The Brothers Karamazov
by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Brothers Karamazov Judgment and Justice Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph). We used Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's translation.
What swayed them above all was the totality of facts. (12.9.2)
The novel is again ironic about the word "fact." There's no such thing as a fact, just interpretations of facts. If you're motivated by ambition (like the prosecutor) or influenced by psychological, medical, or philosophical theories (like Rakitin or the Moscow doctor), you're liable to misread the facts. Only a religious person like Alyosha believes rightly in Dmitri's innocence from the get-go.
"Here, above all, the triumphant novelist can be brought up short and demolished by details, those very details in which reality is always rich, and which are always neglected by such unfortunate and unwilling authors, as if they were utterly insignificant and unnecessary trifles, if indeed they even occur to them. Oh, they cannot be bothered with that at the moment, their mind creates only the grandiose whole – and then someone dares suggest such a trifle to them!" (12.9.3)
Kirillovich prides himself on his attention to detail, and thus his realism; unlike novelists, he only deals in facts. The irony is that everything in his speech is fiction, since he has read every detail through the biased lens of his desire to prosecute Dmitri.
"[...] the overwhelming totality of the facts is against the defendant, and at the same time there is not one fact that will stand up to criticism, if it is considered separately, on its own!" (12.10.1)
Fetyukovich effectively challenges Kirillovich on the point of fact. He notes here that the "facts" on which Kirillovich bases his prosecution are actually just the products of fantasy on the part of the prosecutor and the witnesses. Fetyukovich does a particularly effective job pointing out that nobody ever saw or counted the 3,000 roubles everyone claims Dmitri spent on his first trip to Mokroye – which, if you were reading the novel carefully, should be no surprise to you.