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The Brothers Karamazov
The Brothers Karamazov
by Fyodor Dostoevsky
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Nesting Novels

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The Brothers Karamazov is often interrupted by long narratives that don't further the plot and could probably stand on their own as novels. Mini-novels nested within the novel, such as Ivan's "The Grand Inquisitor" fantasy and Zosima's "Life and Times," serve as allegories to help develop the message of the novel as a whole. Indeed, these two stories represent two radically opposed world views that are tested in the course of the narrative. Significantly, Zosima's "Life and Times" is actually authored by Alyosha, writing out his recollection of Zosima's words. Alyosha's act of writing parallels the work of the narrator in The Brothers Karamazov: both attempt to produce an image of human goodness in the face of great suffering, with the same universal appeal that Zosima ascribes to the simple stories in the Bible.

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