The Brothers Karamazov Book VIII: Mitya


Welcome back to the summer readalong of The Brothers Karamazov. During Book VIII (the longest book thus far), we move past the halfway mark, plus the event that’s been foreshadowed for four hundred pages finally happens! Well, kinda sorta.

Ch 1: Kuzma Samsonov: We’re back with Dmitri again after so many pages of Alexei wondering on and off where his brother was. He was off having bad ideas, such as that he must pay back the 3000 he owed to Katerina Ivanovna in order to clear his slate to run off with Grushenka, and goes to Samsonov, Grushennka’s patron, to ask for the money. Samsonov tells him to so see a guy, Lyagavy, but he’s setting up Dmitri, who wonders if he’s being set up, then thinks, Nah. Alas for Dmitri…

Ch 2: Lyagavy. D spends a lot of time and money to track down Lyagavy, who is drunk and passed out. Everyone almost dies of poisonous fumes, D falls asleep while Lyagavy wakes and gets drunk again, and when HE wakes, D finally twigs that he’s been duped by Samsonov.

Ch 3: Gold Mines. Plan B. He goes to Mme. Khokhlakov’s and asks her for money. She says she’ll make him rich, which is what he wants to hear but then as she goes on (and on) we learn that she’s only going to get him a job as a miner. D (rather understandably, to my mind) storms out, then accosts Grushenka’s maid for her mistress’ whereabouts though she claims ignorance, and he takes a perfectly harmless gold pestle with him as he heads out the door.

Ch 4: In the Dark. Here’s where stuff finally happens, except what exactly happens is, shall we say, in the dark. Dmitri goes to his father’s, worried that Grushenka might be there. She’s not, he calls his father to the window and…

the narrative breaks. Grigori wakes from his drugged sleep, his back still hurting, and goes after the intruder (Dmitri) who tries to flee. Grigori grabs D’s foot before D jumps the wall, D hits Grigori in the head with the pestle, blood everywhere (because we all know from watching TV that head wounds bleed a lot) and D throws down the pestle, goes back to Grushenka’s, and they finally ‘fess up that she’s gone to be with her officer.

Ch 5: A Sudden Decision. Dmitri goes to his friend Perkhotin’s house. He pawned his pistols there earlier. Perkhotin is suspicious but does nothing when he notices that Dmitri is a. covered in blood b. waving around wads of cash and c. acting manic. Dmitri orders a bunch of stuff to be sent ahead to Mokroye, where Grushenka is, then spends more money on a coach to follow. Perkhotin goes to Grushenka’s house and knocks a lot.

Ch 6: Here I Come! Dmitri contemplates shooting himself with the pistol he took back from Perkhotin, is welcomed by the inn merchant at Mokroye who remembers his last drunken spending spree, and sees Grushenka with Kalganov and Maximov from earlier chapters, plus two men, one tall and mysterious, the other short, round and smoking a pipe. Grushenka is surprised to see him.

Ch 7: The Former and Indisputable One. Things get awkward. Grushenka is angry with the Poles because they’re talking to her possessivly in Polish, they’re angry at Dmitri, who proposes a toast to Russia, he’s angry with them because Grushenka’s with them and they’re winning at cards, Dmitri offers them the 3000 (which he no longer has in full) for Grushenka, they get angry with him, the innkeeper reveals they’ve been cheating at cards, they storm off in a huff.

Ch 8: Delirium. The peasants get the party started with all of Dmitri’s supplies. Dmitri and Grushenka declare their love, imagine running off together when suddenly the police show up! accusing him of murdering his father! Dmitri is confused!

But he didn’t murder his father, did he, fellow readers? He only konked Grigori on the head, right?

Waitaminnit. But then, where did all that blood and money come from, the reader wonders?

Hmm. Something finally happened. Fyodor Petrovich seems to be dead. The police think Dmitri killed him.

What do YOU think?

8 Responses to “The Brothers Karamazov Book VIII: Mitya”

  1. Amy Says:

    I think this book moved faster than any of the others preceding it. I think Dmitri done it with the pestle and has blocked it from his memory.

  2. Amy Says:

    And he done it in the bedroom.

  3. Ritalee Says:

    I’m glad to see some things actually happen in this book. Dmitri, long referred to as impetuous, really fills out as a character as he frantically tries to prepare for a doomed future. I had an unexpected affection for Perkhotin, who seemed like the first character in the book to question and comment on the strangeness of events — everyone else participates in them with abandon. I liked mad Dmitri’s spree of filling a sleigh full of champagne and food and dashing off into the night with bells on. This guy is an artist of self-destruction.

  4. girldetective Says:

    Amy, you don’t suspect long-suffering Ivan, or long-suffering and super-bitter Smerdyakov?

    I’m thinking one of those offed his father, Dmitri bashed Grigori, (who might live) and got covered in blood. Doesn’t explain the cash influx, though.

  5. Ritalee Says:

    I don’t think Dmitri did it, but will take the fall for it. I agree with Kristin about the cook — hadn’t thought of Ivan but also a good possibility.

  6. Amy Says:

    Actually, after I first posted, I started thinking about Ivan. Smerdyakov seems to have gone into some kind of epilectic hell.

    Ritalee, I agree with everything you say. There is something kind of fun about the dashing off in the sleigh. It would have been fun to be a spectator (as long as I got some champagne and chocolate too!).

  7. girldetective Says:

    Amy, I thought it was strongly implied that Smerdyakov was faking his episode. I’ll look for passage to support this. But in the meantime, in one of the books I read, there was a sentence about how epileptics can feel fits coming on. It’s interesting how this book interconnects with every other book I read.

  8. Amy Says:

    Not to diminish human experience of epilepsy, but we used to have an epileptic dog, and it was clear he often could sense when a seizure was coming. Poor guy. He’d start pacing and whimpering.