Review: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Earlier today I shed a couple of tears as I finished Crime and Punishment. A reaction that I was not at all expecting.

What a wonderful translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, full of beautiful passages. I simply fell in love with the troubled murderer Raskolnikov and the kind-hearted prostitute Sonya. Two character types that are ‘usually non relatable.’

Having read several other reviews on the book many complain about the characters being hard to connect to and the story too complicated. I’m sorry but you are all wrong!!!! Crime and Punishment takes us with its protagonist Raskolnikov on a journey through a range of human emotion and experience. It is gripping, thought-provoking and a damm good story. Dostoevsky is genius in the way he describes how Raskolnikov struggles with the aftermath of his actions his disjointed thoughts brilliantly track the guilt and illness that comes from suffering with his crime.

Dostoevsky once again gives a masterclass in character construction.

I liked how the ending was in a separate epilogue. It had a mystic tone, far-removed from the rest of book’s action (from St. Petersburg to Siberia) and for these reasons seemed to give a sobering morning-after feel in which Dostoevsky was able to show the psychological changes that come about through suffering for a crime.  With this epilogue, Dostoevsky’s answer is clear: human beings are not just selfish unitary creatures with no moral fiber, but rather, there is substance in the eternal and through it there is hope for redemption.

This book may make you feel ill in that it puts you into the mind of a madman who is battling his thoughts and conscience after committing a horrendous double murder. But in a wider sense the book contains the hopeful viewpoint that the world is not just an existential battle ground for individual desires and interests to fight themselves out without any real underlying moral structure but that there is hope for a social, moral fiber and a belief in eternal things. It is a 20th-century-like book with a positive twist–still pertinent today.

This book was also Russian through and through. You get a good piece of an interesting time in Russian history (after the freeing of the serfs) and the philosophy and thought that was going on at the time. St. Petersburg is quite a unique city and the Russian a unique culture. This book captures a piece of both.

Russian literature again proves it is best with one of its best.


One thought on “Review: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

  1. I’ve read everything he has written and consider him to be a genius. my favorite book of his is The Idiot. I like your review of Crime and Punishment. It is very well thought out and I agree that 19th century Russian literature is the best.

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