After the pace and excitement of part III, I went into part IV with great expectations.
Unfortunately, the book does not quite deliver. I expected a lot more from Dmitri’s trial. I found these sections (the speeches from the prosecutor and the defense attorney) to be very tedious, with too much speculation, and psychology. All the events of Part III are rehashed again and again until I was bored speechless.
As a comparison, I found Crime and Punishment to be much more snappier and suspenseful.
There were some expectations that I had from the ending that the book just failed to meet. I was hoping for some hard evidence for or against someone. Instead, all we got was a half-baked confession and a suicide.
I also started feeling very disappointed with Alyosha’s role during this section. For the most part, he is a passive observer rarely playing any role in the proceedings. I was hoping that he would go through some kind of trial by fire just like his brothers and come out a stronger and better man. Unfortunately, he is written so saint-like that there were not many interesting options left to develop his character. Ultimately, the main protagonist in the story turns out to be the most boring.
Another issue I have with the end is the whole sections devoted to Ilyusha and Kolya. In the end, they turn out to have nothing to do with the main plot of the story. Wondering if I had missed something, I googled to find out that Dostoevsky was working through his grief over his son’s death. I am not sure whether that was enough reason to include this section in the book, because it unnecessarily added to the length without adding too much value to the plot.
However, all said and done, I am very glad I read this book. Some of his thoughts on people really ring true (at least for me). Consider the following snippet uttered by Ivan in part II:
The more I love mankind, the less I love people in particular.
I often went so far as to think passionately of serving mankind yet I am incapable of living in the same room with anyone for even two days.
I can begin to hate the best of men: one because he takes too long eating his dinner, another because he has a cold and keeps blowing his nose.
Plenty more psychological insights such as the above, as well as socio-political commentary of Russia during this period in history kept me going through this book.
But these are not the only strengths. This is one of those sweeping epic stories that has a little something that can capture the interest of most people (some amount of patience is required) who read this book.
A huge thanks to Dolce Bellezza for hosting this wonderful readalong. Head on over to her blog to get far more insightful reviews and discussions on this book.
I am also including this book for the Orbis Terrarum reading challenge.