Dostoevsky asks: Is Such a Man Free?

An appropriately melancholy quotable literary quote from The Brothers Karamazov:

…Interpreting freedom as the multiplication and rapid satisfaction of desires, men distort their own nature, for many senseless and foolish desires and habits and ridiculous fancies are fostered in them. They live only for mutual envy, for luxury and ostentation. To have dinners, visits, carriages, rank and slaves to wait on one is looked upon as a necessity, for which life, honour and human feeling are sacrificed, and men even commit suicide if they are unable to satisfy it. We see the same thing among those who are not rich, while the poor drown their unsatisfied need and their envy in drunkness. But soon they will drink blood instead of wine, they are being led on to it. I ask you is such a man free?

Did this man really die 129 years ago? It’s almost as if he’s a fly on the wall of the 21st Century.

Or maybe it’s just that human nature is what it is…

5 thoughts on “Dostoevsky asks: Is Such a Man Free?

  1. Crystal Keller says:

    Wow! I was sitting here jaw dropping as reading the quote. Talk about timeless truths that step on toes and convict. How am I any different? I like comfort.

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Elspeth says:

    I like comfort too, my friend. It’s part and parcel of western postmodern life; comfort addiction. Really, of the human condition, which is why it still resonates today.

    “Wretched [woman] that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”


  3. Bike Bubba says:

    Homer’s Odyssey has a lot of the same behavior among Penelope’s suitors, really. Beautiful example of “why we ought to read, and re-read, classic literature.” The way I’d phrase it is that fiction can be truer than non-fiction, ironically, because fiction readers insist (outside of fantasy and science fiction) that it could be plausibly true, and even “escapist” literature speaks to….that which we would like to be plausibly true.


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