Release Date: 30th January, 2003
Publisher: Penguin Classics
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'Crime? What crime?...My killing a loathsome, harmful louse, a filthy old moneylender woman...and you call that a crime?'
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 a suspicious police investigator, 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.
I’ve had this book on my shelves for a while; it was on the booklist my Literature & Psychology course in university but I just never got around to reading it
because I couldn’t be bothered. Anyway, this turned out to be a pretty readable Classic, I mostly enjoyed it.
So, what is with the Russians and abjectly depressing literature? Seriously. The main character, Raskolnikov (which I have to split into like, three different words just to be able to spell >.>) is a poor student living basically one step up from downright poverty; he suffers from a multitude of ailments, both physical and mental, and ends up killing his landlady. As you do. In the aftermath of her murder, Raskolnikov finds himself haunted by his own conscience, and is driven to the brink of madness by his guilty conscience.
This book’s colourful cast of characters, all from the lowest classes because Russian literature is not here for the bourgeoisie, were so much fun to read about. Dostoyevsky’s prose is laced with black humour; the characters in Crime & Punishment reflect that. I mean, you don’t want to laugh at a drunken man being afraid to go home in case his probably crazy wife will beat him…but you do because it’s so macabre and satirical. I loved how different each character was and how each meant something in the story.
So I mentioned that this book was one of the texts I studied for my Literature & Psychology course; Raskolnikov exhibits symptoms of Monomania, a mental illness in which a sound mind was driven crazy by a single preoccupation. It kind of reminds me of Vicious, which Lauren and Amber loved, like, a lot. Mostly because Victor, the main character, is obsessed with a single thought. But yeah, the portrayal of Monomania in Raskolnikov was absolutely fascinating and one of the best aspects of the book.
I’ve have a very up and down experience with the Classics I’ve read so far this year but I have to say, I’m glad I dusted off Crime & Punishment to read it. Russian literature, man.
A Classic in Translation
Page Count: 656