Brothers Karamazov + Sex in Books

I have recently been reading The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky. I would definitely recommend it, it is very enjoyable to read and food for theological thought.

However, I have found out that there is some depiction of an orgy in the book, though I am not sure in what form or how graphic. At the moment, the book seems unclouded by any sexual references etc.
I am asking firstly if anyone has read the book and could tell me whether there is anything to be concerned about. Obviously I would not wish to read a passage that may lead to temptation/sin.

Secondly, on a more general note - when there is sex in books or sexual references, how much should one read, and when should one stop? Is it okay to read through a moderately sexual scene if one tries to suppress any lustful feelings?

Thank you very much for your help.

There are no depictions of an orgy in the book. There are allusions to sexual promiscuity and scenes of attempted seduction and licentious behavior, one involving 3 people, but there is never any actual sexual activity depicted in the story itself.

As someone who reads a lot, I have noticed one disturbing trend that is creeping into historical non-fiction, a totally pointless reference to a sex organ, the use of profanity and references to sexual activity that have nothing to do with the content. This type of slow, gradual adding of such material has always been the way this works. It’s similar to, “I’ll just ignore the profanity or a reference to a sexual encounter, all the way up to simulated sex in movies and now, on TV.”

With books, I’ve just decided “I’m not going to go through this again” and have thrown out several. Oh, I debated keeping a few, but, in the end it’s someone deciding what’s “normal” for others.

Example. I had finished reading a good book on an interesting subject where the author included two sexual references and a bit of profanity. I decided to e-mail the publisher. I basically said ‘I’m not trying to tell you what to publish but the addition of these pointless details and words diminished the value of the book for me.’ I expected no reply. To my surprise, I got an e-maill from the author who said that he was just writing in the way people express themselves in his circle. I did not reply because I don’t care how people express themselves in his circle and since his book was meant for a general audience, I would buy nothing further from this author. And I have followed the release of other books by him which got poor reviews for other reasons.

So, I’m not going to figuratively ‘close my eyes’ when the sex part starts and stops. I’m done with that as far as books.


I have read the book also and do not remember anything overt being depicted. That is the great thing about the classics. The writers are usually more subtle and don’t feel the need to hit you over the head with graphic details.

Personally, I think graphic depictions about sex and violence are often unnecessary and detract from the artistry of the work. The graphic details are often included in an attempt to add shock value rather than convey the details necessary to tell a story. I don’t read sex scenes or graphic violence because I find that they are often superfluous, they do not add to the story. Also, I just don’t want those images in my head. If you have to repress feelings in order to read something, that doesn’t sound like an enjoyable read.

Thank you all very much for your advice. I will continue to enjoy the book, and will be stricter in future with regard to my reading choices.

I recall no sex whatsoever except that which was alluded to, which plays an essential role in the novel (the passions of the Karamazov’s)

Though there is a lot of unwarranted sexuality in books these days, Dostoevsky doesn’t put in anything unwarranted. He’s a damned fine author and if he puts it in there, you can bet it ought to be there.

There is nothing outright lewd.

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