For years I have been told time and time again, that reading Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Doestoysky is no easy task. The notorious Russian despair loved by many and unbearable for others, will result in an experience that can go both ways.
However, in my eyes this book was just a marvel and something a tiny bit less than pure perfection.
I mean, Crime and Punishment had me hooked from the very first page and my goodness gracious! This Classic will have your mind reeling for days after you finish it. Before you read on, you have to watch the Ted-Ed video on this book, talking about why you should read it:
In this story we follow the character of Raskolnikov and his journey before and after he commits murder. As a young student who is also destitute, there are many people who are supporting him and want him to succeed but right from the beginning you’ll find a dark cloud hanging over his existence and a general affinity for pessimism.
“Don’t quarrel with your bread and butter.”
I haven’t studied literature academically nor have I critically analyzed Crime and Punishment but from the get go, Raskolnikov is an odd main lead you’ll come across. From the moment he is contemplating the murder, to doing the actual deed, and the withdrawals of guilt, skepticism, suspicion and delirium he falls in, you can’t help but wonder, “what will he do next?”
“When reason fails, the devil helps. ”
What adds more substance to this story are the different characters that become entangled in his life either through blood, friendship, by law or pure coincidence. His mother and sister do everything in their power to provide him money to survive in St.Petersburg and his sister’s engagement to a greedy, selfish man for the sake of connection and security both for him and herself, puts him in a severe dilemma.
“One can always forgive lying – lying is a delightful thing for it leads to truth.”
His friend Razumikhin provides such a striking contrast to Raskolnikov’s demeanor throughout the story, that you can’t help but wish him nothing but the best, and wish he wouldn’t be so attentive and kind to Raskolnikov. Then you have Sonya. Poor Sonya. She embodies the true depiction of what it was like to struggle and survive in 19th century Russia, and I can’t but help but think of how their relationship came about.
“We prefer to live on other people’s ideas, it’s what we are used to.”
The main aspect that I kept thinking over throughout Crime and Punishment is how the author showed the stark, harsh realities of society through the characters that he wove and brought to life. Whether it is the police detective inspecting the murder, a friend Raskolnikov makes at a bar, his sister, the maid that looks after him at the place he resides or Sonya, these characters embody every flaw of the societal norms and tragedies.
“The man who has a conscience suffers whilst acknowledging his sin. That is his punishment.”
For me Crime and Punishment, will always pose the question, not whether murder is right or wrong (it isn’t, in no circumstances!) but how can a leader of a nation justify killing and be celebrated for it, and a man committing murder will be punished for it. The injustice of this murderous question will forever haunt my mind, and while the despair didn’t affect me, I was completely spell bound by this story.
“There is nothing in the world more difficult than candor, and nothing easier than flattery. If there is a hundredth of a fraction of a false note to candor, it immediately produces dissonance, and as a result, exposure. But in flattery, even if everything is false down to the last note, it is still pleasant, and people will listen not without pleasure; with coarse pleasure, perhaps, but pleasure nevertheless.
If you’ve ever been intimidated or afraid of the aftereffects of reading Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, take my word for it: read the damn book! You’ll regret wasting all those years for not picking it up sooner!
This book is phenomenal not only for being a book that questions society’s ideologies on philosophy, life and status, but also a psychological thriller, and just a freaking mind blowing classic it is!!
Onto the basics:
- Rating: 5.0/5.0
- Favorite quote: “Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth.”
- Reader level: Easy..
- Should you read it: No doubt in my mind why you shouldn’t! great psychological thriller.
- Would I read it again: Absolutely.
Till next time,