The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky was my pick for the Classic Club Spin #4 .
I knew that reading 985 pages by the 1st Jan would be a big ask, especially with Christmas, New Year's Eve and an interstate holiday to keep me otherwise occupied.
So I don't feel guilty about admitting that, tonight, I'm only up to page 341. For those of you who now the story, this brings me to Ivan's tirade/poem about religion, God and Jesus!
The brothers are diverse personalities with just a few relationship issues!
Their father's scenes read like an old Laurel & Hardy set piece, but instead of custard pies being tossed around, it's vodka shots being tossed back.
Dostoyevsky has a lot to say about the state of Russia, Europe & religion. Some of these sections get a little long winded and seem a tad self-indulgent (nowadays they'd be heavily edited).
I prefer his discussions and observations on human nature. Truth, lies & the meaning of life are pondered by his large cast of characters. Their concern with relationships, security, right & wrong move the story forward and provide much of the drama in the story.
Although it is over 130 years since The Brothers K was published, it is still possible to recognise many of the characters and their personalities.
I guess that's what makes this huge book a classic. Dostoyevsky's characters still have something to say to us today. Their problems and concerns are universal, with a novel twist supplied by their specific setting and times.
You don't need to know a lot about the history of Russia to appreciate The Brother's K, but it does help.
Most editions come with footnotes or notes at the back to provide some of this detail. Some translators also discuss why they chose certain phrases or words over others.
I chose the Penguin Classics David McDuff translation in the end and found it easy to read. If you'd like to check out other translations of this book go to Compare Transations.
I will add another review later in the month when I finally finish the book.
Happy New Year one and all.
I hope 2014 is a year of joy and peace and full of many, many good books.