This post has been migrated from medium.com/@injulkarnilesh.
This is not a simple murder mystery, it is more of a philosophical work condensed into a murder mystery. Only after have you read this book, you realize why it is considered one of the classics of literature.
It is not a coffee table read, it would take a good amount of time to go through the book and would require a constant attention to details; also, for sure, many a times, the book will make you to keep it aside and think about what you just read.
What makes realist a realist?
Miracles will never confound a realist. It is not miracles that bring a realist to faith. A true realist, if he is not a believer, will always find in himself the strength and ability not to believe in miracles as well, and if a miracle stands before him as an irrefutable fact, he will sooner doubt his own senses than admit it as fact of nature that was previously unknown to him. In the realist, faith is not born from miracles, but miracles from faith.
Interesting question that probably many of us can relate to
I love mankind but I am amazed at myself : the more I love mankind in general, the less I love people in particular, that is individually, as separate persons. I think of serving mankind passionately, and yet I am incapable of living in the same room with anyone for two days. In 24 hours I can begin to hate even the best of men because of their small annoying habits.
My interpretation of answer : You have already done much if you can understand yourself so deeply and so sincerely. But yours is a passive love, a dream. What you need is an active love. Try to love your neighbors, people you know actively and tirelessly. Love in dreams thirsts for immediate action, quickly performed and with everyone watching. Loving actively is different and more important and than only wishing for it.
Simple it is.
I believe that you are sincere at heart. If you do not attain happiness, always remember that you are good on a good path, and try not to leave it. Above all, avoid lies, all lies, especially the lie to yourself. Keep watch on your own lies and examine it every hour, every minute. And avoid contempt, both of others and of yourself : what seems bad to you in yourself is purified by the very fact that you have noticed it in yourself. Avoid fear, though fear is simply the consequence of every lie. Never be frightened at your own faintheartedness in attaining love.
Monastery and Monks
Father monks, why do you fast? Why do you expect a heavenly reward for that? For such a reward, I’ll go and start fasting too! No, holy, monk, try being virtuous in life, be useful to society without shutting yourself up in a monastery on other people’s bread, and without expecting any reward up there — that’s a little more difficult. Loot at all these wine bottles the fathers have set out! And who has provided it all? The Russian peasant, the laborer, bringing you the pittance earned by his callused hands, taking it from his family, from the needs of the stats! You, holy fathers, are sucking the people’s blood!
Though controversial but probably the central idea of the novel is this :
Can it be that any man has the right to decide about the rest of mankind, who is worthy to live and who is more unworthy ? But why bring worth into it? The question is most often decided in hearts of men not at all on the basis of worth, but for quite different reasons, much more natural ones. As for rights, tell me, Who has no right to wish? But surely noth for another’s death? Maybe even for another’s death. Why lie to yourself when everyone live like that and perhaps even cannot live any other way?
Animal vs People
Different perspective, sadly a true one :
People speak sometimes about the ‘animal’ cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to animals, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel. A tiger simply gnaws and tears, that is all he can do. It would never occur to him to nail people by their ears overnight, even if he were able to do it.
It is indeed absurd.
Absurdities are all too necessary on earth. The world stands on absurdities, and without them perhaps nothing at all would happen.
The grand Inquisitor
Ohh boy! This was the one of the best things I have ever read. This chapter has very interesting arguments about free will, hunger, mystery and authority. This has a story where god himself walks on the earth showing off miracles, (that’s exactly what I would do if I was him) but is caught by orders of church and then enquired by the grand inquisitor.
The inquisitor blames him for men rebelling against the religion because mankind was gifted by him, against the advice, with a freedom, a free will. For this freedom is the reason behind unhappiness of human kind; because these weak minds are not capable of handling that burden of free will and are leading to confusion and unhappiness.
Nothing has ever been more insufferable for man and for human society than freedom! Turn stones into breads and mankind will run after you like sheep, grateful and obedient, though eternally trembling lest you withdraw your hand and your loaves cease for them. But you did not want to deprive man of freedom and rejected the offer, for what sort of freedom it is, you reasoned, if obedience is bought with loaves of bread? You objected that man does not live by bread alone, but do you know that in the name of this very earthly bread, the spirit of the earth will rise against you and fight with you and defeat you. Do you know centuries will pass and mankind will proclaim with mouth of its wisdom and science that there is no crime, and therefore no sin, but only hungry men? Feed them first, then ask virtue of them! — that is what they will write on the banner they raise against you, and by which your temple will be destroyed.
And this very free will has lead to co-existence of many religions which has then lead human kind to it’s misery.
Man seeks to bow down before that which is undisputable, so undisputable that all **men at once would agree to universal worship of it. In the cause universal worship, they have destroyed each other with the sword. They have **made gods and called upon each other “Abandon you gods and come and worship ours, otherwise death to you and your gods!” And so it will be until the end of the world, event when all gods have disappeared from the earth: they will still fall down before idols.
The inquisitor declares that the roman church is trying to correct your (God’s) mistake of free will, by having obedience of people in return of bread, permission to sin which the will take upon themselves. People will also be relieved of freedom which only has been tormenting them, and only they will keep the mystery and they will be unhappy for happiness of people.
Here is a very nice play of this story :
Address of paradise
Life is paradise, and we are all in paradise, but we do not want to know it, and if we did want to know it, tomorrow there would be paradise the world over.
And then there is another side of the coin
Until one has indeed become the brother of all, there will be no brotherhood. No science or self-interest will ever enable people to share their property and their rights among themselves without offense. Each will always think his share too small, and they will keep murmuring, they will envy and destroy one another. For all men in our age are separated into units, each seeks seclusion in his own hole, each withdraws from others, hides himself, and hides what he has , and ends by pushing himself away from people and pushing people away from himself. He accumulates wealth in solitude, thinking how strong, how secure I am now; and does not see, madman as he is, that the more he accumulates, the more he sinks into suicidal impotence. Everywhere now the human mind has begun laughably not to understand that a man’s true security lies not in his own solitary effort, but in the general wholesome of humanity.
Should one have servants to serve him, and if yes how should he be treated?
Am I worthy, such as I am, that another should serve me, and that, because he is poor and untaught, I should order him about? The world cannot do without servant. And why can I not be the servant of my servant? Why can my servant not be like my own kin, so that I may finally receive him into my family, and rejoice for it?
This is another great chapter where devil it talking to Ivan in his delirium. This discussion is also very interesting.
Here devil is being sarcastic and busting the myths about devil’s form and the kind of people he haunts.
You are angry with me that I have not appeared to you in some sort of red glow, in thunder and lightning, with scorched wings, but have presented myself in such a modest form. You are insulted, first, in your aesthetic feeling, and, second, in your pride : how could such a banal devil come to such a great man?
Devil was apparently not so evil and wanted to be a good guy, but his duties did not let him be one. When the Christ was being crucified, the devil also wanted to join others in praising him, but he did not because of his duties. He thought :
What will happen after my ‘Hosannah’? Everything in in the world will immediately be extinguished and no events will occur. And so, solely because of my official duty and my social position, I was forced to quash the good moment in myself and stay with my nasty tricks. I sulk and grudgingly fulfill my purpose : to destroy thousands so that one may be saved.
He also had an idea about how man can be a god, he proposes
One need only destroy the idea of God in mankind, that’s where the business should start! Once mankind has renounced God, one and all, then the entire old world view will fall of itself, and above all, the entire former morality, and everything will be new. People will come together in order to take from life all that it can give, but, of course, for happiness and joy in this world only. Man will be exalted with the spirit of divine, titanic pride, and man-god will appear. Man, his will and his science no longer limited, conquering nature every hour, will thereby every hour experience such lofty delight as will replace for him all his former hopes of heavenly delight.
There are very interesting speeches by the end of the book, by prosecutor, by defence attorney and the protagonist Alyosha proposing very different aspects about the story and events.
Fools exist for the intelligent man’s profit.
What is good of love that must constantly be spied on, and what is the worth of a love that needs to be guarded so intensely.
Many people are honest only because they are fools.
Moderate your demands, don’t demand all that is great and beautiful of me, and we shall live in peace and harmony, you’ll see.
Common sense — oh it’s the most unfortunate quality of my nature.
Why must we assume what we imagin, or imagine what we have assumed?