Title: Crime and Punishment
Author: Fyodor Dostoevsky & Keith Carabine (introduction & notes)
Translator: Constance Garnett
Publisher: Wordsworth Classics
Description: Crime and Punishment is one of the greatest and most readable novels ever written. From the beginning we are locked into the frenzied consciousness of Raskolnikov who, against his better instincts, is inexorably drawn to commit a brutal double murder.
From that moment on, we share his conflicting feelings of self-loathing and pride, of contempt for and need of others, and of terrible despair and hope of redemption: and, in a remarkable transformation of the detective novel, we follow his agonised efforts to probe and confront both his own motives for, and the consequences of, his crime.
The result is a tragic novel built out of a series of supremely dramatic scenes that illuminate the eternal conflicts at the heart of human existence: most especially our desire for self-expression and self-fulfilment, as against the constraints of morality and human laws; and our agonised awareness of the world’s harsh injustices and of our own mortality, as against the mysteries of divine justice and immortality.
My Review: I did enjoy reading this classic. Raskolnikov, a young man and former student living in St. Petersburg, decides to commit murder. It doesn’t go completely to plan as one murder turns into two, but still Raskolnikov believes he’s gotten away with it. But can anyone truly get away with such a crime, especially when their own mind begins to punish them?
This Wordsworth edition of the classic novel was surprisingly easy to read and get into and I found it both interesting and compelling the more I read. The murder takes place early in the story and after Raskolnikov leaves the scene, he believes that he’s left no trace or way for anyone to ever know it was him. The initial murder was exciting to read and it got me into this story right away. Unlike other classics I’ve read, this was very easy to read, with minimal use of old style language and maybe it’s because of this particular translated English version that I enjoyed this book so much.
Raskolnikov is initially an unlikeable character. He’s quite self assured, has opposing views on the world and society which he loves to debate with others and seems to have no moral conscience when it comes to the murder, initially able to justify it. As the story progresses though a lot of different things happen and it’s the psychological story that really kept me reading through this. At times it was a bit more tedious to read than at others, though, especially when the story seemed to veer away from what was happening especially with the parts about Raskolnikov’s sister which I took time to get into. To be honest it’s my own fault I lost track of this as I had taken a break from this book at this point for a bit and came back to it after a while and was a little confused at first as I’d forgotten a few of the characters by name (though this is my fault for putting the book down for a long while!). It took me some time to get back into it, but once I did I was compelled again to read on.
There are long conversations in this book, longer than modern books with characters having whole exchanges that are like monologues covering more than one page. This may bother other people but it didn’t for me as the conversations were interesting and added to the psychology as you wonder if Raskolnikov will say anything to give himself away and I especially liked the exchange towards the end when you wonder if one character has sussed him out. I don’t know how to describe how good the psychological aspect of this novel is. It’s not just the interesting exchanges Raskolnikov has with other characters, but the effects that the crime and keeping himself from being discovered have on his mind and his actions. It’s inevitable that the further the story goes on the worse this gets and it’s such a good book as it questions not only the physical punishment of a crime but the mental punishment too.
The ending was good, and the really enjoyed the final part , despite the fact some reviews I’ve read dislike this extra part because it goes to fast compared with the slower pace of the rest of the novel. But this extra ending was satisfying and made the story feel complete and I have to say it made me smile, though I don’t want to reveal why as that would spoil what felt like a great ending. The Wordsworth edition has additional notes in the book explaining not only the book but there’s information about Dostoevsky’s life and having read about him, it makes the last part even more interesting. The book also has a map of St. Petersburg and the key places that are visited in the story.
Overall I enjoyed reading this book and it’s made me want to read more Dostoevsky! The psychological aspect of this novel as well as the questions it brings to your mind as you read it are brilliant and it’s still relevant in today’s world, given the effects on the human mind, conscience and morality. If you are into classics or want to give a classic book a go, then this translation is quite easy to read and I can recommend it.
Have you read Crime and Punishment? Did you enjoy it, or would you consider picking up this book if you haven’t read it? Are you into classics? Let me know your thoughts I’d love to hear from you 🙂
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