The Brothers Karamazov

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Book Five: At the Inn

The Inn in our small town is a popular place for men to come and spend the day debating the important questions.  At a table in the corner, near a window, Alexei and Ivan Karamazov are speaking earnestly and quietly to one another.  From time to time, Ivan’s voice rises, and people sitting at other tables overhear and begin to debate his radical ideas.

 

In fact, the conversation between the two brothers has divided the room in two:  on one side of the room, groups of Russian men are debating the first half of Ivan’s argument on “Rebellion.”  Table One is discussing Rebellion; Table Two is discussing Suffering; Table Three is discussing The Russian Character.

 

On the other side of the room, groups debate Ivan’s poem, “The Grand Inquisitor.”  At Table Four, they are discussing Freedom; at Table Five, they are discussing Miracle; at Table Six, they are discussing Mystery; at Table Seven, they are discussing Authority.  At Table Eight, they are discussing the Catholic Church.  And finally, at Table Nine, one man sits alone, defending the devil himself.

 

Also in the room is a bookshelf, containing several classical works.  From time to time, a debater will rise, take a book down from the shelf, find the passage he needs, and return to his argument.

 

Finally of interest is a table in the center of the room, on which various guests have carved their graffiti.  Every guest to the Inn stops to look at the table before he leaves.  You should, too.