The Brothers Karamazov
The first page of the first edition of The Brothers Karamazov
|Original title||Братья Карамазовы (Brat'ya Karamazovy)|
|Publisher||The Russian Messenger (as serial)|
|Preceded by||A Gentle Creature|
|Followed by||A Writer's Diary|
The Brothers Karamazov (Russian: Братья Карамазовы, Brat'ya Karamazovy, pronounced [ˈbratʲjə kərɐˈmazəvɨ]) is the final novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Dostoyevsky spent nearly two years writing The Brothers Karamazov, which was published as a serial in The Russian Messenger and completed in November 1880. The author died less than four months after its publication.
The Brothers Karamazov is a passionate philosophical novel set in 19th century Russia, that enters deeply into the ethical debates of God, free will, and morality. It is a spiritual drama of moral struggles concerning faith, doubt, and reason, set against a modernizing Russia. Dostoyevsky composed much of the novel in Staraya Russa, which inspired the main setting. Since its publication, it has been acclaimed as one of the supreme achievements in literature.
Context and background
Although Dostoyevsky began his first notes for The Brothers Karamazov in April 1878, he had written several unfinished works years earlier. He would incorporate some elements into his future work, particularly from the planned epos The Life of a Great Sinner, which he began work on in the summer of 1869. It eventually remained unfinished after Dostoyevsky was interested in the Nechaev affair, which involved a group of radicals murdering one of their former members. He picked up that story and started with The Possessed. The unfinished Drama in Tobolsk (Драма. В Тобольске) is considered the first draft of the first chapter of The Brothers Karamazov. Dated 13 September 1874, it tells about a fictional murder in Staraya Russa committed by a praporshchik named Dmitry Ilynskov (based on a real soldier from Omsk), who is thought to have murdered his father. It goes on noting that his body was suddenly discovered in a pit under a house. The similarly unfinished Sorokoviny (Сороковины), dated 1 August 1875, is reflected in book IX, chapter 3–5 and book XI, chapter nine.
In the October 1877 A Writer's Diary article "To the Reader", Dostoyevsky mentioned a "literary work that has imperceptibly and involuntarily been taken shape within me over these two years of publishing the Diary". His Diary, a collection of numerous articles, had included similar themes The Brothers Karamazov would later borrow from. These include parricide, law and order and social problems. Though Dostoyevsky was influenced by religion and philosophy in his life and the writing of The Brothers Karamazov, a personal tragedy altered the work. In May 1878, Dostoyevsky's three-year-old son Alyosha died of epilepsy, a condition inherited from his father. The novelist's grief is apparent throughout the book; Dostoyevsky named the hero Alyosha, as well as imbuing him with qualities which he sought and most admired. His loss is also reflected in the story of Captain Snegiryov and his young son Ilyusha.
The death of his son brought Dostoevsky to the Optina Monastery later that year. There, he found inspiration for several aspects of The Brothers Karamazov, though at the time he intended to write a novel about childhood instead. Parts of the biographical section of Zosima's life are based on "The Life of the Elder Leonid", a text he found at Optina and copied "almost word for word".
Although written in the 19th century, The Brothers Karamazov displays a number of modern elements. Dostoyevsky composed the book with a variety of literary techniques. Though privy to many of the thoughts and feelings of the protagonists, the narrator is a self-proclaimed writer; he discusses his own mannerisms and personal perceptions so often in the novel that he becomes a character. Through his descriptions, the narrator's voice merges imperceptibly into the tone of the people he is describing, often extending into the characters' most personal thoughts. There is no voice of authority in the story (see Mikhail Bakhtin's Problems of Dostoyevsky's Poetics for more on the relationship between Dostoyevsky and his characters). In addition to the principal narrator there are several sections narrated by other characters entirely, such as the story of the Grand Inquisitor and Zosima's confessions. This technique enhances the theme of truth, making many aspects of the tale completely subjective.
Dostoyevsky uses individual styles of speech to express the inner personality of each person. For example, the attorney Fetyukovich (based on Vladimir Spasovich) is characterized by malapropisms (e.g. 'robbed' for 'stolen', and at one point declares possible suspects in the murder 'irresponsible' rather than innocent). Several plot digressions provide insight into other apparently minor characters. For example, the narrative in Book Six is almost entirely devoted to Zosima's biography, which contains a confession from a man whom he met many years before. Dostoyevsky does not rely on a single source or a group of major characters to convey the themes of this book, but uses a variety of viewpoints, narratives and characters throughout.
The diverse array of literary techniques and distinct voices in the novel makes its translation difficult, although The Brothers Karamazov has been translated from the original Russian into a number of languages. In English, the first translation was by Constance Garnett in 1912.
In 1958, David Magarshack and Manuel Komroff released translations of the novel, published by Penguin and The New American Library of World Literature respectively. In 1976, Ralph Matlaw thoroughly revised Garnett's work for his Norton Critical Edition volume. This in turn was the basis for Victor Terras' influential A Karamazov Companion. Another popular translation is by Julius Katzer, published by Progress Publishers in 1981 and later re-printed by Raduga Publishers Moscow. In 1990 Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky released a new translation; it won a PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize in 1991 and garnered positive reviews from The New York Times Book Review and the Dostoyevsky scholar Joseph Frank, who praised it for being the most faithful to Dostoyevsky's original Russian.
Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov is the father, a 55-year-old "sponger" and buffoon who sires three sons during his two marriages. He is rumored to have fathered an illegitimate son, Pavel Fyodorovich Smerdyakov, whom he employs as his servant. Fyodor takes no interest in any of his sons, who are, as a result, raised apart from each other and their father. The relationship between Fyodor and his adult sons drives much of the plot in the novel.
Dmitri Fyodorovich Karamazov (a.k.a. Mitya, Mitka, Mitenka, Mitri) is Fyodor Karamazov's eldest son and the only offspring of his first marriage, with Adelaida Ivanovna Miusov. Dmitri is considered to be a sensualist, much like his father, spending large amounts of money on nights filled with champagne, women, and whatever entertainment and stimulation money can buy. Dmitri is brought into contact with his family when he finds himself in need of his inheritance, which he believes is being withheld by his father. He was engaged to be married to Katerina Ivanovna, but breaks that off after falling in love with Grushenka. Dmitri's relationship with his father is the most volatile of the brothers, escalating to violence as he and his father begin fighting over the same woman, Grushenka. While he maintains a good relationship with Ivan, he is closest to his younger brother Alyosha, referring to him as his "cherub".
Ivan Fyodorovich Karamazov (a.k.a. Vanya, Vanka, Vanechka) is the middle son and first from Fyodor's second marriage to Sofia Ivanovna. He is a 24-year-old rationalist, disturbed especially by the apparently senseless suffering in the world, depicted as highly intelligent. He says to Alyosha in the chapter "Rebellion" (Bk. 5, Ch. 4), "It's not God that I don't accept, Alyosha, only I most respectfully return him the ticket." From an early age, Ivan is sullen and isolated. His father tells Alyosha that he fears Ivan more than Dmitri. Some of the most memorable and acclaimed passages of the novel involve Ivan, including the chapter "Rebellion", his "poem" "The Grand Inquisitor" immediately following, and his nightmare of the devil (Bk. 11, Ch. 9). Ivan's relationship with his father and brothers are rather superficial in the beginning. He is almost repulsed by his father, and had no positive affection towards Dmitri. While he doesn't dislike Alexei, he didn't have any deep affection for him either. But towards the end of the novel, his relationship with his siblings get more complicated. Ivan falls in love with Katerina Ivanovna, who was Dmitri's betrothed. But she doesn't start to return his feelings until the end.
Alexei Fyodorovich Karamazov (a.k.a. Alyosha, Alyoshka, Alyoshenka, Alyoshechka, Alexeichik, Lyosha, Lyoshenka) at age 20 is the youngest of the Karamazov brothers, the youngest child by Karamazov's second wife and thus Ivan's full brother. The narrator identifies him as the hero of the novel in the opening chapter, as does the author in the preface. He is described as immensely likable. At the outset of the events, Alyosha is a novice in the local Russian Orthodox monastery. His faith is in contrast to his brother Ivan's atheism. His Elder, Father Zosima, sends him into the world, where he becomes involved in the sordid details of his family. In a secondary plotline, Alyosha befriends a group of school boys, whose fate adds a hopeful message to the conclusion of the novel.
Pavel Fyodorovich Smerdyakov, the widely rumored to be the illegitimate son of Fyodor Karamazov, is the son of "Reeking Lizaveta", a mute woman of the street who died in childbirth. His name, Smerdyakov, means "son of the 'reeking one'". He was brought up by Fyodor Karamazov's trusted servant Grigory Kutuzov Vasilievich and his wife Marfa. Smerdyakov grows up in the Karamazov house as a servant, working as Fyodor's lackey and cook. He is morose and sullen, and, like Dostoyevsky, suffers from epilepsy. The narrator notes that as a child, Smerdyakov collected stray cats to hang and bury them. Generally aloof, Smerdyakov admires Ivan and shares his atheism.
Agrafena Alexandrovna Svetlova (a.k.a. Grushenka, Grusha, Grushka), a beautiful 22-year-old, is the local Jezebel and has an uncanny charm among men. In her youth she was jilted by a Polish officer and subsequently came under the protection of a tyrannical miser. The episode leaves Grushenka with an urge for independence and control of her life. Grushenka inspires complete admiration and lust in both Fyodor and Dmitri Karamazov. Their rivalry for her affection is one of the most damaging factors in their relationship. Grushenka seeks to torment and then deride both Dmitri and Fyodor as a wicked amusement, a way to inflict upon others the pain she has felt at the hands of her "former and indisputable one". However, after she begins a friendship with Alyosha, and as the book progresses, she begins to tread a path of spiritual redemption through which emerges hidden qualities of gentleness and generosity, though her fiery temper and pride are ever present.
Katerina Ivanovna Verkhovtseva (a.k.a. Katya, Katka, Katenka) is Dmitri's beautiful fiancée, despite his open forays with Grushenka. Her engagement to Dmitri is chiefly a matter of pride on both their parts, Dmitri having bailed her father out of a debt. Katerina is extremely proud and seeks to act as a noble martyr, suffering as a stark reminder of everyone's guilt. Because of this, she cannot bring herself to act on her love for Ivan, and constantly creates moral barriers between him and herself. By the end of the novel, she too, begins a real and sincere spiritual redemption, as seen in the epilogue, when she asks Mitya and Grushenka to forgive her.
Father Zosima, the Elder Father Zosima is an Elder and spiritual advisor (starets) in the town monastery and Alyosha's teacher. He is something of a celebrity among the townspeople for his reputed prophetic and healing abilities. His popularity inspires both admiration and jealousy amidst his fellow monks. Zosima provides a refutation to Ivan's atheistic arguments and helps to explain Alyosha's character. Zosima's teachings shape the way Alyosha deals with the young boys he meets in the Ilyusha storyline.
Ilyusha, Ilyushechka, or simply Ilusha in some translations, is one of the local schoolboys, and the central figure of a crucial subplot in the novel. His father, Captain Snegiryov, is an impoverished officer who is insulted by Dmitri after Fyodor Karamazov hires him to threaten the latter over his debts, and the Snegiryov family is brought to shame as a result. The reader is led to believe that it is partly because of this that Ilyusha falls ill, possibly to illustrate the theme that even minor actions can touch heavily on the lives of others, and that we are "all responsible for one another".
Book One: A Nice Little Family The opening of the novel introduces the Karamazov family and relates the story of their distant and recent past. The details of Fyodor's two marriages as well as his indifference to the upbringing of his three children is chronicled. The narrator also establishes the widely varying personalities of the three brothers and the circumstances that have led to their return to Fyodor's town. The first book concludes by describing the mysterious religious order of Elders to which Alyosha has become devoted.
Book Two: An Inappropriate Gathering Book Two begins as the Karamazov family arrives at the local monastery so that the Elder Zosima can act as a mediator between Dmitri and his father Fyodor in their dispute over Dmitri's inheritance. It was the father's idea apparently as a joke to have the meeting take place in such a holy place in the presence of the famous Elder. Dmitri arrives late and the gathering soon degenerates and only exacerbates the feud between Dmitri and Fyodor. This book also contains a scene in which the Elder Zosima consoles a woman mourning the death of her three-year-old son. The poor woman's grief parallels Dostoyevsky's own tragedy at the loss of his young son Alyosha.
Book Three: Sensualists
The third book provides more details of the love triangle that has erupted between Fyodor, his son Dmitri, and Grushenka. Dmitri's personality is explored in the conversation between him and Alyosha as Dmitri hides near his father's home to see if Grushenka will arrive. Later that evening, Dmitri bursts into his father's house and assaults him while threatening to come back and kill him in the future. This book also introduces Smerdyakov and his origins, as well as the story of his mother, Reeking Lizaveta. At the conclusion of this book, Alyosha is witness to Grushenka's bitter humiliation of Dmitri's betrothed Katerina, resulting in terrible embarrassment and scandal for this proud woman.
Book Four: Lacerations/Strains This section introduces a side story which resurfaces in more detail later in the novel. It begins with Alyosha observing a group of schoolboys throwing rocks at one of their sickly peers named Ilyusha. When Alyosha admonishes the boys and tries to help, Ilyusha bites Alyosha's finger. It is later learned that Ilyusha's father, a former staff-captain named Snegiryov, was assaulted by Dmitri, who dragged him by the beard out of a bar. Alyosha soon learns of the further hardships present in the Snegiryov household and offers the former staff captain money as an apology for his brother and to help Snegiryov's ailing wife and children. After initially accepting the money with joy, Snegiryov throws the money back at Alyosha out of pride and runs back into his home.
Book Five: Pro and Contra
Here, the rationalist and nihilistic ideology that permeated Russia at this time is defended and espoused passionately by Ivan Karamazov while meeting his brother Alyosha at a restaurant. In the chapter titled "Rebellion", Ivan proclaims that he rejects the world that God has created because it is built on a foundation of suffering. In perhaps the most famous chapter in the novel, "The Grand Inquisitor", Ivan narrates to Alyosha his imagined poem that describes a leader from the Spanish Inquisition and his encounter with Jesus, Who has made His return to earth. Here, Jesus is rejected by the Inquisitor who puts Him in jail and then says,
Why hast Thou come now to hinder us? For Thou hast come to hinder us, and Thou knowest that... We are working not with Thee but with him [Satan]... We took from him what Thou didst reject with scorn, that last gift he offered Thee, showing Thee all the kingdoms of the earth. We took from him Rome and the sword of Caesar, and proclaimed ourselves sole rulers of the earth... We shall triumph and shall be Caesars, and then we shall plan the universal happiness of man.
The Grand Inquisitor says that Jesus should not have given humans the "burden" of free will. At the end of all these arguments, Jesus silently steps forward and kisses the old man on his lips. The Grand Inquisitor, stunned and moved, tells Him he must never come there again, and lets Him out. Alyosha, after hearing this story, goes to Ivan and kisses him softly, with an unexplainable emotion, on the lips. Ivan shouts with delight, because Alyosha's gesture is taken directly from his poem. The brothers then part.
Book Six: The Russian Monk The sixth book relates the life and history of the Elder Zosima as he lies near death in his cell. Zosima explains he found his faith in his rebellious youth, in the middle of a duel, consequently deciding to become a monk. Zosima preaches people must forgive others by acknowledging their own sins and guilt before others. He explains that no sin is isolated, making everyone responsible for their neighbor's sins. Zosima represents a philosophy that responds to Ivan's, which had challenged God's creation in the previous book.
Book Seven: Alyosha The book begins immediately following the death of Zosima. It is a commonly held perception in the town, and the monastery as well, that true holy men's bodies are incorrupt, i.e., they do not succumb to putrefaction. Thus, the expectation concerning the Elder Zosima is that his deceased body will not decompose. It comes as a great shock to the entire town that Zosima's body not only decays, but begins the process almost immediately following his death. Within the first day, the smell of Zosima's body is already unbearable. For many this calls into question their previous respect and admiration for Zosima. Alyosha is particularly devastated by the sullying of Zosima's name due to nothing more than the corruption of his dead body. One of Alyosha's companions in the monastery named Rakitin uses Alyosha's vulnerability to set up a meeting between him and Grushenka. However, instead of Alyosha becoming corrupted, he is able to earn fresh faith and hope from Grushenka, while Grushenka's troubled mind begins the path of spiritual redemption through his influence: they become close friends. The book ends with the spiritual regeneration of Alyosha as he embraces, kisses the earth outside the monastery (echoing, perhaps, Zosima's last earthly act before his death) and cries convulsively until finally going back out into the world, as Zosima instructed, renewed.
Book Eight: Mitya This section deals primarily with Dmitri's wild and distraught pursuit of money so he can run away with Grushenka. Dmitri owes money to his fiancée Katerina and will believe himself to be a thief if he does not find the money to pay her back before embarking on his quest for Grushenka. This mad dash for money takes Dmitri from Grushenka's benefactor to a neighboring town on a fabricated promise of a business deal. All the while Dmitri is petrified that Grushenka may go to his father Fyodor and marry him because he already has the monetary means to satisfy her. When Dmitri returns from his failed dealing in the neighboring town, he escorts Grushenka to her benefactor's home, but quickly discovers she deceived him and left early. Furious, he runs to his father's home with a brass pestle in his hand, and spies on him from the window. He takes the pestle from his pocket. Then, there is a discontinuity in the action, and Dmitri is suddenly running away off his father's property, knocking the servant Gregory in the head with the pestle with seemingly fatal results.
Dmitri is next seen in a daze on the street, covered in blood, with a pile of money in his hand. He soon learns that Grushenka's former betrothed has returned and taken her to a lodge near where Dmitri just was. Upon learning this, Dmitri loads a cart full of food and wine and pays for a huge orgy to finally confront Grushenka in the presence of her old flame, intending all the while to kill himself at dawn. The "first and rightful lover", however, is a boorish Pole who cheats the party at a game of cards. When his deception is revealed, he flees, and Grushenka soon reveals to Dmitri that she really is in love with him. The party rages on, and just as Dmitri and Grushenka are making plans to marry, the police enter the lodge and inform Dmitri that he is under arrest for the murder of his father.
Book Nine: The Preliminary Investigation Book Nine introduces the details of Fyodor's murder and describes the interrogation of Dmitri as he is questioned for the crime he maintains he did not commit. The alleged motive for the crime is robbery. Dmitri was known to have been completely destitute earlier that evening, but is suddenly seen on the street with thousands of rubles shortly after his father's murder. Meanwhile, the three thousand rubles that Fyodor Karamazov had set aside for Grushenka has disappeared. Dmitri explains that the money he spent that evening came from three thousand rubles Katerina gave him to send to her sister. He spent half that at his first meeting with Grushenka—another drunken orgy—and sewed up the rest in a cloth, intending to give it back to Katerina in the name of honor, he says. The lawyers are not convinced by this. All of the evidence points against Dmitri; the only other person in the house at the time of the murder was Smerdyakov, who was incapacitated due to an epileptic seizure he apparently suffered the day before. As a result of the overwhelming evidence against him, Dmitri is formally charged with the patricide and taken away to prison to await trial.
Book Ten: Boys Boys continues the story of the schoolboys and Ilyusha last referred to in Book Four. The book begins with the introduction of the young boy Kolya Krasotkin. Kolya is a brilliant boy who proclaims his atheism, socialism, and beliefs in the ideas of Europe. He seems destined to follow in the spiritual footsteps of Ivan Karamazov; Dostoyevsky uses Kolya's beliefs especially in a conversation with Alyosha to poke fun at his Westernizer critics by putting their beliefs in what appears to be a young boy who doesn't exactly know what he is talking about. Kolya is bored with life and constantly torments his mother by putting himself in danger. As part of a prank Kolya lies between railroad tracks as a train passes over and becomes something of a legend for the feat. All the other boys look up to Kolya, especially Ilyusha. Since the narrative left Ilyusha in Book Four, his illness has progressively worsened and the doctor states that he will not recover. Kolya and Ilyusha had a falling out over Ilyusha's maltreatment of a dog: Ilyusha had fed it bread in which there was a pin on Smerdyakov's suggestion. But thanks to Alyosha's intervention the other schoolboys have gradually reconciled with Ilyusha, and Kolya soon joins them at his bedside. It is here that Kolya first meets Alyosha and begins to reassess his nihilist beliefs.
Book Eleven: Brother Ivan Fyodorovich Book Eleven chronicles Ivan Karamazov's destructive influence on those around him and his descent into madness. It is in this book that Ivan meets three times with Smerdyakov, the final meeting culminating in Smerdyakov's dramatic confession that he had faked the fit, murdered Fyodor Karamazov, and stolen the money, which he presents to Ivan. Smerdyakov expresses disbelief at Ivan's professed ignorance and surprise. Smerdyakov claims that Ivan was complicit in the murder by telling Smerdyakov when he would be leaving Fyodor's house, and more importantly by instilling in Smerdyakov the belief that in a world without God "everything is permitted." The book ends with Ivan having a hallucination in which he is visited by the devil, who torments Ivan by mocking his beliefs. Alyosha finds Ivan raving and informs him that Smerdyakov killed himself shortly after their final meeting.
Book Twelve: A Judicial Error This book details the trial of Dmitri Karamazov for the murder of his father Fyodor. The courtroom drama is sharply satirized by Dostoyevsky. The men in the crowd are presented as resentful and spiteful, and the women are irrationally drawn to the romanticism of Dmitri's love triangle between himself, Katerina, and Grushenka. Ivan's madness takes its final hold over him and he is carried away from the courtroom after recounting his final meeting with Smerdyakov and the aforementioned confession. The turning point in the trial is Katerina's damning testimony against Dmitri. Impassioned by Ivan's illness which she believes is a result of her assumed love for Dmitri, she produces a letter drunkenly written by Dmitri saying that he would kill Fyodor. The section concludes with the impassioned closing remarks of the prosecutor and the defense, and the verdict that Dmitri is guilty.
Epilogue The final section opens with discussion of a plan developed for Dmitri's escape from his sentence of twenty years of hard labor in Siberia. The plan is never fully described, but it seems to involve Ivan and Katerina bribing some guards. Alyosha approves, first, because Dmitry is not emotionally ready to submit to such a harsh sentence, secondly, because he is innocent, and, third, because no guards or officers would suffer for aiding the escape. Dmitry and Grushenka plan to escape to America and work the land there for several years, and then to return to Russia under assumed American names, because they both cannot imagine living without Russia. Dmitri begs for Katerina to visit him in the hospital, where he is recovering from an illness before he is due to be taken away. When she does, Dmitry apologizes for having hurt her; she in turn apologizes for bringing up the implicating letter during the trial. They agree to love each other for that one moment, and say they will love each other forever, even though both now love other people. The novel concludes at Ilyusha's funeral, where Ilyusha's schoolboy friends listen to Alyosha's "Speech by the Stone." Alyosha promises to remember Kolya, Ilyusha, and all the boys and keep them close in his heart, even though he will have to leave them and may not see them again until many years have passed. He implores them to love each other and to always remember Ilyusha, and to keep his memory alive in their hearts, and to remember this moment at the stone when they were all together and they all loved each other. Alyosha then recounts the Christian promise that they will all be united one day after the Resurrection. In tears, the twelve boys promise Alyosha that they will keep each other in their memories forever, join hands, and return to the Snegiryov household for the funeral dinner, chanting, "Hurrah for Karamazov!"
The Brothers Karamazov has had a deep influence on many writers and philosophers who followed it. Admirers of the novel include Albert Einstein, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Martin Heidegger, Cormac McCarthy and Kurt Vonnegut. Sigmund Freud called it "the most magnificent novel ever written" and was fascinated with the book for its Oedipal themes. In 1928 Freud published a paper titled "Dostoevsky and Parricide" in which he investigated Dostoyevsky's own neuroses. Freud claimed that Dostoyevsky's epilepsy was not a natural condition but instead a physical manifestation of the author's hidden guilt over his father's death. According to Freud, Dostoyevsky (and all other sons) wished for the death of his father because of latent desire for his mother; and as evidence Freud cites the fact that Dostoyevsky's epileptic fits did not begin until he turned 18, the year his father died. The themes of patricide and guilt, especially in the form of moral guilt illustrated by Ivan Karamazov, would then obviously follow for Freud as literary evidence of this theory.
Franz Kafka is another writer who felt immensely indebted to Dostoyevsky and The Brothers Karamazov for influencing his own work. Kafka called himself and Dostoyevsky "blood relatives", perhaps because of Dostoyevsky's existential motifs. Another interesting parallel between the two authors was their strained relationships with their fathers. Kafka felt immensely drawn to the hatred Fyodor's sons demonstrate toward their father in The Brothers Karamazov and dealt with the theme of fathers and sons himself in many of his works, most explicitly in his short story "The Judgment".
James Joyce noted that
[Leo] Tolstoy admired him but he thought that he had little artistic accomplishment or mind. Yet, as he said, 'he admired his heart', a criticism which contains a great deal of truth, for though his characters do act extravagantly, madly, almost, still their basis is firm enough underneath... The Brothers Karamazov... made a deep impression on me... he created some unforgettable scenes [detail]... Madness you may call it, but therein may be the secret of his genius... I prefer the word exaltation, exaltation which can merge into madness, perhaps. In fact all great men have had that vein in them; it was the source of their greatness; the reasonable man achieves nothing.
There have been several film adaptations of The Brothers Karamazov. They include:
- The Brothers Karamazov (1915 Silent film, lost, directed by Victor Tourjansky, )
- Die Brüder Karamasoff (1921, directed by Carl Froelich) 
- Der Mörder Dimitri Karamasoff (1931, directed by Erich Engels & Fyodor Otsep, starring Fritz Kortner, Anna Sten)
- I fratelli Karamazoff (1947, directed by Giacomo Gentilomo
- The Brothers Karamazov (1958, directed by Richard Brooks, starring Yul Brynner and William Shatner)
- The Brothers Karamazov (1969, directed by Kirill Lavrov, Ivan Pyryev and Mikhail Ulyanov)
- The Brothers Karamazov (1969, directed by Marcel Bluwal)
- Karamazovi (2008, directed by Petr Zelenka)
- The Brothers Karamazov (2014 Low Budget directed by Connie Stephens)
A Russian 12-episode mini-series has been produced in 2009, and is considered to be as close to the book as possible.
In November 2010, the Turkish private television channel, Show TV, started to air the weekly drama series Karadağlar, which is inspired by The Brothers Karamazov. Its plot contains certain similarities to the storyline of Dostoyevsky's novel, but is set in a Turkish village and follows a family whose surname is Karadağ. The action in the series takes place in the 1930s. The TV series is directed by Oğuzhan Tercan and is broadcast by Show TV.
In 1993–4, David Fishelson's stage adaptation was produced Off-Broadway in New York City at Jean Cocteau Repertory at the Bouwerie Lane Theatre. After a favorable review in The New York Times, the play was published by Dramatists Play Service, dramatized by L.A. Theatre Works, and later broadcast on NPR on the NPR Playhouse series.
On October 17, 2013, Theater-by-the-Grove at Indiana University of Pennsylvania staged an adaptation of The Brothers Karamazov.
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- See Gorodetsky, Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk: Inspirer of Dostoyevsky
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- Spe salvi, section 44, 2007: "Grace does not cancel out justice. It does not make wrong into right. It is not a sponge which wipes everything away, so that whatever someone has done on earth ends up being of equal value. Dostoevsky, for example, was right to protest against this kind of Heaven and this kind of grace in his novel The Brothers Karamazov. Eviklers, in the end, do not sit at table at the eternal banquet beside their victims without distinction, as though nothing had happened.", cited in God and the Devil are Fighting: The Scandal of Evil in Dostoyevsky and Camus, by Stephen M. O'Brien.
- "Bratya Karamazovy / The Brothers Karamazov [2 DVD NTSC][ENGLISH SUBTITLES]". amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
- "Erdal Özyağcıların Başrolünde Oynadığı Karadağlar Dizisi Küçükkuyu’da Çekiliyor" (in Turkish). Çanakkale İçinde. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
- "karamaazofu no kyoudai – MyDramaList". mydramalist.info. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- Hampton, Wilborn (February 5, 1994). "Embracing Dostoyevsky And the Big Questions". The New York Times. Retrieved May 17, 2014.
- Playbill (October 15, 2003). "Who's Who in the Cast". Playbill. Retrieved May 17, 2014.
- "The Brothers Karamazov". Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
- Mochulsky, Konstantin (1967) . Dostoevsky: His Life and Work. Minihan, Michael A. (translator). Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-01299-7.
- Terras, Victor (1981). A Karamazov Companion. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 0-299-08310-1.
- Institute of Russian Literature (The Pushkin House) (ed.). Complete Works in Thirty Volumes (полное собрание сочинений в тридцати томах) (in Russian). Nauka.
- Lantz, Kenneth A. (2004). The Dostoevsky Encyclopedia. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-313-30384-5.
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- The Brothers Karamazov at Project Gutenberg
- The Brothers Karamazov, e-text of Garnett's translation (1.9 MB).
- The Brothers Karamazov Free PDF from PSU's Electronic Classics Series
- The Brothers Karamazov, HTML version of Garnett's translation (as one file) at the CCEL
- Original Russian text at grammatical analyser
- Full text in the original Russian
- The Brothers Karamazov, public-domain audiobook (unabridged) at LibriVox (39:55 hours)
- Interactive Hypermedia Brothers Karamazov likened to Bach fugue [Flash Player required]