The Brothers Karamazov is Fyodor Dostoevsky’s final masterpiece. It offers superb characterization, psychological depth and insight; intrigue, murder, and suspense; great daubs of humor, both madcap broadsides and satirical with a capital slice; that never-ending, cyclonical struggle between faith and reason; a sublimely Slavic melange of love, lust, deception, betrayal, violence, flight, revenge, apostasy, and redemption—capped off by a court trial scene that overrules Perry Mason and, in the renowned chapter The Grand Inquisitor, a full-court press by an impassioned Hierarch against Jesus’ abandonment of mankind to a terrifying freedom and overwhelming spiritual responsibility it neither wanted nor could manage that alone is worth the price of the book.
All right, I didn’t write the paragraph above (stole it from here), but it’s similar to what I would have cribbed from my CliffsNotes had I spent high school reading classics instead of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the D&D Monster Manual. A few years back I decided to make up for my literature deficit by reading at least one classic a year. Liked Moby Dick, loved The Kalevala, and 2016 was the year I’d finally read the book that smart people have told me to read for decades, The Brothers Karamazov. So what did I think of this, the greatest Russian novel ever written?
Eh. It was a bit of slog.
The English language evolves quickly. New terms emerge and old ones die with remarkable speed, especially in our accelerated age. Changes in culture, technology, and entertainment are often the catalysts, but more and more, the pursuit of social justice is the cause.
The latter leads to what author Steven Pinker named the “euphemism treadmill.” One term is deemed offensive, so it is replaced with a new term, which, over time, is deemed offensive itself.
A good example of this comes from the field of mental health. Offended by hopelessly vague and unscientific terms like “crazy” and “madness,” early psychologists chose sterile, humane terms such as “moron,” “imbecile,” and “idiot.” But if you happened to visit a schoolyard any time after the Harding administration, you know it didn’t take long for kids to yell those well-meaning terms as they pantsed the kid with his tongue stuck to the flagpole.
Four months after Mitt Romney’s loss to President Obama, the Republican National Committee released an autopsy report to prevent a similar blow out in 2016. Their recommendations?
“We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian and gay Americans and demonstrate that we care about them, too.”
“We must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform.”
The party needed to shed its identity as “scary,” “ narrow minded” and filled with “stuffy old men.”
Today, most of that report’s authors have endorsed a 70-year-old loudmouth billionaire who has made a mockery of everything they proposed. After labeling Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists, his entire post-primary Hispanic outreach was a photo of the candidate grinning over a taco salad.