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Publisher's Summary

The Brothers Karamazov is Dostoevsky's crowning life work and stands among the best novels in world literature.

The book probes the possible roles of four brothers in the unresolved murder of their father, Fyodor Karamazov. At the same time, it carefully explores the personalities and inclinations of the brothers themselves. Their psyches together represent the full spectrum of human nature, the continuum of faith and doubt.

Ultimately, this novel seeks to understand the real meaning of faith and existence and includes much beneficial philosophical and spiritual discussion that moves the reader towards faith. An incredibly enjoyable and edifying story!

(P)2008 christianaudio.com

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Story

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An expert abridgement

The Brothers Karamazov is a wonderful book, and deserves to be read by many more people than might be willing to tackle the whole thing. This audiobook comes to the rescue. It's a remarkable achievement. It manages to get in every character, every incident, every philosophical digression I remember from two previous readings of the whole thing. And it does it without rushing. The pacing is steady throughout.

Unlike the four or five hour versions typical of abridged audiobooks, this one appears to operate at the level of the word and phrase rather than the level of the incident or chapter: a little snip here, a small excision there; it all adds up to a version with about 56% of the original text intact. It's more a condensation than an abridgment. Yes, you're not getting the whole thing, but you're getting a solid and thoughtful selection, not a hack job. The Grand Inquisitor is still there in all his confounding glory.

And you're getting Simon Vance. As a narrator of 19th century novels, Vance is nearly without peer. (He's pretty good with contemporary books as well, it's just that I've listened to more of the other.) Maybe not a man of a thousand voices, but he's got a couple hundred at least, and many of them are on display here - none of them for show, all of them in the service of the novel.

Of course, if you can and want to, you should eventually tackle the whole thing. But give this one a shot in the meantime. Or give it a shot if, like me, you've read it before and just want a somewhat faster "review." Except it doesn't feel like a review when you're listening to it. It feels like Dostoevsky.

35 of 35 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Gary
  • Parkin, AR, USA
  • 09-19-09

No other narrator is greater for this one

The audiobook may be abridged, but at moments the narrator brought me almost to tears with how how he presented father Zosima. His voice is quite caring in the narrating throughout. He gets the female characters perfectly, especially Grushenka and you are able to distinguish one character from another, despite the numerous characters. I don't believe anyone should substitute reading this masterpiece by simply listening to the audiobook. However, to miss out on this narrator's telling of a beautiful story is to miss a performance of a lifetime. Believe me, I place no exaggeration on this at all.

19 of 19 people found this review helpful

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An exploration of faith and humanity

A thoughtful, deep, engaging exploration of the human condition. Even abridged, it feels long, launching into seemingly endless reverie about the role of the church or the reason evil exists in the world. But by the time I got to the end of this book, I was profoundly moved. This is a work of art. If you have the fortitude to make it through this whole piece, there is a lot of powerful insight here. Also, for a text that is mostly pretty ponderous and wordy, the last third of it has a fair amount of action and I found myself surprised at how excited I was getting. The court scene at the end is absolute literary genius. I'll be honest. I started this book thinking it would be too boring to get through. By the end, I was fighting back tears. An unforgettable story, brilliantly narrated. I need to buy the paper copy because there are some quotes I need to highlight and put up on my wall.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Really enjoyed this

I have tried to read this book at least 3 times and could never get past the first few chapters. I am ecstatic that I found this recording. I finally know who murdered Fyodor Karamazov!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Outstanding

This is easily the best version of the book I've tried. It is crisp, clear, focused and fast. By fast, I mean that it has narrative drive and speed, and never loses your interest. At 20 hours, it is the ideal length. In a book that needed surgery, the guy knew exactly where to cut. Not only is it abridged, however, it has been revised. The best thing he did was to dispense with the Russian patronymic. For example, he calls Ivan "Ivan," not "Ivan Fydorovich," which is an earful as well as a mouthful. Without sacrificing richness or depth--without sacrificing what makes Dostoevsky great--it reads like a contemporary novel in English, not a big, shaggy bear of a novel from the 19th century. I wish he'd do the same for "War and Peace."

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Mike
  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • 08-21-12

Gypsies, romance, murder, courtroom drama!

I don't usually read abridged and didn't actually realise this was until I got it. Great story though and didn't seem overly "shortened" but I can't compare to the full version. Can really feel the author's emotion about his son who'd died before he wrote the book, and his feelings about approaching the end of his life (he died after writing this and had intended to continue the story).

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Dostoevsky told by a master

Dostoevsky is amazing, particularly his dialogue. Simon Vance is voice actor, and is able to create vivid characterizations for the wide cast of TBK. Together, an awesome experience.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Even Abridged, it's a long book..

This book is deep. There is a lot of good stuff in it if you can stick with it. I found myself having to skip back because I missed something. I'm glad I got the Abridged version...

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Read the Cliff Notes

I have wanted to read this book for so long, and so jumped at the chance to hear it so I would stop procrastinating. It sort of went right over my head, though. To me, the story line was a little dissatisfying and confusing. I had a hard time understanding why this book is regarded so highly.

I think I will read the Cliff Notes and perhaps some scholarly interpretation, and then try listening to it again.

4 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-16-13

A classic, really?

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

No, the characters are all just so unpleasant and the story is nothing to get excited about. Half the time I found myself thinking "Who cares?" Add to that a boring delivery by the narrator means this is a book I wouldn't want to inflict on any friends.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

A damp squib. Like Dostoevsky just got fed up with writing and decided to end it there, and who can blame him?

Would you be willing to try another one of Simon Vance’s performances?

His characterizations were all the same and his delivery quite monotonous. The clearly well-to-do characters often had a north London twang to their accents, which was absolutely misplaced. So no, I would think twice before listening to another book read by Simon Vance.

If this book were a film would you go see it?

There is a Russian version and I'd be intrigued to see how they interpret the characters.

Any additional comments?

Plenty of better books out there.

2 of 6 people found this review helpful