Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Goodreads Summary: When the student Raskolnikov puts his philosophical theory to the ultimate test of murder, a tragic tale of suffering and redemption unfolds in the dismal setting of the slums of czarist, prerevolutionary St. Petersburg. While Jennings’s adept repertoire of British accents works to demonstrate the varying classes of characters, it occasionally distracts the listener from the Russian setting. However, Dostoyevsky’s rendering of 18th-century Russia emerges unscathed, bringing the dark pathos (such as wretched poverty and rampant suffering) to life.

Through the story of the brilliant but conflicted young Raskolnikov and the murder he commits, Fyodor Dostoevsky explores the theme of redemption through suffering. Crime and Punishment put Dostoevsky at the forefront of Russian writers when it appeared in 1866 and is now one of the most famous and influential novels in world literature.

The poverty-stricken Raskolnikov, a talented student, devises a theory about extraordinary men being above the law, since in their brilliance they think “new thoughts” and so contribute to society. He then sets out to prove his theory by murdering a vile, cynical old pawnbroker and her sister. The act brings Raskolnikov into contact with his own buried conscience and with two characters — the deeply religious Sonia, who has endured great suffering, and Porfiry, the intelligent and discerning official who is charged with investigating the murder — both of whom compel Raskolnikov to feel the split in his nature. Dostoevsky provides readers with a suspenseful, penetrating psychological analysis that goes beyond the crime — which in the course of the novel demands drastic punishment — to reveal something about the human condition: The more we intellectualize, the more imprisoned we become

This book is read as a part of

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My views: Well, this one took a long time to read but then classics make you read slowly and ponder, unlike the others you breeze through. It is a book about crime and punishment, as the title says. But it is much more than just that. The book tells about human nature, its individuality, giving one a lot to think about.

The book not merely narrates but gives you a view inside the individual, into his mind, his thought process, his working style.

There are so many characters in this book – each well developed, having a distinctness of one’s own, their different style of handling a similar thing/event.

The crime has been committed. Is the punishment necessary? What classifies as a crime? What goes on in the mind of a criminal? Two people who commit the same crime can be so different from one another, with completely different outlook and manner of responding. The book delves into each theme in detail.

Non- Russian speakers (like me) may have some difficulty differentiating between similar-looking/sounding names and they are all the more difficult to pronounce. But that is something one can overlook when reading a classic as this.

Recommended for deep thinkers, analysts who have a lot of time on their hands and a free mind to think away.

3/5 stars – I liked it.

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