Season 3 Episode 40: Liz Humphreys and Elisabeth Van Der Meer on the Midpoint of the #KaramzovReadalong

Fyodor Dostoyevsky by Vasily Grigorevich Perov 1872

“For all is like an ocean, all flows and connects; touch it in one place and it echoes at the other end of the world.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Welcome to Tea, Toast and Trivia.

Thank you for listening in.

I am your host, Rebecca Budd, and I am looking forward to sharing this moment with you.

The #KaramazovReadalong has reached a milestone in our journey.  We are at the midpoint of the book.

Liz Humphreys from Edinburgh, Scotland, and Elisabeth Van Der Meer from Porvoo, Finland have joined me to look back on what we’ve learned, and look forward to what may come.

You may recall that a few months ago, I received an invitation from my blogger friend and book aficionado, Liz Humphreys to join her on a readalong of The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.  This readalong was to coincide with the 200th year anniversary of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s birth. The stars aligned when Elisabeth Van Der Meer, from A Russian Affair, agreed to join the party. 

Where are we?  What have we learned? What comes next?  These are the questions that will be discussed.

So put the kettle on and add to this exciting conversation on Tea Toast & Trivia.

Thank you, Liz, for your willingness to take on this massive project and for your invitation to enter the world of Russian Literature. Thank you, Elisabeth, for adding breadth and depth to our understanding.  I am looking forward to road ahead and to our next podcast in which will celebrate the ending of a journey well made.

Thank you for joining Liz, Elisabeth, and me on Tea Toast & Trivia.  And a very special thank you Liz and Elizabeth for adding your enthusiasm and insights on The Brother’s Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky.   His words from The Brothers Karamazov will enlighten the journey ahead.

“This is my last message to you: in sorrow, seek happiness,” Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

You can connect with Liz on “Leaping Life” and Elisabeth on “A Russian Affair.”  You are only an internet click away from entering a world of books and brilliant conversations.

Until next time, dear friends, keep safe and be well.

Liz Humphreys & Elisabeth Van Der Meer on the Midpoint of the #KaramazovReadalong Tea. Toast. & Trivia.

Elisabeth Van Der Meer’s recommended reading.

37 Replies to “Season 3 Episode 40: Liz Humphreys and Elisabeth Van Der Meer on the Midpoint of the #KaramzovReadalong”

  1. Excellent interview. As I think I have mentioned, “The Brothers K”, as we call it, is one of my favorite books of all time. Not only does Dostoyevsky address the internal, nagging questions about God with fabulously interesting characters, he also has one of the best dialogs on free will in “The Grand Inquisitor”. Dostoyevsky is one of the best thinkers and authors this world has known.

    Liked by 9 people

    1. How very well said: “Dostoyevsky is one of the best thinkers and authors.” I read “The Grand Inquisitor” several times, Tim. And I think that I will need to read that chapter again and again. The quote that I took from the chapters was: “For the secret of human existence lies not only in living, but in knowing what to live for.” Thank you for listening in and for your amazing support of these conversations. Very much appreciated.

      Liked by 7 people

    2. I wish my dad were alive for this conversation! I can’t begin to tell you how many conversations he and I had about free will and the suffering of the innocent.

      Liked by 8 people

      1. Did your dad believe in free will? It’s such a fascinating subject. I just finished a course on determinism and free will. Science wants to be deterministic, philosophy sits on the fence, but the execution of law requires free will. When the two are pulled into the realm of science and law moderated by philosophy, theology gets pushed out to a large extent. I find that to be even more fascinating.

        The suffering of the innocent is difficult to understand within the confines of Christianity and the idea of a loving God. But in the philosophy of Utilitarianism, it is necessary for innocent people to suffer for the good of everyone. It seems to me in these trouble times we are seeing more of a utilitarian approach to punishment. If punishing innocent people are seen to have a good out come for society than innocent people must be punished by Utilitarian standards.

        Vaccinations are a good example. If a person chooses not to be vaccinated by using her pesky free will, because she has been told or she knows she has a high risk of debilitating side effects or possibly dying from the vaccine, the Utilitarians in the government see a need to force her to be vaccinated or punish her for choosing not to be vaccinated by fining her, taking her livelihood away, withholding benefits, incarcerating her or in the extreme, executing her. It does not matter why she chose not to be vaccinated she is seen as a risk to society. Therefore, she is not seen as innocent by the Utilitarians in the government, but she is innocent.

        Liked by 7 people

      2. Yes, my dad believed in free will, and somehow he was able to reconcile the suffering of the innocent within the confines of Christianity as a Divine Mystery. His faith in God was unwavering.

        Liked by 5 people

      3. There’s a lot of mystery in the world, divine or otherwise. “The God of the gap” is often used to fill in the muddled areas that are beyond our comprehension. Science has filled in a lot of the gaps, but then science can be wrong opening gaps again.

        Liked by 4 people

      4. It’s pretty well known term in discussions on science and religion. Medieval theology, the discipline during the middles ages, encompassed science, but theologians did not always have the technology and tools to test and prove scientific theories. Therefore, so much of the unexplained phenomenas in nature and the cosmos were considered mysteries of God and used to fill in the gaps between explainable and unexplained phenomena the things that could be observed and the things, known, but could not be observed. As science matured, methods improved, and technology developed, science became separated from theology and professionalized. Scientific discoveries started filling in the gaps, and theology was left with fewer and fewer mysteries.

        Liked by 4 people

      5. And yet, the mysterious is part of the human experience. A few days ago I read a 2019 article in Scientific American which argues that there is much more to know. I think you will enjoy the read. Here is the last paragraph.

        “Over the last decade or two, science has lost its mojo. The replication crisis has undermined the public’s confidence in scientists, and scientists’ confidence in themselves. It has made them humble–and that is a good thing. Because what if scientists had somehow convinced themselves, and the rest of us, that they had figured everything out? What a tragedy that would be. We’re better off in our current state of befuddlement, trying to comprehend this weird, weird world even though we know we’ll always fall short.” https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/the-delusion-of-scientific-omniscience/

        Liked by 3 people

      6. That’s an excellent article, Rebecca. That’s what I’ve been saying all along. Whenever politicians say their decisions are “based on science” watch out. They wouldn’t know science if it slapped them in the face, as many scientists have discovered they don’t know as much about science as they thought. Dark matter is another example. Almost all scientist glom onto it, but dark matter has yet to be observed or given any proof that it exists. Dark matter is a god of a huge gap trying to explain what makes up the void of the universe.

        Liked by 2 people

      7. I meant to write theology was “the most highly respected discipline during the middles ages like the sciences are today”. Redundant otherwise.

        Liked by 2 people

    3. An thought provoking opinion piece on the nature of free will and its application in modern society, Timothy. I do wonder if we are in free fall as a society the moment.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. I am so happy I joined this read along. I got behind while travelling but have caught up now. I am loving this book more and more. It is great to see the pieces come together. The many and varied characters can be confusing but after awhile they all become familiar. It is in many ways a serious book but I love the bits of humour tucked in here and there. I have a feeling I will need to read it again as I’m sure I’ve missed some important points. I appreciate this discussion midway through. Thanks!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I am delighted that you joined this read-along, Darlene. This is my first Fyodor Dostoyevsky book and am looking forward to exploring more of his work. What I found entertaining was the way he introduced seemingly unrelated stories and then brought these stories together into the main theme/narrative. I am learning to pay particular attention to these sidebars because I know that they will circle back at a later point in the book. Dostoyevsky knows how to keep a reader’s attention, doesn’t he?

      Liked by 5 people

      1. He certainly does. I read Crime and Punishment a few years ago and was totally enthralled. My brother has been after me to read The Brothers Karamazov for quite awhile. Now he is reading it again, for the third time, because I’m reading it. We will have some great discussions when I’m finished the book.

        Liked by 5 people

  3. I’ve been following the readalong on Twitter, so I enjoyed this discussion at the midpoint of the book. I hope you will do a podcast on Russian superstitions, particuarly Baba Yaga.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you so much for the mention of Baba Yaga, Liz! Yes, plans are in place that we are going to discuss Russian Folktales – hopefully around New Years. Elisabeth has an amazing depth of knowledge in this area. I’m delighted that she is sharing this knowledge with us.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Oh, good! That will be a lot of fun. I was fascinated by Baba Yaga’s house on chicken legs. I pestered by dad to get us a house on chicken legs that walked around, but it was a no-can-do.

        Liked by 5 people

  4. I enjoyed listening to this conversation, Rebecca. Liz and Elisabeth were wonderful guests. I enjoyed listening to them as the three of you explored this book. What an interesting way to read this amazing story.

    I like the idea of understanding culture through books.

    I don’t think I ever finished this book, but I would find it easier to read after listening to this discussion.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for listening in, Dan. When we first started out in July, I didn’t realize how fulfilling their journey would be. To read slowly – one chapter/day and then check with others on what passage they chose added to my understanding. We are planning a read-along of War and Peace in 2022. I have always wanted to read W & P – it seems that the timing is right. You are invited to join us!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Oh Dan! I know exactly what you mean. I just finished rereading Wuthering Heights a few months ago and realized that I never read it the first time because of the assignments attached to the reading. I think I watched the movie and then answered the questions based on the movie, which did not bring me the best mark. Yikes!

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I knew you would enjoy this podcast, Dave! Thank you for listening in. I’m looking forward to War & Peace. The Brothers Karamazov continues to challenge my thinking. And that is the best of what a book offers, challenge and thinking.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. HI Rebecca, what a great conversation. This book is unknown to me but I still enjoyed this stimulating discussion and thoughts about this book and its writer. I am trying to follow along on IG and Twitter, but I’ve missed some with all the family emergencies of late. It was good to hear this mid-point discussion.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Robbie – I am delighted that you are following along. I confess I am a couple of days behind and will be catching up tomorrow. I have enjoyed this read-along because it has add so much to my reading experience.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I have enjoyed joining others in reading this ancient, long-respected, Russian masterpiece. Not only are the words well chosen, but also it is a vibrant look into Russia society and the Russian people by One of their very Own. It is good to see that this Author had a great respect for his own people. I am glad to say that this experienced has been educational and has encouraged me to read others of this Russian author. I would like to say that my favorite character is Alyosha, and of course, there are other exciting characters! Thank you to the three of you for providing this great experience! !

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am thrilled that you joined us on the #KaramazovReadalong, Frances. It has been fun discussing discussing this on our evening telephone chats. I am glad you enjoyed the podcast. Thank you for adding to this conversation – very much appreciated. Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

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