Kalganov and Karamazov (Notes on Book 9)

Mitya says: I am guilty of murder. Not because I have killed; I have not. But because I am capable of killing. And we are all capable of cruelty. While there is any crime in the world, each and every one of us is guilty of it.

There’s no use squirming to avoid blame because we are all to blame.

Kalganov sees it differently. Convinced of Mitya’s guilt, he despairs. If one such as he could be guilty, what does that say of the rest of humanity?

Both Mitya and Kalganov believe in the universality of guilt. But while Mitya includes himself in this judgement, Kalganov excludes himself, believes himself the only innocent, and despairs.

(I’ve been reading Dostoevsky’s The Karamazov Brothers, translated by Constance Garnett.)

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2 Responses to Kalganov and Karamazov (Notes on Book 9)

  1. jnauthor says:

    It comes down to a definition of ‘guilty’? Are you guilty just because you are capable of doing something , or are you only guilty once you have acted upon that capability? Surely what makes us human is that we are capable of having ‘bad’ thoughts but are also capable of controlling them, ignoring them? Happy thoughts just before Christmas! Have a good one, Lee, whatever your take on the holiday period.

    Liked by 2 people

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