Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky [1866]

Well, okay, where to start.
So, I've read three and a half (lol) Dostoevsky novels, and this one is about the second best. It's not a very fun book, though it is really good. Crime and Punishment is about a young man named Rodion Romanovitch Raskolikov who murders the old pawnbroker woman brutally with an axe. The real kicker here, is that the old lady's younger sister walks in at the wrong time, and ends up being murdered too. Raskolnikov's reasons for killing the pawnbroker are vague, and various reasons why are alluded to many times. It could be for money, it could be for the benefit of the poor people that she's swindling, or it could just be that Raskolnikov desperately wants to be one of those 'great men', who are above the law and morality. So it's interesting to puzzle that out in your head as you read the novel.
Something I really like in Dostoevsky's writing is his ability to make you feel exactly what the character is feeling at any given moment. In this particular novel, he really nails this neurotic, paranoid mindset. Especially in the aftermath of the two murders.
The characters are pretty well written in this book. Not all of them are as multi-layered and complicated as the ones in The Brothers Karamazov, but the main characters are very interesting. My favorite characters were Razumihin and Dounia. Razumihin is Raskolnikov's friend, though Raskolnikov ends up pushing him away and being horrid to him most of the novel. Razumihin is very much Raskolnikov's opposite. Razumihin thinks of others, and he's also very friendly and warm. Despite his slacker persona, he's very intelligent. Dounia is Raskolnikov's sister, and she's a really cool female character. She's hot headed and proud like her brother, but she's a much kinder person than him. I like Dounia because she's very blunt, and she doesn't take junk from anyone. She also is revealed at the end to have been packing a gun the whole time. O.O
As for Raskolnikov himself, he's a titanic a-hole and the novel knows it. We're not expected to like him, at least not in the beginning, but he's interesting enough to keep you hooked. Without giving too much away, I didn't hate him too much by the end of the book. ;)

The Verdict: A-
Pretty good stuff! There are lots of very good quotations in this book that make you stop and ponder, and I really like that in my books. This one isn't really that much of a doorstopper, at around 400 pages. So if you were looking to start Dostoevsky, this one is probably the best to start with.

Content Advisory: Towards the end of the book there's a character with a very creepy attraction to teenage girls. Also, there's a somewhat graphically written murder scene. This book is worth reading, but only for mature readers.


  1. This book is basically a murder-mystery from the murderer's POV and is therefore fascinating! :D I've been meaning to re-read it for a while now. I know I loved this book when I actually read it but that was so long ago that my memories concerning the actual plot have gotten vague.

    I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    1. I found the scenes with Porfiry very interesting, because I wasn't quite sure when he figured out who the murderer was! It's cool when a genre gets flipped over like that. I'm glad you liked it too!


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