"Go to your brother, the prison will be shut; go, here’s your hat..."

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I have to write something (albeit inane) just to mark that I’ve finally finished reading this epic novel. It took me five months in total, mainly because I found it exceptionally hard to get into, initially only reading a chapter or so a week. I found it difficult to keep track of which characters were being referred due to a mix of forenames, surnames and nicknames being used until I wrote out a list of characters and kept this next to the book as I read. But I mostly struggled with the long dialogues (or perorations, as I learnt from this book) given to characters. This book is so long and renowned it even has its own most well known chapter, The Grand Inquisitor, but, it is probably heretical of me to say, I did not enjoy this chapter at all for the reason I’ve just outlined. It wasn’t until Book VIII in Part III when I felt I’d finally “got into” it and wanted to keep reading to find out what happens.

I can see how this would be an interesting book to study at school, assuming the students could get through it. Due to the length of the novel there are changes in styles (I don’t know whether intentional or not): In parts it reads like a script or screenplay with directions given to characters’ movements. There are also plenty of side stories and subtext to delve into and draw meaning out of, such as that famous chapter. Unfortunately I am faced with the realisation that I am more superficial than I thought, as I enjoyed most what is, on the surface, a bit of a murder mystery and a love triangle.

However, I did still make my way through it and I am content enough with that achievement as it seems that in itself (being able to read something of significant length even if arduous) is a lost art nowadays.