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Who Killed Fyodor Karamazov? 
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Post Who Killed Fyodor Karamazov?
NO SPOILERS UNTIL LATE APRIL

Anyone posting a spoiler before readers have had a decent chance to read the book will have the post removed by a moderator, be permanently banned from the whole internet, go to hell, and have to explain themselves in person to Starhwe, who will come round to your door with some 'friends'.

The first sentence says the book is about the gloomy and tragic death of Fyodor, so we know it is going to happen. From early in the book, Dmitri is fingered as the prime suspect. He has been deceptively disinherited by his dad, he hates him, his dad has slandered him for his womanising, and he has a bunch of other motives.

As Suzanne mentioned, it is like the question Who Killed Russia? Was it the emotional Dmitri with his passionate irrationality, the cool and logical socialist Ivan, the saintly but unworldly Alyosha, or some one else? And what did the wonderful Fyodor do to deserve such a grisly fate? Whodunnit?



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Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:53 pm
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Post Re: Who Killed Fyodor Karamazov?
I don't know. I don't even have any particular person in mind... I don't see it as being a whodunit. This isn't to argue against anyone who is interested in the ferreting out of the murderer but I don't see the murderer's identity being revealed as being a plot element. It's not a matter of Dmitri undergoing interrogation in order to determine guilt or innocence but just so that he can undergo interrogation. And Dostoyevsky rails against nihilists... the man had his moments!

EDIT: I'm currently where Dmitri is being interrogated and he has divulged his "shameful" secret. I love Dos for things like this. He would have made one hell of a lawyer.


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Sat Apr 02, 2011 6:35 pm
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Post Re: Who Killed Fyodor Karamazov?
At the point of Dmitri's arrest, the frivolous tart Grushenka claims that she is guilty of the murder of Fyodor Karamazov, even though that is absurd. Meanwhile the principal suspect, Dmitri, proclaims his innocence:
Quote:
Chapter III. The Sufferings Of A Soul, The First Ordeal
And so Mitya sat looking wildly at the people round him, not understanding what was said to him. Suddenly he got up, flung up his hands, and shouted aloud: “I’m not guilty! I’m not guilty of that blood! I’m not guilty of my father’s blood.... I meant to kill him. But I’m not guilty. Not I.”

But he had hardly said this, before Grushenka rushed from behind the curtain and flung herself at the police captain’s feet.

“It was my fault! Mine! My wickedness!” she cried, in a heartrending voice, bathed in tears, stretching out her clasped hands towards them. “He did it through me. I tortured him and drove him to it. I tortured that poor old man that’s dead, too, in my wickedness, and brought him to this! It’s my fault, mine first, mine most, my fault!”

“Yes, it’s your fault! You’re the chief criminal! You fury! You harlot! You’re the most to blame!” shouted the police captain, threatening her with his hand. But he was quickly and resolutely suppressed. The prosecutor positively seized hold of him.

“This is absolutely irregular, Mihail Makarovitch!” he cried. “You are positively hindering the inquiry.... You’re ruining the case....” he almost gasped.

“Follow the regular course! Follow the regular course!” cried Nikolay Parfenovitch, fearfully excited too, “otherwise it’s absolutely impossible!...”

“Judge us together!” Grushenka cried frantically, still kneeling. “Punish us together. I will go with him now, if it’s to death!”

“Grusha, my life, my blood, my holy one!” Mitya fell on his knees beside her and held her tight in his arms. “Don’t believe her,” he cried, “she’s not guilty of anything, of any blood, of anything!”


It reminds me somehow of 'Who killed cock robin?, with the addition that all claim to be somehow guilty of Fyodor's murder"

"Who killed Cock Robin?" "I," said the Sparrow,
"With my bow and arrow, I killed Cock Robin."
"Who saw him die?" "I," said the Fly,
"With my little eye, I saw him die."
"Who caught his blood?" "I," said the Fish,
"With my little dish, I caught his blood."
"Who'll make the shroud?" "I," said the Beetle,
"With my thread and needle, I'll make the shroud."
"Who'll dig his grave?" "I," said the Owl,
"With my pick and shovel, I'll dig his grave."
"Who'll be the parson?" "I," said the Rook,
"With my little book, I'll be the parson."
"Who'll be the clerk?" "I," said the Lark,
"If it's not in the dark, I'll be the clerk."
"Who'll carry the link?" "I," said the Linnet,
"I'll fetch it in a minute, I'll carry the link."
"Who'll be chief mourner?" "I," said the Dove,
"I mourn for my love, I'll be chief mourner."
"Who'll carry the coffin?" "I," said the Kite,
"If it's not through the night, I'll carry the coffin."
"Who'll bear the pall? "We," said the Wren,
"Both the cock and the hen, we'll bear the pall."
"Who'll sing a psalm?" "I," said the Thrush,
"As she sat on a bush, I'll sing a psalm."
"Who'll toll the bell?" "I," said the bull,
"Because I can pull, I'll toll the bell."
All the birds of the air fell a-sighing and a-sobbing,
When they heard the bell toll for poor Cock Robin.



Last edited by Robert Tulip on Sat Apr 02, 2011 9:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sat Apr 02, 2011 9:53 pm
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Post Re: Who Killed Fyodor Karamazov?
LOL Robert!

Kevin wrote:
This isn't to argue against anyone who is interested in the ferreting out of the murderer but I don't see the murderer's identity being revealed as being a plot element.


I can see this too Kevin.

The father has three sons. Each of these four men share the same blood. The origins of the sons are the same. So, if one of the sons did commit the murder, what does that mean, did Russia self destruct?

Or, because the sons are all different, if one of them commited the murder, does this mean revolution?

Kevin wrote:
I love Dos for things like this. He would have made one hell of a lawyer.


Well he certainly was obsessed with crime and murder, and crime and punishment . . . What I have found interesting about BK comes from FD himself. He had a child named Allosha who died of epilepsy, and his father was murdered.



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Post Re: Who Killed Fyodor Karamazov?
Suzanne wrote:
The father has three sons. Each of these four men share the same blood. The origins of the sons are the same. So, if one of the sons did commit the murder, what does that mean, did Russia self destruct?


Seen as a parable for Russia, Fyodor represents the buffoonery and corrupt wealth of tradition. Each of his four sons are a typical response to part of their father's identity. Dmitri (Mitya), the prime suspect, is like a wild natural nihilistic product driven by raw emotion, the full gamut from hatred to nobility, with legitimate worldly position and expectations that are cruelly thwarted by his father's perversity. Ivan, who is out of town at the time of the murder but had discussed it earlier, has all the motives that the communists had for their revolution against the Tsar. Alyosha the saint seems to drift above it all. And Smerdyakov is like an accidental unwelcome product of his father's inner ugly bestiality. There is also Grushenka who claims to be guilty, as a sort of parable for how harlotry causes moral degradation.

Here are extracts from the narrative at the time of the murder of Fyodor. The actual murder is not described.

Quote:
On the table stood a brass mortar, with a pestle in it, a small brass pestle, not much more than six inches long. Mitya already had opened the door with one hand when, with the other, he snatched up the pestle, and thrust it in his side-pocket. “Oh, Lord! He’s going to murder some one!” cried Fenya, flinging up her hands.

Chapter IV. In The Dark

It was a rush of that sudden, furious, revengeful anger of which he had spoken, as though foreseeing it, to Alyosha, four days ago in the arbor, when, in answer to
Alyosha’s question, “How can you say you’ll kill our father?” “I don’t know, I don’t know,” he had said then. “Perhaps I shall not kill him, perhaps I shall. I’m afraid he’ll suddenly be so loathsome to me at that moment. I hate his double chin, his nose, his eyes, his shameless grin. I feel a personal repulsion. That’s what I’m afraid of, that’s what may be too much for me.” ... This personal repulsion was growing unendurable. Mitya was beside himself, he suddenly pulled the brass pestle out of his
pocket.

...
Grigory ... stepped into the garden. Perhaps he fancied something, perhaps caught some sound, and, glancing to the left he saw his master’s window open. No one was looking out of it then. “What’s it open for? It’s not summer now,” thought Grigory, and suddenly, at that very instant he caught a glimpse of something extraordinary before him in the garden. Forty paces in front of him a man seemed to be running in the dark, a sort of shadow was moving very fast. “Good Lord!” cried Grigory beside himself, and forgetting the pain in his back, he hurried to intercept the running figure. He took a short cut, evidently he knew the garden better; the flying figure went towards the bath-house, ran behind it and rushed to the garden fence. Grigory followed, not losing sight of him, and ran, forgetting everything. He reached the fence at the very moment the man was climbing over it. Grigory cried out, beside himself, pounced on him, and clutched his leg in his two hands. Yes, his foreboding had not deceived him. He recognized him, it was he, the “monster,” the “parricide.” “Parricide!” the old man shouted so that the whole neighborhood could hear, but he had not time to shout more, he fell at once, as though struck by lightning. Mitya jumped back into the garden and bent over the fallen man. In Mitya’s hands was a brass pestle, and he flung it mechanically in the grass. The pestle fell two paces from Grigory, not in the grass but on the path, in a most conspicuous place. For some seconds he examined the prostrate figure before him. The old man’s head was covered with blood. Mitya put out his hand and began feeling it. He remembered afterwards clearly, that he had been awfully anxious to make sure whether he had broken the old man’s skull, or simply stunned him with the pestle. But the blood was flowing horribly; and in a moment Mitya’s fingers were drenched with the hot stream. He remembered taking out of his pocket the clean white handkerchief with which he had provided himself for his visit to Madame Hohlakov, and putting it to the old man’s head, senselessly trying to wipe the blood from his face and temples. But the handkerchief was instantly
soaked with blood.



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Post Re: Who Killed Fyodor Karamazov?
The suspense is killing me. Here we are in Holy Week, and I feel it is late enough to spill the beans. But just again, warning, STOP READING NOW if you are not interested in what this book is all about.

The deep theme of The Brothers Karamazov is the clash between appearance and reality. The appearance, almost universally agreed, and with abundant evidence, is that Dmitri Karamazov killed his father. The reality, denied because it is too horrifying and emotionally disturbing, is that the real murderer was the bastard son Pavel Fyodorovitch Smerdyakov.

I have just read Dostoyevsky and Parricide by Sigmund Freud. Freud opens his essay by calling Bros K 'the most magnificent novel ever written'. Its theme of parricide links it to Hamlet and Oedipus Rex, as touching the archetypal essence of human identity. While I do think that Freud saw the Oedipus Complex as a basis for a new religion, and exaggerated its place in psychology, reading this essay shows just how deep the death wish towards the father runs as a universal type. Freud points out that Dmitri, Smerdy and Ivan are all guilty of wanting their father dead, with the only redemption coming through Alyosha. He draws the most fascinating and perceptive picture of Dostoyevsky, as creative genius, neurotic, moralist and sinner. There is a sense in which Bros K recapitulates Dostoyevsky's own inner personal turmoil, with his own death wish revealed in his pathological gambling habit, rather like the way Dmitri is remorselessly drawn into wasting all his assets on frivolity. The murder of D's own father is read by Freud as the basis of D's neurosis, emerging in his epilepsy, which Freud thinks was psychological rather than physiological.

Quoting Freud: "Parricide, according to a well-know view, is the principal and primal crime of humanity as well as of the individual... [In Bros K] the murder is committed by some one else. This other person, however, stands to the murdered man in the same relation as the hero, Dmitri; in one case, the motive of sexual rivalry is openly admitted: the murderer is a brother of the hero's, and it is a remarkable fact that Dostoyevsky attributed to him his own illness, the alleged epilepsy, as though he were wanting to confess that the epileptic, the neurotic, in himself was a parricide. Then, again, in the speech for the defence at the trial, there is the famous mockery of psychology - it is 'a knife that cuts both ways''; a splendid piece of disguise, for we have only to reverse it in order to discover the deepest meaning of D's view of things. It is not psychology that deserves the mockery, but the procedure of judicial enquiry."

Freud sees Dostoyevsky's reversion to reactionary Tsarism and religion as a sign of neurosis, seeing the jailer as liberatory. And yet, he says D wavered between atheism and faith to his death bed.

My own reading is that the guilt of Smerdy is like an act of fate, an atonement for the crime of Fyodor in raping his innocent mother. It therefore stands as symbol for Russian identity, with the effort to heap the blame on the obvious culprit Dmitri serving to enable people to ignore the real degradation of Fyodor's life, revealed in Smerdy's existence, as the original cause of his extinction. Smerdy is like Hamlet, outwardly a fool but inwardly a cunning schemer. he completely hatched the plot to draw Dmitri into the murder by giving him the password, and probably hoped that Dmitri would do it. When Dmitri baulked at the shame of his intent, Smerdy had the Leninist ruthlessness and rage to carry out the deed, pitiless as the sun.



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Post Re: Who Killed Fyodor Karamazov?
Wow. Amazing.



Tue Apr 19, 2011 5:37 pm
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Post Re: Who Killed Fyodor Karamazov?
Sigmund Freud argues in Dostoyevsky and Parricide that The Brothers Karamazov is a study in the Oedipus Complex, the instinctive desire to kill the father and marry the mother. What we see in this novel is shame and embarrassment on the part of the sons about the buffoonery, incompetence and scandal of the father. The sons view themselves as modern, and their father as the representative of everything backward. Alyosha forgives, but the other three smolder with resentment and hate.

We see here something like the creative destruction described by Schumpeter, the view that the old must be destroyed for the young to live. The continued power of the father is a scandal and a mockery of values. Fyodor Karamazov represents Asiatic Russia, the ancient peasant culture, that was regarded with disdain and contempt by the European elements, represented in their different ways by his sons. But the scale and power of the old, despite its corruption, meant it had to be destroyed in order for the new to take command. This is just how the communists thought about the Tsar and the Church. Dostoyevsky accurately prophesied the psychology of revolution.

Dmitri, Ivan and Smerdy all wanted Fyodor dead, each for specific but similar reasons. Dmitri was particularly incensed about his father's trickery in defrauding him of his inheritance. Dmitri thought he had a right to resources which were concealed and misused by a doddering fool. Ivan thought his dad was an irrational embarrassment to science and progress, a cultural zombie who deserved to be put out of his misery. And then there was Smerdy.

Smerdy's mother Stinking Lizaveta is lovingly painted by Dostoyevsky as the most degraded product imaginable of a degraded culture, a kindly idiot, totally dependent, exuding the foul stench of the gutter, until along swaggers Fyodor, and displays his utter contempt for all values by raping the idiot. The denied bastard product of this foul union is the Frankenstein monster of Russia himself, a beast who turns on his creator by reflecting his creator's own degraded values. Sinking into the pit brought his own death upon Fyodor, by setting in train morally fated responses to his own conduct.

Freud mocks Dostoyevsky for his conservatism, seeing his anti-Oedipus love of heritage as a neurotic product of the murder of his own father and his fright at being nearly killed by the Tsar's police. And yet Dostoyevsky himself was still a unique existential revolutionary, vacillating between atheism and faith, always making experience the judge of tradition. His intellectual reaction was a veneer seeking to stabilise a messianic urge, through a paradoxical desire for social transformation led by the establishment.



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