Places Discussed


Skotoprigonyevsk (sko-to-prihg-ON-ih-ehfsk). Russian town in which the Karamazovs’ home is located and the location of the worst debauchery commonly blamed on Fyodor Karamazov—the rape of the mentally disabled Lizavita. Dostoevski’s narrator withholds the name of the town until almost the very end of the novel, at the beginning of the trial of Dmitri Karamazov. Otherwise, the narrator refers to it only as “the town” or “our town.” The name Skotoprigonyevsk is most likely derived from the Russian word skotoprigony, meaning a stockyard. It is a generic Russian rural town of the time, located somewhere in the broadleaf-forest belt that is the heart of old Russia. For the people of Skotoprigonyevsk, the bright lights and Western fashions of the capital in St. Petersburg are almost unimaginably distant, talked about but never seen.

Karamazov home

Karamazov home. Dwelling of Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov, patriarch of the Karamazov family. As befits a wealthy landowner, it is a spacious house, tended by a faithful servant and his wife. However, it is also in notable disrepair, with crumbling wallpaper. These signs of decay reflect the moral dissolution of the elder Karamazov and are likely a deliberate touch of Dostoevski’s art. Although the house is the family home, it is not a place where Karamazov’s sons find nurturing or comfort. All three of his legitimate sons are fostered by...

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Historical Context

The Russian Orthodox Church of the Resurrection in St. Petersburg, Russia. Published by Gale Cengage

The Romanovs
In 1689 Peter the Great assumed the throne in Russia. His attempts to modernize Russia were not entirely...

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Literary Style

Like many other novels of the nineteenth century, The Brothers Karamazov is composed of a diverse...

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Literary Techniques

As usual, Dostoevsky lays out the plot, a complex one, in a fairly orderly fashion. The author apologizes for the family history that he...

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Ideas for Group Discussions

A fruitful exercise might be a comparison of this novel with the preceding ones, with an eye to the "progress" that the author made in...

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Social Concerns

The principal social aspect of The Brothers Karamazov is the integrity of the family. As the tide suggests, there is great emphasis on...

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Compare and Contrast

Late 1800s: The forefather of Russian communism and Marxist philosopher, Georgy Plekhanov, fled to Western Europe in 1880....

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Topics for Further Study

Dostoyevsky had a profound impact on many twentieth-century authors like Albert Camus

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Literary Precedents

As critic Vyacheslav Ivanov has indicated, there is a Faustian quality to the mythic features of The Possessed (1871- 1872; see...

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Related Titles

Nearly all of Dostoevsky's titles can be viewed as related to the others. In the case of this novel, however, perhaps the most closely...

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Apart from the Moscow Art Theatre production of The Brothers Karamazov, there was a French version done by J. Copeau in 1911 and an...

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Media Adaptations

The Brothers Karamazov was made into a silent film in 1918 by Dmitri Buchowetzki and Carl Froelich in Germany. Irmgard Bern and Fritz...

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What Do I Read Next?

Notes from the Underground (1864) marks a turning point in Dostoyevsky's thought. It was written in reaction to Nikolay...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Sources for Further Study

Belknap, Robert L. The Genesis of “The Brothers Karamazov”: The Aesthetics, Ideology, and Psychology of Text Making. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1990. Considers the reading and experiences of Dostoevski that appear in the novel. A study of the mind behind the book.

Bloom, Harold, ed. Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov.” New York: Chelsea House, 1988. Selection of critical interpretations of the text. Essays printed in chronological sequence from 1971 to 1977. Includes an extended chronology of Dostoevski.

Frank, Joseph....

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Bibliography and Further Reading

Mikhail Bakhtin, "Toward a Reworking of the Dostoyevsky Book," in Problems of Dostoyevsky's Poetics,...

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