The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky's crowning achievement, is a tale of patricide and family rivalry that embodies the moral and spiritual dissolution of an entire society (Russia in the 1870s). It created a national furor comparable only to the excitement stirred by the publication, in 1866, of Crime and Punishment. To Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov captured the quintessence of Russian character in all its exaltation, compassion, and profligacy. Significantly, the book was on Tolstoy's bedside table when he died. Readers in every language have since accepted Dostoevsky's own evaluation of this work and have gone further by proclaiming it one of the few great novels of all ages and countries.
"The Brothers Karamazov stands as the culmination of Dostoevsky's art—his last, longest, richest, and most capacious book," said The Washington Post Book World. "Nothing is outside Dostoevsky's province," observed Virginia Woolf. "Out of Shakespeare there is no more exciting reading."