Prequel to The Brothers Karamazov
Following is the lost account of Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov, a character from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s book “The Brothers Karamazov” – arguably the greatest existentialist novel ever written. In the book, Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov is the father of the three brothers: Dmitri, Ivan and Alyosha Karamazov. This unedited and unpublished chapter was found in Dostoevsky’s papers at an auction. The early experiences of Fyodor Karamazov, in this lost work, help explain the plot in Dostoevsky’s magnum opus. This chapter also includes Dostoevsky’s footnotes.
The Making of a Man
Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov was the only son of a wretched, taciturn, overzealously religious and illiterate peasant Ilyusha Karamazov and his meek wife Natenska. Their story was no different from the stories of all the other proud, impoverished rural families. They claimed to be the descendants of nobles who had, through unforeseen circumstances, become peasants. Then, there was the legend of the great Karamazov grandfather who had spoken up against the demands of the feudal landlord of the time only to be shot down in front of his whole clan. His heroic nature was admired but not followed by the next generation. Everything was left to God.
With little money to spend, school was out of the question for little Fyodor. It may have seemed to people that Fyodor was a bit slow but that was only because the child was always lost in his own thoughts. He spent his mornings helping his mother with menial chores around the house and the afternoons working in the farm with his father.
His mother was an agitated woman but no one, not even her husband, understood the cause of her angst. When Fyodor was only six, she died suddenly of some unknown disease. Ilyusha married a widow, from the village, with five children right away. At the same time, he became so obsessed with learning scripture that his family became secondary to him. He never cared to even remember his second wife’s name and just called her ‘number two’.
Fyodor was not required to do the chores anymore, so he had all the time to roam around the village. He would walk for miles and miles and venture so far from home on some days that he wouldn’t even get back at night. Once, somewhere along the way, he found a deserted barn. As he stepped in to the darkness inside the barn, some thing grabbed hold of him. It was there that young Fyodor lost his innocence. Every afternoon he would feel a strong urge to visit the barn again and experience the guilt. A kind of guilt that had to be forgotten.
This was one of the first experiences Fyodor forcefully blocked from his memory. No one knows what kept happening to him in that barn but sub-consciously Fyodor never forgave himself.
All of a sudden, for reasons unknown to others, Fyodor started despising his father. Ilyusha noticed how his family had started resenting him. He felt the change in the boy’s character and thought the solution was thst everyone in the family should join him in his fervent quest to understand the word of God. He started taking the boy to church to hear the sermons of the great priests. Ilyusha was always moved by Abraham’s story. His heart would pump fast and his face would become distorted. Tears would roll down his face.
What Ilyusha failed to understand was that Fyodor was one of those people who come into this world to experience a complete change in personality. This disgust for the father was a part of the change. And it wouldn’t be through religious teachings that Fyodor would gain the personal and spiritual growth needed for his development. It was to be something else, not to be understood now. For now Ilyusha just had to witness the changes in his son.
But Ilyusha was unsettled and was often found pacing around the farm mumbling. Fyodor would catch his father’s piercing eyes staring at him from afar. There was a terrible terror in them that would shake Fyodor.
One day, while Fyodor was working in the farm, his father jumped on him in a fanatic urge and tried to cut his throat. Fyodor screamed and resisted. He used all his strength to fight his father (he was twelve years old then), broke free from his grip and ran away.
“Don’t you see God would have stopped it from happening. This was not meant to be murder – this was an act of faith, my faith! Come back!”
Fyodor screamed impatiently: “Oh, you holy fool! Haven’t you learned that there is no God!”
And he ran away as fast as he could. He ran through the fields, through the barn, and through the town. He ran under the hot burning sun and he ran till it was pitch dark. He ran till he could run no further. Out of breath, he fell down and wept. He wept and wept and wept. He did not understand what made him renounce God in front of his father. He screamed “Why” and wept some more.
Later, he fell into a deep sleep where he dreamt of his house, he saw his mother in her pain, he saw the trees in his backyard, and he saw that old barn. He woke up not knowing how many days had passed since he had been lying there on the ground. He was baffled and he couldn’t remember where he was.
“Are you lost boy?” asked a long, dark face.
Fyodor opened his eyes to see but found himself too weak to look for the source of the voice.
“Are you an orphan? Do you need a place to stay?”
“Food?” Fyodor replied.
The man gave him a cup of water and a small loaf of bread.
At that moment Fyodor felt a terrible pain in his heart. He wasn’t an orphan but he couldn’t go back to living as before. So he lied that he was all alone in the world and it felt heavy.
…knows that I do not lie (See Notes,1)
The man took him in his care and dropped him off at the nearest monastery.
“You will be protected here”.
And he left Fyodor with the following words:
“We should pray always and never lose heart.” (See Notes,2)
At the monastery the hermits made him take the following oath:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind and your neighbor as yourself.” (See Notes,3)
There is no place for a runaway peasant boy in society. So he accepted this place of refuge. His was confused but after a while he made a commitment to become a monk. He thought this the best way to rid his soul of the darkness, of the terrible sins he had committed.
He lived for ten years in the monastery utterly disgusted with himself. He wanted to live a life devoid of sin. He prayed daily, begged for forgiveness, and lived on the hope that one day he would rid himself of the doubts in his heart and miraculously start believing. He also became a vicious loner and hardly ever spoke to the other monks. He kept stacks of books on Christian theology, Greek philosophy, Russian law and the lives of saints, in his cell. He was educating himself to become a religious scholar and a devoted servant of God.
He was also laying the seeds for what it would mean, later, to be a Karamazov.
But rigorous study was proving to be meaningless and he was severely unhappy. The real education he craved for was forbidden to him. The monastery was only forcing him to purify what was capable of being impure. He was getting tired of contemplating God. The hope that life brought him to the monastery to be of any service was beginning to fade. He was becoming more and more impatient. He was now a man of twenty-two, broad shouldered, rosy-cheeked and glowing with health. Could he spend his entire youth in this monastery?
He felt that locking himself in his cell was not the right solution to his problems. He did not need to hide anymore. He needed to escape and had to do it at once. His service to God was just a lie.
One morning he heard the monks chant:
Glory honor and blessing
Who suffered so much for us,
Who has given so many good things (See Notes,4)
And he could not take it anymore, so he finally confessed everything to God without any shame. He confessed his doubts and his disbelief. The burden of sin was at once lifted from him soul. He was now ready for the world and the experiences it had to offer.
“Do the gods love piety because it is pious, or is it pious because they love it?” (See Notes,5)
He finally felt he was on the road that would take him to his advantage. He was happy to be back in the land of the living. He gave up religious observance for good. His belief was now more philosophical rather than religious in nature.
When my spirit failed me
You knew my ways (See Notes,6)
He did not know what he wanted to do or aimed for but he knew that at that moment his self was indefinable and that he needed a worldly experience. Life was to become his teacher.
Instead of suppressing sin he now wanted to find glory in it. From the monastery he found his way to a nearby castle and asked for the castl’e Count. Afrer repeated inquiries, he was escorted out of the premises. This frustration and curiosity then led him to a brothel in Moscow where he learned of the Anna and Vronsky scandal. He wanted a scandal of his own.
One day in the brothel, Fyodor noticed Isu. He felt she was someone who could easily defy society’s morals without any guilt. He became instantly attracted to her. At the time he was the quiet one while she was the complete opposite. He liked watching her move around the room, going from one man’s arms to the next. The way she swayed made him desire her more. She wasn’t what one would call a beauty. She was quite an ordinary girl with ordinary looks but she knew how she could make use of her youth in a sexual way. What was it that attracted men towards her? It was most certainly her vulgarity and her confidence. But at the time Fyodor wanted to burn eternally and passionately and he knew that getting close to Isu would grant him that experience.
She saw him noticing her and, out of sheer boredom, started charming him. Then immediately she was giving him the sexual peace he needed to calm his otherwise conflicting mind. Isu giving up herself to him was the love and the abundant knowledge Fyodor craved. Before this, he had never known that deep inside him was a beast susceptible to sluts.
He started living with Isu and loved her past never haunted her and how the future never really mattered to her. She never took life too seriously and soon became terribly bored with Fyodor. In order to get rid of him, she cried, screamed, made excuses, fought, and cursed out loud. Nothing mattered to him except having her and being close to her. Empathy and shame lost all meaning to him. Ethics and morality were now only concepts to be read in books.
After a year of this sinful existence, Fyodor started feeling agitated and came to a realization that maybe sex wasn’t the right stimulant for him. He needed something else, something very different.The whore wasn’t bringing him a fortune and he needed money . Isu noticed how she no longer had a grip on Fyodor so she tried to seduce him once more. But she had lost her appeal and he wanted to leave her immediately. This time she begged, cried, and screamed for him to stay with her. Fyodor noticed the control he now possessed over this woman and felt a sinister kind of joy. He had finally found the key to his happiness.
He wrote his new gospel – the gospel of earthly desires. He made a pact to give in to whatever desire he felt. He forgot all about inner conflict and misery. One had to forget in order to live, he though. And now he would only live in, and for, the moment.
Our Fyodor had now acquired wisdom, and in that he had become a fool – a passionate buffoon.
1. Gospel of Paul 2 Corinthians 11:31
3.(Mt 22:37, 39)
4. Rev 5:13
5. Dialogue between Socrates and Euthyphro as written by Plato.
 She is suffering from epilepsy.
 This is where the character uses forgetfulness to escape from his despair.
 He will be introduced as a shrewd and clever person in the novel.
 A trait one of his sons will acquire from him.
 Lying will become a personality trait for him in the novel.
 One of the sons will take this passion as well.
 Force him to omit a part of his personality. Something one of his sons will try to do as well.
 Surprise the reader when Fyodor would quote the law or theology in the novel. But never mention how once he was a scholar.
 All of the Karamazovs will be sensual beings.
 Beginning of the realization of his despair.
 He will despise monasteries in the novel.
 The beginning of his shameless life.
 Great idea for a book where peasants work for a count in the castle -but in fact he doesn’t exist.
 This realization will lead him to marry for money.
 Happiness for him would be to have power over women. Describe this in more detail in the novel. Maybe he could make a confession to his sons?
 Introduce him as a fool in the novel but never lay out his wisdom and his past experiences. That would remain hidden from the reader.