Some Thoughts on Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov

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).

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C. S. Forester’s Novels of Vocation

"In the midst of his tension-filled mission and outbreaks of combat, Commander George Krause prays, reads his Bible, and employs Luther’s devotions. As we go inside his mind and point of view, we find that Scripture verses are always popping up in his head, and that he is constantly struggling with the sense of his sinfulness and his limits over against his faith." - Veith

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The Chronicles of Narnia Still Grips Our Imagination, 70 Years Later

"As this month marks the 70th anniversary of the publication of C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Christians would do well to ask whether The Chronicles of Narnia might show us the way to address the generations to come." - TGC

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"Fiction can sometimes, like Nathan the prophet’s story of the ewe lamb, awaken parts of us that we have calloused over"

“But, finally, good fiction isn’t a ‘waste of time’ for the same reason good music and good art aren’t wastes of time. They are rooted in an endlessly creative God who has chosen to be imaged by human beings who create.” Why Christians Should Read Fiction

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