Foreword: I decided to tackle this book next because I wanted to explore a classic which can be either hated or loved. I guess what I found interesting when reading this is that I could honestly see both sides to that argument, even though I really loved it.
I was seriously considering pushing the rating up higher but when I really thought about this book, I decided against it. In my opinion, I have a few reasons for it both being that high and being that low (which for a really popular and famous classic is actually quite low).
Crime and Punishment is about a young student in Russia called Raskolnikov. After observing his poverty and his intelligence, Raskolnikov commits a murder in order to increase his wealth. However, the aftermath of the crime is the main feature, as Raskolnikov slowly succumbs to the guilt and the hounding of the police as they try to find the guilty party. Sonya, a prostitute within St Petersburg, offers him a chance of redemption from his deeds as Raskolnikov desperately tries to hide and forget his deed.
Interestingly enough, I don’t agree with my own review. I included this statement, “offers him a chance of redemption,” because it is a main feature of nearly every summary of the book. However, I don’t believe Sonya offered him that at all. I don’t think he was redeemed for his deeds by her, nor that his own choice offered that end as well. *SPOILER* I honestly do not think him changed, but merely accepting of what he did and willing to serve the punishment. Redemption, at least in my eyes, comes from a heart-filled wish to do good, which he doesn’t seem to display.
Crime and Punishment is a magnificent book. It represents the best of Russian literature and philosophy, while still managing to create an exciting focus on Roskolnikov. I found it inspiring as while following the misdeeds of this young student, it was also offering an insight into the misery and negativity that such a course of action can take, which served as a good moral picture of what is clearly right and wrong.
Many of the supporting characters enriched the book as well, such as Razumikhin, whose positive nature and willingness to believe in the good of Roskolnikov makes an interesting contrast to the main characters negativity. Sonya is also an interesting character as she is both weak and strong in her personal fortitude. You can see by her conversations and the way that she is described that her lifestyle pains her, however, her pride and continual pressing of what’s right to Roskolnikov seems to strengthen her as a main contributor to the storyline. The quote below shows the characters interactions with each and the nail-biting suspense that can sometimes build up:
“It was dark in the corridor, they were standing near the lamp. For a minute they were looking at one another in silence. Razumikhin remembered that minute all his life. Raskolnikov’s burning and intent eyes grew more penetrating every moment, piercing into his soul, into his consciousness. Suddenly Razumikhin started. Something strange, as it were passed between them… Some idea, some hint as it were, slipped, something awful, hideous, and suddenly understood on both sides… Razumikhin turned pale.”
Personally, what I found the best about this book was they way that it… changed… me. I mean that in the most literal sense. Before having read Crime and Punishment, I had actually never read a crime book before. I had yet to venture onto Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie. So reading this was really exciting because for the first time, it really tested my moral beliefs about what is good and bad. I see Roskolnikov’s deeds as being negative, however, he justifies himself well and in a way I had never really thought of. Did not Napoleon and Hannibal and all those great adventurers kill to raise their empires? To see someone have such a moral dilemma with killing one person, while men like those above were responsible for the death of thousands, tested my theories on romantic war stories and the right to take away life. I can still remember sitting on the bus, sweating and shaking as I read about a near capture. Not many books can provoke a reaction like that!
However, I also understand that most people really, really, really do not like this book. As it is classic Russian literature, which tends to include philosophies in its storyline, there are some parts which are really difficult to get through. If you aren’t that interested in the characters or plots, just getting through the many conversations and disjointed thoughts of Roskolnikov can be a real trial. At one point, I even felt myself getting a bit tired of the heavy paragraphs and confusing Russian names which change constantly from nickname to full length. Even the summary states that it, “…has been acclaimed as the most accessible version of Dostoyevsky’s great novel…,” which just shows how notoriously difficult of a book it is for most readers.
For that reason, I haven’t given it the best score for a classic as, while I really enjoyed, I can see that it is difficult to get through and heavy in its philosophical symbolism.
The only one I could really think of was the one featured in the picture below. There is also a kind of AU to the book, which is Crime and Punishment in Suburbia. God awful, don’t even bother going near that trash!
Hope you enjoyed the review and let me know what you think. Was I accurate in what I said or did you think of it differently? Thanks!