Monday, February 18, 2008

The Brothers Karamazov

My slow group reading and discussion of Dostoevsky's great novel is continuing as we enter the last quarter of the novel. Yesterday our discussion focused on Book Ten entitled simply "Boys". The most important and interesting boy is Kolya Krasotkin who dominates the section with his actions and his feelings for Alyosha. Among the various themes the notion of the nature of spirituality and rationality comes to the fore in this section. The nature of rationality, while connected with science and an atheistic viewpoint (cf. Ivan) is really quite complex. Interestingly we see the arguments of Alyosha and Kolya mirroring those of Ivan and Zossima from earlier in the story. Perhaps most importantly we find, in the depiction of Kolya's response to the sick boy, Ilyusha, an image of the human condition and some idea of Dostoevsky's view of human character. We are left with an image of growth in the characters both of Kolya and Alyosha and look forward to the coming confrontations Alyosha is sure to have with Ivan and his other brothers.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Richard Pevear & Laura Volokhonsky, trans. North Point Press, San Francisco. 1990 (1881).

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