Brothers Karamazov Book IX: The Preliminary Investigation


Welcome to the summer readalong of Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov. This is a little early because of various scheduling snafus. We’re on week 9, which finds us in Mokroye, where Dmitri has just been accused of murdering his father.

My favorite line in this section was one describing the deputy prosecutor Ippolit Kirillovich:

It appeared the whole trouble with his character was that he had a somewhat higher opinion of himself than his real virtues warranted. (452)

Overall, I found this section much easier to read than previous ones, and that it moved at a faster clip. I suspect this has a lot to do with the murder that was talked about for the first half of the book finally happening, albeit off stage in the last book. In this section, we get details.

Ch 1: The Start of the Official Perkhotin’s Career. This picks up where book 7 left off, with Perkhotin banging on the door at Grushenka’s. Fenya tells him about Dmitri’s earlier visit when he was covered in blood. Perkhotin thinks about going to Fyodor’s house, is afraid, but visits Mme. Khokhlakov’s instead. She tells him she didn’t give Dmitri money, and in a weird twist, Perkhotin finds he fancies her:

“She’s not as old as all that, ” he thought with pleasure. “On the contrary I might have taken her for her own daughter.”

And then our narrator drops another Foreshadowing Bomb: this incident:

served as the foundaiton for the whole life’s career of that precise and accurate young man, which is still recalled with astonishment in our town, and of which we, too, shall perhaps have a special word to say, once we have concluded our long story of the Karamazov Brothers.

Withholding little cusser, is our narrator.

Ch 2: The Alarm. Perkhotin goes to the house of MMM, the commissioner of police (which phrase I will forever and always associate with Jim Gordon, of Batman), who was having a party with several other important people, had been interrupted by Marfa with the news of FPs murder. Marfa in fact had not slept the sleep of the drugged, but had been awoken by Smerdyakov screaming in a way that usually signalled the beginning of one of his epileptic fits.

Ch 3: The Soul’s Journey through Torments. The First Torment. These torments refer to the interview with Dmitri. We’re back at the inn in Mokroye, where book 8 ended. Dmitri learns that FP is dead but Grigori is alive. He admits to wounding G and denies killing FP, though does say he has said he wanted to many times. Grushenka bursts in and loudly proclaims her guilt. Dmitri has wild mood swings and shouts a lot.

Ch 4: The Second Torment. Dmitri rambles. They question him about the pestle and he offers this convincing answer:

“I grabbed it to keep off the dogs. Or because it was dark…Or just in case.”

Ch 5: The Third Torment. Dmitri is questioned about details when he got to FPs, whether the gate was open, what the signals were and who knew them, and whether Smerdyakov might have done it. Yes, he cries, then changes his mind and says no, he’s a coward. That Dmiti. He’s solid a a rock. Then they start counting the money and things get fishy.

Ch 6: The Prosecutor Cathes Mitya. They tell Dmitri that Grigori’s story contradicts his and that G said the gate was open. They show him the empty envelope from FP’s house, which had “for my chicky” added to its inscription to Grushenka. (Is Grushenka the chicky he’s referring to?)

Ch 7: Mitya’s Great Secret. Met with Hisses. Dmitri tries to say that he had only 1500 roubles that night, not the 3K he’d been loudly claiming. the 1500 were what was left from last month’s 3K from Katerina Ivanovna, and he’d been saving them in an amulet around his neck. They don’t believe him.

Ch 8: The Evidence of the Witnesses. The Wee One. The numbers don’t add up. Dmitri falls asleep, and dreams of a poor woman holding a baby out in the wild. He wakes and signs an affidavit.

Ch 9: Mitya is Taken Away. Parfenovich reads Dmitri the statement and tells him he’s under arrest. Grushenka appears and says she’ll stay with him. He’s taken away. Most won’t meet his eye, but Kalganov shakes his hand, then weeps when Dmitri is gone, convinced of his guilt.

Dmitri seems to be off his meds with mood swings for the record books, and is his own worst enemy, and witness. Completely not believable, and yet, since I don’t know yet what happens, I can speculate. I don’t think he did it with teh pestle in the bedroom. Smerdyakov? Ivan? Someone else of the many people who hated FP?

What did everyone else think?

See you back here in a week. The next section is only 48 pages, so it’s a good week to catch up if you’re behind.

2 Responses to “Brothers Karamazov Book IX: The Preliminary Investigation”

  1. Amy Says:

    I don’t know what to think, but you’re dead on about Dmitri’s mood swings. Holy moley. Is it possible he did it and has blacked it out of his memory because he wants to badly not to have done it?

    He is totally his own worst enemy. It’s never a good idea to confess several times to have wanted to kill the murder victim.

  2. Ritalee Says:

    It reads like a play — I’d almost rather see it acted out. I love how disgusted Dmitri gets with having to remove his clothes and his shame over his dirty socks, then his ugly toe. I used to hate to show my feet when I was a kid.