Leave it to me to skip one of the “most important parts” of this book (The Grand Inquisitor)–the incredibly long story that Ivan told in the last section of assigned reading. Mr. Debbie Downer took the time to point that out to me with this comment:
The Grand Inquisitor bit that you skipped is, according to some folks, the most important part. It’s sometimes published alone, too. And it was adapted as a 1998ish episode of “The X-Files.” No, really. Don’t go back for it, though. You’ve got your mojo going.
Needless to say, I didn’t go back to read it. But it annoyed me to no end that I could unerringly and unknowingly skipped the ONE section that people would probably ask me about if I ever discuss this book with anyone (which I highly doubt.) Anyway, ON WITH THE POST!
Book 7: Aloysha
The Story (As Far As I Can Tell): So Father Zosima is dead, and Aloysha and everyone are expecting miracles to occur because he was perceived as such a saint. Instead, his corpse begins to smell. This is a HUGE scandal, and all the people who resented him in life begin to say this is a sign that he is evil. This sends Aloysha into a bit of a tailspin, and he hooks up with Rakitin (who I don’t really remember from before) and eats sausage and drinks vodka and impulsively agrees to accompany Rakitin to see Grushenka. While there, Grushenka and Aloysha make each other feel better by talking about onions. Grushenka has just found out that the guy who dumped her five years ago wants her back, and she is preparing to leave town to go to him. She tells Aloysha to tell Dmitri that she loved him for an hour and takes off. Aloysha–feeling a bit better about things–returns to the monastery and has a dream (which takes up an entire chapter) and ends up feeling really good about stuff and Zosima’s legacy.
Book 8: Mitya (Of Course, We Know Him as Dmitri)
The Story (As Far As I Can Tell): This book was one crazy ride as Dmitri goes all over the town desperate for money. He gets humiliated, hocks his pistols, begs Madame H. for money, and generally makes an ass of himself before going to his father’s house to see if Grushenka is there. He looks in his father’s window and (after giving the secret signal that Smerdyakov told him) realizes Grushenka is not there. Running away, the servant Grigory sees him and Dmitri hits him over the head with a pestle that he had grabbed at one point. He gets Grigory’s blood all over him but thinks he is dead so he runs off. He goes to Grushenka’s house (covered in blood) and finds out she left to see her former lover. Dmitri decides to go see her and goes to get his pistols out of hock–mysteriously he has come up with a fistful of bloody money somewhere along the line. He buys a bunch of provisions and heads off to find Grushenka to see her one last time before killing himself. But when he gets there, Grushenka has a change of heart as her former lover is a bit of dud and declares her love for Dmitri–so he starts rethinking the whole suicide thing. There is a big party and, at the end, the “cops” burst in and arrest Dmitri for the murder of his father.
- If this was intended to be a murder mystery, Dostoevsky certainly takes his time getting to the murder as it takes place 500+ pages into the book.
- Dmitri is the Worst Criminal Ever–running around covered in blood and brandishing money after just running about unbloodied and begging for money moments earlier.
Book 9: The Preliminary Investigation (Or “This Is No Law & Order Episode”)
The Story (As Far As I Can Tell): This book mainly deals with Dmitri incriminating himself for a variety of sins and crimes–but not for the crime of murdering his father. He swears up and down that he did not murder Fyodor–despite all the evidence that seems to say otherwise (e.g., his presence at the crime scene, the blood on his clothes, his sudden acquisition of money, his repeated public avowals that he would kill his father). He is very relieved to learn that Grigory is not dead. Throughout this book, he comes off like a crazed lunatic as he is simultaneously deliriously happy that Grushenka now loves him and the world’s worst witness spouting off all kinds of crazy details and misleading information that lead the investigators to arrest him for his father’s murder. He has a twisted defense–basically telling the investigators that “I”ll tell you every other bad thing I’ve ever done (except where I got the bloody money) and that should prove to you that I didn’t do this because I’m being so honest about everything else.”
- The Russian system of legal proceedings was interesting (and I use that term loosely) and a little off the wall. Basically everyone who needed to be involved just happened to be together at a social event and just take off at 11:00 at night to investigate the murder. There is not compunction about interviewing Dmitri, despite the fact that he’s been drinking all night and hasn’t slept and was on the verge of suicide.
- I’m insanely glad that I’m almost done this book!!! Only 200 some pages to go and one more post and the Brothers K are out of my life forever!