By Fyodor Dostoevsky
Crime and is a novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It was first published in the literary journal The Russian Messenger in twelve monthly installments during 1866. It was later published in a single volume. This is the second of Dostoyevsky's full-length novels following his return from ten years of exile in Siberia. Crime and Punishment is the first great novel of his "mature" period of writing.
Crime and Punishment focuses on the mental anguish and moral dilemmas of Rodion Raskolnikov, an impoverished ex-student in St. Petersburg who formulates and executes a plan to kill an unscrupulous pawnbroker for her cash. Raskolnikov argues that with the pawnbroker's money he can perform good deeds to counterbalance the crime, while ridding the world of a worthless vermin. He also commits this murder to test his own hypothesis that some people are naturally capable of such things, and even have the right to do them. Several times throughout the novel, Raskolnikov justifies his actions by connecting himself mentally with Napoleon Bonaparte, believing that murder is permissible in pursuit of a higher purpose.
|Publisher:||Blackstone Audio, Inc.|
|Series:||Classic Collection (Blackstone Audio) Series|
|Edition description:||Unabridged, 20 CDs, 24 hrs. 30 min.|
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.90(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 18 Years|
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On an exceptionally hot evening early in July a young man came out of the garret in which he lodged in S. Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation, towards K. Bridge.
He had successfully avoided meeting his landlady on the staircase. His garret was under the roof of a high, five-storied house, and was more like a cupboard than a room. The landlady, who provided him with garret, dinners, and attendance, lived on the floor below, and every time he went out he was obliged to pass her kitchen, the door of which invariably stood open. And each time he passed, the young man had a sick, frightened feeling, which made him scowl and feel ashamed. He was hopelessly in debt to his landlady, and was afraid of meeting her.
This was not because he was cowardly and abject, quite the contrary; but for some time past, he had been in an over-strained, irritable condition, verging on hypochondria. He had become so completely absorbed in himself, and isolated from his fellows that he dreaded meeting, not only his landlady, but any one at all. He was crushed by poverty, but the anxieties of his position had of late ceased to weigh upon him. He had given up attending to matters of practical importance; he had lost all desire to do so. Nothing that any landlady could do had a real terror for him. But to be stopped on the stairs, to be forced to listen to her trivial, irrelevant gossip, to pestering demands for payment, threats and complaints, and to rack his brains for excuses, to prevaricate, to lieno, rather than that, he would creep down the stairs like a cat and slip out unseen.
This evening, however, on coming out into the street, he became acutely aware of his fears.
"I want to attempt a thing like that and am frightened by these trifles," he thought, with an odd smile. "Hm . . . yes, all is in a man's hands and he lets it all slip from cowardice, that's an axiom. It would be interesting to know what it is men are most afraid of. Taking a new step, uttering a new word is what they fear most. . . . But I am talking too much. It's because I chatter that I do nothing. Or perhaps it is that I chatter because I do nothing. I've learned to chatter this last month, lying for days together in my den thinking . . . of Jack the Giant-killer. Why am I going there now? Am I capable of that? Is that serious? It is not serious at all. It's simply a fantasy to amuse myself; a plaything! Yes, maybe it is a plaything."
The heat in the street was terrible: and the airlessness, the bustle and the plaster, scaffolding, bricks, and dust all about him, and that special Petersburg stench, so familiar to all who are unable to get out of town in summerall worked painfully upon the young man's already overwrought nerves. The insufferable stench from the pot-houses, which are particularly numerous in that part of the town, and the drunken men whom he met continually, although it was a working day, completed the revolting misery of the picture. An expression of the profoundest disgust gleamed for a moment in the young man's refined face. He was, by the way, exceptionally handsome, above the average in height, slim, well-built, with beautiful dark eyes and dark brown hair. Soon he sank into deep thought, or more accurately speaking into a complete blankness of mind; he walked along not observing what was about him and not caring to observe it. From time to time, he would mutter something, from the habit of talking to himself, to which he had just confessed. At these moments he would become conscious that his ideas were sometimes in a tangle and that he was very weak; for two days he had scarcely tasted food.
He was so badly dressed that even a man accustomed to shabbiness would have been ashamed to be seen in the street in such rags. In that quarter of the town, however, scarcely any short-coming in dress would have created surprise. Owing to the proximity of the Hay Market, the number of establishments of bad character, the preponderance of the trading and working class population crowded in these streets and alleys in the heart of Petersburg, types so various were to be seen in the streets that no figure, however queer, would have caused surprise. But there was such accumulated bitterness and contempt in the young man's heart that, in spite of all the fastidiousness of youth, he minded his rags least of all in the street. It was a different matter when he met with acquaintances or with former fellow students, whom, indeed, he disliked meeting at any time. And yet when a drunken man who, for some unknown reason, was being taken somewhere in a huge waggon dragged by a heavy dray horse, suddenly shouted at him as he drove past: "Hey there, German hatter!" bawling at the top of his voice and pointing at himthe young man stopped suddenly and clutched tremulously at his hat. It was a tall round hat from Zimmerman's, but completely worn out, rusty with age, all torn and bespattered, brimless and bent on one side in a most unseemly fashion. Not shame, however, but quite another feeling akin to terror had overtaken him.
"I knew it," he muttered in confusion, "I thought so! That's the worst of all! Why, a stupid thing like this, the most trivial detail might spoil the whole plan. Yes, my hat is too noticeable. . . . It looks absurd and that makes it noticeable. . . . With my rags I ought to wear a cap, any sort of old pancake, but not this grotesque thing. Nobody wears such a hat, it would be noticed a mile off, it would be remembered. . . . What matters is that people would remember it, and that would give them a clue. For this business one should be as little conspicuous as possible. . . . Trifles, trifles are what matter! Why, it's just such trifles that always ruin everything. . . ."
He had not far to go; he knew indeed how many steps it was from the gate of his lodging house: exactly seven hundred and thirty. He had counted them once when he had been lost in dreams. At the time he had put no faith in those dreams and was only tantalising himself by their hideous but daring recklessness. Now, a month later, he had begun to look upon them differently, and, in spite of the monologues in which he jeered at his own impotence and indecision, he had involuntarily come to regard this "hideous" dream as an exploit to be attempted, although he still did not realise this himself. He was positively going now for a "rehearsal" of his project, and at every step his excitement grew more and more violent.
With a sinking heart and a nervous tremor, he went up to a huge house which on one side looked on to the canal, and on the other into the street. This house was let out in tiny tenements and was inhabited by working people of all kindstailors, locksmiths, cooks, Germans of sorts, girls picking up a living as best they could, petty clerks, etc. There was a continual coming and going through the two gates and in the two court-yards of the house. Three or four door-keepers were employed on the building. The young man was very glad to meet none of them, and at once slipped unnoticed through the door on the right, and up the staircase. It was a back staircase, dark and narrow, but he was familiar with it already, and knew his way, and he liked all these surroundings: in such darkness even the most inquisitive eyes were not to be dreaded.
"If I am so scared now, what would it be if it somehow came to pass that I were really going to do it?" he could not help asking himself as he reached the fourth storey. There his progress was barred by some porters who were engaged in moving furniture out of a flat. He knew that the flat had been occupied by a German clerk in the civil service, and his family. This German was moving out then, and so the fourth floor on this staircase would be untenanted except by the old woman. "That's a good thing anyway," he thought to himself, as he rang the bell of the old woman's flat. The bell gave a faint tinkle as though it were made of tin and not of copper. The little flats in such houses always have bells that ring like that. He had forgotten the note of that bell, and now its peculiar tinkle seemed to remind him of something and to bring it clearly before him. . . . He started, his nerves were terribly overstrained by now. In a little while, the door was opened a tiny crack: the old woman eyed her visitor with evident distrust through the crack, and nothing could be seen but her little eyes, glittering in the darkness. But, seeing a number of people on the landing, she grew bolder, and opened the door wide. The young man stepped into the dark entry, which was partitioned off from the tiny kitchen. The old woman stood facing him in silence and looking inquiringly at him. She was a diminutive, withered-up old woman of sixty, with sharp malignant eyes and a sharp little nose. Her colourless, somewhat grizzled hair was thickly smeared with oil, and she wore no kerchief over it. Round her thin long neck, which looked like a hen's leg, was knotted some sort of flannel rag, and, in spite of the heat, there hung flapping on her shoulders, a mangy fur cape, yellow with age. The old woman coughed and groaned at every instant. The young man must have looked at her with a rather peculiar expression, for a gleam of mistrust came into her eyes again.
"Raskolnikov, a student, I came here a month ago," the young man made haste to mutter, with a half-bow, remembering that he ought to be more polite.
"I remember, my good sir, I remember quite well your coming here," the old woman said distinctly, still keeping her inquiring eyes on his face.
"And here . . . I am again on the same errand," Raskolnikov continued, a little disconcerted and surprised at the old woman's mistrust. "Perhaps she is always like that though, only I did not notice it the other time," he thought with an uneasy feeling.
The old woman paused, as though hesitating; then stepped on one side, and pointing to the door of the room, she said, letting her visitor pass in front of her:
"Step in, my good sir."
The little room into which the young man walked, with yellow paper on the walls, geraniums and muslin curtains in the windows, was brightly lighted up at that moment by the setting sun.
"So the sun will shine like this then too!" flashed as it were by chance through Raskolnikov's mind, and with a rapid glance he scanned everything in the room, trying as far as possible to notice and remember its arrangement. But there was nothing special in the room. The furniture, all very old and of yellow wood, consisted of a sofa with a huge bent wooden back, an oval table in front of the sofa, a dressing-table with a looking-glass fixed on it between the windows, chairs along the walls and two or three halfpenny prints in yellow frames, representing German damsels with birds in their handsthat was all. In the corner a light was burning before a small ikon. Everything was very clean; the floor and the furniture were brightly polished; everything shone.
"Lizaveta's work," thought the young man. There was not a speck of dust to be seen in the whole flat.
"It's in the houses of spiteful old widows that one finds such cleanliness," Raskolnikov thought again, and he stole a curious glance at the cotton curtain over the door leading into another tiny room, in which stood the old woman's bed and chest of drawers and into which he had never looked before. These two rooms made up the whole flat.
"What do you want?" the old woman said severely, coming into the room and, as before, standing in front of him so as to look him straight in the face.
"I've brought something to pawn here," and he drew out of his pocket an old-fashioned flat silver watch, on the back of which was engraved a globe; the chain was of steel.
"But the time is up for your last pledge. The month was up the day before yesterday."
"I will bring you the interest for another month; wait a little."
"But that's for me to do as I please, my good sir, to wait or to sell your pledge at once."
"How much will you give me for the watch, Alyona Ivanovna?"
"You come with such trifles, my good sir, it's scarcely worth anything. I gave you two roubles last time for your ring and one could buy it quite new at a jeweller's for a rouble and a half."
"Give me four roubles for it, I shall redeem it, it was my father's. I shall be getting some money soon."
"A rouble and a half, and interest in advance, if you like!"
"A rouble and a half!" cried the young man.
"Please yourself"and the old woman handed him back the watch. The young man took it, and was so angry that he was on the point of going away; but checked himself at once, remembering that there was nowhere else he could go, and that he had had another object also in coming.
"Hand it over," he said roughly.
The old woman fumbled in her pocket for her keys, and disappeared behind the curtain into the other room. The young man, left standing alone in the middle of the room, listened inquisitively, thinking. He could hear her unlocking the chest of drawers.
"It must be the top drawer," he reflected. "So she carries the keys in a pocket on the right. All in one bunch on a steel ring. . . . And there's one key there, three times as big as all the others, with deep notches; that can't be the key of the chest of drawers . . . then there must be some other chest or strong-box . . . that's worth knowing. Strong-boxes always have keys like that . . . but how degrading it all is."
The old woman came back.
"Here, sir: as we say ten copecks the rouble a month, so I must take fifteen copecks from a rouble and a half for the month in advance. But for the two roubles I lent you before, you owe me now twenty copecks on the same reckoning in advance. That makes thirty-five copecks altogether. So I must give you a rouble and fifteen copecks for the watch. Here it is."
Table of Contents
Note on the Translation
Note on the Table of Ranks
A Chronology of Fyodor Dostoevsky
Map of St Petersburg
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
List of Principal Characters
Reading Group Guide
When Dostoyevsky started work on Crime and Punishment in the summer of 1865 he was depressed and in serious financial straits. A recent gambling spree had depleted his savings, and he owed money for personal expenses as well as bills for Epokha, the journal he founded and had been forced to discontinue. Threatened with debtors' prison, he was approached by an unscrupulous publisher who offered a ridiculously exploitative contract under which Dostoyevsky signed over the copyrights to all his existing works and agreed to write a work of fiction by the end of the following year. For all this he was paid the sum of three thousand rubles, most of which was quickly swallowed up by promissory notes; what little remained was squandered at the gaming tables. Destitute once again, Dostoyevsky forced himself to concentrate on his writing, and by that fall had conceived of the idea for a novel-length work about a family ruined by alcohol.
The roots of Crime and Punishment can be found in various episodes in Dostoyevsky's life. His original idea, a murderer's first-person confession, came to him during his prison term in Siberia—an experience that profoundly changed his political views and instilled in him a life-long respect for order and authority. There is also evidence that he conceived of the Marmaledov family as the basis for a novel to be titled "The Drunkards," but which was never published. Finally, Dostoyevsky was reacting to the political climate in St. Petersburg, where the impulses of the revolution could be found in the nihilist and radical movements, which Dostoyevsky abhorred. Regardless of its origins, Dostoyevsky meant the novel to be as close to perfect as possible. He took extensive—now famous—notes regarding its structure, toying with different points of view, character, structure, plot, and a variety of thematic strains.
The efforts paid off. Crime and Punishment is a superbly plotted, brilliant character study of a man who is at once an everyman and as remarkable as any character ever written. It poses a simple question, "Can evil means justify honorable ends?" and answers it convincingly without didacticism or naiveté. Dostoyevsky intimates himself so closely with Roskolnikov's consciousness, and describes his turmoil and angst so precisely and exhaustively, that it is easy to forget that the events take place over the course of a mere two weeks. He encourages us to identify with Roskolnikov: the painstaking descriptions of the student's cramped, dingy quarters; the overpowering sights and sounds of a stifling afternoon on the streets of St. Petersburg; the excruciating tension of Porfiry's interrogation—all serve to place the reader at the heart of the action: Roskolnikov's fevered, tormented mind.
The murder itself is almost incidental to the novel; Dostoyevsky devotes no more than a few pages to describing its execution, although he details the painful vacillations that precede the incident and, of course, exposes every aspect of its aftermath. Similarly, Roskolnikov's punishment, in the literal sense, is put off until the epilogue, with his sentence—reduced to seven years due to the accused's apparent temporary insanity—to a Siberian labor camp. Thus Dostoyevsky brilliantly invites readers to put forth their own notions of Crime and Punishment, and engages us in an irresistible debate: Who is the real criminal? Marmeladov, for abandoning his family? Luzhin for exploiting Dunya? Svidrigailov for murdering his wife? Sonya for prostituting herself? The greedy pawnbroker whom Roskolnikov murdered? Or, to turn the question around: Who among us is not a criminal? Who among us has not attempted to impose his or her will on the natural order? Furthermore, we are made to understand that Roskolnikov's true punishment is not the sentence imposed on him by the court of law, but that imposed on him by his own actions: the psychological and spiritual hell he has created for himself; the necessary sentence of isolation from his friends and family; the extreme wavering between wanting to confess his crime, and desperately hoping to get away with it. Compelled, ultimately, to confess his crime—and the confession scene is the only incident in which Roskolnikov actually admits to the crime—we feel that Roskolnikov has suffered sufficiently. Indeed, the epilogue with its abbreviated pace and narrative distance feels like a reprieve for the reader as well as for the criminal. Finally, in Siberia, Roskolnikov has found space.
The public reception of Crime and Punishment was enthusiastic—if a little stunned. There was much discussion about the novel's overwhelming power and rumors of people unable to finish it. Readers were shocked by Dostoyevsky's gruesome descriptions and enthralled by his use of dramatic tension. Perhaps the most virulent, and unexpected, criticism came from readers who felt that Dostoyevsky's portrait of the nihilist movement was an indictment of Russian youth and that its premise was inconceivable. For more than a century, critics have argued about the book's message: Is it a political novel? A tale of morality? A psychological study? A religious epic? As Peter McDuff points out in his Introduction to the Penguin Classics edition, interpretations may be more revealing of the critic than of the text. Whatever Dostoyevsky's purpose—political, moral, psychological, or religious (and most likely he meant to touch on each of these themes)—one thing is certain. In Roskolnikov, Dostoyevsky has created a man who is singular yet universal. He is someone with whom we can sympathize, empathize, and pity, even if we cannot relate to his actions. He is a character we will remember forever, and whose story will echo throughout history.
ABOUT FYODOR DOSTOYEVSKY
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky was born in 1821 at a Moscow hospital where his father was employed as a doctor. The family was poor, but their descent from 17th-century nobility entitled them to own land and serfs. Dostoyevsky's mother, Maria, was loving and religious; his father, Mikhail, tended toward alcoholism and violence, and his cruel behavior toward the peasants on their small estate resulted in his murder when Fyodor was eighteen years old.
Fyodor was the second of eight children. He was particularly close to his younger sister, Varvara, whose unfortunate marriage may have inspired Dostoyevsky's portraits of both Dunya and Sonya. His older brother, Mikhail, shared Dostoyevsky's literary and journalistic interests as well as his early social ideals. Together they attended secondary schools in Moscow, then the military academy in St. Petersburg, followed by service in the Russian army.
Dostoyevsky broadened his education by reading extensively in an attempt to sharpen his literary skills. As a youth he read and admired writers of all nationalities, including Dickens, Hugo, and Zola, and imitated some of Russia's literary geniuses, particularly Gogol. He also began a tortured acquaintance with Turgenev, which was to continue throughout his life.
His first novel, Poor Folk, was published in 1846. This tale of a young clerk who falls haplessly in love with a woman he cannot possess led the literary lion Victor Belinsky to proclaim Dostoyevsky as the next Gogol. Dostoyevsky's entrance into St. Petersburg literary society had begun—but his celebrity status was quickly overshadowed by his somewhat obnoxious behavior. Eventually, Dostoyevsky found another group to join, this time a circle of intellectual socialists run by Mikhail Petrashevsky. Given the reactionary climate of the time, the Petrashevsky group's revolutionary ideas were both exciting and dangerous, and, although Dostoyevsky was far from being a revolutionary, his alignment with the faction brought him to the attention of the police. In 1849 he and the rest of the Petrashevsky group were arrested for subversion. Dostoyevsky was imprisoned at the Peter and Paul Fortress where he and others were subject to a mock execution—an understandably traumatic experience which seems to have triggered an epileptic condition that would plague Dostoyevsky throughout his life. He spent the next five years at hard labor in Siberia, where his acquaintance with the criminal community would provide him with the themes, plots, and characters that distinguish many of his greatest works, including Crime and Punishment.
Dostoyevsky returned to St. Petersburg in 1859. The next decade was filled with emotional and physical turmoil. In 1864 the deaths of his wife, Maria, and his beloved brother, Mikhail, deepened his debt and drove him to gambling. He embarked on a doomed affair with Apollinaria Suslova, who vacillated between admiring and despising him. He also witnessed the dissolution of his literary journal and formed a disadvantageous relationship with an unscrupulous publisher. Yet the 1860s were also a period of great literary fervor, and in 1865, the publication of Crime and Punishment paved the way for a series of novels—including The Idiot, The Devils, and The Brothers Karamazov—that both reclaimed his position in Russia's pantheon of great living writers, and brought stability to his personal and financial affairs. He married his stenographer, Anna Grigorievna Snitkin, with whom he fathered four children, and established himself as a leading conservative who often spoke out against revolutionary activity. In June of 1880, Dostoyevsky attended a celebration of the great novelist, Pushkin, during which he delivered a speech in praise of the writer. His words were met with great adulation, and the event marked what was perhaps the highest point of public approbation Dostoyevsky would ever attain. Little more than six months later, on January 28, 1881, Dostoyevsky died of a lung hemorrhage. His funeral, attended by nearly thirty thousand mourners, was a national event.
- How does Dostoyevsky achieve and sustain the suspense in his novel? Which scenes strike you as being particularly suspenseful? How does he use description to enhance the turmoil in Roskolnikov's mind?
- What role does chance play in the development of the novel? In which scenes does coincidence figure heavily in the outcome? Is Dostoyevsky interfering too much with the natural course of events in order to move his story along, or is he making a point about the randomness of life, free will, and divine intervention?
- Compare the characters of Roskolnikov, Luzhin, and Svidrigailov. How is each of these men a "villain," and to what extent are they guilty? How does each man face his guilt, and how does each suffer for it?
- Compare the major female characters: Sonya, Dunya, Katerina Ivanovna. Do you think they are well-rounded characters or stereotypes? How does each figure in Roskolnikov's actions?
- Discuss the scene in which Roskolnikov meets Sonya in her room and he asks her to read the story of Lazarus. What makes this scene so effective? What does Roskolnikov mean when he tells Sonya she is "necessary" to him? (p. 388)
- Later, in confessing the murder to Sonya, Roskolnikov claims, "Did I really kill the old woman? No, it was myself I killed.... And as for the old woman, it was the Devil who killed her, not I." (p. 488) What does he mean by this? What motive does Roskolnikov give for his murder? Why does he confess to Sonya? Why doesn't the confession ease him of his inner torment?
- Discuss Roskolnikov's theory of the ordinary versus the extraordinary man. What is Dostoyevsky's attitude toward this theory? Can you think of modern-day examples of this theory put into practice?
- Does the fact that Roskolnikov never uses the money he stole from the pawnbroker make him less—or more—guilty? Why do you think he never recovers the stolen items or cash?
- Why does Roskolnikov reject his family's and Razumikhin's attempts at solace and comfort? Why, when they are at their most loving, does he have feelings of hatred for them? What is Dostoyevsky saying about guilt and conscience?
- Roskolnikov emerges as a dual character, capable of cruelty and compassion, deliberation and recklessness, and alternating between a desire for solitude and companionship. Why has Dostoyevsky created such a complex psychological portrait?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This summer I wanted to read a book that was a "smart people book." So I thought I would read Crime and Punishment, since I love crime stories so much. I really did not expect myself to love this book so much. It was so intense and thrilling. I read the last 130 pages in one sitting it got so intense. During the last pages, all of the subplots finally climaxed and I realized they were more than just subplots. The ending was great, I nearly cried when the book was over. This is one of the few books that when I finished, I wanted to start reading it all over again. I would recommend this book to anyone, it is not such a hard read at all.
Immediately upon reading the first few chapters of "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoevsky, it should be blatantly obvious to any reader that this book is a brilliant classic. Upon first sight, this book would seem as though it would be a typical whodunit murder book, but on the contrary, the book revolves around not the details of the murder of a bitter pawnbroker in St. Petersburg, but the details of the conscience of a rather unscrupulous figure who is the protagonist, Raskolnikov. The psychological level upon which impoverished Raskolnikov functions on is beyond the scope of certainly what most people I know can even comprehend, delivering intricate insights into the mind of a genius who is capable of the most heinous crime a human can commit. The book is one I would recommend everyone read at least once in their lifetime, if they have the patience to press through somewhat difficult yet adaptable Russian names such as Zossimov, Koch, and Razumikhin, which can add to the confusion of the plot at times, and the energy to push through this fairly lengthy book. If you have the capacity to take on the self-inflicted wound that is a Dostoevsky book, by all means, conquer the mountain of a read, as although this book was the most difficult I have read, it is easily my favorite book. Because I have never read any of Dostoevsky's books other than "Crime and Punishment" and I quite honestly cannot even begin to recall books to compare to this paramount novel, I cannot recommend any books from my own experience. However, I can say that "Notes from the Underground" would be the next logical progression from this book, as it dives into existentialism, the psychological concept which Dostoevsky is most notorious for coining and developing. "Crime and Punishment" is a deep book that is worthy of any respectable reader's collection and time, due to its psychological complexity and captivating intellectual nature.
This is a deep book. Deep in a typical Russian way. It is a comprehensive and accurate analyzation/documentation of a criminal's mind, which at the same time is the mind of a moral genius. There is no good or evil side, no black and white, as the Russians say: only grey. By the way, our protagonist is a stunning pretty boy, so as his best friend.
If you require a novel that is plot driven this novel is not for you. However, if you enjoy a novel with complex characters that delve into what motivates those characters this is the book for you.<br/><br/>Often our view of a murderer is one of absolutes. He/she is 1) purely evil, 2) pushed to commit the act, 3) temporarily insane, 4) driven to do it for survival, 5) or comes from a background that does not allow him/her to discern right from wrong. Dostoyevsky doesn't allow us off that easy. Raskolnikov does not fit tightly into any of those categories. He is well loved by family and friend, and although he commits a grusome, cold-blooded, and well thought out murder in the opening of the book, Raskolnikov makes sacrifices for those who are in need. The recipients of his good deeds are often those with whom he has little history. So why does Raskolnikov commit the murder? Dostoyevsky never provides concrete evidence to that end only suggestions.As stated above there is not a lot happening in the plot. Crime and Punishment is more about the mind of a complex individual. There are some wonderful subplots as well. The storyline of Sonya and Dounia add a lot to the reader's experience. Dostoyevsky has a talent for vividly enacting a scene. One of my favorite scenes is when Raskolnikov "confesses" to Zametov. I can just see it on the big screen. People are often intidmiated by Russian Lit. There is no need to be. This is an excellent read. I can see where the references to characters could throw some. Characters are often referred to by various names. My suggestion is to pay attention to the uniqueness of each character. You will begin to identify each by his or her characteristics. When you read reviews or commentaries on this book most attention is paid to Raskolnikov. However, I really loved Razumihin. Dostoyevsky also creates a delicious villain in Petrovitch.
Yes, the release of Crime and Punishment heralded the rise of the modern crime novel, but this book delves far beyond the shallow case-solving inanity of the typical "whodunit?" Dostoevsky, a master of the psychology of the human mind, portrays his characters perfectly, as real human beings, neither idealized nor vilified. Raskolnikov, the protagonist, murders an old woman and her sister, but in spite of his heinous crime, I really saw his humanity throughout the book as his psyche just tortures him to death. In fact, Dostoevsky is so good at crafting dynamic characters that he makes Svidrigailov seem more repulsive than Raskolnikov when, in reality, Svidrigailov has probably not committed any comparable crime. The story focuses mostly on the mental perturbations of Raskolnikov as he struggles with himself, practically becoming insane in the process. However, Dostoevsky fills his book with a delightfully varied cast of colorful characters to incorporate differing psychological aspects of, you guessed it, crime and punishment. I don't want to reveal too much in this review--suffice it to say that this is a superb literary achievement that you simply must own and read over and over again.
I have just finished reading Crime and Punishment by Fort Dostoevsky. It is my first Dostoevsky book, and I have really enjoyed it. He writes Very strong dialogue, characterization, and relating it to other social ideas and conflicts throughout history.
Crime and Punishment is pretty much about a man, Raskolnikov, who commits a crime at the beginning of the story. He begins to feel extremely depressed and you, as the reader, follow him through his mental delirium as he realizes how he has changed his like and the life of others around him.
Early in the book you learn that Raskolnikov models himself after Napoleon and his crimes against humanity. He believes that ¿the only thing that matters is to dare.¿
A lot of times when reading dialogue, some characters may sound unreal, as if the character would not actually say something as it was written. But Dostoevsky¿s characters sound real, which makes the characters and the overall book better and more enjoyable.
I would recommend Crime and Punishment to anyone who enjoys an emotional novel and has patience with a bit of a slower-moving plot. Overall, I believe this was a great book with many interesting meanings.
This book was a really good book, it was recommended to me by all my English teachers and i don't know a single person who hasn't read it. Its a great thriller which involves critical thinking. The details used are hard and gruesome which makes a dark tone and mood for a good detective novel!
Wow! This book was so good! I had to read it over the summmer, and I loved it. Everyone complained 'oh, how horrible, he's Russian!' Well, even though I worry about how to pronounce his characters names, I loved this book! Everyone should read it.
I recently decided to put myself through a classics program on my own. So many of the classics were not required in school. This is the second classic in my program and it was outstanding. For me, the first 50 or so pages were pretty dry, but after that it came alive. The story is great and the insight into St. Petersburg and Russian culture are interesting. It is a long read, but well worth it. Don't let the size of the book intimidate you!!
I picked up this novel as part of the Easton's top 100 books. I have to admit that I wouldn't have read it, or finished it, if it wasn't part of this list. It follows the deterioration of Rasko, a poor student, who decides to murder a pawnbroker in an attempt to better his life. This go awry from the beginning, when in a state of panic he forgets to bolt the door. After committing the murder, he takes a handful of trinkets. Rasko is immediately wracked by guilt, and begins making mistake after mistake. The novel was probably considered a psychological thriller when it was initially published. However, I found it to be a bit dry and hard to read. Oftentimes characters would go on non-sensical rants that lasted several pages. I found the moral questions raised throughout the book to be interesting. A more modern take on this book would probably be interesting and well worth reading.
I own the Norton Critical Edition, which contains several useful scholarly articles. However, this edition (one of the few I could find of the Coulson translation) contains an introduction which explains several key points: the freedom of the serfs, the issues of alcoholism at the time, and, most importantly, Dostoyevsky's original abstract, which presents his take on Raskolnikov's motives. A wonderful introduction that adds to the novel considerably.
This book made me think. It was philosophical and though at times I wanted to punch Rodya, I liked the book. And now I have a different outlook on life. Thanks to AP Literature and Composition.
I've read this many times, and will probably read it many times more. Dostoevsky is one of my favorite authors for delving into the psyche of his characters in detail, sometimes flawed detail. It's a must read, and one that I hope the young adults out there are fascinated with, as I was so long ago...
This was a very good book! Although it was long, I found myself unable to put it down; worth the buy.
This is a great book. There are few books that better portray a deranged criminal mind. Dostoevsky does such a good job of character development that the charactrers really feel real to the reader. This book can seem a little long and boring at times, but overall I feel that it was worth reading. It really does give me a better understanding of the darker side of the human psyche.
I love to read books that introduce me to something new. Crime and Punishment was not only a great story, but also served as a window into russian culture (something I knew next to nothing about. I highly recomend this book.
¿Crime And Punishment¿ is written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and published by New American Library in New York 1968. I thought this book was interesting and a true mind twister. It makes the readers search deep into themselves as the obviously mad man goes wild with confusion. Raskolnikov, a poor student, thinks he is wonderful and makes a theory where the extraordinary men of the world have a right to commit any crime if they have something to offer humanity. To prove his theory, he murders an old, despicable pawnbroker and her half-sister. Immediately after the crime, he becomes sick and stays in his room for a while. When he recovers, he finds that his friend Razumihkin, looked for him. While he is recovering, he gets a visit from his sister¿s fiancé Luzhin. Raskolnikov insults Luzhin and sends him away because he doesn¿t like his attitude toward Dunya. As soon as he can go out again, Raskolnikov reads about the crime in all the newspapers of the last few days. He meets an official from the police station and almost confesses the crime. He becomes suspicious. When he returns to his room, he finds his mother and sister who have just arrived to prepare for the wedding with Luzhin. He refuses to allow his sister to marry such a mean and nasty man. At the same time, Svidrigailov, Dunya¿s former employer, arrives in town and looks up Raskolnikov and asks for a meeting with Dunya. Svidrigailov had attempted to seduce Dunya and when Raskolnikov heard of it, he naturally formed a violent dislike for the man. Raskolnikov hears that the police inspector, Porfiry, is interviewing all people who had ever had any business with the old pawnbroker. He goes for an interview and leaves thinking that the police suspect him. He meets Sonya Marmeladov, the daughter of a dead man that he had helped. He goes to her and asks her to read him the story of Lazarus. He feels sympathy for Sonya who had been forced into prostitution in order to support her family while her father drank constantly. He promises to tell her who murdered the old pawnbroker and her sister who was a friend of Sonya¿s. After another interview with Porfiry Raskolnikov decides to confess to Sonya. He gies back to her and during the confession, Svidrigailov is listening through a door. He uses this information to try to force Dunya to sleep with him. She refuses and he kills himself later in the night. Porfiry informs Raskolnikov that he knows who murdered the pawnbroker. After talking with Sonya, Raskolnikov fully confesses to the murder and is sentenced to eight years in a Siberian prison. Sonya follows him, and with her help, Raskolnikov begins his new life. This is an interesting and intriguing book ranking with the classics of Shakespeare and some of the greats.
What a fantastic story this is. Sometimes we read classics and get too caught up in symbolism and meaning. Crime and Punishment is just a great story. While vivid descriptions make reading the book like watching a movie, the story carries you through the multitude of pages quite easily. The game of cat and mouse between Raskolinov and Porfiry is intriguing and the inner struggle of yound Rodia, puts you in to his shoes as he walks a thin line between theory and delerium. Read this book!
The characters in this book remind you of the worst things in yourself. Raskolnikov, a romantic plagued by his mind, and Svidrigailov, the life swallowing debaucher. A mirror to those who think too much.
Very wordy, hard to remember Russian names ( I had to write them down to keep track ), but thoroughly interesting and entertaining.
This book is brilliant. I am reading in Jan 2011. BUT, So many sentences in the book begin: ¿Why,¿¿¿¿.¿Story writers use this. I don¿t think I have ever heard anyone in real conversation begin a sentence with ¿Why,¿.. ¿Why¿ is a question. It is the prefect word to ask a question with. ( I do believe Winston Churchill is claimed to have written the shortest ever diplomatic letter, which contained only the one word ¿Why?¿) Used at the beginning of a sentence, with no question mark, it means nothing, just the waste of a word.To me, it denotes that the story writer is only ¿story writing¿ and probably has not noticed that in real life conversations ¿Why,¿.¿ is rarely, if ever, spoken that way. It belongs only in fiction and on the stage.This serves to remind me constantly that the speaker is not a real person, just someone on a stage. It is this knowledge that detracts and spoils the believability of otherwise excellent characters in the plots. So, only five stars from me ! Without the above I would have awarded this work ten. Get it ! Read it yourself.
Plot: The plot itself doesn't matter. It merely serves as a backdrop and frame for the characters and ideas, and thus moves very slowly to give them enough time. Side plots tie in whenever characters are introduced to flesh out their background. Characters: These are the true glory of the book. Down to the smallest side character they're superbly sketched and individualized, and their thought processes are laid out with enough detail for the reader to easily follow them. None of the characters are truly likable, but they are understandable, which is more important. Style: It's a difficult read. Epic and wordy, the story meanders about and sometimes goes off in unexpected directions with page-long discussions of an idea. It doesn't excuse any inattention from the reader. The Garnett translation used to be the established standard. Plus: It's an amazing character study.Minus: At times it's an ordeal to go through it, with the last page being the goal in mind. Summary: It's a great book, but one that demands attention, stamina and patience from the reader. I found it a harder read than The Brothers Karamasov, but equally rewarding.
I admit, I read this because it was a 'Classic'. And I only give it 3 stars because...WHERE WAS THE EDITOR? If this novel went to a publisher today, without the aura of 'classic' I guarantee it would have been cut by a third, and been better for it.I know I come across as a philistine, but I didn't see the protagonist progress: he was self-absorbed, alienated with a severe case of adolescent angst before he committed the murder, and afterwards he carried on just the same with a mixture of wanting to retire to his bed with not wanting to wash too much or communicate with his relatives. Typical university student. How many pages of this reiteration did I have to read - I got it, he wasn't a happy bunny. (And ok yes, in the afterword he surprisingly decided to grow up and see beyond himself).I just think this relentlessness was a shame, because it got in the way of the wonderful characterisations, the depiction of horrific poverty, especially where it concerned dependent women and children (the later revolution began to make sense in this context). The idea of the novel was fascinating - to carry out murders being acceptable if you are a winning 'Napoleon'. The atmosphere was dark and powerful. The ideas thought-provoking.Just sometimes, less is more.
Dostoevsky¿s Crime and Punishment stands as one of literatures greatest explorations of the human psyche, well the base part of that psyche. There is not much that is pleasant in the world of Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov. Following his planned murder of the pawnbroker Alena Ivanovna and the subsequent murder of Lizaveta , the sister who stumbles into the scene of the crime we are propelled through his swirling half mad mind.In a series of set pieces he attempts to rationalise and understand his behaviour whilst simultaneously dealing with the usual criminal issues of guilt, paranoia and abjection.Murder, alcoholism, mental illness, child cruelty, domestic abuse, etc, etc Dostoevsky minutely examines each and more through the characters that swirl around Raskolnikov in his 19th Century Petersburg.Go on, immerse yourself in the depravity and inertia that is the mind of Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov.