Sunday, April 18, 2010


I forgot to write about The Brothers Karamazov! That book is the second, long, boring, Russian novel I've read (Anna Karenina being the first). It took me about a year to get through. I recommend it if you're patient. By boring, I mean that the book is slow, and relaxed. There are times of intensity and suspense -- but it's largely a whale chewed bit by blubbery bit. For example, the opening paragraph informs the reader that the story is about the murder of a man. But that man isn't actually murdered until almost exactly halfway through the book.

I actually finished it before East of Eden, but never got around to reviewing it. Like East of Eden, here's a few favorite quotes:

"He spoke as frankly as you, though in jest, in bitter jest. 'I love humanity,' he said, 'but I wonder at myself. The more I love humanity in general, the less I love man in particular. In my dreams,' he said, 'I have often come to making enthusiastic schemes for the service of humanity, and perhaps I might actually have faced crucifixion if it had been suddenly necessary; and yet I am incapable of living in the same room with any one for two days together, as I know by experience. As soon as any one is near me, his personality disturbs my self-complacency and restricts my freedom. In twenty-four hours I begin to hate the best of men: one because he's too long over his dinner; another because he has a cold and keeps on blowing his nose. I become hostile to people the moment they come close to me. But it has always happened that the more I detest men individually the more ardent becomes my love for humanity."
Father Zossima, quoting a doctor he knew (p.49-50)

I am sorry I can say nothing more consoling to you, for love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams. Love in dreams is greedy for immediate action, rapidly performed and in the sight of all. Men will even give their lives if only the ordeal does not last long but is soon over, with all looking on and applauding as though on stage. But active love is a labour and fortitude, and for some people too, perhaps, a complete science.
Father Zossima, to a lady (p.50)

"...the stupider one is, the closer one is to reality. The stupider one is, the clearer one is. Stupidity is brief and artless, while intelligence wriggles and hides itself. Intelligence is a knave, but stupidity is honest and straightforward."
Ivan speaking to Alyosha (p.218)

Brothers, love is a teacher; but one must know how to acquire it, for it is hard to acquire, it is dearly bought, it is won slowly by long labour. For we must love not only occasionally, for a moment, but for ever. Every one can love occasionally, even the wicked can.
Father Zossima (p.296)

"...We peep into the Gospel only on the eve of making speeches, in order to dazzle the audience by our acquaintance with what is, anyway, a rather original composition, which may be of use to produce a certain effect -- all to serve the purpose!"
Prosecuting lawyer in final "sermon" (p.703)

And here are the words (there's a little overlap from Eden's list):

abashed, abject, abnegation, absolution, accede, acquisitive, adroitly, affable, affably, afface, anathema, antipathies, antipathy, apiary, apprehend, apropos, aquiline, arch, archimandrite, ardent, ardour, arrogate, ascetic, aspect, asperse, aspersed, austere, austerely, avowal, balsam, balustrade, barrister, benefactor, benumbed, bereaved, besmirched, brooked, burdocks, caddish, callous, calumniated, calumny, caprice, cassock, casuist, casuistry, censer, censorious, censure, charing, charlatanism, chattel, churlish, consiliating, convalescence, copse, coquettishly, coxcomb, crape, cupola, cursory, decoction, demur, demurely, derision, derisively, despatch, despotic, diffidence, diocesan, dirge, disavowal, dissipated, dissipation, dissolute, doggerel, doles, drivelling, dyspeptic, echeat, effrontery, effusively, emancipation, emasculate, epoulettes, equanimity, erudition, evinced, expansive, expiate, extant, extenuate, extortionate, extraneous, fain, fixity, foundered, freak, gesticulating, gibes, gibing, goading, gratuitous, hetaira, homeopathic, hurdle, ignominy, imperious, impertinence, importunate, importunity, impudent, impudently, impunity, incisive, incorrigible, indefatigably, indignation, indolence, ingenuousness, ingratiating, inoculated, inscrutable, insolent, insolently, insoluble, inveterate, irascible, jackdaw, kaftan, ken, knout, laceration, lackey, latent, lavished, lenten, licentious, listlessly, locker, lorgnette, loth, loutish, lumbago, lurid, mawkish, morass, mummery, novitiate, obdurate, obsequious, obtuse, opined, opulent, paltry, paragon, paroxysm, parricide, parsimony, particoloured, pedantic, pedantry, pernicious, peroration, phlegmatic, pining, piquant, piquante, poseur, prate, prating, precocity, prevaricate, privation, profligate, propitiate, prosaic, punctilio, pusillanimous, quadrille, qualm, rapacious, repine, reprobate, repudiate, requiem, restiveness, sallow, salutary, samovar, scrupled, scruples, seething, self- effacement, self-immolation, sententiously, solicitude, solidarity, sordid, sot, sottish, sphinx, spleen, staid, stint, stole, stolidly, straitened, subterfuge, suffused, supercilious, superciliously, surmise, surplice, swinishness, tallow, timorous, unexampled, unmannerly, veriest, verst, vociferated, vogue, voluptuary, vouchsafed, waggish

Some of these words I've included because they are used abnormally. For instance: freak and apprehend. From the book:

Of the commercial value of his scheme he had no doubt, not the slightest, and was only uncertain how Samsonov would look upon his freak...

...that we cannot apprehend the reality of things on earth...

I like books that are smarter than I -- almost as much as I like "I" supplanting "me" in an effort to sound smarter :)

Sometime soon expect a post more about me and less about me reading.


Miri said...

I've meant to read this book for a long time, but there are so many other things on the list in front of it that it will probably be a long time yet before I get to it. I love the quotes you posted, particularly the first two and especially the first one. I sometimes feel that way myself. :)

Barbaloot said...

Just in case I was not already planning on never reading that book, you've made up my mind for me. Thanks.

Matt said...


What about my review, dripping with praise, doesn't entice you? Was it "long, boring" or "a year to get through?" :) It really is a good book.