The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Dostoyevsky’s ( and novel of 1880 is so profound it’s hard to summarise. The briefest of outlines would be that it concerns the murder of Fyodor Pavlovitch Karamazov, a corrupt, loutish landowner, and the aftermath for his sons: the passionate Dmitri, the coldly intellectual Ivan, the spiritual Alexey, and the bastard Smerdyakov. The Brothers Karamazov is a passionate philosophical work set in 19th century Russia. The novel enters deeply into ethical debates about God, free will and morality. It is really a spiritual drama of the moral struggles which concern faith, doubt, and reason, set against a modernizing Russia. Existential in tone long before existentialism was in vogue in the twentieth century. This is a highly intellectual work of fiction. Many consider it to be the author’s greatest achievement. Take a deep breath. Take a year to read it, but do read it.

For further reading and to set the life and work of Dostoyevsky in context go to The Cambridge Companion to Dostoevskii (2002) edited by W.J. Leatherbarrow (

For the philosophical aspects of this author try Scanlan, James Patrick (2002) Dostoevsky the Thinker (

For a recent life reach for Frank, Joseph (2009). Dostoevsky: A Writer in His Time ( This, at a mere 984 pages! is the single volume abridged version of Frank’s monumental 5 volume biography. A work for the devotee surely – but that is something you may become.

Adapted for the screen ( by Julius J. Epstein in 1958. Features Yul Brynner as Dmitri Karamazov. Available on DVD (

1056 pages in the Penguin Classics paperback edition.

ISBN 978-0140449242

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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