The Brothers Karamazov

At 1:30 this morning I finished my hike through The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky. And yes it was a hike. Through rushing rivers, sticky mud, and even some desert wasteland (those were the times when my eyes went on screensaver as Calvin would say). But it was well worth it, not just for the endurance gained, but also for the stunning scenery along the way. Actually mostly for that. Dostoevky has profound insight into philosophy, theology, psychology, justice, love, and “beyond things” in general. Great, great stuff, albeit tedious. Since the greatest sections are too long to post (believe me the man knows how to take up space), I’ve decided to post a few of the most impactive (if that’s not a word it should be) lines below. Really, you should just read it for yourself.


“A beast can never be so cruel as a man, so artistically cruel.” -Ivan


“Kiss the earth and love it with an unceasing, consuming love. Love all men, love everything. Seek that rapture and ecstasy.” -Father Zossima


“Fathers and teachers, I ponder ‘What is hell?’ I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.” -Father Zossima


“Suffering is life. Without suffering what would be the pleasure of it? It would be transformed into an endless church service; it would be holy, but tedious.” -The devil in Ivan’s nightmare


“No one can judge a criminal, until he recognises that he is just such a criminal as the man standing before him, and that he perhaps is more than all men to blame for that crime. When he understands that, he will be able to judge.” -Father Zossima


“Better to acquit ten guilty men than punish one innocent man! [ . . . ] The Russian court does not exist for the punishment only, but also for the salvation of the criminal! Let other nations think of retribution and the letter of the law, we will cling to the spirit and the meaning–the salvation and the reformation of the lost.” -Fetyukovitch


“I seem to have such strength in me now, that I think I could stand anything, any suffering, only to be able to say and to repeat to myself every moment, ‘I exist.’ In thousands of agonies–I exist. I’m tormented on the rack–but I exist! Though I sit alone in a pillar–I exist!” -Ivan

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3 Responses to The Brothers Karamazov

  1. Becca says:

    ooooooh my. methinks quotes of that level of profundity would be worth a long and rigorous hike.

  2. Chad says:

    I just finished Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky. I enjoyed the read although half-way through I had to make mental effort to continue at times. I’m glad I read it because of the reasons you mentioned and also because now I can say “I read a Dostoevsky book-the whole thing too!”

  3. Lori says:

    What do you think of this one: “‘I am amazed at myself: the more I love mankind in general, the less I love people in particular…'”?

    I wish I’d have collected quotes on my way through, like you obviously did. Next time… (eh-hem, note: second time around, since I’m not an “unliterary” reader) (she says hopefully)

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