Registrar Brian Mahoney 
Great Books Council of San Francisco

Caroline Van Howe, Coordinator, can be reached at 415-453-1014.


Saturday, July 27, 2019 at 9:15 AM PDT
Sunday, July 28, 2019 at 1:00 PM PDT

Add to Calendar 


Vallombrosa Center 
250 Oak Grove Avenue
Menlo Park, CA 94025

Driving Directions 

Long Novel Weekend 2019

This year we will discuss The Brothers Karamazov

By Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Brothers Karamazov is regarded among the greatest literary works of all time. Vonnegut, in Slaughterhouse Five, wrote that “...there is one other book, that can teach you everything you need to know about life. It’s The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky.” Einstein considered The Brothers Karamazov to be “the supreme summit of all literature” and said that he had learned more from Dostoevsky than any other thinker. The book was also hugely inspirational to a number of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century, including Freud, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, and Camus, the last of whom declared that Dostoevsky, not Marx, was the great prophet for the 20th century.

It is a murder mystery, a courtroom drama, and an exploration of erotic rivalry in a series of triangular love affairs involving the “wicked and sentimental” Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov and his three sonsthe impulsive and sensual Dmitri; the coldly rational Ivan; and the healthy, red- cheeked young novice Alyosha. Through the gripping events of their story, Dostoevsky portrays the whole of Russian life, its social and spiritual striving, in what was both the golden age and a tragic turning point in Russian culture.

About the Author: Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (1821-1881) was a Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, journalist and philosopher. Dostoevsky's literary works explore human psychology in the troubled political, social, and spiritual atmospheres of 19th-century

Russiaand engage with a variety of philosophical and religious themes.  Dostoevsky was influenced by a wide variety of philosophers and authors including Pushkin, Gogol, Augustine, Shakespeare, Dickens, Balzac, Hugo, Poe, Plato, Kant, Hegel, Schiller, Sand, and Hoffmann. His writings were widely read both within and beyond his native Russia and influenced an equally great number of later writers including Russians like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Anton Chekhov as well as philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche and Jean-Paul Sartre.

Dostoevsky wrote in a letter to his brother in 1839:  "Man is a mystery: if you spend your entire life trying to puzzle it out, then do not say that you have wasted your time. I occupy myself with this mystery, because I want to be a man.”

Guest Speaker:  Dr. Nancy Ruttenburg

Dr. Ruttenburg is the William Robertson Coe Professor of American Literature at Stanford and holds courtesy appointments in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. She received her PhD in Comparative Literature from Stanford and taught at Harvard, Berkeley, and NYU. Her research interests lie at the intersection of political, religious, and literary expression in colonial through antebellum America and nineteenth-century Russia. Prof. Ruttenburg is the author of Dostoevsky's Democracy (Princeton UP, 2008) and is currently working on a comparative piece entitled Dostoevsky And.

We will use the Farrar, Straus and Giroux paperback with award-winning translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky (1st edition) published June 14, 2002.  This translation was the Winner of Pen/Book- of-the-Month Club Translation Prize.  ISBN-10: 0-374-52837-3,  ISBN-13: 978-0-374-52837-9  Please purchase only this edition from your bookseller. (The book is available in new and used versions on

Vallombrosa building

The Location: The Vallombrosa Center in Menlo Park is located on a ten-acre site that was originally the home of E.W. Hopkins, the nephew of Mark Hopkins. The Hopkins home, known as the Old Mansion, was built during the Civil War period. Originally a simple wooden structure, it was later expanded and decorated with its distinctive Italianate touches. The center includes meeting rooms, a dining room, accommodation and ample free parking. Participants will be housed in single or double rooms with en-suite bathroom. Delicious meals with local produce, including vegetarian and gluten-free options, are included in the registration fee.

Please note: The Vallombrosa Center is not ADA-compliant. For details on accessibility, please contact Jaynie Fedele at:

Yul Brynner and Maria Schell

The Weekend:  Please arrive about 9:15 a.m. on Saturday. There will be three discussion periods, four fine meals, a wine and cheese reception and the showing of the 1958 movie version directed by Academy Award-winning Richard Brooks, and starring Yul Brynner, Lee J. Cobb, Claire Bloom, Maria Schell, Albert Salmi and William Shatner. The program will conclude after lunch on Sunday.                                                                          Maria Schell and Yul Brynner


Weekend Costs Per Person:

  • $230.00 per person, Double Occupancy Rooms
  • $250.00 per person, Single Occupancy Rooms
  • $200.00 per person, For those not staying overnight (includes Sat. lunch & dinner & Sun. lunch).

For further information: Contact Event Coordinator Caroline Van Howe at or 415.453.1014.

For a printable registration form for registering by postal mail CLICK HERE.

Click below on the Register Now! button to register online and pay by check, credit card or PayPal.