The great reading project has advanced to the end of Book 2. We have just finished the rather raucous visit of the Karamazov Brothers to the monastery, in which we find out, in my Mother’s words, “we can’t take [these people] anywhere.” With the exception of the odd section where the starets is talking to some random supplicants outside the monastery, what we really have going on in this section is more exposition. The narrator gave us the basic facts in the first section and in this part we get to see the whole family in action.
And it is pretty remarkable. These are some very screwed up people–reality-show-screwed-up. Jerry Springer screwed up. If you don’t me…and the fracas at the Monastery wasn’t enough on its own…allow me to present you with the legendary Battle Grushenka.
Grushenka is a woman who, we learn, shares her love. Just to show how easy she is, she actually has Pyotr and Dmitri fighting over her, and doing it in front of the starets and any number of priests, monks, or acolytes, not to mention the other two kids and their cousin.
I checked on Goodreads and there was a poll and 53% of the people who voted said she wasn’t a prostitute, which is said to be the right answer. Once it gets to be a question, you’re not in real good shape.
I did a little research and couldn’t find any examples of fathers and sons having sex with the same woman, except for Oedipus and some clips on PornHub where there’s reason to doubt that the people involved are even related.
So these guys are more depraved than that.
The end of the book is really well put together. Alyosha is outside the room where the rest of the family is inside of lunch. He is talking to the town gossip for the purposes of exposition, because Dostoevsky has made it clear that Alyosha is way too dense to figure out anything for himself.
Anyway, as they are talking, the door bursts open and the rest of the family comes storming out. Then, Dostoevsky takes us back inside to find out what happened.
One last note. Everything you read about the book talks about how dark it is. Right now, it seems too farcical to be truly dark. Perhaps my own dark view of humanity has made it impossible for anything else to be darker, but this just doesn’t seem like something you’d still be finding dark more than a century later.
Of course, there’s 900 more pages and (spoiler alert) (not really) no one is dead yet.