdyakov] in particular, but I am ashamed to distract my reader’s attention for such a long time to such ordinary lackeys, and therefore I shall go back to my narrative, hoping that with regard to Smerdyakov things will somehow work themselves out in the further course of the story.

I like the narrative voice-overs.

So if you have ever wanted to read Brothers and have been put off by its size, do know that the chapters are short and it has a charming, approachable tone.

Finally, I recommend the Everyman’s Library edition because (1) the translators in this series, Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, are phenomenal. I’ve read and enjoyed their work in Notes from Underground and Crime and Punishment. (2) These are nice, affordable hardbacks with cloth covers, a jacket, quality paper. The print size is a little small, but to me that is an OK tradeoff to have the work of these translators so nicely printed and bound.

Dostoevsky