Required Reading

Restoring Faith, Regaining Reverence

Belgrade-born Predrag Cicovacki, professor in the College's philosophy department and noted expert on the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky, encourages readers to pick up a weighty classic by the renowned Russian novelist.


I would like to recommend a book to you. A difficult, multilayered novel. It is 800 pages long, and it is full of hard to pronounce Russian names.

Still interested?

The book is The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor M. Dostoevsky.

As the title indicates, this novel is about brothers, about brotherhood, about building and preserving brotherhood. The word "brother" is used in a spiritual sense. Aren't we all, as "men and women for others," our brothers' keepers? Or are we more like Cain and Abel? But this book goes even deeper than brotherhood: It is not about a brother who is murdered, but the father. Their father is unworthy of being a father, but he is a father nevertheless. The book tells us of a world without a father. It depicts men who do not think they need such a father, or any father for that matter. They find themselves thrown amidst a swirling chaos of moral confusion and spiritual emptiness.

You get the idea now-this book is about our world. It is about developing and sustaining humanity in our world. It challenges us to stand together as brothers: preserving and strengthening faith in a world of undeserved privileges and social injustices.

Sigmund Freud called this book "the best novel ever written." He never explained why. So take my word for it, I have read it many times. Without denying the injustices and evils of the world, without ever forgetting about the insulted and the injured, its message is that the pursuit of love is more important than the battle for justice. This book is about regaining faith by restoring reverence-reverence for the Father and His creation; reverence for every human being. The Brothers Karamazov encourages everyone who, refusing to succumb to this harsh, unjust world, strives to become as humane as he or she can be.

The book is waiting for you.

Editor's Note: Philosophy Professor Predrag Cicovacki newest book, Dostoevsky and the Affirmation of Life (Transaction Publishers) comes out in March 2012.