Crime and Punishment
Author: Fyodor Dostoevsky
I started to hear snippets here and there about this book and I had to look and see if it was worth reading. It is not very often that one hears of a classic title being tossed about, hence I looked deeper. I am always particularly fond of reading books that are on curriculum lists and as this one was on the AmblesideOnline year 11 list I decided it was about time I opened a copy.
For me, this book was extremely unique. I am used to reading mystery books where I am turning the pages to find out who did the crime. Not so in Crime and Punishment. You know who did the crime. He is at the forefront of every scene and conversation. You are left wondering if they will ever understand him or figure him out. I sat reading and reading, turning page after page awaiting his capture. In the mean time I started to see more than a criminal.
This is where I found the book interesting. I watch the News at night and I am ready to believe anything the media says. I am ready to cast judgement by what the media claims. But, I know nothing of the criminal or the full stories. Hear me when I say I do not condone any crime! The thing is that this author got me thinking of what is behind a crime and the punishment they place upon themselves both before and after such an event.
Before Raskolnikov commited his crime I had started to feel sorry for him. He seemed like a normal sort of fellow that had hang ups from the past, cared for family and had loved and lost. He was educated but unfortunate events had left him unable to finish. Unfortunate circumstances had him living in a room the size of a cupboard and starving. I could feel his hunger and thought of the anxiety I was reading and continual flashing of events that ran through his mind, I blamed on hunger and circumstance. I became so interested in how a person could become so twisted when I felt he had once been a young man looking to make something of his life. Can life really twist a person so much that they would commit such a crime and believe they are justified in doing so? And how could he continue to think he was justified right through the book? There were times when I thought he was analysing on grounds of moral principle but he managed to make a moral stand for the crime, not against in his messed up little mind. This made me look to the 'Spark Notes' and further to seek what I might have been missing. I found myself looking to the events in Russia around the time of the writing of the novel. I had to look at what nihilism entailed as it was apparently at large in Russia during the era of the books publication. I searched nutrition and anxiety and depression and grief and... so much. How can an author bring up so many questions? I don't think any book has made me look into so many other things like 'Crime and Punishment' has.
What about the other characters because there were quite a few and they all had their own stories too. Well, as for Porfiry, he drove me nuts! He was just as mad as Raskolnikov only in other ways. Sonja was kind but I was left wondering what life held for her beyond the pages and why she followed Raskolnikov when in reality she hardly knew him. Raskolnikov's mother I thought was just as mad as her son but there may have been more to that also but I was so busy questioning Raskolnikov and Porfiry. And I need to admit I found the characters names so hard that I refuse to ever attempt to pronounce in public any of them (okay I can maybe do a couple). The author Dostoevsky managed to show me so many different character traits and personalities that I was left questioning many things. I may have re-read this in the future and see what I notice next time around because in another place in time I think I would look at different events and different characters that may be quietly nesting in the background.
Raskolnikov, a destitute and desperate former student, wanders through the slums of St Petersburg and commits a random murder without remorse or regret. He imagines himself to be a great man, a Napoleon: acting for a higher purpose beyond conventional moral law. But as he embarks on a dangerous game of cat and mouse with Porfiry, a suspicious detective, Raskolnikov is pursued by the growing voice of his conscience and finds the noose of his own guilt tightening around his neck. Only Sonya, a downtrodden prostitute, can offer the chance of redemption. As the ensuing investigation and trial reveal the true identity of the murderer, Dostoyevsky's dark masterpiece evokes a world where the lines between innocence and corruption, good and evil, blur and everyone's faith in humanity is tested.
Available from: Book Depository