If one were to ever try to write an all-encompassing novel, Fyodor Dostoyesvsky did just that in his classic book, The Brothers Karamazov. By no means an easy read or a short read (comes in at around 700 pages depending on the translation and the publishing company), Dostoyevsky explores many human emotions as he intertwines multiple side stories into the grand narrative he is trying to paint. Within these stories, he is able to explore deep human emotions such as love, hate, envy, moral issues such as corporate sin, and theological issues such as the existence of God. I have never read anybody before who seems to do this so effortlessly. That does not necessarily make it easy on the reader. Not only does one have to keep straight all the names, but the shift from one story to another at just a moment’s notice may cause the reader to easily get lost in all of it. After what felt like trudging through quicksand for the first 200 pages of the book, it became very difficult to put the book down, urging the reader to continue on. If one can overcome the sheer size of the book, I do not think they will be left disappointed. There are so many passages that I keep turning back to, wanting to read them again and try to understand just what Dostoyevsky is getting at.
The main narrative follows the life of three brothers and their father. More importantly, the book begins to take shape upon the murder of the father, and the indictment of one of the brothers that followed. All the sub-plots that go along with this story can at times detract from the main story, but at the same time, just goes to show how complicated life is and how much is out of our control.