Journey’s End #KaramazovReadalong

“Love is such a priceless treasure that you can buy the whole world with it, and redeem not only your own but other people’s sins. Go, and do not be afraid.”  Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Ninety-Six days, ninety-six chapters and one birthday celebration.  I have gone back to Simon Fraser University, Burnaby Campus, where the launch of the #KaramazovReadalong was announced on July 18, 2021, to celebrate the ending of a journey well-travelled.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, in full Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky, Dostoyevsky also spelled Dostoevsky, was born on November 11, 1821, New Style Gregorian calendar.  But I am celebrating his birthday October 30, which comes from the Old Style, Julian calendar.

The Brothers Karamazov (or Brothers Karamazov) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky had been on my “To Be Read” stack of books for several years but I had hesitated, waiting for the right moment. Then serendipity arrived in the form of an e-mail message from my blogger friend and book aficionado, Liz Humphreys from Leaping Life, announcing that she was organizing a #Readalong of The Brothers Karamazov to coincide with the 200th year anniversary of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s birth. The stars aligned when Elisabeth Van Der Meer, from A Russian Affair, agreed to join the party.

The Karamazov Brothers was Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s last and greatest novel. This intense drama, interspersed with comic richness, is an “exploration of many deeply felt ideas about God, freedom, the collective nature of guilt, the disastrous consequences of rationalism.” (Blub on back of Oxford World’s Classics, a new translation by Ignat Avsey).

A special thank you to Liz Humpheys from Leaping Life and Elisabeth Van Der Meer from A Russian Affair for being my loyal companions on this adventure.  A special thank you to my mother, Frances, my sister, Sarah, Mandy from New Zealand, Darlene from Spain, and Robbie from South Africa for being kindred spirits along this pathway.

“Ah, my children, my dear friends, don’t be afraid of life! How good life is when one does something noble and true.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Stay tuned – there is another adventure coming in 2022.

57 Thoughts

    1. What an adventure we’ve had, Mandy. Thank you for being a marvelous companion along the way. 96 days went by very quickly. One of my favouite quotes was, “Love children especially, for they too are sinless like the angels; they live to soften and purify our hearts and, as it were, to guide us.” The idea of children be our guides was a profound insight for me.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I loved that quote too. In fact I enjoyed the parts with the children in it the best. The speech by the rock at the end brought tears to my eyes. Here is my favourite, “You must know that there is nothing higher and stronger and more wholesome and good for life in the future than some good memory of childhood, of home.” So true, my good memories of home have sustained me all my life.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I had goosebumps when I read that quote again. So very very true, Darlene. My childhood memories of home provided a foundation upon which to build wonderful memories in my home. The last scene/speech by the rock was a profound and stirring way to end the story. And yet, I felt that the story would continue and that the group that collected at that moment would once again meet.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I am thrilled that you joined me on top of Burnaby Mountain. I crossed my fingers that we would have sunshine on October 30th. Rain has been our constant companion for the past few weeks. The universe responded with sunshine. Reading The Brothers Karamazov was an extraordinary experience. Sending hugs!

      Liked by 4 people

    1. When I first looked at the thickness of The Karamazov Brothers, Sylvia, I was doubtful that I would be able to take on this project. What I found was that when I read with others with the same common purpose, it was not only possible, but enjoyable. Small steps do add up and 96 days went by in a flash. One chapter a day allowed me to savour the story as well as consider the themes presented. Sending hugs across the oceans.

      Liked by 4 people

    1. Oh Martina – I laughed out loud when I read your comments. Ah, yes, all the various conflicts have indeed vanished and the doubts have been overcome. Even so, every day brings us new challenges. I am delighted that you joined me on the SFU campus to celebrate the end of a journey well travelled.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m ashamed to disclose that, though reasonably well read, Russian authors are a closed book to me. My only defence is that the few trimes I have tried, a clunky translation has got in the way of my enjoyment. Note to self. Must try harder.

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    1. Margaret – I know exactly what you mean. I have had The Brothers Karamazov on my TBR stack of books for years. I didn’t have the courage to take it on, until I received Liz Humphreys’ invite. Having Elisabeth Van Der Meer as a guide illuminated the narrative. Come join us in 2022. More adventures ahead. And you will be reading along with us – small steps on a grand journey.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh Liz – it was indeed epic!!! Thank you for your invitation to join you on the #KaramazovReadalong. I am looking forward to our final podcast that bid a farewell to The Brothers Karamazov and launch the 2022 Readalong. We are on a grand adventure – together!!!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Shey for your lovely comments. One thing that I realized during this process is that much is accomplished by taking small steps. What looks like an insurmountable task becomes doable and enjoyable. 96 days went very fast!! I cried at the end, feeling that I was parting from dear friends.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. You know something Rebecca, small steps is how I do everything. I think you sicken yourself of a big task otherwise. BUT, if you set a time limit or a size limit on things you do them as opposed to getting swamped and then thinking…not today thank you, I hope you got my email xxxxxxxx .

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Oh yes! He is one of my most favourite writers and one of my best companions in my youth. I have read all his works, including “The Karamazov Brothers” several times. Although in my opinion his not maybe best but his innermost novel on the human’s soul is “The Daemons”. Actually, these days few people will read such thick novels. They maybe mean that these are old-fashioned! But I think the great arts are timeless. Thank you for your, as ever, lovely post.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I agree wholeheartedly, Alaedin! The Brother’s Karamazov is a timeless treasure and will continue to challenge new generations to think about their response to and participation within a wider community. What a wonderful companion to have during your youth. We live in a world where time is a precious commodity and, indeed, time seems to be speeding up. I agree, novels like The Brothers Karamazov require our full attention, based on the length and the themes presented within the narrative. This has been a wonderful Readalong thanks to Liz Humphreys and Elisabeth Van Der Meer. Thank you for your comments and visit. Very much appreciated.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Rebecca, a stellar and scenic sum-up of the worldwide “Brothers Karamazov” reading adventure! I give your presentation an 1880 on a scale of 0 to 1880. 🙂 Dostoevsky’s novel richly deserves its continuing prominence 141 years after it was published.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Your comments always hearten my day, Dave. This has been a profound journey of discovery and learning. What I most enjoyed was that we read it one chapter per day which provided time for reflection. The themes were universal and speak to us today with fresh vigour. “And whatever may happen to us in this life, even if we don’t meet again for twenty years, we’ll still remember….” I agree wholeheartedly, The Brothers Karamazov deserves its continuing prominence 141 after it was published.

      Liked by 4 people

    1. Oh, Liz – I didn’t expect to cry at the end of The Karamazov Brothers either. It felt like I was parting from friends. Over 96 days, I met with Fyodor Dostoyevsky and developed a strong connection that defied the barriers of time and space. Isn’t it interesting how stories live on and inspire new generations long after the passing of the creator.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. What a brilliant idea! Did you know that there is a new Ken Burn’s series that aired on PBS April 2021. I haven’t watched it but have been seeing the discussions that surround it. It has confirmed what I have often thought – that Hemingway had his problems and biases that found their way into his writing. I will be very interested in your thoughts on “For Whom the Bells Ring.”

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yes, he would have had his own opinions and problems and they always creep into writing, even when we try to eliminate them. Sometimes they are the intent of the entire book, of course. I’m three chapters in and so far so good.

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  4. Thanks for bringing this readathon to my attention. It was just what I needed to motivate me to read this awesome book. Like you, It has been waiting for me to read for a long time. I looked forward every day to read a chapter. When I was travelling and missed a few days I was upset. It was the perfect way to immerse oneself in the lives of this terribly dysfunctional family that was so well described by a master storyteller. I can’t believe the 96 days are over. One of the highlights of 2021 for me.

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    1. I am delighted that you joined the #KaramazovReadalong, Darlene. I have just reviewed all of the quotes that I recorded over the 96 days of being with Fyodor Dostoyevsky and am amazed by what I experienced. It seemed that I travelled to Russia every day from my kitchen table. P.S. There were a few times that I had to play catch-up too!! LOL

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  5. This has been an adventure of adventures. It was more enjoyable because we were able to read it in the company of “reader friends”. The book had a lot to tell us, and of course, exceptionally well written–a classic, of course. I was surprised to find that so many friends were on the journey with us–very happy to find this out! ! ! Thank you for introducing this to me, Rebecca

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I am delighted that you joined me on the #KaramazovReadalong. It was fun discussing the chapters together every evening. There is another adventure coming in 2022 and I’m looking forward to our ongoing conversations. Sending hugs!!!

      Liked by 4 people

  6. This was a moving summation of an epic transcontinental journey, Rebecca. 200 years and his words still shine a light into a world most of us would have never experienced even if we were his contemporaries. No greater gift can you give to an artist than to be moved by their work, to still be moved by their work after the span of centuries, well … if there is a heaven I bet not St Peter or even the archangel Gabriel his-self can wipe the smile off Fyodor’s face. And nor, should I imagine, would they want to!

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    1. Oh Paul, how very well said – there is no greater gift to artists/writers/poets than to know that their work outlives them and continues to inspire ongoing discussions in generations that follow. Universal themes are able to overcome barriers of language, time and societal shifts and transitions. One of the greatest insights for me was in this one sentence: “Love life more than than meaning of it?” Thank you for joining me on a sunny day on Burnaby Mountain. The universe conspired to ensure that sunshine would come on October 30, 2021. Since then we have had buckets of rain and rain warnings. Perfect time for tea and a book!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. As the rain starts in Vancouver, it has finished here. For once we are getting your sunshine. If you are looking for something interesting try The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin. It is interesting for so many reasons. Firstly it is humanist philosophy disguised as science fiction. As it is written by someone who obviously grew up during the cultural revolution, Like Fyodor, his references are skightly askew, while remaining universal. There are elements in the novel which echo Lewis Carroll, Herman Hesse and Franz Kafka- no mean feat you have to admit. Plus large parts of the novel jump from POV to pov and contain pages and pages of info dump. Total poison to Western publishers yet it works. It is making me re-examine all I have learned about the craft of writing. Fascinating book.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I just found “The Three Body Problem” and will be downloading the book via Kindle. It looks like it is a 3 book series. Thank you for the introduction. Did you know that it is soon to be a Netflix Original Series? It is also an NPR best book of the Decade and the winner of the Hugo Award for Best novel. I did NOT know this. Many many thanks, Paul!

        Liked by 2 people

  7. How exciting that this global read of The Brothers Karamazov is finished.
    This is an amazing reading union. Congratulations to all!
    Due to a busy schedule, I’ve been tagging along with Roberta, as she writes on the Cantos.

    SFU, I used to go there a lot.
    Seems I would stop with pals on the way back from Wreck Beach.
    Well, that is a memory!

    Rebecca, you are amazing! Thank you! {{{hugs}}}

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love Robbie’s “canto” posts and how she weaves the story together. Wreck beach is still there! Come back!!!! There was a wonderful sense of completion when I came to the end of the #KaramazovReadalong. I felt I had lived in the story and parted with good friends. Sending many hugs along with my gratitude for your amazing support.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You have had a fulfilling experience with the readalong.
        I’ll never forget the day at Wreck Beach when some slimy guy was taking pics of all the nude sunbathers.
        His camera is probably still in the Pacific Ocean.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Congrats on finishing The Brothers Karamazov, Rebecca. I’m so intimidated by those old heavy tomes, but it sounds like you enjoyed the read. It’s a classic for a reason. “How good life is when one does something noble and true.” 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There is another “tome” coming in 2022. Reading just one chapter a day with others makes for a remarkable journey. You are an invited guest, even if you just follow from a distance. I enjoy our conversations and your company. Sending hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

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