Sunday, July 01, 2007

A Rhetorical Shift and a Challenge: Compassion for Dmitri?

I continue to make payments on my 30 year mortgage with Brothers K; I am reading slowly on purpose or to good purpose, but I'm having problems satisfying these past few installments.

Here's the problem; we have shifted books; Book VII was "Alyosha"; now I am on Book VIII: "Mitya" [Dmitri].

With Alyosha there was suffering--Zossima's death and a crisis of faith; with Dmitri there is also suffering--contentiousness, internal conflict, his longing for an authentic male/female relationship, and his very ineffective way of trying to satisfy this last, very human need.

I must confess some level of impatience/annoyance with the reading right now. Is it that I am facing the banality of evil? Is it that I lack compassion? Dostoevsky seems to be creating a picture of despair and inviting the reader to feel compassion for Dmitiri, is he not? It is hard for me--and equally necessary--to accept this invitation.

I felt angst for Alyosha; I stayed up late to see him through his crisis because he was actively struggling and I wanted him to stay true--but with Dmitri, I don't see a promise of immediate enlightenment for him or me as I did with Alyosha; I tire of Dmitri's humanness.

Alyosha's struggle was compelling; Dmitri's, challenging. To appreciate and connect completely with both is, perhaps, an obligation of the readers of Brothers Karamazov.


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