The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov

by

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Named Zinovy before he became a monk and sometimes called “Zosimov,” Zosima is Alexei Fyodorovich’s spiritual guide and the most revered elder at the monastery to which Alexei belongs. When Zosima is introduced into the novel, he is around sixty-five years old and has been a monk for forty years. He comes from a family of landowners and once had an orderly named Afanasy. Zosima was in the army in his early youth and served in the Caucasus as a commissioned officer. While still an officer, he encouraged equality between the upper-class and their servants. He then started his monastic effort in “a poor, little-known monastery in Kostroma” and later traveled with Father Anfim all over Russia to collect donations for their poor monastery. Zosima is a gentle cleric who is drawn to the most sinful of his followers. Many of the other monks believe that Zosima is a saint, though, there are others who resent Zosima’s influence and extraordinarily holy reputation. Many people, particularly women, flock from all over Russia to receive his blessings. He is “a tall, lean, but still vigorous old man, dark-haired with much gray, and with a long, pious, and important face.” When the elder dies, Alexei expects a miracle and is disappointed when Zosima’s body rots like that of any other man, casting doubt on his holiness. However, Alexei has a dream about the elder which restores his crumbling faith and encourages him to follow Zosima’s advice “to sojourn in the world,” or to leave the monastery and re-engage with people.

Zosima, the Elder Quotes in The Brothers Karamazov

The The Brothers Karamazov quotes below are all either spoken by Zosima, the Elder or refer to Zosima, the Elder . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Farrar, Straus and Giroux edition of The Brothers Karamazov published in 1990.
Part 2: Book 6, Chapter 3 Quotes

The people are festering with drink and cannot leave off. And what cruelty toward their families, their wives, and even their children, all from drunkenness! […] But God will save Russia, for though the simple man is depraved, and can no longer refrain from rank sin, still he knows that his rank sin is cursed by God and that he does badly in sinning. So our people still believe tirelessly in truth, acknowledge God, weep tenderly. Not so their betters. These, following science, want to make a just order for themselves by reason alone, but without Christ now, not as before, and they have already proclaimed that there is no crime, there is no sin. And in their own terms, that is correct: for if you have no God, what crime is there to speak of?

Page Number: 315
Explanation and Analysis:

In Europe, the people are rising up against the rich with force, and popular leaders everywhere are leading them to bloodshed and teaching them that their wrath is righteous [….] Yet the Lord will save Russia, as he has saved her many times before. Salvation will come from the people, from their faith and their humility [….] I have been struck by the true and gracious dignity in our great people […] I can testify to it myself, I have seen it and marveled at it, seen it even in spite of the rank sins and beggarly appearance of our people. They are not servile, and that after two centuries of serfdom. They are free in appearance and manner, yet without any offense. And not vengeful, not envious. “You are noble, you are rich, you are intelligent and talented, very well, God bless you. I honor you, but I know that I, too, am a man [….]”

Page Number: 315-316
Explanation and Analysis:
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Zosima, the Elder Character Timeline in The Brothers Karamazov

The timeline below shows where the character Zosima, the Elder appears in The Brothers Karamazov. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: Book 1, Chapter 4: The Third Son, Alyosha
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...“into the monastery path” as a result of his becoming attached to the famous elder Zosima. His earliest memories of his mother are of a “frenzied, but beautiful” woman. However, he... (full context)
Part 1: Book 1, Chapter 5: Elders
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...may have taken him to the Sunday liturgy.” There, he would have met his elder, Zosima, who’s now “dying from weakness and disease.” It’s unclear whom they are going to replace... (full context)
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The replacement of the elder Zosima is an important issue because the local monastery offers nothing but its elders. An elder... (full context)
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Alexei lives in a cell, and Zosima loves the young man very much and allows him to stay near him. There are... (full context)
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...arguing over the inheritance and property accounts, Alexei suggests that they all get together in Zosima’s cell, figuring that the elder’s presence might be “influential and conciliatory.” This gives Alexei the... (full context)
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Alexei worries that Dmitri will be the only one who will take the council with Zosima seriously, and that the rest will come “with frivolous purposes” and might even offend the... (full context)
Part 1: Book 2, Chapter 1: They Arrive at the Monastery
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...a honeyed lisp.” He’s the Tula landowner, Maximov. He directs them to where the elder Zosima lives—“shut up in the hermitage…about four hundred paces from the monastery…through the woods…” They follow... (full context)
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...He notes how not “one woman ever goes through [the] gates.” Then, he remembers that Zosima does receive ladies. The little monk says that female peasants lie near the porch, waiting... (full context)
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The house where Zosima has his cell is “wooden, one-storied, with a front porch” and “surrounded with flowers.” Fyodor... (full context)
Part 1: Book 2, Chapter 2: The Old Buffoon
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The visitors enter the room at the same time as the elder Zosima. Father Iosif and Father Paissy are already in the cell awaiting the elder. When Zosima... (full context)
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...he, on the other hand, always makes a point to be punctual. He also tells Zosima that he (Fyodor) is “a natural-born buffoon,” painfully embarrassed when a joke isn’t going over... (full context)
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Fyodor throws himself down onto his knees and asks Zosima what he should do to “inherit eternal life.” The elder tells him to stop getting... (full context)
Part 1: Book 2, Chapter 3: Women of Faith
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...The widowed Madame Khokhlakov and her paralyzed fourteen-year-old daughter, Lise, are also on the porch. Zosima the elder appears on the porch and stands on the top step. The crowd presses... (full context)
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Many of the women who move toward Zosima are crying “tears of tenderness and rapture.” Others try to kiss the hem of his... (full context)
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Zosima tells Nastasia that he’ll remember her in his prayers. He then tells her to go... (full context)
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Zosima then focuses on a “still young, peasant woman” who looks “consumptive.” She’s a widow whose... (full context)
Part 1: Book 2, Chapter 4: A Lady of Little Faith
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Zosima goes up to Madame Khokhlakov, who quietly sheds tears and wipes them away with her... (full context)
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Madame Khokhlakov notes how healthy and cheerful Zosima looks. She then says that she’s suffering from a lack of faith in the afterlife.... (full context)
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Zosima encourages Madame Khokhlakov to do what she can, and says that she’s already done a... (full context)
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Madame Khokhlakov reminds him to bless Lise. Zosima teases Lise about laughing at Alexei and asks her why she does it. She says... (full context)
Part 1: Book 2, Chapter 5: So Be It! So Be It!
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Zosima has been absent from his cell for about twenty-five minutes. Dmitri still hasn’t arrived. When... (full context)
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...man would then have to not only go away from men but also from Christ. Zosima says that the Church is the only entity that can exact “real punishment” on the... (full context)
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Zosima contemplates what would happen to the criminal if the Church turned on him, too. Excommunicated,... (full context)
Part 1: Book 2, Chapter 6: Why Is Such a Man Alive!
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...physical shape. He stops on the threshold and looks around. He then goes directly to Zosima. He makes a low bow and asks for his blessing. The elder stands a little... (full context)
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Fyodor says that Dmitri owes him several thousand roubles. He tells Zosima how Dmitri got “one of the noblest girls to fall in love with him” (Katerina... (full context)
Part 1: Book 2, Chapter 7: A Seminarist-Careerist
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After his visit with the Karamazovs, Alexei takes the elder Zosima to a little bedroom to rest. Zosima encourages him to go to the Father Superior’s... (full context)
Part 1: Book 2, Chapter 8: Scandal
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...of two rooms, so there’s no dining room. Still, it’s “more spacious and comfortable” than Zosima’s rooms. It’s also “bright and clean.” On the table, there are “sparkling dishes, three kinds... (full context)
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...who, he says, “felt obliged” to skip dinner, due to quarreling with Dmitri in Father Zosima’s cell. Pyotr Alexandrovich says that Fyodor asks for the Father Superior’s forgiveness and promises “to... (full context)
Part 1: Book 3, Chapter 8: Over the Cognac
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...wouldn’t be civilization without God. Fyodor apologizes to Alexei for being rude to the elder Zosima earlier, chalking his behavior up to excitement. He commends Zosima’s wit but proceeds to lie... (full context)
Part 1: Book 3, Chapter 11: One More Ruined Reputation
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...Khokhlakovs, and Ivan, he won’t leave the monastery the next day but will stay with Zosima until the very end. He goes to the sleeping elder’s small bedroom, kneels, and bows... (full context)
Part 2: Book 4, Chapter 1: Father Ferapont
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Alexei is awakened by the sound of the elder Zosima moving from his bed to his armchair before dawn. As the day continues, monks arrive... (full context)
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...He has come from town with a letter from Madame Khokhlakov. She tells him that Zosima’s prophecy about Prokhorovna’s son, Vasenka, has come true—he is “undoubtedly alive” and, as Zosima predicted,... (full context)
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...Obdorsk finds that the seventy-five-year-old Father Ferapont is “an extremely dangerous adversary of the elder Zosima.” Rumor has it, “among the most ignorant people,” that Father Ferapont is in communication with... (full context)
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Feeling tired, Zosima returns to bed and summons Alexei to his side. He tells Alexei that he must... (full context)
Part 2: Book 4, Chapter 2: At His Father’s
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...perhaps the fortieth time that morning, to look at his swollen nose. He asks about Zosima. Alexei mentions that the monk may die within the day, but Fyodor doesn’t hear him... (full context)
Part 2: Book 4, Chapter 4: At the Khokhlakovs’
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...letter about the miracle. He confirms that he did, and then says that the elder Zosima will die today. Madame Khokhlakov says she knows. She adds that Katerina Ivanovna is in... (full context)
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...and he assures her that he didn’t. In fact, he says that, after the elder Zosima dies, he must leave the monastery and finish his studies. When “the legal time comes,”... (full context)
Part 2: Book 5, Chapter 1: A Betrothal
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...stop it. Alexei wonders if he even believes in God. On top of all that, Zosima is dying. When he’s left all alone, he says, he’ll go to Lise. She kisses... (full context)
Part 2: Book 5, Chapter 3: The Brothers Get Acquainted
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...Ivan asks if it’s true that he’s leaving the monastery. Alexei says he will because Zosima is “sending [him] into the world.” (full context)
Part 2: Book 5, Chapter 4: Rebellion
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Alexei says that the elder Zosima mentioned something similar—how “a man’s face often prevents many people…from loving him.” Alexei insists that... (full context)
Part 2: Book 5, Chapter 5: The Grand Inquisitor
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...hear about Dmitri ever again. He asks Alexei to kiss him and then return to Zosima’s bedside. Ivan then leaves. Alexei will wonder later in his life how he “so completely... (full context)
Part 2: Book 6, Chapter 1: The Elder Zosima and His Visitors
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Alexei enters the elder Zosima’s cell. To his surprise, he finds the old man sitting in an armchair, looking “cheerful... (full context)
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Dusk is falling. When Zosima sees Alexei, he smiles and holds out his hand. Alexei goes to him and weeps.... (full context)
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Father Iosif and Father Paissy exchange looks, while Alexei asks Zosima about what “suffering” awaits Dmitri. Zosima says that he saw something in Dmitri’s face that... (full context)
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Zosima then goes on to talk about how he had an older brother who died his... (full context)
Part 2: Book 6, Chapter 2: From the Life of the Hieromonk and Elder Zosima, Departed in God, Composed from His Own Words by Alexei Fyodorovich Karamazov
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The elder Zosima starts his narrative by saying that he was born in a northern province. His father... (full context)
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Though he was very ill, Zinovy (Zosima) saw that his older brother still got out of bed, dressed, and tried to sit... (full context)
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One day, Zinovy (Zosima) went into Markel’s room alone. The evening was bright, and the sun was setting. Markel... (full context)
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Acquaintances advised his mother to send Zinovy (Zosima)  to Petersburg to the Cadet Corps. The purpose was for him to later enter the... (full context)
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After serving for four years, Zinovy (Zosima) ended up in a nameless town starting with the letter “K.” His regiment was stationed... (full context)
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Zinovy (Zosima) was embarrassed by his obliviousness, and then became him angry. He decided that the girl... (full context)
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At a gathering, Zinovy (Zosima) confronted the girl’s fiancé and insulted him, “wittily and cleverly,” according to other guests. He... (full context)
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Zinovy (Zosima) returned home that evening and got angry with his orderly, Afanasy. He struck the servant... (full context)
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Zinovy (Zosima) then remembered his brother Markel’s last words to the servants before he died. He asked... (full context)
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Zinovy (Zosima) went back outside and jumped into the carriage, commanding it to drive. Suddenly, he was... (full context)
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When his comrades heard the news, they accused Zinovy (Zosima) of dishonoring the regiment and demanded that he “resign his commission.” Some defended him, noting... (full context)
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Most of those who sought his attention were ladies. One evening, Zinovy (Zosima)  saw the woman over whom he had started the duel. She stood up, went over... (full context)
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...wife with whom he had three small children. The next evening, the man visited Zinovy (Zosima) at his home. By then, Zinovy had moved to a place that he rented from... (full context)
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Zinovy (Zosima) started from the beginning, which involved the story of what happened between him and Afanasy.... (full context)
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Zinovy (Zosima) soon noticed that his new friend wanted to tell him something important. He then revealed... (full context)
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Zinovy’s (Zosima) “mysterious visitor” admitted that he felt no remorse for the lady’s murder. He only regretted... (full context)
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Zinovy’s (Zosima) visitor then told him how he got married to “a wonderful and sensible girl” shortly... (full context)
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Zinovy (Zosima) mentioned that no one would believe the visitor. He had no proof of his crime.... (full context)
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Five days later, the visitor succumbed to madness. The man’s wife accused Zinovy (Zosima)  of upsetting him and bringing on his anguish. Zinovy went to see the man, who... (full context)
Part 2: Book 6, Chapter 3: From Talks and Homilies of the Elder Zosima
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Zosima talks about what a monk is and his significance. Though he acknowledges the presences of... (full context)
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Zosima asserts that Russia will be saved by its people and that the monastery has always... (full context)
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Zosima goes on to say that, in Europe, people are rising up against the rich. On... (full context)
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Zosima narrates a story in which he one day met Afanasy by chance in a marketplace.... (full context)
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Zosima advises that one pray sincerely. for prayer is education. He also says that one shouldn’t... (full context)
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Zosima then tells his listeners about hell, which he defines as no longer being able to... (full context)
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Alexei’s manuscript ends here, but it is “incomplete and fragmentary.” The elder Zosima’s death comes rather unexpectedly. He seems to feel pain in his chest. He then turns... (full context)
Part 3: Book 7, Chapter 1: The Odor of Corruption
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Father Zosima’s body is prepared for burial. The established rite is that the body must remain unwashed.... (full context)
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Around three o’clock in the afternoon, the “odor of corruption” begins to emanate from Zosima’s coffin. This is rather strange because Father Varsonofy had died fairly recently and people remembered... (full context)
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...in the apiary,” not even to attend church. Everyone knows that Father Ferapont “intensely disliked” Zosima. He stops at the threshold to the cell, raises his arms, and begins to make... (full context)
Part 3: Book 7, Chapter 2: An Opportune Moment
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...a miracle. Everyone in the monastery, in fact, had expected this. It hurt Alexei that Zosima, the one who “was to have been exalted higher than anyone in the whole world”... (full context)
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...leave him alone. Rakitin asks if his dismay has been caused by the stink from Zosima’s corpse. Alexei cries out about how much he wants to believe, while Rakitin points out... (full context)
Part 3: Book 7, Chapter 3: An Onion
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...against God, but Grushenka has no excuse not to drink. Rakitin then tells her that Zosima died today. She crosses herself piously and then jumps out of Alexei’s lap, suddenly aware... (full context)
Part 3: Book 7, Chapter 4: Cana of Galilee
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Suddenly, Alexei hears the elder Zosima’s voice. The voice asks Alexei why he’s hiding, and tells him to join the others... (full context)
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...he’s standing. He goes to the coffin and looks at it for about thirty seconds. Zosima’s corpse is covered up, and there’s an icon on his chest. Just a moment ago,... (full context)
Part 3: Book 8, Chapter 3: Gold Mines
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...mentions that he’s in a hurry. She asks him if he’s heard that the elder Zosima has died, and he says that he hasn’t. (full context)