"The Brothers Karamazov" by Fyodor Dostoevsky

This book was a suggested meet up by one of our other members, Aloysius, and I loved the book so much that I wanted to read it again as one of our official books of the month.  The below portion was written by Aloysius- thanks for the suggestion!

-Rachel

The Brothers Karamazov is often considered one of the great works of world literature, and Doestoevsky, one of the great authors.


An outline from wikipedia goes like this:

"The Brothers Karamazov is a passionate philosophical novel set in 19th century Russia, that enters deeply into the ethical debates of God, free will, and morality. It is a spiritual drama of moral struggles concerning faith, doubt, and reason, set against a modernizing Russia. Dostoyevsky composed much of the novel in Staraya Russa, which inspired the main setting. Since its publication, it has been acclaimed as one of the supreme achievements in literature."

Perhaps that is a lot to chew. But I would like to see what it is about that makes this novel so great.

A few years ago I was enthralled by Dostoevsky. Not only did I find his writing captivating, but the existential struggle of his characters, their moral torment and struggle, connected with what I thought was a very deep portrait of humanity and the human experience, and myself. I found the way Dostoevsky wrote his phrases and sentences, written so simply in a flowing manner, evoked many of the intricacies of conflicting characters, which was brilliant. Alas, this is the last second major novel of Dostoevsky I have not read (the other being The Idiot), and I would very much like to read and hold a discussion on this, a novel which I have always wanted to read but have not - the most important novel in Dostoevsky's oeuvre.

Note: Get the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation, considered one of the best. 

This is a very long novel of about 700 pages and perhaps you would like to read it early - a few pages everyday - to get going. Perhaps you might like to post updates on this page so others will know how far you have gone, and this will motivate one another to read on and finish the novel as much as possible.

If you're interested, please join and let's discuss!


New to the Hungry Hundred Book Club? Here's what you need to know:

1. Read the book (If you don't manage to finish it by the meetup date, don't worry.  As long as you're not going to be too disappointed by spoilers, you're still welcome to join.)

2. Come to the meeting, always on the last Sunday of every month.  Due to the constant change in numbers, the venue will be announced the week of the meeting.

3. Be prepared to order food/drink at the venue (where ever that may be) to show our appreciation for letting us use their space. This is a requirement. A lot of time and effort is put into finding a place that will accommodate our group without an outrageous minimum charge or rental fee, and you'll never be asked to contribute to organiser fees, so the least you can do is purchase something at the venue.

4. Discuss!  It's a casual conversation, so don't be afraid to ask questions and let us know what you think.


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  • Mark

    17 people showed up. (Personally I think people who RSVP "Yes" ought to try to be more reliable, or at least update their RSVP status ahead of time, otherwise it's unfair to the booked restaurant that's expecting a larger number of customers, and unfair to the organiser who's trying to anticipate numbers to book a suitable place).

    With the venue closing at 9, we didn't have enough time there to thoroughly discuss this huge, complex book; however, most of us later went for post-meetup drinks down the street, where we continued the discussion, so that made up for it.

    We spent much time discussing the style and language and some time discussing characters, though we didn't manage to discuss the philosophical ideas and plot.

    FinaIly, in a group discussion it's important that people be considerate and mindful of letting others speak; unfortunately I think some people didn't get the chance to contribute.

    Despite these shortcomings, it was still a lively discussion of an important book.

    July 30, 2014

    • florence

      Yes, I apologize for getting carried away again. I do see the irony of going on and on against long-windedness; I just can't seem to shut up about it! Will try to be more mindful. You have permission to kick me (gently) under the table to shut me up...

      July 30, 2014

    • Andrew

      Good discussion with you guys. You guys were articulate on Sunday.

      July 30, 2014

  • florence

    Will be there :) but will be late :(

    July 27, 2014

  • Rachel

    Hi everyone,
    First of all, please update your rsvp if you're unable to make it!!!!!!!!!
    Secondly, after negotiating with the manager at the Loft Cafe, he's agreed to let us order ala carte instead of having to get the pancake deal we got last time, or a fixed meal that was proposed for this meeting. So no one is going to tell you what to order, but just remember that if it's not beneficial for the restaurant, they don't want us coming back and it's hard finding a good space for our group!
    And lastly, the cafe closes at 9pm, so we'll have to leave by then. If you can, come a little earlier and put your order in right away so we can be sure to get the discussion started by 7:15. Afterwards if we want to hang out more we can go to the food street just outside the cafe. :)
    See you there!

    July 25, 2014

  • Rachel

    I desperately need to finish this book (75% in, second time and still one of my faves), but I'm torn between spending time actually reading it and spending all my energy desperately trying to satisfy my curiosity of how much would a rouble (particularly 3000 or 200 of them) then be worth today? I really want to know, but haven't had the time to research.

    1 · July 22, 2014

    • Mark

      You mean £2 and $3 as they were worth in 19th-Century Britain and US? Or £2 and $3 as they're worth nowadays?

      1 · July 23, 2014

    • Anusha

      The wording is a bit ambiguous, Mark. It says, "a rouble in those days was worth approx. $3". If I had to make a guess, I'd say that's talking about the worth of $3 today.

      July 24, 2014

  • Rachel

    This will most likely be held at the Loft near Chinatown (where the last Murakami meet up was held), but I'm still trying to work out the details since they want a set menu. I'll let you know ASAP!

    1 · July 24, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Thanks Rachel, awesome!!

      July 24, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi to all those who are still reading the book and trying to finish it. I don't think you have to finish everything in order to go for the meet, though of course finishing more than half is preferable.

    Don't take it too hard on yourself because Dostoevsky can be hard to read, although the language seems so simple. The Pevear translation makes it easier but it still can be tough to those encountering D for the first time. (For reasons we'll discuss!)

    I'm also trying to finish the book at the moment. More importantly, let's talk about the characters, language, characterization, setting and more. I think once you get half or more into it these should be quite familiar.

    Try to get to 'The Grand Inquisitor' at the very least (somewhere in the middle). The discussion won't and cannot take place in a vacuum. There will be comparisons which those who have familiar knowledge of other works will be useful to have! All the best!

    2 · July 23, 2014

  • Balamurugan V.

    A last minute trip means I have to skip this meetup but the book is certainly a good read ... Not at all what I expected ...

    July 21, 2014

  • Anusha

    I want to go, but I'm not even halfway through the book, and I haven't decided if I'm ready to be spoiled for it. Dilemma!

    July 21, 2014

  • Alice S.

    Out of town but enjoying the book!

    July 21, 2014

  • Nicky B.

    I can't make this one, but will definitely be at the next!

    July 21, 2014

  • Ashutosh

    Travelling this week, have a good discussion guys!

    July 21, 2014

  • Khairul A.

    To my great regret, Hari Raya falls on the day after this, so while you beautiful ppl are discussing the book, I will be scrubbing and mopping the night long. anyways, hope you enjoy yourselves. I'll try to turn up for the next one.

    June 24, 2014

  • A former member

    A former member changed the time from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM

    April 2, 2014

  • Mark

    One of the giant classics that seems to be eternally on my to-read list, along with David Copperfield and Gravity's Rainbow.

    I must confess though, after reading two Dostoevsky novels (Notes from Underground and Crime & Punishment), I still have yet to see and comprehend the supposed genius that everyone else seems to readily see in him.

    On a different note, I wouldn't call his sentences "written so simply in a flowing manner". My impression is that they're heavily textured with verbal tics, regularly stuttering (deliberately), often propelled by an anxious energy, and sometimes manic, as if written while high on caffeine.

    I may not have time to do this one but it's good that someone's trying to organise a discussion of it.

    March 28, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Sure, will do Rachel! Let's make his language a topic of during the discussion. It does seem very anxious his language, that I certainly do agree. See you all soon!

      March 31, 2014

    • SL L.

      I would love to join but I can't make it on the new proposed date. :(

      March 31, 2014

  • A former member

    A former member changed the date and time from Saturday, June 14, 2014 at 6:00 PM to Sunday, July 27, 2014 at 6:00 PM

    March 31, 2014

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