(I didn't know until today that Google Books has entire books up on the web including this one--see above link.)
Finished it, finally!
Golly, this is Some Book. It appears on almost every list of the "essential" books that you have to read if you're to be considered an educated person...so I had to read it to keep up appearances. I started reading on November 21, 2008.
I read the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation, which is supposed to capture "the musical whole of Dostoevsky's original." I wouldn't know about that, but The Brothers Karamazov is certainly the most passionate book I have ever read. This edition (paperback) is 776 pages long not counting the end-notes, and it is VERY small print. I had to buy stronger glasses.
For the most part I confine my reading to my subway commute, and this is a good place to read a book like this. I actually like reading the "great" literature, and this book was kind of hard slogging for me at times. On the subway almost any diversion from reality looks pretty good.
I just finished it, lolling around in bed for the first part of the MLK holiday today. (I had to break up my reading with several short naps, but that was probably because I stayed up late watching the Obama Story and not a reflection on Dostoevsky.)
Karamazov is actually a page-turner for the most part, but at times characters go into long philosophical discussions, which is only a diversion if you're into that kind of thing. (Which I hasten to add that I am, up to a point.)
Aside from containing several philosophical treatises (the three brothers and one other exalted personage have at least one treatise apiece), the plot includes a sensational murder mystery which I will not "spoil" here. Suffice it to say that, here at the last, I'm questioning the sanity of every single character in the book, including the "exalted personage."
This is not really a review, because I read the book in short spurts over a long period of time, and the totality of it has not quite sunk in. There is a repeated idea in the book that all the Karamazovs have a tendency toward selfish sensuality, but it appeared to me that the plot mainly explored the characterization of the three brothers as sensual, intellectual and spiritual, each brother taking one of those attributes. Kind of like a Beethoven symphony, really, and it even has a kind of Ode to Joy at the end.
So that's all I have to say about that for the moment. (I reserve the right to post any bright ideas I have about the book later on.)