“One could get completely lost in this tangle, and Alyosha’s heart could not bear uncertainty, for the nature of his love was always active.”

The Brothers Karamazov
Book Four, Chapter Five
by Dennis Abrams

“Strain in the Drawing Room” “But in the drawing room the conversation was already coming to an end.” When Alyosha and Madame Khokhlakov enter, Ivan is about to leave. Alyosha’s doubts: Does Ivan love Katerina and mean to ‘win her away” from Dmitri? Does Dmitri really want this to happen? Would Grushenka be better for Dmitri than Katerina? “Strain.” Does Katerina love Ivan and not Dmitri, and was she “deceiving herself and tormenting herself with her affected love for Dmitri, out of some kind of supposed gratitude?” Could Dmitri submit to Katerina while Ivan could not? Alyosha: “What do I know of love and of women, and how can I resolve on such conclusions?” The rivalry between brothers, “too much depended on it.” Had Dmitri always been a viper, “Perhaps since Ivan had first met Katerina Ivanovna.” Whom should Alyosha pity, and what should he wish for each of them? “He did not understand the first thing in this tangle!” Katerina wants Alyosha’s opinion, and declares that she cannot be reconciled with Dmitri, that she does not know whether she loves him now, that he has become pitiful to her, “If I loved him, if I still loved him, then perhaps I should not pity him now, but, on the contrary, should hate him…” Alyosha believes that she no longer loves Dimitri. Katerina, with Ivan’s approval has come to a decision: that she will never leave Dmitri — “I will watch him all my life, all my life, untiringly. And when he becomes unhappy with that woman, and he certainly will and very soon, then let him come to me and he will find a friend, a sister…Only a sister of course, and that will be so forever…I will be his god, to whom he shall pray — that, at least, he owes me for his betrayal and for what I suffered yesterday because of him. And let him see throughout his whole life, that all my life I will be faithful to him…I shall become simply the means of his happiness…” Ivan’s approval. Ivan goes on with deliberate mockery, “Your life, Katerina Ivanovna, will now be spent in the suffering contemplation of your own feelings, of your own high deed and your own grief…” Katerina dissolves into tears, and says how glad she is that Ivan and Alyosha will never leave her to which Ivan responds, “Unfortunately, I must go to Moscow, tomorrow perhaps, and leave you for a long time…” Katerina suddenly brightens up: Ivan can go to visit her aunt and Agasha explaining her present situation. Why is Katerina Osipovna so hostile to Katerina Ivanovna? Alyosha comments that Katerina’s actions were as if she “acted on purpose…acted as if you were in a theater…!” Alyosha’s illumination: Katerina does not love Dimitri at all, perhaps never has, and Dmitri perhaps does not love her either, “I really don’t know how I dare to say all this now, but someone has to speak the truth…because no one her wants to speak the truth…” Katerina’s growing hysteria. Alyosha calls for Dmitri to come and give his blessing to Ivan and Katerina. Katerina calls Alyosha “a little holy fool.” Ivan laughs and prepares to leave, saying that Katerina has never loved him, but that he has loved her all along, that Katerina revenges herself on him for the insults she receives from Dmitri, “but you know, Katerina Ivanovna, that you indeed love only him. And the more he insults you, the more you love him. That is your strain.” Ivan tells Katerina he will never see her again, and leaves quoting Schiller, “Madame, I want no thanks.” Alyosha’s desperation, Katerina’s joy, Madame Khokhlakov assures Alyosha he has done nothing wrong, “you were lovely, like an angel.” Katerina returns and gives Alyosha two hundred roubles: It is for the retired officer who Dmitri insulted and dragged by the beard through the street (an event witnessed by his young son); the family is desperately poor, the wife is insane, their last name is Snegiryov. Madame Khokhlakov talks about Katerina’s pride, and her wish that she break from Dmitri “who does not even want to know her and does not love her in the least” and marry Ivan Fyodorovich, and encourages Alyosha not to believe in a woman’s tears. Lise wants to know how Alyosha acted like an angel. Katerina goes into hysterics, which Madame Khokhlakov says is a “good sign…it’s excellent that she’s in hysterics. It’s precisely as it should be.” Madame Khokhlakov’s “ecstasy.” Alyosha’s grief.

I have to side with Alyosha on this one — I’m not exactly sure what actually happened there. Katerina is becoming more and more mysterious to me — why are her hysterics a good thing? Who would be better for her, Ivan or Dmitri?

1. I like the way that Dostoevsky subtly links Ivan and Fyodor by their mutual love of Schiller.

2. And I loved the comic timing with which, after Katerina cries how glad she is she’ll never be separated from Ivan and Alyosha, Ivan immediately says, “Unfortunately, I must go to Moscow.”

3. Any bets on whether Captain Snegiryov’s son, who watched his father being humiliated by Dimitri and was unable to stop it, is the same kid who nearly bit Alyosha’s finger off?

And finally, this from Robin Feuer Miller:

“Part II extends through the second day of the action of the novel. By now, as with any successful work of art, the reader has entered a structural domain in which the relationship between signifier and signified is different from what is in the real world: such details as bad odors, bad breath, kisses, stones, and bitten fingers become resonant semantic tags for the metaphysical and ethical paradoxes Dostoevsky explores.

BOOK IV

The theme of laceration (nadryv) hovers over Book IV and provides a thread of continuity among characters who are otherwise diverse: the hermit monk Father Ferapont, Katerina Ivanovna, Lise Khokhlakova, Captain Snegiryov, and Ivan. The action of Book IV, like that of Books II and III, is organized around the movements of Alyosha, who continues — a literal ficelle — to tie the action together.

Yet Aloysha’s visits now encompass a wider sphere: the world of Captain Snegiryov, his son Ilyusha, the schoolboy Kolya Krasotkin, and the other schoolboys expands the novel’s field of action and serves to underline Zosima’s religious pronouncement that everything is connected to everything else in the great ocean of being. Moreover, Dostoevsky was carrying out a primary intention of his own. Before he started work on the novel, he had written, in March 1878, ‘I have been planning and will soon start writing a long novel in which, among other things, a considerable part will be played by children, and specifically young children from the ages of about 7 to 15.’

Old Karamazov had used Snegiryov as an agent to reclaim Mitya’s IOUs. In anger, Mitya had rushed to the tavern and pulled the captain’s beard. Thorough this incident the reader enters upon a situation so compelling that it could easily assume center stage, with the Karamazov family problems serving as a mere backdrop. Here we see Dostoevsky’s penchant for creating doubles — second-tier characters representing aspects or potentials of the main character. Yet these second-tier characters quickly assume a full-fledged independence of their own. This will be especially true of Kolya Krasotkin, although this dual novelistic function as both modifier and subject applies to the captain and his son Ilyusha as well.

Belknap offers the most complete and concise discussion of the nadryv as it operates in The Brothers Karamazov. He links it to buffoonery — already associated with Fyodor Karamazov and the ridiculous hanger-on Maximov — another theme with which it overlaps. To nadryv, Belknap observes, belongs to the tragic sense of the absurd. ‘Just as buffoonery was a twisted response to poverty and blows received, so the nadryv is a twisted response to wealth and benefits received, or at least offered…In this sense the nadryv is the exact opposite of buffoonery — involving pride, riches, dignity, and a pressing fear of being base while the buffoon embodies humiliation, poverty, shame, and the pursuit of baseness.’

Yet he also points out that, despite their oppositions, the nadryv and buffoonery are two extremes along the same axis. this axis embodies ‘perversity, willfulness, self-consciousness, self-dramatization, and absurdity.’ Thus a chain begins to emerge with such otherwise widely diverging characters as the captain, Fyodor, Mitya, Lise, Father Ferapont, Katerina Ivanovna, and Ivan serving as links. The perversity of willfulness of these characters can generate a similar set of responses in another. It is not for nothing that Alyosha, toward daybreak on the previous night, had half woken up calling out ‘Laceration, laceration.’ A laceration, as we see throughout Book IV, is a wound inflicted upon oneself out of a twisted pride that may also thus seek, indirectly, to hurt others. [Or, in the translation we’re reading, “strain, strain…”]

Another axis slices through Book IV, a spiritual axis expressed in a poetic cluster revolving around bread and stones. Its poles involve pride and pain on one end and love and spiritual nourishment on the other. The opening chapter of book IV, ‘Father Ferapont,’ displays both these axes and contains ominous foreshadowings of upcoming events. First, from a letter to Alyosha borne by Rakitin from Lise’s mother, Madame Khokhlakova (two unbelievers) we learn of Zosima’s ‘miracle of prediction’ of the day before, a miracle that feeds the general expectation that something even greater will happen upon the occasion of Zosima’s imminent death.

Contrasted to Zosima is Father Ferapont — the ascetic, mad monk who dislikes Zosima and is given to fasting and visions of devils. The visiting monk from Obdorsk voices his admiration for Ferapont: ‘All the year round, even at Easter, you take nothing but bread and water; and what we should eat in two days lasts you a full seven. it’s really marvelous — your great abstinence.” Ferapont, by his minimal intake of earthly bread, hopes, in his pride, to mimic Christ and to recall the moment when the devil tried to tempt Jesus to turn the stones into bread. Jesus had replied that man lives not by bread alone — that spiritual bread was more valuable to Him than earthly bread and that men’s faith could not be bought by such measures. However much Dostoevsky revered this biblical moment, he is quick to parody and undercut Ferapont’s trite imitation of it. Through Ferapont, Dostoevsky ridicules the assumption that simple abstinence from earthly bread is itself an indication of an abundance of spiritual bread.

‘And mushrooms?” asked Father Ferapont suddenly. ‘Mushrooms?’ repeated the surprised monk. ‘Yes, I can give up their bread, not needed it at all, and go away into the forest and live there on the mushrooms or the berries, but they can’t give up their bread here, wherefore they are in bondage to the devil.’ Ferapont’s unexpected emphasis on mushrooms, which he cannot give up, as opposed to bread, which he can, suggests that he has simply replaced one earthly appetite with another — one that, moreover, carries with it the connotation of hallucination. Indeed, Ferapont’s subsequent description of his demonic visions resemble nothing so much as Ivan’s hallucinatory vision of his devil. Thus, the giving up of earthly bread can be as much associated with the temptations of the devil as wanting it can be. Again we see how Dostoevsky makes his themes cut both ways.

Ferapont says that he quickly slammed the door and pinched the tip of the devil’s tail in it. ‘He squealed and started to struggle, and I made the sign of the cross over him three times. And he died on the spot like a crushed spider. He must have rotted there in the corner and be stinking.’ Feraponts’s lacerating words will find numerous echoes in the events to come: Lise slams her own finger in the door; the Karamazov sensuality is spiderlike; Zosima’s dead body stinks mightily. Although Ferapont imagines that he communicates with the Holy Ghost, the reader realizes that he is more likely communicating with the devil.

Counterposed to these dark forebodings is Zosima’s assurance to Alyosha that he shall not die without making certain that Alyosha hears his ‘last word. To you I will say that word, my son, it will be my last gift to you.’ The demonic Ferapont is silent for days at a time; the holy Zosima’s words flow freely. They are ‘gifts,’ or, as the novel’s epigraph suggests, seeds. Yet in Ivan’s poem the Grand Inquisitor has many words to utter, while Jesus remains silent. As always in Dostoevsky’s metaphysical schema, boundaries shift, polarities crumble, and each powerful motif — in this case, words versus silence — can cut both ways. Likewise, in the next chapter Fyodor’s last words (forever) to Alyosha are about the fish soup he plans to serve up to his youngest son the next day. This continues the play between physical nourishment — fish soup — and spiritual nourishment — Zosima’s promised ‘last word.’

As we saw earlier, the third chapter of Book I — ‘Peasant women who have faith ‘ — constituted a seeming digression or delay in the main action but proved, in fact, to be central to the structure of the plot. (SEE BELOW) NOw the third chapter of Book IV, ‘A Meeting with the schoolboys,’ functions identically: it too seems to be a digression. Alyosha has left his father’s house and is rushing to Madame Khokhlakova’s, hoping to find Dmitri as well. Instead, ‘an accident’ occurs that delays him: he witnesses the stone throwing between Ilyusha and the other schoolboys.

Alyosha stops to talk to the group of boys by the bridge, all of whom have stones in their hands, and sees another boy standing some 30 paces away. Alyosha, who had just unknowingly kissed his father on the shoulder for the last time, is suddenly struck on his shoulder by a stone. As he tries to defend his assailant, who turns out to be Ilyusha, he is hit several more times. Finally Ilyusha bites Alyosha’s finger to the bone. Alyosha binds his finger and says, ‘Though I don’t know you…yet I must have done something to you…How have I wronged you, tell me!’ Ilyusha breaks into tears and runs off; Alyosha continues on his way.

Moreover, the next chapter follows a pattern similar to chapter 4 of Book I; each focuses on Madame Khokhlakova and her daughter and seems to be central to the main action but is in fact peripheral. Alyosha leaves her house with 200 rubles for Snegiryov from Katerina Ivanovna. He realizes that the child who bit him must be the captain’s son. As h e walks along he pulls out a roll and eats it. This bread makes him ‘feel stronger.’ When Alyosha visits the Snegiryov family he repeatedly assures them that Dmitri will beg forgiveness publicly for his insult. ‘He will bown down at your feet in the middle of the marketplace.’ Readers of Crime and Punishment know that in Dostoevsky’s view such an act is a mighty gesture of contrition.

Buy this point, Ilyusha’s sufferings seem unbearably unfair. Desperate with fear, he has publicly begged Dmitri, the tormentor, to forgive his father, the victim. Since then he has born the insults and injuries of the boys whose affection is so precious to him. He has begged his father, to no avail, to avenge himself. He has had to learn that the romantic, honorable solution of a duel offers no solution at all to the impoverished head of an ailing family. These psychic lacerations make the physical injury — from being struck above the heart by a stone — seem minor.

Suddenly the language of the novel makes the same leap into sublime and piercing emotion that we heard in the words of the peasant mother whose baby had died. (SEE BELOW). Now a poor father’s words of anguish over the unjust sufferings of his child lacerate our hearts:

‘An ordinary boy, a weak son, would have submitted, have felt ashamed of his father, sir, but he stood up for his father against them all. For his father and for truth and justice, sir. For what he suffered when he kissed your brother’s hand and cried to him ‘forgive daddy, forgive daddy’ — that only God knows, and I, sir, his father…But at that moment in the square, when he kissed his hand, at that moment my Ilyushka had grasped all that justice means, sir. That truth entered into him and crushed him forever, sir.’

The truth’s power to crush and injure is greater than that of any stone. We are shortly, in Book V, to encounter another innocent child who pleads hopelessly for forgiveness. But the truth’s power to nourish is also greater than that of any bread. Once again, the dominant images cut both ways.

Moreover, the language of this passage resembles that of the peasant woman. Both she and Snegiryov describe a scene so vividly that it comes completely to life; both use many diminutives and much repetition. Snegiryov’s use of the word ‘sir’ embodies the anguish and ambivalence of his own laceration. He calls Alyosha ‘sir’ out of both respect and contempt. In each use of the word one emotion may outweigh the other, but both are present, and together they constitute his laceration: the word lacerates both ways.

the power of truth and stones to injure is counterbalanced in this scene by their power to heal as well. As Snegiryov recites the agonizing truth to Alyosha, they are approaching ‘that great stone’ to which the captain and Ilyusha are in the habit of going in the evening. It is a place where they can speak the truth to each other. As Snegiryov and Alyosha reach the comforting (spiritually nourishing) stone, Snegiryov’s anguish and the power of his words reach their apex. He describes how the night before he and Ilyusha had ‘reached the stone where we are now.’ They had watched some kites flying, and the captain had offered to mend theirs.

‘My boy made no answer…He suddenly fell on me, both his little arms around my neck and held me tight. You know, when children are silent and proud, and try to keep back their tears when they are in great trouble and suddenly break down, their tears fall in streams, sir. With those warm streams of tears, sir, he suddenly wetted my face…’daddy,’ he kept crying, ‘daddy, darling daddy, how he insulted you! Daddy,’ he said, ‘daddy.’ ‘Ilyusha,’ I said to him, ‘Ilyusha darling.’ No one saw us then, sir. God alone saw us. I hope he will enter it on my service record, sir.’

Even as Snegiryov’s lacerating confessional lament disintegrates into buffoonery, as it must, we remain confronted with a scene of incredible intimacy and pain; Ilyusha’s tears simultaneously nourish and wound us — not unlike the stone that have so dominated Book IV (‘Lacerations’) With a digression from the main action like this one, who needs a main plot?”

And, as Feuer suggests, the ‘digressions’ of the third chapter of Book IV are as important as those of the third chapter of Book I “Peasant women who have faith” which I admit to largely skipping over, let’s see what Feuer has to say about that chapter:

“In ‘Peasant women who have faith,’ Zosima had already demonstrated his commitment as an elder to fatherly exhortation and tender motherly love. This chapter sets up a dominant resonance fot the whole novel (even as it stands in direct juxtaposition to another chapter in Part I, ‘The Controversy’) Before we have any real knowledge of the direction in which the plot for the Karamazov family might move, we encounter Zosima in his role as confessor to three peasant women. In a pattern typical of Dostoevsky’s novels, this chapter seems at first to be a digression from the main story and a strategy to delay and prolong the mounting tension and the promise of scandalous action. It proves to be no digression but a prophetic first sounding and actual enactment of certain main themes.

Among a crowd of some twenty peasant women, Zosima speaks to five. During the course of this chapter, the narrator-chronicler assumes the guise of an eyewitness who allows himself to make a semi-autobiographical, semisociological digression. As the first peasant, ‘a possessed woman,’ is led up to Zosima, the narrator-chronicler remembers that, in his own childhood, he saw such woman. He describes the evolution of his own understanding of this illness from an initial assumption that it was simulated to an acceptance of its terrible reality. His subsequent explanation of the power of the ‘holy sacrament’ to momentarily dissolve this possession bears a strong resemblance to James’s doctrine of the ‘will to believe.’ The woman’s belief, ‘aroused by the expectation of the miracle of healing,’ actually causes a brief cure.

The narrator-chronicler’s account of this faith healing has significant ramifications for the novel. Within this single paragraph we witness the narrator-chronicler’s own changing outlook: we may be reminded of another possessed woman, Alyosha’s mother; we watch Zosima bring about just such an episode of healing; finally, and most important, the narrator-chronicler directly sounds that dominant theme of the expectation of a miracle.

The second woman Zosima meets is ‘one from afar.’ This passage, as we have already seen, has a wrenching autobiographical significance. Into the language of this uneducated peasant woman Dostoevsky pours his own intimate, desperate grief for his dead child. The theme of the lost child is as important to Dostoevsky’s entire literary canon as it is to that of Dickens. The outpouring of grief for a dead, injured, or suffering child constitutes the fundamental groundswell to this novel. Dostoevsky instilled in The Brothers Karamazov his own grief and love for his dead child, Alexey. He created a manly image for him in Alyosha, but in the characters of Ilyusha and his father — and here in the short vignette of the peasant woman and her dead three-year-old — he brought his own grief to life through fiction.

As Dostoevsky was beginning work on the novel, his Alyosha died. On the day of his own son’s death, Dostoevsky closed a letter to his brother Nikolai with the words, ‘Goodbye, Kolya, pity Lyosha…I h ave never felt so sad.’ Shortly thereafter, Anna Grigorievna sent her grieving husband, in the company of the philosopher Vladimir Solovyov, to the monastery of Optina Pustyn. The words of comfort uttered there to the bereaved, inconsolable Dostoevsky by the famous elder Father Amvrosy are echoed in Zosima’s words to the peasant woman. The real-life monks’ words, spoken in private to Dostoevsky, are scattered like seeds in a fictional, created world where they take hardy root before reentering, by being read, the real world.

The passage also offers an excellent example of how Dostoevsky, by a quick shift in the texture of language and with a few deft strokes, can bring some readers to tears. If you found yourself ready to cry whey you read this passage, it would perhaps be an interesting experiment to return to it and ask why. Does Dostoevsky manage to arouse our emotions without resorting to sentimentality? the bereft mother’s language is full of repetitions, both of words and phrases — such as ‘my little boy’ — and of ideas — ‘I can’t forget him. He seems always standing befor me. He never leaves me.’ She elaborates and enumerates while never for an instant wandering from her subject — her dead child. She encapsulates his preciousness through a litany of heart-wrenching synecdoches: ‘his little clothes, his little shirt, his little boots…all his little things.’ The repetitive, weaving, singsong, incantatory quality of her language brings us close to her grief. It brims with diminutives. When, in her great grief, she asks, not for her beloved child to return, but only to see him, from a distance, one more time, Dostoevsky indirectly conveys the infinitude of parental love.

‘And if only I could look upon him one little time, if only I could peep at him one little time, without going up to him, without speaking, if I could be hidden in a corner and only see him one little minute, hear him playing in the yard, calling in his little voice, ‘Mummy, where are you?’ If only I could hear him pattering with his little feet about the room just once, only once; for so often, so often I remember how he used to run to me and shout and laugh, if only I could hear his little feet I should know him! But he’s gone, Father, he’s gone, and I shall never him again.’

As she laments his death, she brings him poignantly to life for us. The image of this mother, whose entire being longs to hold her child again tight in an embrace and yet who asks only to see him from a distance pattering at play, strikes a keen nerve in the reader and conveys the essence of this novel.

Zosima first consoles her with conventional church wisdom. He tells her that her babe is rejoicing in the company of god and the angels. The woman is a believer; she has experienced no loss of faith, yet this answer offers her no comfort. Divine justice pales before the enormity of earthly injustice and loss. Thus, the peasant woman prefigures that complex rebellion against God’s world that Ivan will shortly undergo.

Zosima quickly abandons standard church dogma and reaches into the biblical past and into the depths of his own heart to offer her counsel. It is ‘Rachel of old…weeping for her children and will not be comforted because they are not.’ Such is the lot set on earth for you mothers. Be not comforted. Consolation is not what you need. Weep and be not consoled, but weep.’ He urges her to remember, not to forget.

At this juncture another crucial prefiguring occurs, for Rachel’s lost children remind us of those other lost an innocent ones smitten down by God — Job’s children. Echoing the novel’s epigraph, Zosima then assures her that her mother’s grief will eventually modulate into quiet joy. We cannot accuse Dostoevsky of false piety here for the simple but irrefutable and irresistible fact that through her three-year-old Alexey he wrote of his own child. Thus in this short scene Dostoevsky has sounded, for the first time, the themes of the suffering and dying child whose death seems unjust and of the rebellion against God’s world that can occur even without a loss of faith, as well as the themes evoked by the novel’s epigraph. We have also seen how Dostoevsky can heat up his language and turn us into putty at a moment’s notice.

Zosima’s third encounter is with a peasant woman who has not heard from her son for a year. She is tempted to resort to superstition by offering up prayers for her son as though he were dead, in the hope that such a prayer would trouble his soul and cause him to write. Zosima chastises her, forgives her, and then predicts that her son will either write or return home very soon. ‘Your son is alive, I tel you.’ Zosima’s forecast proves to be correct, and some choose to regard it as a miracle of prediction. Thus this incident figures in the tension that operates throughout the novel between the dangerous assumption that a miracle will occur as predicted and the unexpected moments when it does in fact take place. Moreover, the incident as a whole calls to mind, as Terras pointed out, the theme of the second temptation of Christ, for it is a rejection of magic and sorcery. All three of the devil’s temptations will figure in Ivan’s Legend of the Grand Inquisitor.

In his fourth encounter Zosima comforts a woman who confesses to him that she has murdered her husband. He assures her that God will forgive her and that she must think only of continual repentance. ‘If you are penitent, you love. And if you love, you are of God. All things are atoned for, all things are saved by love. If I, a sinner, even as you are, am tender with you and have pity on you, how much more will God.’ Zosima, we will later learn, has already forgiven another murderer.

Finally Zosima meets a healthy peasant woman with her baby girl. She has come simply to see him, to bless him, and to ask him to give 60 kopecks to someone poorer than herself. We see Zosima receiving inspiration rather than giving it, although he then blesses the woman and her child. But this final encounter underscores the notion that Zosima himself is part of a chin of being in which we all nurture and are nurtured, love and are loved.

The entire chapter strongly recalls a similar pivotal chapter in The Idiot in which Myshkin tells Rogozhin of several faith-affirming encounters he has in two days with the Russian people. He too describes a murderer who maintains faith in God, and his last encounter is also with a mother who has a healthy baby in her arms. Both these peasant mothers operate almost as the concluding couplet of a sonnet: they send an illuminating shaft of meaning up through ‘the lines’ that have preceded them. In this case, through the appearance of the mother who comes to Zosima simply to see him, Dostoevsky seems to be trying to show an actual moment of the ‘active love’ that Zosima preaches.

Thus, this chapter that presents itself as a digression from the main action in fact prefigures and duplicates it. As such, it offers a compelling example of how Dostoevsky structured his work, how he balanced part and whole and wove a seamless web between them. For through his meetings with these five women, Zosima, in the space of a few short minutes, comes face to face with a possessed woman, with the grief felt at the death of a child, with superstition, with murder, and with the phenomenon of active love.”

The Weekend’s Reading:

Book Four, Chapters Six and Seven; Book Five, Chapter One

Enjoy. And enjoy your weekend.

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4 Responses to “One could get completely lost in this tangle, and Alyosha’s heart could not bear uncertainty, for the nature of his love was always active.”

  1. charie says:

    Ack! Spoilers!

    • Barely. Nothing you didn’t know was going to happen. I did think about it, but figured it was good to get this out now.

      • charie says:

        Sorry, Dennis; I really wasn’t complaining. You are correct, it’s nothing I didn’t know was going to happen. You do a good job of posting others’ commentary at the best time.

      • Your comment started with an “eek” — how seriously could I take it? I do try, though, not to give stuff away in my posts…

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