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review 2017-07-31 00:22
Crime And Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I was looking forward to reading this book with some trepidation which is silly really because I am reading to relax and it shouldn't be work. I was pleasantly surprised that it didn't actually turn out to be work but rather an enjoyable, enlightening experience. It was a little confusing in places and seemed quite disjointed in the dialogue but that was the style of the story. I have to say however, that I would like to read a different translation at some point because some of the sentences felt rather literally translated and just didn't seem right. I don't know if this is really the case or whether it was how the story was written in the first place but it would be interesting to see how other translators interpret certain parts of the story.

 

The beautiful Vintage Russian Classics edition of the book was a bit of a pain to read. I don't like breaking spines and so I had terrible cramp in my hands. Thick pages and a thick cover made it difficult to bend the book far enough to be able to hold it comfortably. Maybe I shouldn't be quite so fastidious but we all have our little quirks don't we?

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text 2017-07-17 16:24
Reading progress update: I've read 342 out of 560 pages.
Crime And Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Not an easy read, the dialogue and inner monologues (of which there are quite a number) seem very stilted. I'm not sure if that's a Russian thing or the translation or a combination of both. Still, I am enjoying it.

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text 2017-07-02 10:59
Challenge Update
Orange Is the new black : My time in a women's prison - Piper Kerman
Crime And Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
AchtNacht: Thriller - Sebastian Fitzek

So, as I'm not very good at sticking to my guns I thought I would try something different this month. When it comes to classics, non-fiction and German books I am always daunted by the prospect of reading them, although there are so many that I want to read. The trouble is I always think that they are going to be hard work which mostly they aren't, at least not when you get into them. As I always find the first few pages slow going I quite often get distracted by contemporary fiction. I'm generally a mood reader and it is easy to distract me. So I have decided to plan my 'set' genres and leave my just-for-fun open. I don't know it if will work but I have chosen 'Orange is the New Black' as my non-fiction, which I started last month; Crime and Punishment as my classic, the pretty cover lured me in; and AchtNacht for my German book, the new thriller from Sebastian Fitzek. So far so good, I've made inroads into all but Crime and Punishment and I am liking them so far. We'll see what happens.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-11-23 04:13
Review reposted from DA
Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky,Larissa Volokhonsky,Richard Pevear

Dear readers,

I have reread this book quite a few times, but this time I went back because a friend of mine argued that Raskolnikov never experienced remorse for the murder he committed, not even at the very end.  And I was under the very strong impression that he did, so I decided to reread the book again. It had been several years since my last reread and if I misinterpreted it so badly, then the story I loved was one I created in my mind, not the real one, because a murderer without remorse is not a fictional character I am interested in reading about.

In this novel we have a young smart guy in 19th century Russia who comes up with the idea that some people should be allowed to kill with impunity, because they are geniuses who are performing amazing deeds. Any murders which help to advance these deeds, which are for the good of all mankind, are worth the cost and should not be prosecuted. Of course, what our protagonist, Raskolnikov, came up with is not really new, and Napoleon is listed as one of the main inspirations for the thoughts he is struggling with. Raskolnikov is poor and hungry, his beloved mother and sister are living far away from him and struggling, and he is trying to decide whether he is one of those chosen few people or not. The person he is thinking of killing is an old lady who is lending people money at very high rates, and of course she is described in a very negative way.

As an aside: sometimes I think that for Dostoevsky money lenders were the worst people in the world, although I suppose those who were Jews were worse. I may sound sarcastic right now, but I’m not – I am sad. I know I forgave Dostoevsky his anti-Semitism, but every time I see an off-the-cuff remark in his book about Jews ( for example, here a character remarks when he is doing something bad that he is turning into a Jew), I feel so sad. I know how much the man suffered in his life, I consider him one of the most brilliant writers if not the most brilliant writer of all time, I know that he is a product of his times and I’m well aware of how imperial Russia treated Jewish people. But I still can’t help but wish he had been able to overcome his prejudice.

But back to the book. Raskolnikov has a theory, and he is torturing himself trying to decide whether he can be fit enough to implement his theory.

““What? How’s that? The right to commit crimes? But not because they’re ‘victims of the environment’?” Razumikhin inquired, even somewhat fearfully. “No, no, not quite because of that,” Porfiry replied. “The whole point is that in his article all people are somehow divided into the ‘ordinary’ and the ‘extraordinary.’ The ordinary must live in obedience and have no right to transgress the law, because they are, after all, ordinary. While the extraordinary have the right to commit all sorts of crimes and in various ways to transgress the law, because in point of fact they are extraordinary. That is how you had it, unless I’m mistaken?” “But what is this? It can’t possibly be so!”

The story is really not a mystery; we all know that Raskolnikov does kill an old lady. And the kicker is that the old lady’s sweet and decent sister unexpectedly comes home when Raskolnikov is doing the deed, so he has no choice but to kill her as well.

After the murder his self–torture increases. He falls ill and often becomes delirious. He cannot decide what to do with the things and money he took. He tries to interact with the people around him without giving in to his impulse to confess to his crime. Seriously, as far as I am concerned nobody wrote angsty, tortured souls better than Dostoevskiy.

On this reread I wondered for the first time whether Dostoevskiy might have gone a little easy on Raskolnikov. Oh, I know the poor man goes through a whole lot of pain – in that regard he certainly did not get off easy, but I wonder if letting him kill the sweet, innocent sister made his eventual remorse come more easily?  In my past readings I’ve always thought that killing Lisaveta was to show that even if you are a supposed super-genius and plan a murder for the good of other people, innocents are bound to get in the way. It is not easy to stick to killing only a horrible person. But if the eventual moral of the story is that only God can decide who lives and who dies, shouldn’t have Raskolnikov come to understand that he was not allowed to take away a life, no matter whose life it was, even if he only killed a greedy old lady? I don’t have an answer.

I thought that the verbal duel between Raskolnikov and Porfiriy Petrovich (the investigator) was absolutely brilliant; it was such a pleasure to read again.  I still don’t know if I understand Porfiriy completely – he seemed to be a very decent guy who truly thought that Raskolnikov should not throw away his life even if his theories were not supported by facts, but I just felt so bad for Raskolnikov. Yep, part of the reason I love this book so is because it has such brilliant angst.

The supporting characters were again wonderful all around – and they are written with so much compassion.  This book is obviously no romance, but it has a brief love story for the main character and it even has a somewhat hopeful ending. Of course the love story is tied to the murder investigation and Raskolnikov’s eventual confession.  It is not quite a “saved by love” ending – I always read it as “saved by God” ending — but the young woman is a true believer in Christ, so in my mind they are always connected together.

And then there is Raskolnikov’s sister Dunya, who actually had several suitors , two quite horrible, but she ended up with a really good man and I was very happy for both of them. It sounds soap opera-ish, but a lot of Dunya’s story is so realistically horrible, and it shows what the “little people” who were poor had to go through in Tsarist Russia.

I do think that Raskolnikov showed remorse, and that he was on the path to redemption in the epilogue. Readers, what do you think?

Grade: A+

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-10-09 03:35
Brilliant
Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky,Larissa Volokhonsky,Richard Pevear

One of the most influential novels of the nineteenth century, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment tells the tragic story of Raskolnikov—a talented former student whose warped philosophical outlook drives him to commit murder. Surprised by his sense of guilt and terrified of the consequences of his actions, Raskolnikov wanders through the slums of pre-revolutionary St. Petersburg trying to escape the ever-suspicious Porfiry, the official investigating the crime.

Review,

Dear readers,

I have reread this book quite a few times, but this time I went back because a friend of mine argued that Raskolnikov never actually experienced remorse for the murder he committed, not even at the very end. And I was under very strong impression that he did. So I decided to reread the book again, especially since it had been several years since my last reread and if I misinterpreted it so badly, then I loved the story I created in my mind and not the real one because the murderer without remorse is not the fictional character I am interested to read about.

We have a young smart guy in the 19 century Russia who came up with the idea that some people should be allowed to kill with impunity because they are geniuses and if they are doing amazing deeds , so the murders which would help advance their amazing deeds for the good of all mankind are good and should not be prosecuted. Of course, what Raskolnikov came up with is not really new and Napoleon is listed as one of the main inspirations for the thoughts he is struggling with. Raskolnikov is poor, hungry, his beloved mother and sister are living far away from him and struggling and he is trying to decide whether he is one of those chosen few people or not. And the person he is thinking of killing is an old lady who is lending people money under high percentages. She is described in a very negative way of course.

As an aside sometimes I think that for Dostoevsky money lenders were the worst people in the world. I suppose those who were Jews were worse. I may sound sarcastic right now, I am not – I am sad. I know I forgave Dostoevsky his anti-Semitism, but every time when I see off the fly remark in his book ( in this one a character remarks when he was doing something bad that he was turning into a Jew for example) about Jews, I feel so sad. I know how much the man suffered in his life, I consider him one of the most brilliant writers if not the most brilliant writer of all times, I know that he is a product of his times and how imperial Russia treated Jewish people, but I still can’t help but wish he was able to overcome it.

So Raskolnikov has a theory. And he is torturing himself trying to decide whether he would be fit enough to implement his theory.

"“What? How’s that? The right to commit crimes? But not because they’re ‘victims of the environment’?” Razumikhin inquired, even somewhat fearfully. “No, no, not quite because of that,” Porfiry replied. “The whole point is that in his article all people are somehow divided into the ‘ordinary’ and the ‘extraordinary.’ The ordinary must live in obedience and have no right to transgress the law, because they are, after all, ordinary. While the extraordinary have the right to commit all sorts of crimes and in various ways to transgress the law, because in point of fact they are extraordinary. That is how you had it, unless I’m mistaken?” “But what is this? It can’t possibly be so!”

The story is really not a mystery and we all know that Raskolnikov does kill an old lady and the kicker is that old lady’s sweet and decent sister also unexpectedly comes home when Raskolnikov is there doing the deed and he has no choice but to kill her as well.

After the murder his self – torture is only increasing. He falls ill, often he is delirious, he cannot decide what to do with the things and money he took, he is trying to interact with people around him and tries to remember not to confess the crime. Seriously, as far as I am concerned nobody wrote angsty, tortured souls better than Dostoevskiy.

This time I wondered for the first time whether Dostoevskiy went a little easy on Raskolnikov. Oh poor man goes through a whole lot of pain – in that regard he certainly did not get off easy, but I wonder letting him kill sweet, innocent sister made the eventual remorse to come easier? In my past readings I always thought that killing Lisaveta was to show that even if you are supposed super genius and plan the murder for the good of other people, innocents are bound to get in a way and it is not easy to stick with only killing a horrible person.  But if the eventual morale of the story is that only God can decide who lives and who dies, shouldn’t have Raskolnikov come to understanding that he was not allowed to take away a life, no matter whose life it was, even if he only killed an old lady? I don’t have an answer.

I thought that the verbal duel between Raskolnikov and Porfiriy Petrovich (the investigator) was absolutely brilliant; it was such a pleasure to read again. I still don’t know if I understand Porfiriy completely – he seemed to be a very decent guy who truly thought that Raskolnikov should not throw away his life even if his theories were not supported by facts, but I just felt so bad for Raskolnikov. Yep, part of the reason I love this book so is because it has the brilliant angst.

Supporting characters were just wonderful all around – and written with so much compassion. This book is obviously no romance, but it has a brief love story for the main character and even with the hopeful ending. Of course the love story is very tied with the murder investigation and Raskolnikov’s eventual confession.  It is not quite “saved by the love” ending – I always read it as “saved by God” ending, but the young woman is a true believer in Christ, so in my mind it was always connected together.

And then there is Raskolnikov’s sister Dunya, who actually had several suitors , two quite horrible, but she ended up with a really good man and I was so happy for both of them. It sounds soap operish, but a lot of Dunya’s story is so realistically horrible, and shows what “little people” who were poor had to go through in Tsarist Russia.

I do think that Raskolnikov showed remorse and was on the path to redemption in the epilogue, what do you think?

Grade: A+

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