Talk:The Brothers Karamazov

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older entries[edit]

In fact, some argue that Alyosha is the sole Karamazov unaffected by the "black streak" that runs in the family, though the opposite case could be made and the same case could even be made for Ivan.

I would say that all of the brothers accept for maybe Smerdyakov have this "black streak" but I would label this "black streak" a type of excessive passion or lust for women. Smerdyakov does not sate his desires which boil over and cause him to murder his father.


davidzuccaro 09:23, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)

This black streak is in all of the children. The Karamazov trait has both good and ill in it, the bad parts is the obession with pleasure and such, while the good parts is the love of life. Smerdyakov seemed to inherent in his father all the negative traits, and didn't received the love of life that is needed. Also he did a have a desire to please Ivan IIRC. ScottM 21:47, 6 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Recent changes[edit]

To explain the recent changes to this page, you can see my comments within this talk page, made a few months ago. If you object, contact me on my Wikipedia talk page. I'll soon be getting an e-mail address I can share on Wiki.--Cyclone05 17Nov06


I've heard on several occasions that the Brothers Karamazov was intended to be the first of a series of three or so novels about centered around Alyosha- his rise and fall, and his redemption through a Raskolinokov-like conversion experience. Not quite sure where to place that fact in the article, but it bears inclusion. I'll look for a source. --Clay Collier 10:49, 16 May 2005 (UTC)

It is D himself, in the preface "From the Author", who discloses that the work we possess is but the first of two novels comprising the "life chronicle" of his hero, Aleksey Fyodorovich. The one we possess relates events 13 years in the past: "a single moment in my hero's youth" - indeed, "almost not even a novel at all". By contrast, it is the unwritten novel which was to have been "the principal one", viz., "an account of my hero's doings in our own times".Ridiculus mus (talk) 09:36, 24 March 2012 (UTC)

arches/arcs quibble[edit]

I've heard of story "arcs" but I'm not sure about the use of "arches" in the opening para. For now I'm switching it over...

Great article... big kudos to everybody on it (and it looks like Jonesboy in particular)...

dvyost 05:53, 30 May 2005 (UTC)


The English translation I read was translated (maybe only revised) by Princess Alexandra Kropotkin. I can’t read Russian to really say whether it was a good translation or not, but it seemed to be a fine translation. —Chris Capoccia 03:45, Jun 7, 2005 (UTC)

  • Most if not all critical journals, magazine's and radio programs, not to mention the PEN Translation Prize Committee have acknowledged Pervear and Volohonsky's translation as the new standard for Dostoevsky, particularly for Brothers Karamazov.

I have read BK translated by Constance Garnett (or should I say garbled by her); by David Magarshack, (who admits in the introduction that he does not much like Dostoevsky as a writer--it shows in his translation).

The whole reason why Pervear and Volohonksy started translating dostoevsky is because Volohonsky, a native Russian with a degree in English, read the existing English translations and was horrified at how bad they were.

Even Joseph Frank, who likes to retranslate passages himself for inclusion in his mammoth 5 volume biography of dostoevsky, and who started the project long before P & V started translating, has now defered to their translations in all but the extreme case when he makes a slight amendment to their translation for the sake of emphasizing the relationship between D's life and text.

This should be a closed issue. For clarity we should standardize all references to the P & V translation. We should also create a section which notes the criticism and accolades for various translations; it is so important for this book.


--- Secondly, might it be interesting to list all the various translations in existence by now? Perhaps just here, in the discussion pages, as I don't really know where else to put them, but it seems interesting, if nothing else. I know of quite a few, but it's very hard to find them chronologized anywhere.

boombaard (talk) 21:07, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

Patricide or parricide?[edit]

Not sure which word to use here. Patricide is more specific (murder of father, as opposed to murder of kin); on the other hand, Freud's article uses the word parricide. I see from the edit history that this has gone back and forth a few times... what's the consensus? Terry 06:38, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)

To me, it seems like using "parricide" is unnecessarily vague and therefore trying to sound unjustifiably intellectual whereas "patricide" is not only specific but also will be less confusing to encounter for most people. Last Crab 18:04, 7 Jun 2005 (EST)

We have patricide, which has a specific and (generally) well known meaning, and we have parricide, which is less specific (and less relavant to this article), as well as being much less well known and more confusing to readers. This strikes me as a no-brainer. →Raul654 22:11, Jun 7, 2005 (UTC)

Patricide is a subset of parricide. It is the case that the son was accused of murdering the father (patricide), not of murdering his mother (matricide) or sibling (fratricide). So patricide seems to be the best word. —Chris Capoccia 23:39, Jun 7, 2005 (UTC)

I changed to parricide. In Bryan Garner's Modern American Usage: Parricide is the more usual word meaning (1) "the murder of one's own father"; or (2) "one who murders his or her own father." He goes on to cite references of this, but parricide is the preferred word. --Cyclone05 18:42, 4 February 2007 (UTC)

  • I would agree. My particular translation uses parricide. --cholmes75 (chit chat) 19:56, 4 February 2007 (UTC)

The article currently notes that a citation is needed for the comment that Gannett used "Victorian" English. This can be found in the 2002 edition of Terras's book, A Karamazov companion. (Currently reference 13.) However, this does not give a reference to the following statement that Gannett has her lower class characters talk in a cockney accent. In the preface in the 2002 edition Terras states that "Gannett's somewhat old-fashioned English has great charm and is close to the ethos of Dosteovshk's Victorian narrator." Terras also notes that the Pevear-Volokhonsky translation "serves the scholarly reader better, as it brings him or her closer to Dostoevsky's craftmanship"; however, he also states that "the general reader may find [the Gannett translation] preferable". — Preceding unsigned comment added by Lcaretto (talkcontribs) 18:36, 31 January 2011 (UTC)


Not just nothing is said about the first theater adaptation, but no one movie adaptation mentioned as well. Pretty strange for the featured article to have such a gap. Cmapm 00:27, 11 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Strange indeed. Now I've added a short list of film adaptations. --Garik 11 (talk) 15:10, 20 September 2010 (UTC)


Sorry, guys, I'm not good with inline citations (and don't have the time) so if someone can format the notes that way I'm much obliged Silvdraggoj 16:13, 4 June 2006 (UTC)

Context and background[edit]

A spoiler warning may be applicable when relating the Ilyinsky story.

In the structure section, please note that it’s hard to have a proper discussion over the semantics of Dostoevsky’s English. He wrote the Russian version, which none of us have likely read.

Also, the confession by Zosima’s friend is absolutely necessary to the plot. When Fetyukovich is telling the jury that pardoning a guilty man will save his soul, it calls the reader’s attention back to that passage in a very blatant way.--Cyclone05 18:37, 27 August 2006 (UTC)


All names should include the patronym. Calling Smerdyakov “Pavel Fyodorovich Smerdakov” may have been a hint to his lineage, and even in other cases it’s worthwhile to include.

Ivan is more of a nihilist than an atheist. He doesn’t directly reject God; he just doesn’t like God (or Creation in general). He pushes atheistic and amoral principles more to insult others' beliefs (and cause ruckus) than anything, and it’s not really evident that he believes what he says.

Smerdyakov means something along the lines of “Son of the stinking one,” according to Fyodor Pavlovich (in the translation I read), although “Shithead” probably isn’t too far off in terms of the shame Smerdakov felt because of it.

More needs to be added to Grushenka’s section. “Grushenka inspires complete admiration and lust in both Fyodor and Dmitri Karamazov.” She seeks to torment and then deride the two as a wicked amusement, a way to inflict upon others the pain she’s felt at the hands of her ‘former and indisputable one’. As the book progresses, she becomes almost magnanimous.

We are given Katya as a beacon of nobility, generosity, and magnanimity early in the book, and as a stark reminder of everyone’s guilt ‘before all and for all’ as her downfall progresses. By the end of the trial, it’s evident that she’s as base as any of the characters. Even in the epilogue, after she’s confessed to Mitya and agreed to direct his escape, she can’t subdue her pride after Grushenka enters the hospital room.

Zosima wasn’t only included in the novel to refute Ivan. He was included mostly to develop and explain Alyosha’s character. Ivan’s arguments for amoralism are dodgy at best, and are an indication of his character and upbringing. Zosima’s teachings shape the way Alyosha deals with the young boys he meets in the Ilyusha storyline.

Ilyusha’s guilt for killing Zhuchka and his subsequent shunning by Kolya were presented as more likely causes for his sickness than his father’s shame, although that probably played a part.

Please discuss. --Cyclone05 18:58, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

Considering the attention that later philosophers and thinkers have given to Ivan's speculations (Sartre was fascinated by "If there is no God then everything is lawful"; the "Problem of Evil" and "Grand Inquisitor" chapters are often assigned in theology courses) I think it's silly to claim that "He pushes atheistic and amoral principles more to insult others' beliefs (and cause ruckus) than anything, and it’s not really evident that he believes what he says." It's true that some of his statements are inconsistent, but that's because they are speculations made by a young, restless intellectual in response to outside events, not excerpts from a philosophical system. There is no reason given to doubt their sincerity.CharlesTheBold (talk) 17:59, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

Hmm, I thought I responded to this already. I must have not posted correctly. Anyway, I agree with most of what you've said here, except for Ivan being a nihilist. His belief system is explained in rebellion and the grand inquisitor, and I only think he stops believing in anything once he has gone insane near the book's end. Silvdraggoj 21:34, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

Thank you for responding to my criticisms (3 months ago) Silvdraggoj. i did not make changes to Ivan's Grand Inquisitor passage although I have made changes to the main article. If you disagree, please let me know by mentioning the complaints in either this article or my Talk page. Thanks. --Cyclone05 17Nov06

Analysis and themes[edit]

"Each of the brothers played a part in his father's murder:" Alyosha is the one completely virtuous character in the book. He is in no way responsible for his father’s death. Ivan wanted it to happen, but that doesn’t make him a murderer. Mitya threatened again and again to do it, but there was no blood on his hands. The defense attorney even reaches in suggesting that Fyodor Pavlovich killed himself, and that fits well with the novel’s overall theme of common guilt. Dostoevsky clearly portrays both Mitya and Ivan as guilty, and Ivan calls himself a murderer many times. However, Smerdyakov literally murdered Fyodor Pavlovich. He did it in part to gain the means to start a new life, and in part as revenge for being “Smerdyakov”.

The last paragraph of 'Analysis' makes no sense. Smerdyakov killed his master. Ivan, Dmitri, Grushenka, Katya, Fyodor himself, etc., were also guilty (theme: common guilt) for the death. Smerdyakov possesses the 3,000 roubles, and explains clearly every circumstance regarding this money. Dmitri undergoes a profound change through the trial, and we’re led to believe that he’ll lead a more noble life when he escapes to the U.S. with Grusha, thus avoiding his sentence (theme: redemption by being pardoned). We’re further led to believe that, were he to serve his sentence, he would lose any chance to lead a virtuous life—he says he’d murder if he were faced with beatings. --Cyclone05 19:08, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

Much has been written about Smerdyakov's role in the novel. I added the final paragraph to the analysis section because many critics feel all four brothers are responsible for the murder. The narrator himself is a subjective, bias presence, and the way he tells events cannot and should not be entirely trusted. Thus, it is impossible to say, for sure, that Smerdyakov killed Fyodor. One possibility is that Ivan acquired the rubles because he killed Fyodor himself, and invented his talks with Smerdyakov in his mind. This may reflect his growing insanity.

It is possible Dmitri killed him and Smerdyakov simply stole the money. My point is, there are many different viewpoints to take, and it may be that Smerdyakov looks the most guilty because that is what the biased narrator thinks. We are indeed "led to believe," as you said, the question is, is that reality?

If you want to make adjustments to the Analysis section, that is fine. I think that anytime we try to add a specific conclusion, though, we should cite a source like an essay that supports it. Otherwise there's no stopping the interpretations. Silvdraggoj 21:34, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

I must disagree with the idea that a theme is redemption through pardon, rather it is more a matter of redemption through SUFFERING. It does not matter that Dmitri did not actually commit the murder, he suffered because of it, and from the authors point of view it was justified that he suffered. It does not matter what circumstances lead to suffering, but rather if you need salvation suffering will envariably catch up with you. Dmitri needed to suffer to attain salvation, thoughts? Justinmcl October 19th 2006

Silvdraggoj, who says critics should interpret The Brothers Karamazov any better than we can? Justinmcl, I believe that Mitya gained character by suffering in spite of his innocence. "Dmitri needed to suffer to attain salvation, thoughts?". That's the point. Guilt for all and before all. The defense attorney's speech was the most beautiful passage I've ever read in English (even though it was written in Russian).

"Silvdraggoj, who says critics should interpret The Brothers Karamazov any better than we can?" Well, no one. But the requirement of Wikipedia is to site external established reputable sources, etc. It is specifically not to provide individual opinions and analyses. By all means write your own essay on it and publish it on line. -T.

I am confused - there seems to now be no analysis or theme section to this article. Should we start one up again? All the feedback says that this page needs an expanded themes section... Any ideas for major theme discussion? Guilt and morality comes to mind, as does Dostoyevsky's view of Russia and how it is presented in the novel. Reincarnation and the proverb ("Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone", etc.) also seems like it ought to be mentioned. Others? Melancthe (talk) 02:08, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

All brothers are guilty. Dmitri and Ivan actively, Alyosha passively. The main points of the novel to me seem to be common guilt as well as redemption through suffering, and the nature of suffering on earth. Andrei Bolkonsky (talk) 01:42, 2 July 2012 (UTC)

2006 Miniseries[edit]

According to IMDB, there's going to be a 7 1/2 hour Russian miniseries of the Brothers Karamazov to be completed sometime this fall, directed by Yuri Moroz. It should be mentioned in this article or a disambiguation article once some more information becomes avaliable. I'm not suggesting add it now, but just to bring it to the attention of Wikipedia.--2ltben 00:49, 10 September 2006 (UTC)

First Editions[edit]

Within the last few months a second edition of the novel was discovered and handed over to a museum or auction house. The news story indicated that the only edition prior to this one was the first edition he dedicated to his wife valued at $171,000. The second edition was dedicated to Hans Christian Anderson. The story went on to say that Anderson had written to Dostoevsky many times but never heard from him until Dosteovsky sent him a dedicated copy of Brothers. I cannot find the news story in any of my bookmarks but I'm hoping someone out there read the same story and can link to it here. Thanks. Alomas 08:35, 18 October 2006 (UTC)

Laura Bush[edit]

Last I checked, Laura Bush's acclaiming the book has been removed twice. I've moved it to the lead, feeling that it further shows the diversity of the book's acclaim. Anyone who feels otherwise should leave their thoughts on the talk page before changing it. Thanks. Silvdraggoj 20:23, 25 October 2006 (UTC)

Response: Laura Bush is not a "literary thinker," and her enthusiasm for the book is irrelevant when discussing its importance among literary thinkers.

I'm not going to start an edit war over this, but I think if we remove Laura Bush for not being a "literary thinker" than we might as well remove benedict XVI and einstein, since they aren't known as literary critics either. Silvdraggoj 20:26, 3 November 2006 (UTC)

"Response: Laura Bush is not a "literary thinker," and her enthusiasm for the book is irrelevant when discussing its importance among literary thinkers." That's great. And hilarious, too. --Cyclone05


Please read discussion below --Reloc 09:58, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

Who really killed Fyodor?[edit]

Article, at present:

It is important to note that no voice of authority explains who truly killed Fyodor. Most of the novel's major characters ultimately feel Smerdyakov killed him, which even Smerdyakov confesses to, but the choice to condemn one brother over another is, again, the reader's decision. (Though Smerdyakov's possession of the three thousand roubles is not otherwise explained.) This may imply that whichever brother actually killed Fyodor is meaningless, and that all must be forgiven if happiness is to exist after the act.

Is this really right? My memory seems to be that it's fairly obvious that Smerdyakov is the one who actually killed him, in a literal sense, although in some other figurative sense it's all the brothers who do it. Or some such. john k 06:22, 27 October 2006 (UTC)

I agree ,article should clearly state that Smerdyakov is the one who killed father in literal sense whereas only in metaphorical sense all brothers are responsible (even Alosha). Please note title of Book XII "A Judicial Error" so author explaines that Smerdyakov is killer ,I think it's ultimate proof. --Reloc 20:56, 18 March 2007 (UTC)

Of course it was Smerdyakov who killed him, but the thought of this section is very important IMHO. The whole novel emphasizes the Christian thought that in fact every human being is responsible for the actions of his family members, his friends and generally his contemporaries. This is demonstrated by the parricide which is done by the four brothers:
- Dmitri had a motive.
- Ivan gave the intellectual justification, and it was him who, more or less unconsciously, gave Smerdyakov some hints which led to the murder.
- Alyosha was too passionate about Starez Sozima, his "surrogate father", to be able to prevent his brothers from murdering his actual father.
- Smerdyakov finally did it.
-- Cheesus 07:34, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

the culmination of his life's work?[edit]

The Brothers Karamazov (Братья Карамазовы in Russian, /'bratʲjə karə'mazəvɨ/) is the last novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky, generally considered the culmination of his life's work. - considered by whom? That sentence looks really controversial.

Fair use rationale for Image:Grand inquisitor.JPG[edit]

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Spoiler in the second paragraph[edit]

I'm sorry if it's a known fact (something to be compared to calling a spoiler i someone tells you Romeo and Juliet die in the end), but I was really bothered by the information that the father is killed in the book. This is not something that is made clear in the book until the end of the first volume. So I think it spoils the reading experience of someone that is only researching about the book but haven't read it yet. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:12, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

See WP:Spoiler. Vltava 68 06:18, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

Fyodor Pavlovich section[edit]

Most of the plot? Isn't three fourths of the book about the days before the murder? Vltava 68 06:47, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

more important than bible[edit]

Osho_(Bhagwan_Shree_Rajneesh) stated in an interview that after reading 150000+ books, he realized this one is far more valuable than bible. can we place this info somewhere? (talk) 00:07, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

removed warhammer reference[edit]

The introductory paragraph of this section refers to Dostoyevsky's influence on writers and philosophers. Not to minor characters in a pop-culture wargame. -- (talk) 20:10, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

Book 2 Synopsis[edit]

The synopsis states: "Dmitri, in appropriate fashion for him, arrives late"

I'm not sure that this is an accurate reflection of the events. Dmitri states that he is late because his father's manservant told him the meeting was to take place at 1 o'clock (an hour after the meeting was actually scheduled). The implication being that his father did this deliberately to make Dmitri appear ill-mannered. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:23, 23 November 2011 (UTC)

Pope Benedict XVI liked The Brothers Karamazov?[edit]

That's a lie. Dostoevsky said that Catholicism was worse than Atheism. I recommend that Pope Benedict XVI be removed as an "admirer" of the book, since it is clearly a PR move. — Preceding unsigned comment added by ExistentialBliss (talkcontribs) 14:25, 25 May 2012 (UTC)

I've removed the reference, which didn't really support the claim being made. However, it is not spurious, but is entirely plausible that he does like the work. I know plenty of staunch Catholics who greatly admire and enjoy Dostoyevsky's works, myself one of them. carl bunderson (talk) (contributions) 16:17, 25 May 2012 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I will look into this, though I disagree that he disliked Catholicism more than Atheism (how do you explain the photograph of the painting Sistine Madonna on his room, his admiration of the Milan Cathedral and his regret not having visited the pope?)--GoPTCN 16:24, 25 May 2012 (UTC)
"In many of his novels he rails against the Catholic Church. Dostoevsky viewed the Catholic Church as an institution that had abandoned its spiritual beliefs in a quest to give mankind earthly happiness. He has the Catholic Grand Inquisitor state to Christ in The Brothers Karamazov, 'You promised them heavenly bread, but, I repeat again, can it compare with earthly bread in the eyes of the weak, eternally depraved, and eternally ignoble human race?' Dostoevsky related his sense of how the Catholic social preoccupation worked. 'The Catholic priest searches out some miserable worker’s family and gains their confidence. He feeds them all, gives them clothes, provides heating, looks after the sick, buys medicine, becomes the friend of the family and converts them to Catholicism.'" - Dostoevsky and the Mystery of Russia by David Allen White - Fall 2001 ExistentialBliss (talk) 20:07, 25 May 2012 (UTC)
It is clear that he partly criticized Catholicism, but your quote does not say that he hated this denomination more than atheism. Actually, I believe he disliked nihilism and maybe materialism more than anything else (nearly every novel contain harsh criticism of these movements). And those are non-theistic philosophical movements and are similar to atheism. On the other side, he criticized Catholicism in a few works, mainly in TBK and his essay Winter Notes on Summer Impressions. So all in all he despised, in my opinion, atheism more than Catholicism. --GoPTCN 09:21, 26 May 2012 (UTC)
For anyone who has read and understood this book, the sentiment toward the Catholic church is clear. Leaving Pope Benedict XVI up as one who liked the book is a joke on the masses. By the way, did you see the pictures of the Pope holding up the Baphomet sign with both hands? I wonder why he would want to do that... He also wants a one world government. ExistentialBliss (talk) 19:22, 26 May 2012 (UTC)
The thing is that there are indications that Pope Benedict does like the book... (allusions in at least one of the Jesus of Nazareth books, etc.) Another thing is that liking and agreeing with are different matters. It is, by the way, not Catholicism (at least, not ultimately), that Dostoyevsky critizises in the Grand Inquisitor. Alyosha only rashly says so to in argument to gain a point in argument (and must partly be excused as he is not a Catholic). Even then, the argument that "this is Catholicism" and Russian Orthodoxy be so much different is not further expounded upon. But what is critizised in fact is either human nature, or the way of salvation God himself chose to use, or both (and this without any pretense of "did Jesus in fact, according to the research results of historic criticism" and the likes). In fact, "I do not doubt God exists, I only give back my entrance ticket to the World he created" remains the one consistent (though untrue like the others) alternative to orthodox Christianity; and infinitely more dangerous than plain atheism.
However, Dostoyevski is not right. It ought to be pointed out that Our Lord did care for the masses; and that - as the theology has always said - he rejects power by submitting to the devil but later explicitly says He has every power ... and on Earth; that He rejects feeding himself but does in practical fact not reject feeding the masses; that He rejects doing show-miracles but does not reject doing enough miracles to show himself; that He does not bring an elitist morality but (in so far as it can still be an uncompromised morality) a morality for the masses, including an explicit delegation for the office-holders of His Church to do moral theology and casuistry, and so on and so on.
But he who asked the questions (even though from a position of error, unbelief or aggression) has a place of honor with the Catholic theologian. -- (talk) 15:49, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
The pope is essentially antichrist (opposing Christ), and the masses, through bowing and kissing his ring, are being programmed to accept an antichrist. Dostoevsky knew it and exposed it. ExistentialBliss (talk) 09:11, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
                            STFU ,you fucking Idiot.

Book eight: 3000 rubles?[edit]

The first sentence of the second paragraph of the "Book Eight: Mitya" section reads "Dmitri is next seen in a daze on the street, covered in blood, with three thousand rubles in his hand." An important part of the book is that we don't know how many rubles he has, so I recommend rewording this so there is not a definite amount of rubles in his hand.

--Bigguitartone (talk) 17:34, 29 December 2012 (UTC)