The Brothers Karamazov

When Rory is interviewing Max, this book is on the desk between them, in a pile of other books that includes Anna Karenina, previously discussed.

The Brothers Karamazov is a 1880 novel by Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky about the sons of a buffoon named Fyodor Karamazov; he has three sons from two marriages, and it is rumoured that his servant is actually an illegitimate son. Fyodor takes no interest in his sons, who are raised apart from each other and their father. A passionate philosophical novel, it delves deeply into questions of God, free will, morality, faith doubt, and reason, involving a plot about patricide. It is acclaimed as one of the great works of modern literature, and has influenced many great authors and thinkers. It was Einstein’s favourite novel, Freud considered it the greatest work of literature, while Franz Kafka felt indebted to it as a influence on his own work.

We know that Russian literature is the first component of the English Literature course in the sophomore year at Chilton, and this must be on the curriculum. On Rory’s first day at Chilton, the teacher talked about how they had studied Dostoevsky the week before. We can feel pretty confident that Rory would have read this novel in her efforts to catch up with her schoolmates, and it may have helped give her an interest in the works of Kafka.

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