The Brothers Karamazov Readalong: Book VI

brosk6Who’s still with me? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

(That joke will never not be funny to me.)

I had so much trouble making it through Book V that after I finished I plowed right on through the shorter Book VI so I wouldn’t get behind. I still haven’t fallen in love with reading this, so I think it’s better for me to read it at the start of the week then at the end of it.

Wondering: Is the Grand Inquisitor chapter like The Council of Elrond? My husband said he got stuck on that chapter in LoTR the first couple times he read it, but then came to appreciate it later. That is, until Hugo Weaving was cast as Elrond, and about that, he is still bitter. (It came up when we re-watched Captain America last week.) Does Grand Inquisitor get better on better acquaintance? I thought I might try to re-read it, but have not yet worked up the gumption to do so.

Book V ended with Fyodor Pavlovich convinced that Grushenka was coming to visit him, though discerning minds suspect something entirely different is coming. Alas, whatever it is, we will have to wait AGAIN for it, because we’re back with the elder monk Zosima.

Ch 1 The Elder Zosima and His Visitors. Listeners gather at his deathbed. I particularly liked the description of this man:

quiet and taciturn, rarely speaking to anyone, the humblest of the humble, who had the look of a man who has been permanently frightened by something great and awesome that was more than his mind could sustain. (283)

Zosima says to Alyosha that he was worried about Dmitri, and that A reminds him of his own brother. Narrator interjects to say the upcoming pages are from Alexei.

Ch 2 Biographical Information of Zosima. a. He had an older brother who became holy and died. b. Zosima went into the military. c. Zosima became worldly, loved a girl but was rejected, challenged his rival to a duel, then didn’t shoot, to the consternation of many. Perhaps the time of the Decembrist uprising, so there’s your soundtrack for this part of the novel. d. Z was visited by a man who he urged to tell the truth about a dark past.

Ch 3 Talks and Homilies.Was anyone else spooked by this in e.?

the world is becoming more and more united, is being formed into brotherly communion, by the shortening of distances, by the transmitting of thoughts through the air. (313)

He then goes on to say the unity is an illusion, and that “they live only for mutual envy, for pleasure-seeking and self-display.” That science makes people worldly and that monks aren’t disconnected, but rather MORE connected.

f. A Dickensian tirade against abuse of children, especially in factories. Servants and masters are equal.

g. Prayer is good. Then, Dostoevysky finishes this segment with what sounds a lot like a personal statement of philosophy/theology:

Much on earth is concealed from us, but in place of it we have been granted a secret, mysterious sense of our living bond with the other world, with the higher heavenly world, and the roots of our thoughts and feelings are not here but in other worlds. That is why philosophers say it is impossible on earth to conceive the essence of things. God took seeds from other worlds and sowed them on this earth, and raised up his garden; and everything that could sprout sprouted, but it lives and grows only through its sense of being in touch with other mysterious worlds; if this sense is weakened or destroyed in you, that which has grown up in your dies. Then you become indifferent to life, and even come to hate it. So I think. (320).

On retyping this, I am strongly reminded of Battlestar Galactica. I am also reminded of the final chapter of The Screwtape Letters (as I was by Ivan’s confession in Chapter 4 Rebellion from Book V last week.):

when he saw them he knew that he had always known them and realised what part each one of them had played at many an hour in his life when he had supposed himself alone, so that now he could say to them, one by one, not ‘Who ARE you?” but “So it was YOU all the time.” All that they were and said at this meeting woke memories. The dim consciousness of friends about him which had haunted his solitudes from infancy was now at last explained, that central music in every pure experience which had always just evaded memory was now at least recovered.

h. again, everyone is equal. all are guilty (except children.)

i. Z speaks of heaven and hell, says to pity suicides though the church forbids it, then narrator jumps back in to say that the listeners were then shocked when Z suddenly died. Also, something is coming in the next book that is “unexpected…strange, disturbing, and bewildering”

Will we FINALLY get to what’s been foreshadowed for so long? Join me here next week. Same bat time, same bat channel…

7 Responses to “The Brothers Karamazov Readalong: Book VI”

  1. Amy Says:

    I’m still here! Actually, once I got past the sight of the massive text blocks, I found this section easier going than book 5. I find Zosima interesting. Not sure why. BSG? What’s the connection? It’s been quite a while since I watched that, and I have a brain like a sieve when it comes to TV show details.

  2. girldetective Says:

    SPOILERS FOR BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: At the very end of the series, it’s revealed that Helo and Boomer”s daughter Hera (the Cylon/human mix) is the universal ancestor for all of us on Earth, so it’s like the crew is being “planted” on Earth–”God took seeds from other worlds and planted them on Earth”. Also, the many dreams/visions/flashbacks of the series remind me of “a secret, mysterious sense of our living bond with the other world”

  3. Amy Says:

    Ah. OK. I think I blocked out a lot of the series’ end. I wasn’t wild about the last season.

  4. girldetective Says:

    Yes, like many series the ending didn’t really fulfill the promise of the earlier, mystery-filled episodes.

  5. Ritalee Says:

    What is LoTR? Nevermind, I just figured it out, but haven’t read it so can’t comment. I also liked getting back to Zosima, and his childhood. Between this and the esoteric Swedish cookbook I just read, I feel like I’m having a very weird summer. I look forward to your Brothers K Lego interpretation.

  6. JoAnne Says:

    My favorite part of this discussion is connecting Dostoevsky with Battlestar Galactica. My favorite part of the novel is the narrator, who kindly offers “oh, but I won’t get into that, dear reader, I know your time is valuable” after, say, 30 pages about the rotting of a dead monk. The narrator is by far my favorite and least predictable character.

  7. girldetective Says:

    I’m not sure Brothers K will move me yet to the Lego lengths that As I Lay Dying did. That was fun. But, we’re less than halfway, and FP hasn’t even died yet, so who knows what may come? Other than FPs death, which has been foretold so many times.