Dmitri Karamazov and his father Fyodor are at war over both Dmitri’s inheritance and the affections of the beautiful Grushenka. Into this feud arrive the middle brother Ivan, recently returned from Moscow, and the youngest sibling Alyosha, who has been released into the wider world from the local monastery by the elder monk Zossima. Through a series of accidents of fate and wilful misunderstandings the Karamazovs edge closer to tragedy, while the local townspeople watch on.
The Brothers Karamazov was Fyodor Dostoevsky’s final novel, and was originally serialised in The Russian Messenger before being published as a complete novel in 1880. This edition is the well-received 1912 English translation by Constance Garnett. As well as earning wide-spread critical acclaim, the novel has been widely influential in literary and philosophical circles; Franz Kafka and James Joyce admired the emotions that verge on madness in the Karamazovs, while Sigmund Freud and Jean-Paul Satre found inspiration in the themes of patricide and existentialism.
The depth, complexity, and length of what many consider to be Dostoyevski's best work make it one of the hardest classic novels to bring to audio. The philosophical novel/murder mystery set in 19th-century Russia requires a strong and versatile narrator to keep listeners going for the day-and-a-half-plus duration. Thankfully, narrator Constantine Gregory masters the challenge. In doing so, he manages the omniscient third-person narration by using a pleasant mellifluous tone that invites the listener to relax and approach the text patiently and carefully. The novel also features first-person voices from the large cast of characters, such as Father Zosima, who, naturally enough, argues for the existence of a higher power and Gregory is able to imbue those sections with enough individuality to make them as distinct as the author intended.