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Fyodor Dostoyevsky: Crime and Punishment

November 20, 2009

I finally know how to add contributors! And here to start us off in high minded style is Lianne from the current affairs blog, We Left Marks, that will actually get those cogs of yours whirring.

There are a number of canonical (usually Russian-originated) tomes that everyone apparently should read once. Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment is one of those books that plenty of important and successful people I know have read and extol the virtues of; simple but effective persuasion-by-association got me to pick it up.

Essentially the book is a protracted study of the psychological effect creeping and consumptive guilt has upon the protagonist, Raskolnikov. After reasoning his way through a brutal crime – by trialling the idea of the Übermensch (superman) figure escaping moral law – the eponymous punishment is by and large self-inflicted.

The fabric of a coherent sanity soon starts to fray, as he becomes racked with self-damnation. Although reader reassurance arises from the growing conscience of the protagonist, and his empathy towards his companion Sofia, it is increasingly unnerving he, in effect, loses the plot.

Don’t come to this book expecting (as if you would!) a racy thriller with twists and turns at every corner. Instead, it is a prolonged introspective, and near solipsistic, examination of one man’s philosophical-moral anguish; how he seeks to overcome this, and attempt to redeem himself makes up the body and weight of the novel, and it can be a bit of a laborious process getting through the book. It’s worth the effort though, if only for the satisfaction of being able to drop it in conversation as one of those aforementioned esteemed folk do.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. bookfreeq permalink*
    November 20, 2009 1:06 pm

    thanks lianne, really insightful (but I think I’ll live vicariously on this one – the Russian names are like, well hard) :p x

    • November 20, 2009 1:47 pm

      The thing I left out from the review (to avoid sounding lazy) was that if I left the book for a fe wdays and then came back to it, I got hugely confused with long Russian names, especially since each charater has about 4 interchangeable nicknames 😉

  2. bookfreeq permalink*
    November 24, 2009 12:53 pm

    are you joking me?? (not a very grammatically correct statement but – wevs!) I did try this novel but I couldn’t cope with the names. I was sitting next to someone on the train who was reading it and I was reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover, pretentious plods the both of us!

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