The Brothers Karamazov (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
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The Brothers Karamazov (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics


The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

The last and greatest of Dostoevsky’s novels, The Brothers Karamazov is a towering masterpiece of literature, philosophy, psychology, and religion. It tells the story of intellectual Ivan, sensual Dmitri, and idealistic Alyosha Karamazov, who collide in the wake of their despicable father’s brutal murder.

Into the framework of the story Dostoevsky poured all of his deepest concerns—the origin of evil, the nature of freedom, the craving for meaning and, most importantly, whether God exists. The novel is famous for three chapters that may be ranked among the greatest pages of Western literature. “Rebellion” and “The Grand Inquisitor” present what many have considered the strongest arguments ever formulated against the existence of God, while “The Devil” brilliantly portrays the banality of evil. Ultimately, Dostoevsky believes that Christ-like love prevails. But does he prove it?

A rich, moving exploration of the critical questions of human existence, The Brothers Karamazov powerfully challenges all readers to reevaluate the world and their place in it.

Maire Jaanus is Professor of English and department Chair at Barnard College, Columbia University. She is the author of Georg Trakl, Literature and Negation, and a novel, She, and co-editor of Reading Seminars I and II, Reading Seminar XI, and the forthcoming Lacan in the German-Speaking World.

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Barnes & Noble Classics Series
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5.75(w) x 8.44(h) x 1.88(d)

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From Maire Jaanus’s Introduction to The Brothers Karamazov

Dostoevsky’s characters are concerned with infinitude. They refuse to live without infinitude or without a Hamlet-like concern with the eternal questions. A maddening lack of satisfaction sustains desire in this novel—sexual desire, intellectual desire, and spiritual desire, along with all the more mundane desires for money and power. And all these desires are blocked by impossibility, by the finite. One can choose to live only in the finite, but then, according to Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky, one is in despair. To find joy, one has at that boundary of the finite to choose belief and love. Even a fragmented and muddled being like Dmitri understands that although mankind is conflicted because of too many choices between good and evil, and too broad— “Yes, man is broad, too broad, indeed. I’d have him narrower”—if you whittle him down you lose freedom and ethical accountability, and Dmitri’s major question concerns ethics. “What is ethics?” he asks, and what is the right thing for me to do? If you reduce the human being, you also lose desire and love. Then you create the hell that is “the suffering of being unable to love,” to connect, to reach for the impossible.

Modern bureaucratization and technologization aggravate the rupture between us and infinity. This infinity that it was still possible to grasp through religion or philosophy in Dostoevsky’s era is today only maintained by psychoanalysis via the passions, via that which is bodily and seemingly a product of the body and yet not bodily: that is, via the body’s demand for its own beyond. Thus now we can grasp infinity only by a transcendence of our sexual reality toward death or toward love. It is the transcendence that Dmitri is at the end striving for with Grushenka. He feels perturbed and changed by his affective experience with her. She has become for him the unexpected event, an encounter with a love that is beyond phallic sexuality.

Dostoevsky does not consider the questions of ethics, epistemology, and subjectivity without considering their founding in the passions, in human desire and fantasies and their attendant modes of enjoyment. He also knows that paradoxically our enjoyment can be a resistance to joy, a desire for unhappiness. Thus Dmitri has said, “There’s no living without joy,” but Dostoevsky puts Lisa into the novel to contradict him: She says, “I don’t want to be happy.” The conscious, commonsense idea that everyone wants to be happy becomes thereby more thorny and complex, as does everything having to do with the human passions in Dostoevsky. It was Marx who investigated the grounding of culture in economic labor, work, and production, and similarly it is Dostoevsky who investigates the grounding of the thinking and speaking subject in the work, movement, and productions of the emotions and the passions.

The Brothers Karamazov energizes and taxes the intellect; it calls on the reader to think about and to answer the “eternal questions”: What is human happiness? Is there a God? What is despair (or Hell)? What is a father? What is the law and how should it operate? When does one forgive? Why is there cruelty? What is ethics? Why do we suffer? How can we face and comfort each other over death and loss? It is because he asks the eternal questions that Dostoevsky is above all a humanist, someone deeply interested in the possibilities and limits of the human condition, someone who wonders where we are going, what our purpose is. The humanist reminds us of the needs and dimensions of the human, what Dostoevsky calls mankind’s broadness. We have no boundaries; we bring into the world a sense of something beyond anything in reality or anything graspable. And this dimension is so much a part of mankind that if it is destroyed his being is destroyed. What supports this beyond is freedom, love, belief, and language. Without these things, there cannot be a true subject.

There are intellectually taxing sections in the novel that may make some feel Dostoevsky is just beyond their head; but that is because Dostoevsky understood that the human condition as such is beyond our head. Who understands life, its purpose or meaning, given that it empirically concludes in death? Who understands love or death? Life, love, and death are issues that are beyond our logic and comprehension. They permanently and profoundly disturb our existence. The corpse is the ultimate fear and challenge to our courage and the body that is desired is the ultimate object of strife, contest, and war.

The main question of the novel—it was perhaps the most passionate question of the nineteenth century—is: What can bind and constrain or what can best guide these passions? Love or law? Not law because, for one, humans transgress it, and, for another, it is not commensurate with human and interhuman complexity or the mystery of human nature. The magnificent extended court scene at the end of the novel proves that law is not enough. An innocent human being, Dmitri, is sentenced for a murder he has not committed, but only desired.

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The Brothers Karamazov (Pevear / Volokhonsky translation) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 98 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The cover that you see belongs to the Pevear\Volokhonsky translation. If you buy this e-book it is NOT THE PEVEAR translation. This is a Gutenberg press book, not the pevear. I am quite disappointed.
borges More than 1 year ago
Good thing I downloaded the sample first, or I too would have been drawn in by the cover that claims to be the Pevear translation. Don't spend a dime on this freely-available Project Gutenberg edition: "The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever."
emapaz More than 1 year ago
Shame on you, Barnes & Noble, for using the cover of the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation, when it is actually the Project Gutenberg edition. The Brothers Karamazov is a great work of art, but some translations are far superior to others.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Brothers Karamazov's translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volonsky is wonderful, the very best so far. BUT it is NOT what you see when you open this Nook eBook. The translation you see is by Constance Garnett, made early in the 20th century. And worse, it is a public domain version made available by the Gutenberg Project long ago.... This is just unbelievable! --
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This version of the brothers karamazov is an incomplete download. It leaves out about 20% of the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think I am going to read this wonderful book again. There is so much life and passion in it, that reading it again will definitely enrich my soul even further. I want to tell you how this novel changed my life. It was recommended to me by a Russian Orthodox priest who considered it the best source of Russian Orthodox spirituality in literature. So I read it. I read it because at the time I was striving to become a true Orthodox Christian myself. The result, however, turned out the opposite: I lost any faith I ever had in the truth of the Church and all its dogmas. This book gave me an idea that if there is God, it is certainly not what we are taught He is. I think that in this work Dostoevsky reached the very height of what I would call 'a war with oneself'. He created this unforgettable contrast between what he wanted to believe (and, indeed believed at times) and what he actually was going through in his spiritual search, which were probably indescribable spiritual torments of doubt. I now have this indelible image of Ivan confiding in Alesha, arguing with Satan and, at last, denying God himself in his search for the truth. It was he, who stirred my whole being and it was Dostoevsky himself speaking through Ivan with the most profound sincerety and desperation. On the opposite, Dostoevsky introduces Alyosha, who didn't doubt, but just loved and believed. This young man, according to Dostoevsky's plan, is a prototype of Jesus Christ himself, a man in whom the truth is open within, a man through whom one can truly feel God's love. It is a fascinating character, although, Dostoevsky depicts him in the light of Christian Orthodoxy, as an example of TRUE spirituality, as opposed to any other spirituality. Nevertheless, if we were to take liberties in the interpretation of the work, put the dogmas aside and look at Alyosha as a human being, then we could boldly say, that this young man IS the embodiment of love, truth and godliness. I really would want to at least resemble such a person! And in the midst of this spiritual struggle, there is murder, treachery, repentance, love and comedy, which bring the characters out into your own life. I just love this book! I love the brothers, even though they are so different! There are so many things to love 'The Brothers Karamazov' for, but it is for this brave, but nevertheless desperate challenge to our faith, and at the same time, a great example of living it, that I praise this book so highly. It is truly as rich, thought-provoking and awe-inspiring as life itself. P.S. I highly recommend the translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. It is the most correct and true to the spirit of the book translation available. By the way, they also translated 'Crime and Punishment', 'The Demons', 'Notes from the Underground' and lots more, so I recommend those as well. And if you really would like to get the feel of how Dostoevsky DID NOT write, try the translation by Constance Garnett! It is outdated and, frankly, in some places she took liberties at what to leave and what to take out. I read 'The Brothers Karamazov' in Russian and English, going line-by-line sometimes and discovering those literary atrocities all along the text.
Brookeanne Walters More than 1 year ago
My biggest recommendation would be to pay for a $0.99 copy. This is unedited and unless you are very good at skimming over major typos, this will add an additional challenge to what some would consider a very challenging book. Fantastic story though!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm nearly finished with Dostoevsky's brilliant book, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in classic literature. Dostoevsky had the proclivity to inundate his novels with a copious amount of religious fervor (which reflects the years in which it was written..circa 1878-1880 C.E.), however, that in no way diminishes the overall experience. Dostoevsky deserves my utmost respect, and now takes his place alongside such iconic figures as: Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Edgar Allan Poe.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is incrediable, an absolute materpeice. Although at first the sheer size is intimidating, Dostoevskies writing style is so wonderfull that the pages simply fly by. Also you if you study philosophy you see where latter philosophers(Nietzsche, Sartre, and many others) got many of their prominate ideas. I'm not going to comment on the actual book, because it is so profound, deep, and a sheer joy to read, that it woild be almost sinfull to spoil the suprising turns and plot twists. JUST READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't recommend this book. Now, I'm going to admit here that I've learned that I'm not a fan of Dostoevsky. Perhaps I'm not smart enough, or maybe it's that I just don't have the patience to sit and think about the undertones to his work. But I find his work just to be too long-winded and pointless. I definitely believe that for books of this era, you really have to be familiar with the political and cultural aspects of the environment in which they're written. Of course, some of his dialogue concerning religion is ageless, but he also had a purpose in writing about it at that particular time. Moreover, I also think that many books of this just too long. Back in the day, when people didn't have movies, TV, the internet, or cars to drive them places, I'm assuming that people didn't mind staying home to read more. But man, there so many unnecessary details in this book it's just ridiculous. My mom read this book many years ago, and she said she never really did figure out the point in it. One of my friends said he stopped reading it halfway through because it was boring. I soldiered through it just so I could say I read it, but I'm not taking anything away with me for having done so. Recommend skipping this one.
Fulminata More than 1 year ago
I was asked recently "Why Dostoevsky." This from a Russian who admires Tolstoy. I will never try placing either Tolstoy or Dostoevsky above the other as they are both astonishing writers, but when I answered for Dostoevsky, I used almost only this book as my reason why. Firstly Karamazov is a very deeply written book. The characters are monoliths, they are not a one dimensional representation of a person, but real people. Next the events in the novel are drawn very carefully and beautifully. There is love, desire, anger, hatred, understanding, and everything in between. The most famous part of this novel is of course the "Grand Inquisitor" scene. It alone would guarantee this books immortality, but there is so so much more. Its worth the time required to read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The greatest soul writer of all times and great contributor to human psychology successfully created a beautiful and amazing dynamism between the Karamazov brothers that has been the core of many stories after involving siblings. There is the unreliable father, the old Fyodor Karamazov whose life dominates his sons and whose death casts a huge shadow on their future.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What can you expect from a man who left petersburg in chains becuase his writings went against the tzar and the politics going on? Or a man who endured 6 months of the silent treatment in solititary confinement because of those very writings? Dostoevsky's novel is just brilliant. Character development, and his understanding of the human soul, the good, the bad and the disgraceful. It is a true work of literary art and if you happen to be into philosophy, you won't be a true philosopher till you read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was fantasticin the fact that the character developments were flawless. Each character, while labeled in some way, was fully rounded and made you feel like it was a real person you could know.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read hundreds of works in contemporary literature. This is by far my favorite novel ever. This work has few rivals for sheer substance and character developement. This is the masterpeice of a master. Everything you need to know about life is in this book. Alyosha Karamazov is the best character I've ever encountered, he is the ulimate hero of moral virtue.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book was extraordinarilly long and there were several slow sections. But the dialogue between brothers in dealing with the issues of God and humanism are second-to-none. The reader is challenged to introspectively decide what they believe and how to deal with their own prejudices. Dostoevsky's societal picture is one hundred years ahead of its time. You'll be utterly amazed. The translation was a little rough, forcing the reader to make grammatical changes (i.e.: 'It was you (who) killed him!). It is worthy, though, of its 'classic' genre.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bad fakey
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am not sure regarding earlier reviews. This book is the Constance Garnett translation. It is the same as the1957 softcover unabridged copy from an Existentialism class. I can't speak of other translations but this one was good enough for university study. Not only is it a good story but, it lays down philosophical foundations. Moral questions are asked. While Dostovesky is said to believe in God at core he has presented a legitamate altenative to the three temptations of Jesus. It is a deep book. A look at Russian character is interesting. Has it changed?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So far I am enjoying it very much. I like tthe style of the interpretation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this bok over the summer for AP lit, and I hated it. The writing is very hard to understand, and the story is hard to get into. I wouldn't waste goo space on this book. Also, there are a billion different nicknames for each of the characters.