I’m not quite sure where to begin this review.
Let me first begin by saying that an author has no duty to entertain his audience. I suppose the only duty an author has is to himself, and if someone was to read a piece by that author and not enjoy it, then that person would no longer be part of his audience.
I think what annoys me most is how this book was described. And here are a few descriptions:
It is (among many things) a satire of human corruption, a meditation on faith and religious institutions in an age of skepticism, a murder mystery involving love triangles, a courtroom thriller and in the end a testament to the goodness and bravery humans are capable of. – Amazon.com
I think I am going to read this wonderful book again. There is so much life and passion in it, that reading it again will definitely enrich my soul even further…And in the midst of this spiritual struggle, there is murder, treachery, repentance, love and comedy, which bring the characters out into your own life. I just love this book! I love the brothers, even though they are so different! There are so many things to love “The Brothers Karamazov” for, but it is for this brave, but nevertheless desperate challenge to our faith, and at the same time, a great example of living it, that I praise this book so highly. It is truly as rich, thought-provoking and awe-inspiring as life itself. – Amazon.com
And from the first pages of the book itself:
The Ten Greatest Novels in the World – This book is one of a series selected by W. Somerset Maugham as the ten greatest novels of the world.
But first let me preface this post by telling you that the version of “The Brothers Karamazov” was edited by W. Somerset Maugham in a translation revised by Princess Alexandra Kropotkin.
I think the book is brilliant. There are no two ways about it. As I sat in bed each night reading Dostoevsky’s words, I oftentimes wondered how the man did it. I concluded that each mind on earth is simply unique and capable of different things. Perhaps mine is one to handle labor or critical analysis and Dostoevsky’s is one to handle collecting and conveying thoughts. Something quite the opposite of what I’m capable of. But as someone who aspires to write, I fell victim to the typical jealousy one may fall victim to at times like these.
I didn’t enjoy it though – the book that is. I actually wanted it to be finished each time I picked it up. I tried to hasten my reading by simply scanning the pages faster and faster, but found that hadn’t much of an effect. The book was meant to be read and by the rave reviews of those around the globe, I should certainly respect who the man was and what he wrote. So I gave him that respect and I read his book carefully from cover to cover.
It didn’t live up to my expectations though, and I’ll tell you why. The reviews cast this book in an unattainable light. It was placed on such a pedestal – a pedestal that I’m not sure any book can live up to. If you were an author – how would you rise to the challenge of something described to the effect of, “Indeed, “The Brothers Karamazov” should not be classed merely as a novel – it is a book of philosophy, theology, and sociology as well that ranks with the greatest documents in those disciplines.” – Amazon.com
I didn’t see it. There were glimmers, but I feel that many reviewers of “The Brothers Karamazov” may have been unduly influenced by what others have said. Sort of a snowball effect. If there was no previous opinion of this book, if no person had ever muttered a word of it – would I have continued to read past its middle? Not quite.
As I read and as I absorbed, I was continuously nagged by the feeling that those who read before me had jumped to too many conclusions. Those who read before me had assumed too much and I felt that if the author were to review some of their words, while being appreciative, he would also have been somewhat surprised by their interpretations.
It was long winded with a storyline that left something to be desired. When I read something such as this, I tend to blame myself and say things like, “Well, I must not have understood it.” or “I guess I’m not intelligent enough to grasp the author’s meaning.” And then I remember back to the completion of books that utterly floored me and changed my life. I managed to understand those pieces of literature. I managed to grasp them and assimilate their messages.
There were, in fact, a few areas of Dostoevsky’s story that I did appreciate. I enjoyed reading Part One – Book Three. I’m not sure why. Perhaps because I related to it somehow. I also enjoyed reading that very last pages of the trial before the epilogue. I’m confident those few pages are the catalyst for many of the book reviews I have read, but I’m also confident that those pages shouldn’t be. I’ve had a long standing belief that it’s in what leads to and creates the pinnacle of the crescendo (the crescendo itself), that is what makes a great book great. It’s not simply the fast paced meat of the story many of us are after.
This review, or call it what you may, obviously isn’t traditional. It’s disjointed and unorganized. Hopefully that will inspire conversation. Please feel free to comment.