Reading Project 2018: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

karamFor the past two years, BJ and I have picked a book to read together. It started out when BJ said he was planning to read War and Peace and I was like – HEY! That’s been on my list too – how about we read it together? At the time we had just gotten married, and we were still living apart, so it seemed like a way for us to do something together…while being apart. It was fun…or as fun as War and Peace can be, and we decided to make it an annual thing. The next book we picked was Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. We had both wanted to read it so that was the pick. We both agreed that neither of us would have got past the first 50 pages if we didn’t do it together.

We started talking about what the next book would be, possibly when still reading Infinite Jest (yeah, it was that good…she said sarcastically). I couldn’t face another stream of consciousness or fluid narrative structure again. That right there knocked off a bunch from the list. We were hesitant to go back to the Russians again, but hey….they wrote a lot of classic books, so what are we to do?

I remember reading a quote from Kurt Vonnegut (apparently it comes from Slaughterhouse Five, which I have read by the way) that said:

“There is one other book, that can teach you everything you need to know about life… it’s The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, but that’s not enough anymore.”

I was intrigued. I mean, if it’s good enough for Kurt Vonnegut, I think it’s worth checking out.

First, I don’t know anything about this book. Wait, that’s not completely true. I know it’s 924 pages. It was Dostoyevsky’s last novel. But that’s it. I don’t know how many Karamazov brothers there are, and why it takes 924 pages to tell their story. But I am going to find out.

The next challenge was to find a translation. I did a bunch of research when we read War and Peace – who knew there were different translations and that people had VERY strong opinions about them. We chose the Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky translation. Why? I have no idea. I liked the colour of the cover on that one. 

I suggested that we pick a different translator for this project. Why? Why not. So we are reading the Oxford Classic Version translated by Ignat Avsey.

We are planning to start the project on Memorial Day and see how long it takes us. We will blog at points along the way and let you know how it’s going.

 

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