Book of da Week: Dostoyevsky’s Crime And Punishment

Crime and Punishment
It’s… Crime and Punishment!

Holy moly, we’ve gone for the big one. Yes, it’s Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s (what some would say) masterpiece – Crime and Punishment! We read this a decade ago and remember it clearly, although it’s a gargantuan read which isn’t for the faint hearted. Indeed, prepare yourself fully before delving in by, perhaps, reading some of his smaller works first.

Dostoyevsky wrote it in 1865 with, we’re presuming given their popularity and his standing, an Apple Mac. Maybe he used a Sony VAIO and Windows 8, as Windows 8.1 probably wasn’t available at that point. Anyway, the 300,000 million word book is about redemption, crime, and punishment. Actually, come to think of it, the title sort of gives the plot away. So, let us delve into the world which Dostoyevsky spun in stunningly verbose detail.

Crime and Punishment

The plot focuses on the rather petulant Raskolnikov, a former student with a weird mind. He (yes, he’s a he) lives in a horrendous flat and generally shirks about the place being moody. He decides upon a plan to take out an elderly pawn-broker who’s a bit of a git, but the whole thing gets bungled and he does really bad things which not even Darth Vader would put on his CV. Thereafter, his redemption comes from suffering and agonising a lot.

Now this is a tough book to read as: it’s long, there are no pictures (not even of fluffy cats), and the author has one hell of a habit of rambling on. This is either your cup of tea, or your plate of burnt burgers. Dostoyevsky was a genius, of course, so it’s important to enter the mind of a man who was so lauded during another bygone era of humanity. You can’t go back and contact anyone in 1865. Not even by email.

Whilst it’s a book which belongs to another era, there’s no denying the legendary FD’s brilliance. It’s just this can take the form of seemingly mindless prolixity, which is a shame. By contemporary standards it’s dated somewhat, and Crime And Punishment is now often one of those books people put in their bookshelves to look intelligent, even though they’ve never read it. If you’ve got a spare year, though, we can recommend it. It’s interesting stuff, and a damn fine character study.

2 comments

  1. I just started reading it this week. I also read this many years ago at an age when I probably couldn’t understand most of it. Rereading again and enjoying the experience

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