Sunday, September 11, 2011
Book Review of Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Author Name: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Type of book: Adult, psychology, punishment, crime, Russia, 1860s
Year it was published: 1864-1866 (Version I have 1968)
One of the world's greatest novels, Crime and Punishment is the story of a murder and its consequences- a tale of suspense withotu equal, set in the midst of nineteenth-century Russia's troubled transition to the modern age. The novel's young protagonist, Raskolnikov, is a sensitive intellectual driven by poverty to bellieve he is exempt from moral law. In this brilliant translation by noted scholar and literary critic Sidney Monas, we are privy to the supreme expression of an author who "explored pathological states and the psychology of high tension, the realm of 'obsession' and 'possession,' because it was there one could most clearly and dramatically see the human consequences of an idea carried ruthlessly through to its logical conclusion...For Dostoevsky, an idea always has skin around it, and a human personality."
The characters do tend to be rounded, at least Raskol'nikov. Others are on the flat side. Raskol'nikov does sort of change, and although we see the mad side, he does show some good sides, such as helping take care of Marmeladov family. Sonia is best described as either virgin mary or a christ figure, (despite her being a prostitute) Raskol'nikov goes over to her for forgiveness and redemption, and she is the one that helps him turn to christianity. I read summary of The Idiot, and it's a flip I think. (In Idiot Prince Myshkin is depicted as a christ like presence, while the female character is the sinner.) I also could not understand whether or not Sonia liked him as a man or a christ love.
The only thing I understood is that if you accept or have faith in christianity then life will be more bearable, and christian love is powerful.
As someone best described it, there is countless ramblings and tangents about things that I'm not interested in at all.
"Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky(November 11, 1821 – February 9, 1881) was a Russian writer of novels, short stories and essays.He is best known for his novels Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov.
Dostoyevsky's literary works explored human psychology in the troubled political, social and spiritual context of 19th-century Russian society. Considered by many as a founder or precursor of 20th-century existentialism, Dostoyevsky wrote, with the embittered voice of the anonymous "underground man", Notes from Underground (1864), which was called the "best overture for existentialism ever written" by Walter Kaufmann. Dostoyevsky is often acknowledged by critics as one of the greatest and most prominent psychologists in world literature." (From Wikipedia.)
So why have I given this masterpiece a 3 instead of 5? Anti-Jewish references is one reason, another reason is the whole religion and redemption of Raskol'nikov, too much philosophy and at times it got confusing. (For the most part, not the names, just ideas and conversation...) I have to admit that either the author or translation or both are brilliant and well done because the audience experiences Raskol'nikov's thoughts and ideas and emotions as he experiences them. As I talked of before, I was not a fan of christian redemption idea and the references quickly got annoying. I also think that if he didn't include anti-Jewish references or tied Jews to negative characters then perhaps I might have given this book four stars. Some parts were confusing for me, one was towards the very end of the novel when Raskol'nikov and Svidrigailov meet each other and Svidrigailov tells stories. Raskol'nikov doesn't like stories. I don't understand why he name calls Svidrigailov that way and all that. Also, if action is your thing, then this is not the book for you. The action happens from pages 72-84 (if I might say so, very poor action,) and that is it. Rest is Raskol'nikov torturing himself and falling into a trap that others fell before him.
3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)