Monday, November 27, 2017

Rereading Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Crime and Punishment
Fyodor Dostoevsky
Published 1866
Reread (with Cleo @ Classical Carousel)
Back to the Classics (19th Century)

This is my second reading of Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky, and it still remains one of my favorite memorable reads. I would suggest this book to anyone looking for a contemplative, thought-provoking, deep story. And there is no need to be intimidated by its Russian author; he is reader friendly. 

During my first read, in 2012, I focused more on the theory or theme of the story, which was psychological. Dostoevsky wants us to consider that some men are capable of committing murder and getting away with it - like if your name is NapolĂ©on; if you are powerful enough, you are above the law. But most of us are not, as was the stumbling block for our main character, Raskolnikov (many of whom claim to be Dostoevsky's brain in the story). Raskolnikov had a theory and he wanted to test it. 

Dostoevsky contemplated numerous ideas that may or may not cause an individual to commit murder, or any crime for that matter, and why some get away with it. For example, could a person's socioeconomic environment or situation be a factor? Why would one person choose to murder and not another if they were in the same hopeless circumstance? Could someone temporarily lose his mind and then commit a crime? What if the victim was despised by society anyway? Are we really above God? And why does the world accept murder on a grand scale, like war, by one powerful madman, in the name of patriotism, but not by an individual who acts alone? Dostoevsky brings these ideas and thoughts to light through different characters, and then leaves the reader to make up his own mind. 

Nonetheless, in this second reading, I spent more time getting to know the characters, especially Raskolinkov. First of all, he is extremely intelligent, though that is not why I embraced him. Oddly to admit, even after his despicable act, Raskolinokov is still very likable. He is compassionate and empathetic, shows concern for others, and does honorable, sacrificial deeds. Interestingly enough, he recognizes injustice and seeks to prevent it, such as saving his righteous sister from marrying an undeserved man.

I really never understood what the "chip on his shoulder" was - why Raskolinkov was so bitter and angry - but by the end of the story, when he finally makes a radical heart change, the reader can believe he is healed; finally, he is over the obstruction in his heart.

The other characters are deeply portrayed and realistic, as well. Many are good-hearted and extremely likable, while others are contemptible, and yet, some forgivable.

I really enjoyed this (again). It is full of drama, psychology, terror, suffering, sadness, love, sacrifice, repentance, and forgiveness. And best of all, it is Dostoevsky; so it is thought provoking and intelligently well written. 

(P.S. It is easier to ingest than The Brothers Karamazov, for sure.) 


My first review (2012) of Crime and Punishment


Cleo said...

I'm still chugging away on this one and am hoping to finish it before the end of the year, which I don't think will be hard to do. I'm finding it easier than The Brothers Karamazov, that's for sure. I'm about ⅓ of the way through so we'll see what transpires! Bravo to you for finishing on time!

Ruth said...

Way easier than BK. Much more palatable. One of my favorites for life. (BK is amazing, too, but you can wrap your brain around C&P.)

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Ruth. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I have been reading some of your posts. I really like your blog.

I have only read The Brothers Karamozkov and The Demons. I have been meaning to get to this book for awhile. Your commentary makes me want to read it more. I loved The Dostoevsky books that I have read and I love these philosophical based character studies.

Ruth said...

C&P is well worth it. And it should be a quick read compared to BK. : )

Marian H said...

Yours is the first review that makes me think I'll like this. :) Out of curiosity, what translation did you read?

Ruth said...

The translation I used is Constance Garnett.

Paula Vince said...

I'm glad you've written this blog post, because it's convinced me to read Crime and Punishment for sure. So far The Brothers K is the only Dostoevsky book I've read, and if Crime and Punishment is easier to digest, then that's a bonus. Sounds like I started with one of the hardest :)

Ruth said...

Yes, BK was much more difficult. C&P is a breeze. Do give it a read.