Love in Action: The Brothers Karamazov Reading Community 2021

“The fault I find with our journalism is that it forces us to take an interest in some fresh triviality or other every day, whereas only three or four books in a lifetime give us anything that is of real importance.” –Charles Swann, in Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust

“Never be frightened at your own faintheartedness in attaining love, and meanwhile do not even be very frightened by your own bad acts. I am sorry that I can not say anything more comforting, for active love is a harsh and fearful thing compared with love in dreams. Love in dreams thirsts for immediate action, quickly performed, and with everyone watching. Indeed, it will go as far as the giving of one’s life, provided it does not take long but is soon over, as on stage, and everyone is looking on and praising. Whereas active love is labor and perseverance, and for some people, perhaps, a whole science.” —The Views of Father Zosima in The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (Book I, Part Two, Chapter 4)


I invite you to be part of a small group of readers to take on or get reacquainted with one of the world’s great novels, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.  I will facilitate small and large group discussions; share resources on the novel, author, and contexts; assist in making connections to contemporary issues; and encouraging everyone to  pull what is most significant from the novel in the spirit of the following from George Steiner:  “In a manner evident and yet mysterious, the poem or the drama or the novel seizes upon our imaginings. We are not the same when we put down the work as we were when we took it up. To borrow an image from another domain: he who has truly apprehended a painting by Cézanne will thereafter see an apple or a chair as he had not seen them before. Great works of art pass through us like storm-winds, flinging open the doors of perception, pressing upon the architecture of our beliefs with their transforming powers. We seek to record their impact, to put our shaken house in its new order. Through some primary instinct of communion we seek to convey to others the quality and force of our experience. We would persuade them to lay themselves open to it.”

We will meet via Zoom on Tuesdays  at 7 pm Central Time and go for 90 minutes.  Our first introductory  session will be Tuesday 26 January. Thereafter, we will meet on the second and fourth Tuesdays from February through July with a concluding session the second Tuesday of August.  Each session we will deal with one of the twelve books that make up the novel.

Recommended translation: Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, but if you are keen to explore another one, please do. Also, you’ll need a journal or digital file to explore your own questions, review your favorite passages and write your responses to what most moves you.

Tuition: $125, payable by check to me or Paypal. Partial scholarships are available. Classes like this supplement my work as an adjunct professor at Maryville University and a tutor at Florissant Valley Community  College.

I’ve facilitated this novel twice before: in 2000 with members and friends of the Catholic Worker community and in 2013-2014 with a  few dear friends.  If you are interested, send me an email—


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