The following quote is part of a speech by Dmitri Karamazov to his brother Alyosha while in prison. Dmitri is a morally reckless man who is falsely accused of his father’s murder and redeemed through what he suffers. This is a great quote because it gives a sense of the book’s style, and it also highlights (what I see as) two of its main themes, namely, the necessity of God for joy, and the possibility of finding God (and thus joy) in suffering. I especially love the last bit, how Ivan recovers the thirst for life, the realization that objective reality is really out there, even while falsely accused and suffering in prison:
“If God is driven from the earth, we’ll meet him underground! Its impossible for a convict to be without God, even more impossible than for a non-convict! And then from the depths of the earth, we, the men underground, will start singing a tragic hymn to God, in whom there is joy! Hail to God and his joy! I love him!”
Mitya [Dmitri] was almost breathless uttering his wild speech. He grew pale, his lips trembled, tears poured from his eyes.
“No, life is full, there is life underground, too!” he began again. “You wouldn’t believe, Alexei, how I want to live now, what thirst to exist and be conscious has been born in me precisely within these peeling walls! Rakitin doesn’t understand it, all he wants is to build his house and rent out rooms, but I was waiting for you. And besides, what is suffering? I’m not afraid of it, even if it’s numberless. I’m not afraid of it now; I was before…. And it seems to me there’s so much strength in me now that I can overcome everything, all sufferings, only in order to say and tell myself every moment: I am! In a thousand torments – I am; writing under torture – but I am. Locked up in a tower, but still I exist, I see the sun, and if I don’t see the sun, still I know it is. And the whole of life is in there – in knowing that the sun is.”