Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov

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The Brothers Karamazov Fyodor Dostoyevsky was a great thinker, a manipulator if you will, of deep philosophical questions concerning the existence of man and/or God. Some would argue that his preoccupation with finding answers to the unanswerable bordered on the neurotic. Yet with all of the looming doubts and agonizing theses that constitute the bulk of his writing there is one underlying question that Dostoyevsky could never seem to eradicate from his ever racing quest to define the essence of man. “What is he wearing?” It seems that the narrator (yes, it has been established that Fyodor himself was indeed not the narrator, but let’s face it, he is the author, creator and ultimately what he says goes) fixates on the fashions of the day, and makes it a point to interject his own whimsical opinions as to what is “in” and more importantly, what is “out.” The Brothers Karamazov, though primarily a novel of dialogue, is also richly embellished with commentary from the ever omniscient narrator as to descriptions of characters, their surroundings, whether up to date with style of furnishings, or God forbid “in the fashion of the twenties.” How necessary is it that the reader know that Trifon’s daughters, “on feast days or when going visiting, would put on light blue or green dresses of fashionable cut, tight fitting behind and with three feet of train” (p. 413), while Trifon himself, “went about dressed in the Russian style, in a peasant blouse and a long, full skirted coat” (p. 413)? We barely meet this Trifon, and the daughters are about as significant as Smerdyakov’s twitching left eye. Although the optical twitch could be constituted as merely a rumor or a neuroti... ... middle of paper ... ...aged theologian, not a boy of fourteen. There are other peculiar idiosyncrasies employed by Dostoyevsky throughout this work, such as his need to focus dinner conversations on physically torturing both children and heretics, the bringing together of various conflicting personalities for the sake of posing religious and moral questions that have little to do with the logical reasoning for bringing said people together, and his preoccupation with noses. These are just a few of the Dostoyevskian quirks that hook the reader instantaneously, and then leave the reader wondering why. Works Cited Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. The Brothers Karamazov, New York: Vintage Classics 1991, Trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky Inspiration taken from, And Quiet Flows the Vodka, by Alicia Chudo, Northwestern University Press, 2000.
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