Well, I finally did it. I read Dostoevsky. It wasn’t a joyride, so I don’t think I’ll pick up Crime and Punishment anytime soon. After chewing through a meal like Karamazov, I’m doing dessert reading for a while (the book equivalent of Concrete Mixers from Culvers—minimally nutritious, over too soon, but yummy and chunky).
What follows is pretty much thrown together. These are fresh impressions from having just finished the book. They’re also “fresh” in the sense of untainted by much background knowledge. (This is a way of saying “ignorant.” I’m not humblebragging. It’s context for some of my speculations below.) Before reading The Brothers Karamazov I knew only this as background:
- Fyodor Dostoevsky (hereafter, FD) is famous.
- Brothers Karamzov (BK) is a long (!) Russian novel nobody reads for fun.
- You have to read a translation.
- Several Christian writers over the years have alluded to portions of the novel in ways that intrigued me and helped get the title onto my “read someday” list.
I think I was vaguely aware that FD was 19th century but I looked that, and several other things, up while my reading of the novel was in progress. (He died in 1881).