"The Brothers Karamazov" Quotes

Fyodor Dostoevsky's Famous Novel

Portrait of Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Getty/Bettmann/Contributor

"The Brothers Karamazov" is one of the greatest novels of all time. The book was the final novel Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote before his death. This important Russian novel is often praised for its complexity. Here are a few quotes from the novel.

  • "Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end... but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature ... And to found that edifice on its unavenged tears: would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell me the truth!"
     
  • "I'm a Karamazov... when I fall into the abyss, I go straight into it, head down and heels up, and I'm even pleased that I'm falling in such a humiliating position, and for me, I find it beautiful. And so in that very shame, I suddenly begin a hymn. Let me be cursed, let me be base and vile, but let me also kiss the hem of that garment in which my God is clothed; let me be following the devil at the same time, but still I am also your son, Lord, and I love you, and I feel a joy without which the world cannot stand and be."
     
  • "Is there in the whole world a being who would have the right to forgive and could forgive? I don't want harmony. From love for humanity, I don't want it. I would rather be left with the unavenged suffering. I would rather remain with my unavenged suffering and unsatisfied indignation, even if I were wrong. Besides, too high a price is asked for harmony; it's beyond our means to pay so much to enter on it. And so I hasten to give back my entrance ticket, and if I am an honest man I am bound to give it back as soon as possible. And that I am doing. It's not God that I don't accept, Alyosha, only I most respectfully return him the ticket."
     
  • "Listen: if everyone must suffer, in order to buy eternal harmony with their suffering, pray tell me what have children got to do with it? It’s quite incomprehensible why they should have to suffer, and why they should buy harmony with their suffering."
     
  • "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."
     
  • "Everything is permitted..."
     
  • "All is lawful."
     
  • "There is only one salvation for you: take yourself up, and make yourself responsible for all the sins of men. For indeed it is so, my friend, and the moment you make yourself sincerely responsible for everything and everyone, you will see at once that it is really so, that it is you who are guilty on behalf of all and for all. Whereas by shifting your own laziness and powerlessness onto others, you will end by sharing in Satan's pride and murmuring against God."
     
  • "Viper will eat viper, and it would serve them both right!"
     
  • "What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love."
     
  • "People talk sometimes of a bestial cruelty, but that's a great injustice and insult to the beasts; a beast can never be so cruel as a man, so artistically cruel. The tiger only tears and gnaws, that's all he can do. He would never think of nailing people by the ears, even if he were able to do it."
     
  • "I think the devil doesn't exist, but man has created him, he has created him in his own image and likeness."
     
  • "If you were to destroy in mankind the belief in immortality, not only love but every living force maintaining the life of the world would at once be dried up. Moreover, nothing then would be immoral; everything would be lawful, even cannibalism."
     
  • "Beauty is a terrible and awful thing! It is terrible because it has not been fathomed, for God sets us nothing but riddles. Here the boundaries meet and all contradictions exist side by side."
     
  • "Hesitation, anxiety, the struggle between belief and disbelief—all that is sometimes such a torment for a conscientious man... that it’s better to hang oneself."
     
  • "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."
     
  • "Very different is the monastic way. Obedience, fasting, and prayer are laughed at, yet they alone constitute the way to real and true freedom: I cut away my superfluous and unnecessary needs, through obedience I humble and chasten my vain and proud will, and thereby, with God’s help, attain freedom of spirit, and with that, spiritual rejoicing!"
     
  • "Even those who have renounced Christianity and attack it, in their inmost being still follow the Christian ideal, for hitherto neither their subtlety nor the ardor of their hearts has been able to create a higher ideal of man and of virtue than the ideal given by Christ."
     
  • "I may be wicked, but still I gave an onion."
     
  • "A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies, becomes unable to recognize truth, either in himself or in anyone else, and he ends up losing respect for himself and for others. When he has no respect for anyone, he can no longer love, and in him, he yields to his impulses, indulges in the lowest form of pleasure, and behaves in the end like an animal in satisfying his vices. And it all comes from lying--to others and to yourself."
     
  • "Men reject their prophets and slay them, but they love their martyrs and honor those they have slain."
     
  • "So long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and so painfully as to find someone to worship."
     
  • "If they drive God from the earth, we shall shelter Him underground."
     
  • "Even there, in the mines, underground, I may find a human heart in another convict and murderer by my side, and I may make friends with him, for even there one may live and love and suffer. One may thaw and revive a frozen heart in that convict, one may wait upon him for years, and at last bring up from the dark depths a lofty soul, a feeling, suffering creature; one may bring forth an angel, create a hero! There are so many of them, hundreds of them, and we are to blame for them."
     
  • "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."
     
  • "Psychology lures even most serious people into romancing, and quite unconsciously."
     
  • "It is not as a child that I believe and confess Jesus Christ. My hosanna is born of a furnace of doubt."
     
  • "To be in love is not the same as loving. You can be in love with a woman and still hate her."
     
  • "It's the great mystery of human life that old grief passes gradually into quiet tender joy."
     
  • "The more I detest men individually the more ardent becomes my love for humanity."
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Lombardi, Esther. ""The Brothers Karamazov" Quotes." ThoughtCo, Sep. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/the-brothers-karamazov-quotes-739067. Lombardi, Esther. (2017, September 3). "The Brothers Karamazov" Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-brothers-karamazov-quotes-739067 Lombardi, Esther. ""The Brothers Karamazov" Quotes." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-brothers-karamazov-quotes-739067 (accessed September 23, 2017).