In 1880 Dostoevsky completed The Brothers Karamazov, the literary effort for which he had been preparing all his life. Compelling, profound, complex, it is the story of a patricide and of the four sons who each had a motive for murder: Dmitry, the sensualist, Ivan, the intellectual; Alyosha, the mystic; and twisted, cunning Smerdyakov, the bastard child.
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December 31, 2002
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Excerpt from Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky
FYODOR PAVLOVICH KARAMAZOV
ALexei Fyodorovich Karamazov was the third son of Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov, a landowner in our district who became a celebrity (and is remembered to this day) because of the tragic and mysterious end he met exactly thirteen years ago, which will be described in its proper place. For the moment, I will only say of this "landowner" (as they referred to him here, although he spent hardly any time on his land) that he belonged to a peculiar though widespread human type, the sort of man who is not only wretched and depraved but also muddle-headed--muddle-headed in a way that allows him to pull off all sorts of shady little financial deals and not much else.
Fyodor Karamazov, for instance, started with next to nothing; he was just about the lowliest landowner among us, a man who would dash off to dine at other people's tables whenever he was given a chance and who sponged off people as much as he could. Yet, at his death, they found that he had a hundred thousand rubles in hard cash. And with all that, throughout his life he remained one of the most muddle-headed eccentrics in our entire district. Let me repeat: it was not stupidity, for most such eccentrics are really quite intelligent and cunning, and their lack of common sense is of a special kind, a national variety.