There are some books that are always on the “Best of” lists and “Books to read before you die” lists that if haven’t read so, hardcore bibliophiles will gaze at you with such scorn and contempt that you might not as well exist in this world. I’ve never trued one of those books for the simple reason that there was already a backlog of Haruki Murakami novels I had yet to finish off and a bunch of comic book runs to read.
Now that those obligations have been satisfied, I was thinking about which book I wanted to read as part of my “Classics to finish before I die” bucket list that would make me look like a pretentious arse.
I chanced upon James Joyce’s “Ulysses“. This book is present in every “Best Books” list and is notorious for it’s writing style and sheer size which make it difficult to read. While I do have a Kindle and I was planning on reading on that, just for reference’s sake, I looked up at how big it was.
Yeah nope….It’s a bloody tome is what it is. I didn’t have the patience for such big books with difficult to understand prose.
Then I chanced upon “The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Another book that frequently appears on a lot of “Books to read before you die” lists. It mainly revolves around the relationship between a good for nothing father and the three sons that he sired, woven around a tapestry of philosophy, God and ethics.
Interesting. This novel could be right up my alley. I didn’t dare to look up the size of the actual novel for reference since I was worried it would scare me off into not reading this novel. I’ve always wanted to read one of Dostoevsky’s works and this could be very well my starting point. I had tried the works of a Japanese novelist and now it was time to try the work of a celebrated Russian.
But of course, the minute I started reading the book, I realized I needed to have mountains of patience to read this book, if I had to stand a chance of finishing it.
“The Brothers Karamazov” was simply on a different level than I was used to.
For starters, the character building in this novel is nothing, if not meticulous. I’ve usually like reading books with a first person narrative since it gives me an idea of how the character thinks and I can relate more to the character. The Point Of View (POV) style of character building was different than what I was used to and it took some adjusting to get used to.
And patience. I had already remarked upon that.
But for this novel, you will need patience since the plot isn’t exactly itching to be the raciest or most thrilling plot in all of history. Like all good things, it takes it’s own time to build the plot and it’s characters (much to the detriment of my patience).
The plot centers around Fyodor Pavlovitch, a drunk buffoon and this three sons, Dmitri, Ivan and Alexey (or Aloysha, as the narrator calls him.). Dmitri’s the hothead and kind of resembles his father in getting drunk and wasting money. Ivan’s the smart and talented one and Alexey’s the kind and gentle kid of the family.
But of course, where any other novel would have given that up at the start, Dostoevsky takes his time in introducing the characters and their traits bit by bit by means of a monk who is currently the narrator, thus the meticulous character building.
And judging from the fact that I’ve only read about 6% of the novel according to my Kindle, this is going to be a very long read. But it is a read that I will undertake nonetheless, because it has been a challenging read so far and a challenge is something I’ll take up, any time of the week.
I plan to finish this and give a full review of the book, the book that most people have already called “the greatest book of all time”.
Finishing it would make me a legitimate hardcore bibliophile……I look forward to it.