10 July 2009

Piece of the Puzzle

I have finally finished The Brothers Karamazov. All 776 pages of Dostoevsky’s novel. And I can’t say I enjoyed the read very much at all, though once I got to page 400 I was committed to complete the task. I picked up the novel (fork-lifted the novel) because of a reference in a Tony Kushner one act play to The Grand Inquisitor chapter recalled to me that I had, indeed, never read The Brothers Karamazov, and that The Grand Inquisitor figured centrally in the thought of Western culture. Of course, it turned out that the grand inquisitor was a single chapter in a large book and occurred at the beginning of the novel. There were several (or one!) references to the Grand Inquisitor in the remainder of the book, but it did not at all figure significantly in the plot at all. The chapter does characterize one philosophical position presented in the novel, but I don’t think it warranted reading the entire novel to read the chapter. Indeed, I think the chapter sometimes appears as a short story in literature anthologies. There is an interesting parallel chapter many hundreds of pages later called “The Devil,” and I suspect I could develop some idea from the appearance and positioning of these two chapters, but I don’t have the inclination. And there isn’t an English teacher in the world who wouldn’t demand that Dostoevsky break up some of his paragraphs (which sometimes go on for pages on end) into smaller segments.

But, I sometimes think that life is a great big jig saw puzzle, and we keep fitting pieces together though honestly we haven’t the foggiest idea what the final picture will ultimately look like. And having read and finished The Brothers Karamazov, I feel as if I have fitted a piece into my own personal puzzle, and somehow something seems clearer.


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