Wednesday, December 12

Thoughts upon (finally) completing Part I

Fyodor strikes me as a significantly drunker and significantly more sinister version of David Brent. The buffoonery, but more specifically the penchant for starting on a path of falsehoods and then compounding his misstep with each sentence becoming more cringe-inducing than the last. And then, once he has finally back himself into a corner, blurting out the most caustic utterance possible and passing the conversation to his adeversary (for it is always adversarial with Fyodor) by way of a verbal hand grenade.

I am bothered by Ivan. With Fyodor, Dmitri and Alyosha I kind of feel like I know where the stand; I have at least some understanding of their motivation. Ivan has been sitting on the sidelines a bit and he remains a puzzle. He concerns me.

The narrator fascinates me. His disdain for Fyodor in the early pages is one of the early highlights of the book for me. But thus far I have found the narrator to be inconsistent in tone and in allegiance. As Part I wore on it seemed as though he was growing fonder of Fyodor and increasingly unsure of Alyosha. It’s interesting to think about the identity of the narrator. Not necessarily pinpointing one specific individual, but rather considering their sex, their class, their age, etc. One assumes Dostoevsky never identifies the narrator.

I have a feeling that the role of women in the book is going to be an interesting topic for discussion. Dostoevsky has tidily cleared out the mother figures and to this point in the novel left us only with Grushenka and Katerina Ivonova, two females of rather limited virtue. But then again, compared to the Karamazov clan the female personages appear downright saintly At the close of Part I we have the emergence of Lise. Who at present seems to be little more than a prop to lure Alyosha from the monastery.

There is much more to say but it grows late. Perhaps we can build om this and get things percolating.


Bryan said...

Except David Brent doesn't know what he's doing is idiotic, at least not on a conscious level, whereas Fyodor is quite aware that he is being a buffoon, and lies to cover his buffoonery with full knowledge that he is lying. It's all an act. He's very reminiscent of a friend of ours out here.

I like Ivan. I like all the brothers.

Ben said...

Quite right. My comparison collapses entirely when you consider that David Brent is one of the least self-conscious characters we've ever encountered, while Fyodor is maddeningly self-conscious, almost to the extent that he seems scripted. Nonetheless, while their trains of thought may diverge considerably, the end points of their buffoonish train wrecks seem to me to be at least in the same area code.

It's not that I dislike Ivan, it's just that he is much more of an enigma at this point than the other Karamazovs. And for whatever reason that makes me nervous.

Bryan said...

We should have read The Prometheus Deception.

MJA said...

We should have read Flanimals. Google it.