The Brothers Karamazov (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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…  See more details below


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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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 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 172 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel has everything you could possibly want in a book: love, family, murder, morals, life, and virtues. My favorite character is Alyosha, and I find myself falling in love with him the more pages I read in the book (could have something to do with the 1958 movie in which William Shatner plays Alyosha (Alexey)and the more I read the more I picture him as Alyosha. Dostoyevsky did an AMAZING job bringing his characters to life, and like most commentors' here, I agree that by the end of the book, you get to know the Karamazovs. It makes you wish that there was another book following this. MUST READ *****
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I purchase this book because it states it is a Pervear translation. The book is translated by someone else. This is not what I expected. Beware!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having read almost all of Dostoyevsky's work, I can honestly say that this is by far his masterpiece. It takes every moral dilema ever faced by his previous characters and blends it into one gruesome, fantastic tale of a despicable father and his four incredibly different sons. There are so many different levels to read this book on that it's almost impossible to summarize it in under ten pages and still do it justice. I would highly recommend reading The Brothers Karamazov first before any of Dostoyevsky's other works by seeing the culmination of his ideas (or at least as far as he was able to develop them before dying), it becomes easier to see common themes in his other masterpieces like Crime and Punishment.
Nicole-Syracuse-NY More than 1 year ago
I have to say it was a little hard getting into the book, but once you get about 175 pages in it reads very fast. I loved the book the names were difficult, but if you kept the names straight you will do fine. I would reccomend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Simply the best novel I have ever read. Period.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Headline above says it all.
mythoughtisme More than 1 year ago
Absolutely phenomenal book. Constance Garnett's translation is great. The book combines great psychology, philosophy, strong views on justice and morality, and deep chacterization into a well designed plot. 19th century Russia serves as a great backdrop to perhaps the greatest book of all time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Brother's Karamazov definitely merits recognition as Dostoevsky's masterpiece. This book reads with all the suspense of a mystery, yet still offers deep insights into the overriding philosophical ideas of his day. As with all of Dostoevesky's works,the characterization is incredible. The characters are at turns detestable and lovable, but never flat. Alyosha remains my favorite character in all of literature.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dostoevsky usually does a wonderful job with his characterizations. It felt to me he just beats the reader over the head and pounds his characters into the ground in this novel. In Crime and Punishment he does a much better job showimg the reader the soul of his main character and provided a story that was much better put together than Bros Karamazov. My opinion is that Dostoevsky is still great but this is far from his best work. It was just WAY TOO LONG! It took me 4 full months to finally make it all the way through. If you like 19th century russian lit I highly suggest crime and punishment, the idiot, and the possesed. Also Tolstoy War and Peace and Anna Karenina are both wonderful novels.
ARPG More than 1 year ago
Much like the moral ideas that strike at the heart of East of Eden by the American author John Steinbeck, in Brothers Karamazov Dostoevsky portrays the internal struggle of every person using his realistic and identifiable cast of characters. Each brother is brought to life by Dostoevsky to represent a separate view point to morality and life. Dmitri = passion, Aloysha = restraint, Smerdyakov = brutality, and Ivan = Logical. I identified the most with Ivan, realizing that it was his struggle that I encounter most: the struggle of faith vs. logic. I can see why Aloysha is a favorite character of most people because of his inherent kindness, his desire to believe in the good of other people, and his neverending loyalty to his brothers and father despite their numerous faults. Those who seek answers to the difficult questions of morality, religion, justice, society, and family will find the aged and enlightened answers that Dostoevsky supplies worth the wealth of page turning this book requires. A definite favorite of mine.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stuffed with characters as diverse as Russia's landscape, from an honorable scoundrel to a saint on earth, The Brothers Karamasov is a fantastic blend of strange encounters and insane events. Set in a nameless town in a nameless province in Russia, The story revolves around the death, or murder, of a crafty buffoon named Fyodor Pavlovitch Karamasov. As His son, Dimitri, is accused of the murder and arrested, his, brother, Alexey, is the only one who believes that he did not do the crime. The book climaxes at the dramatic trial of Dimitri, and ends with a lot of loose ends that are not tied up. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in gleaning some insight into the culture of nineteenth-century Russia -- providing they have a good grasp of vocabulary. At times, the side plots and character personalities can be a bit confusing, but all in all, it was a very good read.
Scobie More than 1 year ago
This new translation of The Brothers Karamazov is a marked improvement over the older Constance Garnett translation: it is more enjoyable, the English is closer to Dostoevsky's Russian, and, thankfully, the humor of the original comes through. The Brothers Karamazov is Dostoevsky's final novel and is considered to be among his best. The work has not suffered from the passing of time and is still interesting and enjoyable. I recommend this new translation to anyone reading the work for the first time, or for those who have decided to re-read and don't mind buying a new copy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Simply the best novel ever written.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Such vividness. Well worth the effort.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A classic story 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
Each character is brilliantly identified so that you know them personally. Alexei, the monk, Karamazov Ivan, the most like his father, eloquent, and troubled by his own madness and Dmitri the self-proclaimed buffoon, the ladies man, the drunk, vying for the affections of Grushenka as is his father Fyodor, another self-proclaimed buffoon and drunk. Throughout, there is a battle between sanity and hysterics, realism and sensualism. The author sees troubled youth at the age of 13 needing a psychiatrist. He vividly describes his characters with 'brain fever'. He sees his own Russia in disarray, disorder, and sees the loss of personal values, where 'everything is permitted'. There is greed, jealousy, anger, gloom, despair in most of his characters. All his characters are 'dark' to say the least, with fleeting moments of joy. There are so many deep philosophical questions raised in this book. 'Does God exist, yes or no?' 'If not, perhaps there is a need to create the need for God.' There are surprises as well, showing limits of human capacity for suffering. Wow, what a great book!
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
THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV, which is one of Dostoyevsky¿s all time best, perhaps the best, adds to make him perhaps the best writer of all times. The author came up with so many great ideas and characters that are so real to life even in their complex emotions and rationales that we relate to the characters as if we are in their heads. In the end, not only do we have a great story, we are also left with a beautifully written work of political, psychological, sociological, ethical and psychological thought that is very true not only to Russia, but to other lands and peoples as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The best book I have ever read. The character development is some of the best in all of western literature.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had never heard of the book until it was recomended by my philosophy teacher. Although complex, it offers brilliant insight into the world of philosophy as well as that of depravity. Dostoevsky is in a sense an "inteligent criminal" in his writing. Definately worth reading. Things won't look quite the same.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TulaneGirl More than 1 year ago
Could.Barely.Get.Through.It. I wanted to like this book. I really did. I'm a big fan of Russian literature and am generally all about philosophy. But I just couldn't get into this one. Book 2 in it's entirety could have been left out entirely. I wish I could say I was on board with Einstein, Vonnegut, and McCarthy, but I'm not. I'm willing to say that its appeal went entirely over my head. 
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