18 May 2008

The Brothers Karamazov

I finally finished it.  It has taken almost three years, but I finished it.  The book: The Brothers Karamozov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky.  It took so long to read mainly because I have not had much time to read.  The other reason it took so long is because the book is not meant to be read fast.  There is very little plot.  The plot is there mainly to create situations to more fully develop the characters. This is not a novel like most you find today.  The plot does not keep you reading, the ideas do. 

The Brothers Karamozov is a novel exploring humanity, truth and the meaning of life.  Perhaps what I liked best, and found very refreshing, was the authors ability to be objective.  He put forward both sides of almost every point of view.  I can't say the author was actually objective though, he was biased towards both sides.  As Ivan forcefully tried to deny God, it seemed as though the author agreed.  As Father Zossima and Alyosha explained their faith in God, you could feel the author's faith as well.  This is perhaps the best written piece of literature I have ever read from that regard.

The abstract on the back cover of my copy of the book put forward an interesting statement that I wanted to discuss briefly.  "Rebellion and The Grand Inquisitor present what many have considered the strongest arguments ever formulated against the existence of God."  The two chapters mentioned are very interesting.  The first questions how God can exist with all of the atrocities which are committed against the innocent.  The second is a wonderful story where Christ appears to the Grand Inquisitor.  The Grand Inquisitor puts Him to death because He is not helping to bring peace to the world.  Christ taught freedom of faith.  The Grand Inquisitor was forcing peace through forceful unification of faith.  These ideas are brought out as Ivan, the scientific brother, talks with Alyosha, the believing brother.  It is Ivan's voice through most of the two chapters but in the end you are left with a lot to think about, not the author's agenda.

I found the quote on the back of the book interesting because when I was done reading both chapters I was left thinking that Ivan had some serious questions to which he did not have any answers, but if he understood God and his plan for his children better they would no longer be questions.  I did not find the chapters to be arguments against the existence of God, rather I found them to be arguments revealing the ignorance of man.

The entire book was wonderful.  Every chapter held a series of gems to ponder on. If you have a lot of time I would highly recommend The Brothers Karamazov.   You will need to set aside time to read as well as ponder over the nature of God, the devil, and especially, man.

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