Although written in the 19th century, The Brothers Karamazov displays a number of modern elements. Dostoevsky composed the book with a variety of literary techniques. Though privy to many of the thoughts and feelings of the protagonists, the narrator is a self-proclaimed writer; he discusses his own mannerisms and personal perceptions so often in the novel that he becomes a character. Through his descriptions, the narrator's voice merges imperceptibly into the tone of the people he is describing, often extending into the characters' most personal thoughts. There is no voice of authority in the story.[i] In addition to the principal narrator, there are several sections narrated by other characters entirely, such as the story of The Grand Inquisitor and Zosima's confessions.
Dostoevsky uses individual styles of speech to express the inner personality of each person. For example, the attorney Fetyukovich (based on Vladimir Spasovich) is characterized by malapropisms (e.g. 'robbed' for 'stolen', and at one point declares possible suspects in the murder 'irresponsible' rather than innocent). Several plot digressions provide insight into other apparently minor characters. For example, the narrative in Book Six is almost entirely devoted to Zosima's biography, which contains a confession from a man whom he met many years before. Dostoevsky does not rely on a single source or a group of major characters to convey the themes of this book, but uses a variety of viewpoints, narratives and characters throughout.