Monday, January 12, 2009

The Brothers Karamazov

'Crime and Punishment' by Fydor Dostoevesky sat on my bookshelf for a couple of years after a friend bought it for me for my 21st. I had never heard of the author and his name was imposing enough to strike the fear of all things undesirable into the heart of the bravest of the brave, even without a title like that. The guy who gave it to me was no intellectual slouch and I didn't feel up to the task with my history of two or three books a year. One day, feeling a little brave, I picked it up and gave it a go. It actually was not difficult at all to read and within 50 pages I was completely absorbed, stealing every possible moment to fit in a couple more pages till it was gone. It is a fantastic book.

Dostoevsky himself thought that 'the Karamazov Brothers' was his best work, and so about 6 months ago, I decided to give it a go. Now into my new stage of racing through books by Gladwell, Godin, Van de Ruit, Haidt and others I thought this would be a good choice to get back into Fiction. Unfortunately... it wasn't quite as smooth sailing as 'Crime and Punishment'. And unlike the other books I was reading, it was written in the same way you speak, so it was a little bit of a struggle. That said, and the fact that it took me 6 months to finish all 750 pages of it aside, I do think it offers something very different to the stuff I have been delving into.

I have been reading about Finance, Economics, Morality, Religion, Happiness, Marketing, Presentations and all sorts of real world things. But, you can't really use the medium of fiction to really delve into emotions that well. You can describe them, but there is nothing quite like a good fictional story to recreate feelings that we experience.

Spud, The Power of One, Pride and Prejudice spring to mind on the (mainly) uplifting side and Disgrace on the downright depressing side.

The 'Tale of Two Cities' and 'David Copperfield' have always been two of my favourites. A friend of mine's mother, who is an author and an English Lecturer, asked the question about whether Dickens would have been as successful as he was now if he wrote in a similar style today. I think both are great stories, but there is a lot of value to writing in a style that is easily accessible. 'Spud' by John Van De Ruit really gets this right.

Ok, that was a bit of a ramble. Is 'The Brother's Karamazov' worth the read? Yes, but you should make sure you are feeling up to the task.
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