Translated by Constance Garnett, Introduction by Marc Slonim
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The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky's crowning achievement, is a tale of patricide and family rivalry that embodies the moral and spiritual dissolution of an entire society (Russia in the 1870s). It created a national furor comparable only to the excitement stirred by the publication, in 1866, of Crime and Punishment. To Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov captured the quintessence of Russian character in all its exaltation, compassion, and profligacy. Significantly, the book was on Tolstoy's bedside table when he died. Readers in every language have since accepted Dostoevsky's own evaluation of this work and have gone further by proclaiming it one of the few great novels of all ages and countries.
"The Brothers Karamazov stands as the culmination of Dostoevsky's art--his last, longest, richest, and most capacious book," said The Washington Post Book World.
"Nothing is outside Dostoevsky's province," observed Virginia Woolf. "Out of Shakespeare there is no more exciting reading."
The Modern Library has played a significant role in American cultural life for the better part of a century. The series was founded in 1917 by the publishers Boni and Liveright and eight years later acquired by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. It provided the foun-dation for their next publishing venture, Random House. The Modern Library has been a staple of the American book trade, providing readers with affordable hard-bound editions of important works of liter-ature and thought. For the Modern Library's seventy-fifth anniversary, Random House redesigned the series, restoring as its emblem the running torchbearer created by Lucian Bernhard in 1925 and refurbishing jackets, bindings, and type, as well as inau-gurating a new program of selecting titles. The Modern Library continues to provide the world's best books, at the best prices.
Completed only two months before his death, The Brothers Karamazov is Dostoyevsky's largest, most expanisve, most life-embracing work. Filled with human passions?lust, greed, love, jealousy, sorrow and humor?the book is also infused with moral issues and the issue of collective guilt. As in many of Dostoyevsky's novels, the plot centers on a murder. Sucked into the crime's vortex are three brothers: Dmitri, a young officer utterly unrestrained in love, hatred, jealousy, and generosity; Ivan, an intellectual capable of delivering, impromptu, the most brilliant, lively, and unforgettable disquisitions about good and evil, God, and the devil; and Alyosha, the youngest brother, preternaturally patient, good, and loving.
Part mystery, part profound philosophical and theological debate, The Brothers Karamazov pulls the reader in on many different levels. As the Introduction says, "The characters Dostoyevsky writes about, though they may not appear to be ones who live on our street, or even on any street, seem, in their passions and lack of self-control, the familiar and intimate denizens of our souls." It's no wonder that for many people The Brothers Karamazov is one of the greatest novels ever written.
Dover (2005) unabridged publication of the Constance Garnett translation as published by W. Heinemann, London, 1912-1920.
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