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Publisher's Summary

The Brothers Karamazov is the final novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky and is generally considered the culmination of his life's work. Published in November 1880, Dostoevsky spent nearly two years writing the novel set in 19th-century Russia.

Fydor Karamazov, a mean and disreputable landowner, has three sons, Dmitry, a profligate army officer; Ivan, a writer with revolutionary ideas; and Alexey, a religious novice. A drama of patricide and fraternal jealousy unfolds, involving the questions of anarchism and atheism, and giving a portrait of Russian society in the turbulent 1870s.

Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky (1821 - 1881) was a Russian fiction writer, essayist, and philosopher whose works have been acclaimed all over the world by thinkers as diverse as Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein.

Please note: This is a vintage recording. The audio quality may not be up to modern day standards.

Translated by David Magarshack

(P)2009 RNIB

What members say

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  • Overall

The Brothers Karamozov

I've read the book, and purchased the audio so that I could hear it with all of the Russian names pronounced correctly (I made up the most improbably pronunciations on my own). The narrator was very good, a very listenable to voice, nice inflection, you can hear that he is interpreting the novel but is not out of sync with the tone of the writing. I would look for him as a reader on another novel.

33 of 33 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Heimo
  • Frankfurt, Germany
  • 06-11-10

great book

i think i grew into this book. i remember reading it in college and thinking, will it never end?

i love this reading of it. in fact, this reader has become one of my favorites. if you cannot excuse the occassional page turning, swallowing, and, yes, air in the breathing passage, don´t buy this book. because it does contain these little human imperfections. but, for me, i loved it. i felt like someone human was reading to me. but, it must be said, i am not one who likes the new modern slick productions you sometimes get when the reader is far more performing than reading.

when this book came to an end i just started again at the beginning and listened to it again. even after that it took me several days to find something else that could compare as an experience.

for this price, anyone can afford to give it a try, and i am really grateful to audibles for having some compaasion on my budget.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Maybe Better if Narrator Didn't Keep Belching!

Okay, the BOOK is awesome, of course, it's Dostoevsky. And I SOOO appreciate the availability of classics at a low price. But it is kind of disgusting to have the narrator BURPING - not to mention making unedited mistakes and such. I think I'll go ahead and pay for my subscription and not try to get these classics for this low price.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Daniel
  • San Anselmo, CA, USA
  • 04-20-10

Fantastic! A great listen!

The narrator speaks in a natural low-key voice, with great diction and perfectly capturing the sense of all the different voices. Dostoyevky as a writer can have a world-weary tone that still conveys affection for his characters and the narrator gets this just right. You can hear some breathing, clearing of throat, and I personally like the natural approach. It sounds like someone is simply right there talking. Also it works well becasue Dostoyevky addresses the reader and so listening to the book works really well.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

I don't care for the narrator

Fascinating book and definitely one to read. However, I'm not crazy about the reader. You can hear him turn the pages, little burps and sometimes it sounds like he has a mint in his mouth. He tries to capture the essence of the book, but I'm finding him annoying.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Mira
  • Upland, CA, United States
  • 10-07-12

The Difference Lies in the Narration

There's a reason why Dostoevsky is regarded as one of the greatest writers in history, and one more favorable review won't change that. The book's characters and plot have so many different layers to them, that upon finishing the book, you find yourself thinking about this world that Dostoevsky has created and reveling in its masterful symmetry. Yet you don't crave more, because the author's plot ties up in a perfect ending that deliberately leaves some characters more vague and incomprehensible and other characters clearly laid out.

Yet lauding Dostoevsky's work is redundant at this point. I write this review for sensitive listeners who are looking for the best performance of the text. Gabriel Woolf brings life to the text like few other audio editions. I was impressed at his ability to make Fyodor Karamazov sound as terrible as his character is presented in the book. I'm sure it is not an easy task to formulate the perfect vocal rendition of each character (since the author is famous for creating incredibly complex and fascinating characters), so I applaud Woolf for his efforts.

If you are looking for an audiobook that will suck you up for the next few weeks of your life, this is the perfect book for you. The narrator taps into the emotional subtexts of each character's life, and it truly engages the reader.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Gabriel Woolf is a master actor! Wow

Bravo! Yes, it's true that the production quality is lacking. But the acting here is brilliant! He really brought the characters to life. I have listened to many different narrators on here, and I was surprised that after finishing Brothers Karamazov, I discovered that I actually like Gabriel the best. You really get the impression that he really understands the philosophical concepts and the depth of the characters he's reading.He emphasizes the right words, pauses in the right places and the ideas flow effortlessly. He is very easy to follow. Don't be fooled by the production quality. This is the best version of Brothers Karamazov available and it's an unbelievable value. I really loved this book. Thank you Mr. Woolf!

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great Narrating and Great Story!

I'm beginning to wonder whether some of the other reviewers listened to the same book that I did. For one, you only pay $5.50 (if you're a member) for almost 35 hours of reading so from the outset, you've already made a great investment. I like the narration having enjoyed Crime and Punishment under the narration of Charlton Griffin, I looked for someone whose pronunciation was just as crisp and precise. Gabriel Woolf's narration is the best of the lot in my opinion. It was only after I had listened to all of the other narrators that I realized the low price. I prefer British accents for European novels and Woolf's Russian pronunciation is believable. He understands that the novel is told from the POV of a monk who is trying at length to make sense of the events that have transpired in his town vis a vis the Karamazov family. The narrator's tone is very conversational as if expecting feedback from the listener and this really works for me. The presentation could have used the musical backdrop of stringed instruments as in the Crime and Punishment presentation I mentioned but at $5.50, I'm not complaining.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

David Magarshack's Translation

Would you listen to The Brothers Karamazov again? Why?

Yes, maybe in 10 years because it's such a wonderful piece of literature.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Brothers Karamazov?

The reading of Dmitri's guilt.

Which scene was your favorite?

The Grand Inquisitor. This "poem" by Ivan Karamazov, the atheist and perhaps even nihilist, is one of the greatest achievements of literature of the 19th century.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I laughed a few times in this novel, but it isn't terrifically funny.

Any additional comments?

Although David Magarshack's translation is a bit too British at times, it's a great improvement over Constance Garnett's, which is the most common. All of Constance Garnett's translations sound like each other, even if they're by different authors. Tolstoy sounds like Dostoevsky who sounds like Turgenev. Karamazov is a rough book, and the translation conveys this.

I really liked the reading by Gabriel Woolf, although I would only look for his readings of British novels in the future. Overall, I would recommend this performance and translation very highly.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Gayle
  • Sault Ste Marie, ON, Canada
  • 01-17-10

chapters are too long and difficult to bookmark

the book is a great classic, but the narrator is poor without great reading ability, often has too suck back saliva. the chapters are broken up very awkwardly so it is hard to re-listen to small sections to refreshen where i last left off as i pick up the story again. being over 40 hours long it's impossible to listen to it at one sitting! the inexpensive cost reflects the quality. i purchased the other recording today, which costs > $40 but it is so much better!

5 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Paul
  • 09-06-10


Good translation and excellent reading, good pace!

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Geoffrey G. Harvey
  • 04-13-13

Brilliant study of human nature in difficult times

I read the unabridged version and was quite gripped by the story most of the time. Speaking to some Russian PhD students at the University where I work they had not had the same response when they read it during their schooling in Russia. They had found it quite dark and depressing. Perhaps age makes a difference in one’s perception of books. From my perspective I think Dostoevsky’s understanding of human nature is brilliant and I loved the way that he wove the teachings of Christianity in and out of his stories.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • John
  • 08-25-09

A choice of translations -

This audiobook is a recording of David Magarshack's translation of Brothers Karamazov.

This gives us a welcome choice - we can opt now either for this quite modern translation or the readings of the classic translation by Constance Garnett.

9 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Ladyfilosopher
  • 05-24-17

Our political and social ills minutely described

Patriarchy's limitations are eviscerated in detail. Solace for those who ask why the violence today lie eloquently between the 2 covers. To call this a masterpiece is an understatement. Just about every type of male relationship is represented here. This inspired translation by Magarshack flows and feels culturally valid. The narration unfolds in a friendly yet authoritive manner. Any contre-temps in speaking lend a realistic flow of manner, creating a sense of a master story - teller at my beck and call. Unabridged this work unfolds like the best of our TV series. Please, PLEASE take the time for this excursion into human issues. The great D. created the polyphonic voice in narration, where each character is serves themselves and not the author. Even D. struggles and knows not what is Right, but he knows 'What' is plaguing us.