Self-Punishment is Still Punishment (Crime and Punishment – A Book Review)

Crime and Punishment
Author: Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Published: 1866

On Goodreads

Crime and Punishment

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull bolt

 

Well, of course, everything is in a man’s own hands, and if he lets everything slip through his fingers, it is through sheer cowardice. That’s an axiom. I wonder, though what people fear most. It seems to me that what they are afraid of most is of taking a new step or uttering a new word…

Living in St. Petersburg, a poor student, Raskolnikov, lives in a tight apartment and suddenly believes that he has been fated to kill money-lender & pawn-broker, Alyona Ivanovna and her half-sister Lisaveta. Managing to steal whatever he can grab after the act, he flees. Quickly he falls ill physically and mentally. He worries and begins to obsess about the possibilities of people knowing of what he’s done yet he manages to escape suspicion.

In the midst of his delusions, his sister, Dunya, and his mother come to visit with news that Dunya is to be wed soon. Her previous employer follows her to St. Petersburg after the death of his wife as well. And the attorney investigating the murder may be on to Raskolnikov, though many have come forward and confessed already. Raskolnikov hangs by the smallest of threads.

 

I love classics. I do. They’re the spine to great storytelling, really. That being said, they do take a while to read. The language is dense sometimes. The great depth of detail is sometimes tiring and feels drawn out, but at the same time it’s beautiful. Makes how I feel about them complicated sometimes. LOL.

The story takes place in Petersburg in multiple homes, though mostly in Raskolnikov’s, the main character. Though when ill, he goes to many places, even the police station. A good portion of this book also takes place within Raskolnikov’s mind as he deals with the treachery he committed.

The detail to the settings were very specific down the very wallpaper and lamp and I really liked that. It gives me a clear vision of everything. I enjoy being able to see clearly since my brain turns words into pictures more often than not.

Guilt, poverty, and death are the more common themes I picked up on throughout the story. Raskolnikov is always at odds with himself. While he wants to help other people, he can barely help himself. And he certainly doesn’t like others trying to help him, as it makes him feel inferior and helpless. He also tries his best to avoid talking about what’s caused him to get so uptight and ill. The tone goes hand-in-hand with this. You can feel that as Raskolnikov observes the cruelty of people around him, a few people beating an old horse to horse to death, for example.

One of the biggest questions posed in this book is: Is crime justifiable?

It’s picked up in conversation often as Raskolnikov often hints at what he’s done. Several scenarios are presented in which people argue which is right and which is wrong. It brings s about a very good question. When would crime be acceptable if ever?

I found this to be very interesting because there are many variables to think about when answering a question like this.

 

I enjoy Russian literature, as I’m sure I’ve told you dozens of times. This wasn’t a particular favorite of mine. It felt a bit drawn out, though there was quite a bit going on. It also reminds me quite a bit of the Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe with how haunted the main character is throughout the story. This one is certainly an acquired taste and does pose a valuable question.

If you love classic literature, a good debate, and watching a person lose their sanity then this one’s for you.

 

Quotables:

“Gradually he had arrived at all sorts of interesting conclusions, and, in his opinion, the main reason for it lay not so much in the physical impossibility of concealing a crime as in the criminal itself; the criminal himself, at least almost every criminal, is subject at the moment of the crime to a kind of breakdown of his reasoning faculties and of his will-power, which are replaced by an amazingly childish carelessness.” (Raskolnikov, p. 90)

“Let him have his laugh—let him! I don’t mind. What I want is strength—strength!” (Raskolnikov, p. 208)

“It’s the moon that makes everything so still. It must be asking a riddle.” (Raskolnikov, p. 294)

 

More to come soon…

-K.

 

P.S. Song today? Coming to Terms by Carolina Liar.

 

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