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The Brothers Karamazov Quotes

brothers karamazovSomehow I made it all of the way through an English degree without having to read even an excerpt from one of Dostoevsky’s books. Of course, it was mainly English literature, but we did read a good amount of Nabokov and Tolstoy. Fyodor was absent, however. Well, I’m currently about halfway through The Brothers Karamazov. While I’m not sure whether I like it or not yet, I am enjoying the experience of reading it. It’s not as difficult or as dense as I had worried. One thing it is, is quotable. So I’m going to start this page here and add to it as I come across choice bits of The Brothers Karamazov quotes.

Please feel free to add to the list!

  • “The stupider one is, the closer one is to reality. The stupider one is, the clearer one is. Stupidity is brief and artless, while intelligence wriggles and hides itself. Intelligence is a knave, but stupidity is honest and straightforward.” (does this make you want to be stupider? Me either)
  • “In most cases, people, even the most vicious, are much more naive and simple-minded than we assume them to be. And this is true of ourselves too.”
  • “Viper will eat viper, and it would serve them both right!”
  • “. . . I know that heart, it is a wild but noble heart . . . It will bow down before your deed, it thirsts for a great act of love, it will catch fire and resurrect forever. There are souls that in their narrowness blame the whole world. But overwhelm such a soul with mercy, give it love, and it will curse what it has done, for there are so many germs of good in it. The soul will expand and behold how merciful God is, and how beautiful and just people are. He will be horrified, he will be overwhelmed with repentance and the countless debt he must henceforth repay. And then he will not say, ‘I am quits,’ but will say, ‘I am guilty before all people and am the least worthy of all people.’
  • “So long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and so painfully as to find someone to worship” (I think this is my favorite so far)
  • “There is not—there cannot be—a sin on earth that God will not forgive the truly repentant. Why, a man cannot commit a sin so great as to exhaust the infinite love of God. How could there be a sin that would surpass the love of God?” 
  • “Fathers and teachers, I ponder, “What is hell?” I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love” (if you like this one you might enjoy quotes on friendship)
  • “The more I detest men individually the more ardent becomes my love for humanity”

I’ll leave it there for now, but if you’re going to read this book, I have a recommendation: learn whatever you can about Fyodor Dostoevsky himself. He experience some dreadful things that make the book about the suffering Karamazov family that much more poignant and insightful.

Enjoy! And if you’re still on the fence, you can read some reviews of The Brothers Karamazov and see what others are saying. There’s no accounting for taste.

Also, if you’re a quote hound, I’m also working on a list of friendship quotes.


“So long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and so painfully as to find some one to worship.” “So long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and so painfully as to find some one to worship.”

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