The Intimidating Book Club: The Brothers Karamazov, Books 7-9

West End Library

The Intimidating Book Club: The Brothers Karamazov, Books 7-9

When intoxication and confessions intertwine, results can be mixed -- but, honestly, results usually aren’t good. With inhibitions lowered, you may accidentally-on-purpose reveal to your stamp-hating compatriots that you’ve been an ardent philatelist all along. You may decide to forgo all human decency and admit that you prefer Pepsi over Coke-a-Cola. (And here I thought you were a person with taste and principles!) Or, like the horribly inebriated character Gortskin in The Brothers Karamazov, you inform Dimitri Karamazov that he is a scoundrel, and narrowly avoid death.

Still. There’s something that draws the soul to confessions, both of the legal and spiritual persuasion. And it is no secret that intoxication -- in its various forms, be it chemical or emotional -- are woven into the fabric of human experience and existence.

On November 23, 2021, 14 dedicated and enthusiastic participants met virtually over Webex to discuss for two hours what confessions and intoxication mean in the scope of Books 7-9 of The Brothers Karamazov.

The group focused on two opening questions: one pertaining to confessions, the other to intoxication: 

  • Dmitri confesses twice (Bk. 2, Ch. 3-6 and Bk. 9 Ch 7). We also see Elder Zossima take confessions. (Ch. 11 “Another Reputation Ruined”) Legally speaking, what is a confession? Spiritually, what is a confession?
  • Next, take a look at Book 8, Ch. 5. Dmitri orders three dozen bottles of champagne. Later, in Ch. 8, we see an entire chapter aptly titled "Delirium". What does champagne and/or drunkenness do to the soul?

In the end, the group collectively came to many conclusions, but one in particular sticks out to me. Intoxication is dangerous, and confessions are something worthy of being examined and judged. In which case, here is my confession: When I eat pizza, I prefer, above all other methods, to eat it with a knife and fork. Judge away.

Learn more about The Intimidating Book Club here. Read another blog post about this book here and here.

-- My Nguyen