The Brothers Karamazov
A Note on the Names
To English-speaking readers, the names of the characters in The Brothers Karamazov can be confusing. Characters are often referred to formally, with both their first and middle names: “Fyodor Pavlovich” or “Dmitri Fyodorovich.” In these cases, the middle names are almost always based on the name of the character’s father. As a result, the Karamazov brothers all have the middle name “Fyodorovich,” meaning literally, “son of Fyodor.” We learn very little about the father of Karamazov’s first wife, Adelaida Ivanovna, but from her middle name, we know that his name was Ivan. Keeping this device in mind can be a helpful way to distinguish the characters early in the novel when a character’s father also takes part in the story.
When characters are not referred to in the formal manner, they are often referred to by informal nicknames, which may seem to bear little resemblance to their real names: Alexei Karamazov is called “Alyosha” throughout the novel, and Dmitri Karamazov is frequently called “Mitka.” Many characters have multiple nicknames. In the list that follows, each character’s most common nicknames are given in parentheses after the character’s full name. If the character is frequently called by one of many nicknames, the frequently used name is italicized.