Who is Von Sohn?

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Updated on August 30, 2023

Many literary references have been made about Von Sohn, but many readers don’t know who this person was. Was he a painter, politician, or musician? Continue reading to find out.

Von Sohn is a popular name in Russian and German circles and has been answered by many prominent figures over time. The name has also appeared in many literary works, most notably in Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. 

If you desire more information about who Von Sohn was, this article provides all the information you need. 

Was Von Sohn a Real Person?

Von Sohn was a real person who lived in 19th-century Russia. He was a member of high Russian society up until his death later in life. 

He was an affluent businessman and administrator and was murdered 12 years before Tsar Alexander.  

What Does Von Sohn Mean in German?

In German, Von Sohn means “the Son” and is still a common name among Germans. Sohn is a masculine noun and a direct transliteration of “Son” in Korean. 

Over the years, many popular figures have borne the name in German. Most popular among these Germans are Wilhelm Sohn and Karl Ferdinand Sohn, two 19th-century artists. 

But Von Sohn isn’t used only by Germans, as several Russians still bear this name. The major difference between the German and Russian pronunciations is how their definite articles are spelled.

In German, Von Sohn is commonly referred to as “Der” Sohn while Russians largely opt for Von. Both Der and Von mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably. 

What was Von Sohn Known For?

Von Sohn was known as a bureaucrat in Russian society in the mid to late 19th century. Sohn was an established administrator known for his undeniable affluence and experience. 

He is a victim of the “Von Sohn affair” – a gruesome crime committed in 1869. 

Von Sohn was also known for his open love for harlots as he spent most of his time in brothels. Ironically, the Von Sohn affair that took his life happened inside a brothel. 

He was also known for his affinity for debauchery and was regarded as a lecher in several references in literature. 

Why Does Fyodor Pavlovich Keep Referring to Von Sohn?

Fyodor Pavlovich refers repeatedly to Von Sohn in an attempt to insult another character, Maximov. In The Brothers Karamazov, Maximov is an old landowner who plays several pivotal roles in the book’s late plot. 

Reference to Von Sohn can be interpreted in a better context after reading through the book series. 

Pavlovich likens Maximov’s lifestyle to that of the actual Von Sohn, who was a notable debaucher and sensualist. Even if Maximov was puzzled by such a description, Pavlovich always referred to him as Von Sohn. 

Another reason why Pavlovich refers to Maximov as Von Sohn is based on the “Von Sohn affair”. Von Sohn died a gruesome death due to his choices, and Pavlovich noticed many of those traits in Maximov. 

Pavlovich also refers to Maximov as Von Sohn based on their almost identical social status. Von Sohn lived up to his sixties, and Maximov was around sixty years old when he had multiple encounters with Pavlovich. 

Von Sohn also had a lot of money and fit the financial profile of Maximov. It’s no wonder Pavlovich always referred to Von Sohn throughout The Brothers Karamazov.

Pavlovich also believed Maximov had the air of an unrepentant womanizer around him. Von Sohn was an actual womanizer who got into huge trouble after regular visits to a brothel for young harlots. 

Pavlovich’s common reference to Maximov as Von Sohn has an alternate meaning, though. Over the course of The Brothers Karamazov, it became evident that Pavlovich was more of a Von Sohn than Maximov. 

Pavlovich’s utter desire to father several children without providing them enough care unearthed his likeness to Von Sohn. 

Who is Von Sohn in The Brothers Karamazov?

Von Sohn was an old, 19th-century bureaucrat in Russian society in The Brothers Karamazov.  In the book, Sohn was attacked and murdered in St. Petersburg in the late 1860s. 

He was enticed by his assailants into a brothel where he was robbed, poisoned, and chopped to bits. His murderers sent his remains to Moscow inside a trunk shortly after.  

In The Brothers Karamazov, Von Sohn is mostly referred to when describing another character. He didn’t feature as a main character in the books but gets several mentions from one major character, Fyodor Pavlovich.

Is It Worth Reading The Brothers Karamazov?

The Brothers Karamazov is a 700-page classic worth the read of everyone interested in its story. It follows the life of Fyodor Karamazov, his three sons, and other characters. 

The book possesses an interesting plot and is one of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s most recognized bodies of work. It was first published as a serial in 19th-century Russian dailies but is available in one title today.