My Reaction to The Brothers Karamazov–Part 4: The Grand Inquisitor (cont’d)

“The Grand Inquisitor” was intended as a critique of the Roman Catholic Church as it was during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. Ivan, through his Grand Inquisitor, says that the Church has “corrected Thy work and founded it upon miracle, mystery, and authority.” Yet I believe that the same critique would apply to present-day evangelicalism with equal force. Continue reading “My Reaction to The Brothers Karamazov–Part 4: The Grand Inquisitor (cont’d)”

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My Reaction to The Brothers Karamazov–Part 3: The Grand Inquisitor

In this chapter and the one before it, Ivan meets Alyosha for lunch at the Metropolis tavern, where he proceeds to unload all of his doubts concerning the existence of God. Ivan’s chief stumbling block has to do with the suffering of innocent children, and he gives examples where children are made to suffer brutally because of the malice of grown adults. He asks Alyosha a poignant question, “Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, of giving them peace and rest at last. Imagine that you are doing this but that it is essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature…in order to found that edifice on its unavenged tears. Would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me. Tell the truth.”

Alyosha responds by saying that Jesus is the one upon whom the edifice is built, that Jesus can forgive all because He gave His innocent blood for all and everything. Ivan responds to this with his “Grand Inquisitor” speech, a prose poem in which Jesus returns to earth in 16th century Spain, during the height of the Inquisition. He moves quietly through the town, healing the sick, but is immediately caught and imprisoned as a heretic. The Grand Inquisitor comes to visit Jesus in his prison cell and questions Him there. The Grand Inquisitor says that Jesus has no right to add anything to what He has said of old, that the gift of freedom which He has brought to men is too great a burden for them, and that the Church has corrected His work by relieving men of this burden. Continue reading “My Reaction to The Brothers Karamazov–Part 3: The Grand Inquisitor”

My Reaction to The Brothers Karamazov–Part 2: The Old Buffoon

At the beginning of The Brothers Karamazov, all three brothers have returned home. Dmitri has returned to settle with his father, whom he has good reason to believe has cheated him out of a large portion of his inheritance. So Fyodor Karamazov arranges for a meeting at the monastery in the presence of the elder Father Zossima, thinking that in his presence they might be able to resolve the matter in an amicable fashion. Ivan comes along for the meeting as well, and so does Peter Miusov, a neighboring landowner who is involved in an ongoing lawsuit with the monastery over fishing rights in the river that divides their property. Alyosha, who has already entered the monastery, is present at this meeting as well. Continue reading “My Reaction to The Brothers Karamazov–Part 2: The Old Buffoon”

My Reaction to The Brothers Karamazov–Part 1: Initial Observations

[To all high school/college students: If you are here because you Googled on “The Brothers Karamazov” in hopes of finding something that would be helpful to you in your term paper or class discussion and this is what came up, sorry. This page is not likely to be much help to you. This is simply one old geezer (yes, 33 years old is hopelessly over the hill to a high school or college student. I acknowledge this openly and without shame) and his ramblings about what the book meant to him and how it landed in his life. But if that sort of thing is of interest to you, then by all means, read on. But be warned: Certain critical elements of the plot will be revealed in this post and other posts in this series. So do not read this if you have not already read the book, unless you want me to spoil the ending for you.]

The Brothers Karamazov is the last and perhaps the greatest work of the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It is about three brothers, Dmitri, Ivan, and Alyosha, plus the illegitimate half-brother Smerdyakov, who all become involved in the murder of their father, Fyodor Karamazov. Along the way, it tackles such weighty issues as the existence of God, human guilt and responsibility, the difference between good and evil, and the question of what constitutes a real father. Continue reading “My Reaction to The Brothers Karamazov–Part 1: Initial Observations”

Book Review: Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov is the last and perhaps greatest work of the 19th century Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Dostoyevsky also wrote Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, and The Possessed.

The Brothers Karamazov is about three brothers, Dmitri, Ivan, and Alyosha, plus the illegitimate half-brother Smerdyakov, who become involved in the murder of their father, Fyodor Karamazov, one of the most loathsome figures in all of literature. Along the way it tackles such weighty issues as the existence of God, what constitutes a real father, and the question of whether or not we bear the responsibility for others’ sins and shortcomings. Continue reading “Book Review: Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov”